GTX 1070 Review: Contender to the Nvidia GeForce 1080 4K Gaming GPU
The GTX 1070 is truly a remarkable and superbly powerful piece of performance gaming hardware for users who are serious about having the best in their hands. While well below the flagship GTX 1080 in terms of all its core performance specs, the GTX 1070 still kicks up plenty of video processing power for high frame rate Full HD gameplay, strong 1440p performance and some very decent gaming in full 4K UHD resolution.
In basic terms, Nvidia has really bested its own high performance manufacturing standards with the GTX 1070 and we are duly impressed. Here is a stunningly robust GPU that delivers equal or even superior performance to Nvidia’s own one-time flagship Titan X card from a couple years back but at a much lower price and at a fraction of the older model’s power consumption. In other words, the company has really shown that it can advance in the R&D department for its graphics cards and this applies to the 1070 like it has so far applied to few other cards on the market except for maybe this model’s even more impressive cousin the GTX 1080.
Where to start? Because the Nvidia GTX 1070 is loaded with what we’d definitely call good features.
Most importantly of all, the GTX 1070 is simply such a stunning deal of such high caliber performance specs that it0s really hard not to be completely impressed with this new card. Yes, the flagship GTX 1080 model outperforms the 1070 almost across the board in terms of raw gaming performance but none of this makes the 1070 less impressive for its category or in comparison to tthe vast majority of other video cards on the market. The single most impressive example of how this last tidbit is so lies in the simple fact that this GPU delivers the same or even slightly better overall gaming performance as Nvidia’s own older Titan X for just a tiny fraction of the X’s cost. Instead of the nearly $1000 the Titan X costs, the 1070 is going to retail for just $380 MSRP and even the first-release “Founder’s Edition” is selling for a very affordable $450-$500 for the performance it delivers. There are even more affordable AMD cards out there as well (especially the newly released RX 480 and RX 490 GPUs but even when measured up against these cutting-edge new developments from the GPU market’s other major manufacturer, the Nvidia GTX 1070 is a superb device.
Moving along, the core reason for the stunning and highly efficient performance of the GTX 1070 is the same as it is for the flagship 1080 card. This is of course Nvidia’s new and highly advanced Pascal chip architecture. After years of sticking to the same old and now tired 28nm manufacturing technology for their processing chipsets, the engineers at Nvidia have been the first to move forward and really break the ice on that underdeveloped trend with the 16nm transistors of Pascal and their 3D FinFET development as an added bonus. This is a serious forward leap and Pascal really demonstrates how much it means by offering some truly stellar performance.
In more specific terms, the Pascal Architecture introduces several new hardware and software updates to give it a highly superior level of performance and some deeply robust async computing capabilities. For starter’s there is the cards dynamic load balancing technology, which is a new hardware feature with the much needed ability to let the GPU adjust its task partitioning mechanism so that resources are used as efficiently as possible on the fly on a constant basis instead of sitting idle for long stretches of time. Now, with dynamic load partitioning, unfinished tasks can tap into static GPU processing resource power even while other card processes are running at the same time.
At the same time, the new Pascal GPU of the 1070 delivers what is called “Pixel level pre-emption” and Thread-level pre-emption” technology, which are both also designed to deliver maximum asynchronous performance power by minimizing the cost of switching tasks during processing during time-critical task loads
Then there’s Nvidia’s Simultaneous Multi-projection (SMP) technology, which is found in both the 1080 and 1070 cards. With SMP, performance is improved when a particular game needs to render multiple “viewports” during play at the same time. This can be applied to multi-monitor setups, dual lenses in a VR headset rig or in a more granular context which serves to considerably improve frame rate performance on normal single-monitor displays by working on top of the already established multi-resolution shading technology that came with Nvidia’s previous Maxwell GPU developments.
Most importantly SMP is at the core of Nvidia’s arguably very true claims that the 1080 and its Pascal architecture provide far superior performance to their 980 and even 980Ti card counterparts. While the 1070 doesn’t quite match the sort of benchmarks Nvidia claims for it, it certainly performs much better at rendering even high-detail games much more smoothly than any single-GTX 980 and 980Ti setup we’ve looked at so far. SMP uses dedicated hardware inside the 1070’s Pascal Polymorph engine hardware and is thus a definite hardware upgrade to this new card.
