NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Performance Review
The launch of NVIDIA’s RTX series has been a bit of a hit and miss situation. The RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080 performing well in benchmarks but their pricing is very, very high for what you get. Meanwhile, the Founders Editions we covered at launch came with steep premiums and the “starting at” prices NVIDIA quoted for both cards still haven’t materialized.
Now we’ve moved onto the RTX 2070 and things are being done a bit differently. You see, NVIDIA has put the burden of this launch upon the board partners’ collective shoulders by insisting they send out samples of cards which have the $500 “starting at” price. The only problem is that NVIDIA’s directive came pretty late in the game and as a result, every partner I spoke to was scrambling to switch production to lower cost cards. Speaking for myself, my samples arrived on a Friday morning with launch on a Tuesday and a flight to Beijing on Saturday afternoon. To say this was all last minute is being generous.
The reason I mention this is because it goes completely against NVIDIA’s typical nature. In this industry, AMD’s Radeon division has the dubious honor of always saddling reviewers with last minute information and samples arriving on short notice. NVIDIA on the other had usually communicates well in advance and the GPU’s arrive with about a week buffer zone before launch. This time we didn’t even hear a peep from the folks at Team Green and it took hours of emails and phone calls to nail down the samples I ended up receiving. What a bloody mess.
OK enough ranting and raving for one introduction. Let’s quickly recap what this new card is all about, starting with the TU106 core. This 10.8 billion transistor die has been supposedly architected for that perfect blend of efficiency, pricing and performance. It actually shares a lot in common with the TU102 since there are a dozen SMs per GPC and in many ways it looks like NVIDIA took their higher end core and simply cut it in half.
There’s actually some interesting things going on here too. Unlike the RTX 2080 Ti which has a ROP partition / GPC ratio of 2:1, this chip has eight ROP groupings and three GPCs. There’s also 4MB of L2 cache which is quite a bit considering how many SMs and Texture Processing Units’ information is being fed into the memory. However, this ROP and cache-heavy design was necessary to ensure the TU106 received the eight memory controllers necessary for a 256-bit GDDR6 bus.
All in all, the RTX 2070 will ship with 2304 CUDA Cores, 144 Texture Units and 64 ROPs. This chip will also likely be used for further cut down version of the RTX series if NVIDIA sees a market for them.
When those specs are put to paper, it looks like the RTX 2070 will have a bit of a hard time of things since, other than the extremely high memory bandwidth, its specs trail those of the GTX 1070 Ti quite significantly. Its “starting at” $500 price point is also higher than what many custom, pre-overclocked 1070 Ti’s are currently going for.
There’s no doubt NVIDIA’s RTX 2070 will run all over the GTX 1070 but there’s that price to contend with once again. Remember, back when there was more competition in the market NVIDIA launched that card at $380 and yet here we are staring down the barrel of a $500 shotgun for its successor. That hurts, especially when the very features RTX buyers are paying a premium for have failed to materialize in their favorite games.
Perhaps a larger issue for NVIDIA is how their RTX 2070 Founders Edition will be perceived by the buying public. It carries a whopping 20% premium over the baseline spec, bringing cost to within spitting distance of an RTX 2080. Provided board partners are able to launch versions at and below $550, I just can’t see gamers gravitating towards this version unless they are absolutely hardcore NVIDIA fans or the cooler design is something they absolutely need to have.
Luckily, just before leaving I ended up receiving two cards that I hope will be somewhat (more on that below) representative of what will be available in the market.
Let’s start with the ASUS RTX 2070 Turbo which happens to be a card that should be retailing for $500. Notice I said “should”? That’s because I’m told these particular blower-style cards will be precious commodities on launch day and likely for some time after that as well. That’s because board partners typically focus upon their premium custom wares rather than these more rudimentary designs.
With that being said, the ASUS Turbo is your typical blower-style setup that insures all of the its hot air is exhausted outside the case. For gamers with small form factor systems, this could be quite beneficial provided temperatures, core speeds and acoustics remain in line.
One interesting addition to this card is the power input which continues the RTX 2080’s tradition of a 6+8 pin layout. With a TDP of 175W, this isn’t strictly necessary but I think NVIDIA is adding a buffer to insure there’s some overhead when those Tensor and RT cores get utilized sometime in the future. Those take up a good amount of die space and will also require no small quantity of power as well.
The other card I received during my last whirlwind day at the office was EVGA’s RTX 2070 XC. I think it happens to represent a perfect example of what many will gravitate towards in the days and months following this launch.
No only has EVGA given this thing a heavily upgraded heatsink when compared against the ASUS Turbo but the XC’s clock speeds equal those of NVIDIA’s Founders Edition. It also happens to cost $550, nicely bridging the yawning gap between the FE and ASUS’ Turbo.
I won’t comment about EVGA’s latest round of GPU design other than to say I’m not much of a fan but plenty of other folks absolutely love the direction they’re going. What I will say is that EVGA should be commended for keeping the XC to 10.6” which is a good inch shorter than their RTX 2080 alternatives.
OK enough of me prattling on but before I switch over to the benchmarks you are all waiting for, you’ll see some interesting additions to the charts. Frankly, Hardware Canucks caught no small amount of deserving flak for testing the RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080 Founders Editions against previous generation FE cards. Some folks claimed our testing didn’t necessarily represent the current state of the market. I’m endeavoring to correct that perception by adding a few cards that do reflect the current Pascal offerings: the EVGA GTX 1080 SC2 iCX Gaming, ASUS GTX 1070 Ti Cerberus and ASUS GTX 1070 STRIX 8G OC.
One thing to remember before clicking over onto the next page is that 1000-series cards are either selling out or their prices are seeing rapid increases as stock levels diminish. Sure there are some great deals to be found on every one of the older cards but you’ll need to search them out. And buyer beware of the used market since there are plenty of heavily used ex-mining cards out there without transferrable warranties.
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