Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 review: The new people's champion topples Titans

Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1070 is one hell of a graphics card, delivering Titan X-level performance at a price real gamers can afford.

dsc00807
Credit: Brad Chacos
At a Glance
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Founders Edition

    PCWorld Rating
    $430.00 MSRP $450.00
    View
    on Amazon

    Meet the new people's champion. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 delivers more performance than the $1000 Titan X for a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the power.

Wow, what a massive performance difference leaping ahead two technological generations can make.

If Nvidia had released the GeForce GTX 1070 (starting at $380 MSRP, $450 Nvidia Founders Edition reviewed) just last week it would’ve been the most powerful single-GPU graphics card to ever grace the earth, edging out the awe-inspiring—and $1,000—GTX Titan X. In the wake of the launch of the “new king” GTX 1080 (starting at $600 MSRP on Newegg), however, Nvidia’s new card can't lay claim to the performance crown. Still, that fact doesn't diminish this card’s stunning achievement.

The GeForce GTX 1070 offers Titan-level, no-compromises graphics oomph for a mere $380. The GTX 1080 may be the new king of graphics cards, but this powerful new prince’s blend of price and performance will no doubt make it the people’s champion—though it’s not quite the steal that the GTX 970 was.

Let’s dig in! 

Programming note: If you want to cut straight to the chase, jump to the final page of this review for our bottom line on the GTX 1070.

The GeForce GTX 1070 under the hood

The GeForce GTX 1070’s power stems from the same source as the GTX 1080’s: Nvidia’s Pascal GPU. Graphics cards from both Nvidia and AMD have been stuck on the same underlying 28nm technology for four long years, but Pascal—and forthcoming Radeon cards based on AMD’s Polaris GPUs—finally break the appalling trend, leaping forward two full process generations, shrinking down to 16nm transistors and integrating 3D “FinFET” technology as well. For all the nitty-gritty details, check out the first page of our GTX 1080 review, but in a nutshell, Pascal GPUs represent a huge step forward in performance and power efficiency.

gtx 1070 stats

The GTX 1070 features the same “GP104” Pascal GPU as the bigger, badder brother, but with five of its 20 Streaming Multiprocessor units disabled. That leaves it with 1,920 CUDA cores and 120 texture processing units, but Nvidia left the GPU’s full complement of 64 render output units (ROPs) intact. The GTX 1070’s clock speeds have also been nerfed a bit, down to a 1,506MHz base clock and 1,683MHz boost clock, but that’s still far superior to the previous-generation graphics cards—the GTX 980 topped out at 1,216MHz boost clocks, while AMD’s Radeon R9 390X topped out at 1,050MHz.

You can see the GTX 1070’s full specification breakdown in the chart above.

Another subtle, but key difference from the GTX 1080 is the GTX 1070’s memory. While the GTX 1080 adopted cutting-edge GDDR5X memory clocked at a blistering 10Gbps, the GTX 1070 employs 8GB of traditional GDDR5 RAM over a 256-bit bus instead, clocked at 8Gbps for an effective memory bandwidth of 256GBps.

pascal memory compression

How the GTX 1080’s delta color memory compression reduces memory bandwidth demands.

Don’t be disappointed by the lack of GDDR5X or the high-bandwith memory found in AMD’s Radeon Fury cards, though: The GTX 1070’s 8GB of memory is more than enough for today’s games, even at 4K resolution, and the Pascal GPU’s new lossless delta color compression tricks (which again, we covered in the GTX 1080 write-up) makes it even more effective.

From the outside, the GeForce GTX 1070 Founders Edition mirrors the GTX 1080 Founders Edition, with an aggressive, polygon-inspired aluminum shroud, “GEFORCE” spelled out in illuminated green letters on the edge, a blower-style fan that exhausts hot air through the I/O plate on the rear of your system, and a low-profile backplate with a removable portion to improve airflow when you’re running a multi-GPU SLI setup. (Be sure to check out our dives into what “Nvidia Founders Edition” means and the big SLI changes in the GeForce 10-series if you’re curious about either topic.)

dsc00785 Brad Chacos

The blower-style fan on the GeForce GTX 1070 Founders Edition matches the GTX 1080’s.

You’ll also find the same single HDMI 2.0b connection, a single dual-link DVI-D connector, and three full-sized DisplayPorts that are DP 1.2 certified, but ready for DP 1.3 and 1.4. That last tidbit means the card will be able to power 4K monitors running at 120Hz, 5K displays at 60Hz, and even 8K displays at 60Hz—though you’ll need a pair of cables for that last scenario.

There are some key differences between the two graphics cards, though. Rather than using advanced vapor chamber cooling, the GTX 1070 dissipates heat using a trio of copper heatpipes embedded in an aluminum heatsink. And while the card sports the same 8-pin power connector as the GTX 1080, the GTX 1070 sips only 150W of power, rather than 180W. But the truly astonishing thing about that number is how much more performance the GTX 1070 is able to eke out of the comparatively meager power draw; the similarly performing Titan X sucks 250W through 6-pin and 8-pin connectors, while the 275W Fury X uses a pair of 8-pin connectors.

Like we said: The move to 16nm FinFET technology is a potent jump, indeed.

Next page: GTX 1070 features

At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating
    $430.00 MSRP $450.00
    View
    on Amazon

    Meet the new people's champion. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 delivers more performance than the $1000 Titan X for a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the power.

    Pros

    • Faster than a Titan X
    • Meager power requirements
    • Attractive design
    • Killer performance for the price

    Cons

    • Beaten in performance by Radeon Fury cards in heavily AMD-optimized games
    • GTX 970 was a better value in relation to the GTX 980
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Page 1