In slightly more specific terms, SMP relies on 16 different viewports to re-composite any game image to a specific display type such as those mentioned above or others. One great effect of the SMP process at work is that it fixes a number of different image distortions with multi-monitor and special (VR, for example) displays which would be a typical problem in older non-Pascal cards without SMP. Thus, for example, if you’ve set up a gaming rig with three monitors arrayed together and the two outer displays angled inward for a better level of immersion in your game’s digital surroundings, SMP will warp and re-render the game visuals for this wider, partially angled field-of-view and compensate for possible distortions “realistically”. The same applies for VR displays, in which the SMP mechanism in Pascal will render game objects from two different viewpoints which mimic the positions of the two human eyes instead of simply showing the same object twice for each eye as would be the vase without SMP. The result is a smoother and more accurately rendered quality of VR gameplay visuals.
Next, we need to mention Nvidia’s Ansel addition to both the 1070 and its bigger cousin the GTX 1080. While not necessary for serious gaming, Ansel (which is named after the famous American landscape photographer Ansel Adams) is a sort of free-roaming camera feature in the Pascal architecture which lets a user pause a game in mid-play and take high resolution screenshots sans User interface artefacts of the surrounding landscape from a wide angle, three dimensional POV. Those shots can then be taken out and edited with all sorts of adjustments for grain, vignettes, lens floor, color tweaks and so forth.
What makes Ansel even more impressive is how it users the CUDA-based imaging stitcher in Pascal to join together as many as 3600 tiles of imagery for a single massive photo which can be scaled right up to a whopping 4.5 gigapixels. For a bit of perspective on what this means, we’re talking about an image 1000 times larger than your average 4K still shot. With Ansel, 360 degree stereoscopic images can not only be captured, edited and saved but can also be revisited later with a VR headset for much more detailed examination. We should also note however that Ansel only works with certain games which have been designed to allow it. Some examples of these include: The Division, LawBreakers, The Witness, The Witcher 3 and Paragon among others.
Another superb addition to the GTX 1070 and its Pascal architecture is the inclusion of high dynamic range visuals support for the next generation of 4K UHD TV and monitor display technology. Nvidia has set up its new Pascal GPUs (the 1070 and 1080 mainly) so that they can take advantage of this content display evolution by being capable of displaying the much richer and broader HDR color gamut and contrast range. Of course, the HDR capacities of the 1070 also depend on a game having been optimized for HDR output to its graphics and for a display screen that’s capable of showing HDR content but the HDR gaming ecosystem is definitely on the way and Pascal in the 1070 is already prepared to meet it.
Finally, in much more general terms, the GTX 1070 from Nvidia is simply stunning in the combination of pricing, performance and energy efficiency it offers up. While this card isn’t on the same level as the truly heavy-duty GTX 1080, we suspect that its lower price and still superb performance metrics by the standards of older high-end GPUs will serve to make the 1070 the more popular of the two graphics cards. It really is something to ponder, a card that delivers the same power as the once flagship Nvidia Titan X card but costs only a little more than a third as much while also using up much less power. 4K UHD gaming is definitely in the cards with the 1070 and as a 1440p gaming card, this GPU is pretty much perfect. Using the 1070 for Full HD gameplay is essentially total overkill but at the lower price that the card is retailing for we suspect a lot of serious gamers will leap at the chance anyhow.
4.4 - 13 Reviews
Very little can be called bad about the GTX 1070. Nvidia has taken their GPU development to new levels with the next generation of Pascal cards and the 1070 is perhaps the most ideal example of this we’ve yet seen, even if it lacks the heavier power specs of its GTX 1080 cousin. A couple of things are worth mentioning however.
First of all, the whole “Founder’s Edition” business of the first release of this card retailing for about $100 more than the normal eventual MSRP of the 1070 is a bit nonsensical. This may no longer apply depending on when you happen to read this review but at least for now, early adapters of the GTX 1070 are being charged a sort of punishment tax for their eagerness and in return getting no real performance benefits to having the so-called “Founder’s Edition” in their hands. This special first-release version of the GTX 1070 seems to consist of little more than the same core card but with a slightly different cosmetic appearance and a slightly upgraded power supply.
Secondly, Nvidia has delivered us a stunning piece of serious hardcore PC gaming technology in the 1070 but again neglected to make it easy to set up in an SLI configuration. This is a problem both the GTX 1070 and 1080 share and it’s a tiresome holdover from the aging SLI setup of older GTX models. In basic terms, putting together an SLI configuration of two or more 1070 cards is tricky and less than ideal in terms of gaming functionality and the process for bridging two or more 1070 cards for truly stunning performance power requires the convoluted steps of using an older, slower brides other than the HB bridge technology recommended by Nvidia itself. Furthermore, users who want to connect three 1070s or more together need to download a special app from the Nvidia website itself, use it to generate a GPU-specific signature for their particular cards and with this signature, request an enthusiast key from Nvidia, which can then be downloaded and used to unlock three and four-way SLI functionality. Like we said, convoluted and to top things off, things like DirectX 12 game support for multi-display monitors and controlling multiple different GPUs directly through the game don’t work easily either with the GTX 1070.
Finally, the Nvidia GTX 1070 GPU, for all its stunning power is still not the genuine ideal in 4K UHD gaming. Even the GTX 1080 doesn’t quite pull off the truly ideal task of fully supporting 4K UHD graphics at high detail levels and smoothly high frame-rates across all types of currently existing top-shelf PC games (though it comes the closest we’ve yet seen a GPU comes to doing so). The 1070 does this to an even lesser degree and while it’s definitely 4K-capable GPU by the standards of all older Nvidia and AMD cards, its performance comfort zone is definitely more oriented towards 1440p PC gaming.
We absolutely love the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card and its extremely versatile new Pascal architecture. It’s hard not to. This killer card offers up stellar 1440p and high–speed Full HD gaming performance while also delivering decent 4K gaming power on some games and manages to do these things while costing only a fraction of previous cards from Nvidia which were capable of the same level of performance. The GTX 1070 is the card we think will be more popular than its more powerful cousin the 1080 among the high-end PC gaming crowd and almost everything about it backs the likelihood of popularity up.
• CUDA Cores: 1920
• Texture Units: 160
• ROPs: 64
• Core Clock: 1506MHz
• Boost Clock: 1683MHz
• Memory Clock: 8 Gbps
• Memory Bus Width: 256-bit
• VRAM: 8GB GDDR5
• TDP: 150W
• GPU: GP104
• Architecture: Pascal
• Transistor Count: 7.2 billion
• Manufacturing Process: TSMC 16nm FinFET
• Launch Price: avg $500
As we’d referred to above repeatedly, the Nvidia GTX 1070 is one ridiculously fast GPU thanks to its Pascal architecture. Without a doubt, at least among the current offerings of 4K PC graphics cards, this card completely beats everything else on the market right now except the GTX 1080. It’s almost 20% faster than its own direct predecessor the 980Ti, about equal to its Nvidia Titan X cousin and maybe 30 to 50% faster than AMD’s 390X and Fury X cutting edge GPUs respectively. And this is just the kind of average performance superiority the 1070 offers. If we go into specific examples of performance superiority in particular 4K graphics-capable games at particular detail settings, the capacity of the 1070 can comfortably outpace that of predecessors or rivals. Thus, for example, when running a game like Shadow of Mordor at a 4K resolution under Very High detail settings, the 1070 delivers frame rate performance that reaches 50fps while its GTX 980Ti cousin can handle no more than an average pf 35 fps on the same game at the same settings. These are truly impressive metrics and possible thanks largely to the tremendous overclocking capacity of the card and by the extreme efficiency of its Pascal chip architecture.
In basic terms, even in a single unit configuration, the GTX 1070 is an absolute killer for 1440p gaming at high frame rates (not just normal frame rates but high frame rates) and the second best card there is today for serious 4K gaming. For 1080p PC gaming, this card is total overkill under almost any normal circumstances.
Serious Power Efficiency
Despite the immense performance capacity of the GTX 1070 as described above, Nvidia has still packed a huge quantity of power efficiency into the card as well. This is a quality the GTX 1070 shares with its bigger GTX 1080 brother but with even better power use specs and the practical result of this translates into as much as three times the power efficiency of the next best Nvidia card, the Titan X and slightly less need for wattage than what is required to run the much weaker GTX 980Ti card (165 watts). Thus, the GTX 1070 is rated at a 150 watt TDP even under full stress testing according to Nvidia, though we’ve noted that the figure is closer to 160 watts under heavy stress loads. In either case, this still amounts to some superb power consumption given the performance you can extract from this card and the 1070’s specs are especially impressive when compared to those of older AMD GPUs or Nvidia’s own older offerings like the comparably powerful Titan X. To give a practical example of just what we’re talking about, we need only look at the until recently flagship AMD Fury X, which delivers only about two thirds the performance power of the 1070 but chows down on 276 watts of power while heating up much worse than its Nvidia counterpart.
Awesome New Technology
The fundamental core of why the GTX 1070 can manage all of the above power consumption and performance benchmarks so spectacularly lies in the fantastically advanced new GPU technology that powers the card. After years of 28nm manufacturing for chipsets for both Nvidia and AMD, at least Nvidia has now escaped into 16nm transistor design with the Pascal architecture of the GTX 1070 and 1080. On top of this, the GTX 1070 Pascal system also packs in performance enhancing 3D FinFET processor features and the already-mentioned new features like Async computing technology, HDR and HDR support as an added future-proofing bonus. These technologies mean a considerable generational leap in development that translates directly into the generally superior speed, performance, graphics processing power and power usage that we’re seeing with the GeForce GTX 1070.
4.4 - 13 Reviews
Finally, we get down the meaty performance benchmarks of the Nvidia GTX 1070 GPU. Across power consumption, general performance, specific frame rates at different game settings and measurements for noise generation, we can see how the 1070 stacks up against some of its main rivals.
General performance during gameplay
In simple terms, the GTX 1070 is a dream card for 1440p gamers who want to max out all but the most demanding PC games in 1440p resolution while also being able to dip their feet moderately well into full-blown 4K UHD gaming. If your only interest is Full HD gameplay and this is how your PC display and other components are arrayed, then the GTX is total overkill unless you want perfect performance for high-frame rate HD gaming of the most detailed kind. Like we said before in this review, the GTX 1070 is not a top-level 4K gaming card when stacked up against the 1080 and many of the more heavy-duty games that can be played with this GPU at 4K resolution and high detail levels won’t come close to reaching 60fps or even 50fps in many cases. Gamers who want a much more robust 4K UHD performer are much better off going for the GTX 1080 over the GTX 1070 but for thoroughly awesome 1440p gameplay with the flexibility of seriously playing with 4K games and maxing out Full HD gaming at high frame rates, the 1070 is just about ideal.
In testing of these following games at all of the three major gaming resolutions, we get an idea of what the GTX 1070 delivers when measured against the competition in terms of a 99th percentile score. That is to say, the following frame rates, unless otherwise stated, show the minimum performance of the GTX 1070 and possibly key comparable GPUs as they operate at least 99% of the time. In even simpler terms, their minimal frame rates for select games during 99% of the time:
• 1080p performance
When it comes to 1080p performance, the GTX 1070 is just ridiculous in the power of its performance, and to a degree that essentially makes this card total overkill for any normal Full HD gaming at any detail settings you can think of. In fact, the only Full HD gamers for which the 1080 would seriously apply might be the high frame rate gaming crowd which wants a GPU that easily reaches the 120fps or faster mark without breaking a sweat. That’s where the 1070 excels and as a card for Full HD gameplay, this GTX GPU is about 10% faster than the Titan X, around 30% faster than the GTX 980Ti and way ahead of older or non-4K cards like AMD’s R9 Fury X GPU, 390X or Nvidia’s own 780Ti or 970 GPU’s. Compared to these GPUs, the GTX 1070 is a monster of superior performance.
Rise of the Tomb Raider (1080p)
All tests below in 1080P, 1440P and 2160P for Rise of the Tomb Raider were done at the following settings:
• Very high Quality mode
• FXAA/HBAO+ enabled
• 16x AF enabled
GTX 1070: 99fps (108 fps max)
GTX 1080: 102 fps (131 fps max)
GTX Titan X: 98 fps (106 fps max)
GTX 980Ti: 67 fps (76 fps max)
AMD Radeon R9 Nano: 63 fps (67 fps max)
Hitman (2016) (1080p)
All tests below in 1080P, 1440P and 2160P for Hitman (2016) were done at the following settings
• DirectX 12
• Ultra Quality settings
• 16x AF
GTX 1070: 86 fps (107 fps max)
GTX 1080: 107 fps (120 fps max)
GTX Titan X: 78 fps (98 fps max)
GTX 980Ti: 76 fps (99 fps max)
AMD Radeon R9 Nano: 75 fps (83 fps max)
• 1440p performance
Moving up to 1440p performance, we’re now dealing with graphics that on any normal-sized PC monitor would be visually indistinguishable from 4K graphics in terms of observable detail. Thus, the 1440p resolution of basic UHD gaming is a great level at which gamers can go beyond Full HD without suffering the slowdown caused by full blown 4K graphics and highest possible detail levels that to date plagues all existing GPU’s (even the GTX 1080 to some degree). That said, while a wide range of graphics cards from both Nvidia and AMD can handle 1440p gaming quite well even if they don’t manage to render high frame rates in full 4K, the GTX 1070 positively excels at this particular resolution and delivers frame rate performance which is outclassed mofr the most part only by its own cousin the GTX 1080, though the Titan X also gives the GTX 1070 a run for its money at times.
Rise of the Tomb Raider (1440p)
GTX 1070: 71fps (102 fps max)
GTX 1080: 90 fps (123 fps max)
GTX Titan X: 72 fps (98 fps max)
GTX 980Ti: 56 fps (90 fps max)
AMD Radeon R9 Nano: 46 fps (67 fps max)
Hitman (2016) (1440p)
GTX 1070: 65fps (74 fps max)
GTX 1080: 82 fps (90 fps max)
GTX Titan X: 60 fps (73 fps max)
GTX 980Ti: 58 fps (67 fps max)
AMD Radeon R9 Nano: 63 fps (72 fps max)
• 4K UHD (2160p) performance
4K UHD gaming is the definite maximum metric of a GPU’s gaming chops and to-date no GPU we’ve managed to review has ever managed to deliver 50fps+ frame rates across the board to all games at 4K graphics settings and high detail levels consistently. This applies even to the flagship GTX 1080 which is considerably more powerful than the GTX 1070 and thus it definitely applies to the 1070 to a considerably greater degree. However, the 1070 can deliver enough performance power to make 4K gaming a plausible experience at decent frame rates if you choose your games carefully and play with the detail settings and other graphics calibrations. However, this GPU is not quite the robust 4K graphics card that the GTX 1080 is.
Rise of the Tomb Raider (2160p)
GTX 1070: 37fps (48 fps max)
GTX 1080: 46 fps (57 fps max)
GTX Titan X: 38 fps (47 fps max)
GTX 980Ti: 28 fps (35 fps max)
AMD Radeon R9 Nano: 26 fps (36 fps max)
Hitman (2016) (2160p)
GTX 1070: 47fps (55 fps max)
GTX 1080: 55 fps (61 fps max)
GTX Titan X: 37 fps (43 fps max)
GTX 980Ti: 35 fps (45 fps max)
AMD Radeon R9 Nano: 34 fps (43 fps max)
As we’d already mentioned above, the GTX 1070 is one absolute winner at power consumption efficiency in general terms, just like the 1080. The Pascal architecture is largely responsible for the superb power consumption specs of both cards and the difference between these GPUs and the older Maxwell GPUs is huge. Thus, Instead of the 250 watt TDP of the Titan X, the 1070 uses an average of just over 150 watts despite delivering equal or slightly superior performance to its Titan cousin. This performance margin applies to the GTX 1070 across the board in fact and when measured up against a number of comparably high-power cards like the Titan Z, AMD Radeon 295X2, Radeon R9 Fury X and the Nvidia GTX 980Ti, the GTX 1070 is the far better user of wattage hands down.
When used for moderate amounts of daily gaming, you can expect the GeForce GTX 1070 to run a total daily power consumption in watts of about 161. This can go up of course depending on how intensive the gaming in question is but even at a maximum of use, the 1070 is unlikely to exceed 290 to 300 watts of TDP. By comparison, the now nearly ancient but still very powerful Titan Z from Nvidia will eat up at least 480 watts per day when used moderately and this figure can go up still further. Even worse, AMD’s older but still very powerful R9 295x2 GPU consumes a monstrous 510 watts TDP under moderate use but with the GPU stressed to 100% under use.
As for recommended power unit specs for the GTX 1070, we’d suggest running this card off a single 600 watt power supply unit if you’re running a single-GPU configuration. If you’re going to take the Dual GTX 1080 SLI route, then go for an 850 to 900 watt power unit.
Heat and Noise generation
In terms of heat generation, the Nvidia 1070 is a decent performer that compares similarly to other new AMD and Nvidia cards. At an idle temperature of 37 degrees it stays fairly cool and when running at full stress for a prolonged session of game-play it can run as hot as 83 degrees Celsius. This is hot but not exceptionally so.
Just as it offers up superb power efficiency, the GTX 1070 also performs admirably in terms of the noise it produces. Nvidia’s cards generally tend to be quieter than their AMD counterparts but with the GTX 1080 and the 1070, Nvidia has really improved on noise output to a still superior degree.
Thus, under idle conditions, the decibel level you can expect from the GTX 1070 sits at no more than 34 Dba. Under load conditions, this will shoot up but only to about 40 Dba. These are impressive specs indeed when you consider how roughly comparable AMD cards like the R9 Nano generally run at 40 Dba or higher even under idle conditions.
For an idea of what the decibel levels of these cards mean in practical terms, the listing of different sounds and their Dba levels will give you some idea of what to expect:
• Jet takeoff (200 feet): 120 dBA (intolerable noise)
• Shout (5 feet): 100 dBA
• Heavy truck: (50 feet) 90 dBA (Very loud)
• Urban street: 80 dBA
• Normal conversation at 5 feet: 60 dBA
• Office, classroom: 50 dBA (Moderate)
• Living room: 40 dBA
• Bedroom at night: 30 dBA
• Rustling leaves: 10 dBA Barely audible
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 is nowhere near the 4K gaming GPU that the GTX 1080 is and if you’re serious about gaming at more consistently higher 50fps+ frame rates across the widest possible range of games without going into SLI configurations, then the 1080 is definitely more the card for you. However, the 1070 still does deliver better 4K UHD graphics handling performance than the vast majority of single processor GPUs out there and even outdoes the dual processor 295x2 from AMD by a comfortable margin. Basically, this is as much a 4K card as the Titan X is and the Titan X was definitely marketed for its performance chops.
More practically, if you want an absolutely superb performer at 1440p and high frame rate Full HD gaming that will also give you the ability to moderately play with 4K graphics in your favorite PC games, then the GTX 1070 is a superb and remarkably affordable choice.
The Nvidia GTX 1070 GPU is going on sale from $400 to $500, which we consider to be superbly reasonable considering the performance metrics of this cutting edge graphics card. On the other hand, for now, Nvidia is apparently only releasing a “Founder’s Edition” version that’s only superficially different from the final retail version of the GTX 1070 but costs a hefty margin more with an Amazon retail price of between $499 and $569 depending on which specific version you buy. (MSI, Gigabyte, EVGA, Zotac and so on).
4.4 - 13 Reviews
• The second best GPU for 4K gaming we’ve yet seen
• Stunning FPS performance in 1080p and 1440p
• Excellent power efficiency
• Decent temperature control
• Remarkably low noise
• Superb Pascal architecture performance
• GDDR5 memory is powerful
• SLI for three or more cards is complicated
• Not quite ready for consistent, high PFS 4K gaming