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NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition Review
Review By @ 12:00am 28/10/20

Product: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Founder’s Edition
Type: Graphics Card
Price: $499 USD/$809 AUD
Availability: October 29

When a new line-up of graphics hardware hits the market, it’s only natural for the attention to be placed on the flagship. The one amongst the bunch that aims to push performance and on-screen digital effects wizardry to the next level. And sometimes, find that warp whistle and cut straight to the final boss fight. You know, epic stuff.

In the case of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080, which represents the company’s flagship GPU in its latest Ampere generation of GeForce RTX graphics cards, the 4K performance is nothing short of a stunning generational leap.

As per our full review it not only provides a massive bump over the still impressive RTX 2080, but it decimates the costly and beastly GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. In a lower cost package that presents NVIDIA’s best value for money, in a flagship release, in years. In everyday terms: DOOM Eternal, max settings, 4K, 144+ frames-per-second.

And so the performance crown was transferred from one generation to the next. Bequeathed if you will. But, game performance was only one of part of the picture, advances in architecture, cutting edge broadcast tools, latency optimisations, second generation ray-tracing RT Cores, and third-generation AI-based Tensor Cores all but put up a sign proclaiming ‘If you’re serious about PC gaming, well, the RTX 3080 is what you want’.

With holiday releases Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Watch Dogs: Legion, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and of course - Cyberpunk 2077 around the RTX On corner it’s all about to get very tasty in the gaming department.

Setting aside unprecedented demand, general 2020 chaos, a global pandemic, worldwide supply chain disruptions, and other mitigating factors that have hampered the RTX 3080 launch - the latest member of the RTX 30 series is ready to hit the scene. Enter tempered glass case left, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070.

In many ways it’s even more impressive than the RTX 3080. Like the legends foretold, the RTX 3070 not only outperforms the RTX 2080 Ti, it manages to do so at less than half the cost and in a smaller and more power efficient form factor. And in the case of the Founder’s Edition - feature a truly gorgeous design that has made NVIDIA’s latest line-up one of the most visually appealing tech releases in years.

From Turing to Ampere

The below is a summary of the RTX 30 Series technology, applicable to all RTX 3070 models. An Ampere primer if you will.

The next generation of gaming across PC and consoles, in terms of AAA high-end titles, will be driven by resolution, frame-rate, and cutting-edge effects like real-time ray-tracing. The latter is already here thanks to NVIDIA’s Turing line of graphics cards, first brought to the scene in 2018 with the GeForce RTX 2080 and GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. The original ‘RTX On’, the 20 series of GPUs from NVIDIA made that tech-dream of real-time ray-tracing a reality.

In order to make that possible, additional hardware in the form of RT Cores were brought into the picture to take some of the taxing light rays bouncing around a scene computation off the GPU processors, NVIDIA’s CUDA Cores. To ensure that games were, well, playable, Tensor Cores were also introduced -- leveraging NVIDIA’s expertise in the field of AI to drive rendering with DLSS.

Like the legends foretold, the RTX 3070 not only outperforms the RTX 2080 Ti, it manages to do so at less than half the cost and in a smaller and more power efficient form factor.

Ray-tracing was groundbreaking in 2018 but it took a while to take off. Hardware appeared on shelves long before the first ray-traced games did, and from there everything from game optimisation to Windows 10 support to NVIDIA’s own AI-based DLSS rendering went through a growth period. The results though, came. If you build it they will come.

Remedy’s Control with DLSS 2.0 is without a doubt one of the most impressive visual feats we’ve seen in a long time. And with Cyberpunk 2077 and Watch Dogs: Legion, both featuring RTX and DLSS support, to quote pop group Yazz - ‘The Only Way Is Up’.

This is where Ampere comes in, the architecture that powers NVIDIA’s RTX 30 series. Think of it as the second generation of RTX – the PlayStation 2 to the original PlayStation. Ampere features second generation RT Cores (NVIDIA’s dedicated ray-tracing hardware) and third-generation Tensor Cores (the AI stuff that makes DLSS the perfect match for hardware intensive ray-tracing in addition to simply boosting performance).

Then there’s the new custom Samsung 8nm process and the re-designed board that radically re-designs the Streaming Multiprocessor (SM) to effectively double the concurrent calculations and what have you. To get technical we’re talking about FP32 and INT32 operations, two things that are, err, things. In the end Ampere is all about the future -- resolution, frame-rate, AI-rendering, and cutting-edge effects like real-time ray-tracing using smart design that features forward thinking innovations like DLSS.

And really, that might just be NVIDIA’s secret weapon - AI-based rendering that offers a sizable bump in performance to present an image that is more often than not more detailed than its native resolution counterpart.

Of Numbers and Heat Sinks

Now we enter the shirt-tucked-in-and-suspenders portion of the review, tech talk. And on that front it’s best to look at the RTX 3070 as the successor to the RTX 2070. Even though it’s performance beats that of the RTX 2080 Ti, from a price-point, form factor, lower overall power usage, and other features it’s position in the RTX 30 line-up is not as the flagship. It's the over-achieving middle child. The more affordable and enticing option. Starting at $499 USD and $809 AUD, it’s a formidable bit of tech.

Thanks to advances made to the SM architecture, the RTX 3070 features more than double the CUDA Core count of the RTX 2070 and a higher boost clock too. Even put up against the mid-generation refresh that was the RTX 2070 SUPER (another great card), the RTX 3070 is still one hell of a generational leap.

When looked at in that value light, you begin to see just why the RTX 3070 is as impressive as it is. Thanks to advances made to the SM architecture, the RTX 3070 features more than double the CUDA Core count of the RTX 2070 and a higher boost clock too. Even put up against the mid-generation refresh that was the RTX 2070 SUPER (another great card), the RTX 3070 is still one hell of a generational leap. In everyday terms: DOOM Eternal, max settings, 4K, 107+ frames-per-second.
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Founder’s Edition
  • Architecture (GPU): Ampere
  • CUDA Cores: 5888
  • RT Cores: 46
  • Tensor Cores: 184
  • GPU Boost Clock: 1725 MHz
  • Memory Capacity: 8GB GDDR6
  • Memory Interface/Clock: 256-bit/7000 MHz
  • Memory Bandwidth: 448 GB/s
  • TDP: 220W

In fact there’s only one area where the RTX 3070 doesn’t quite feel as next-gen as the rest of the package, and that’s with it’s RTX 2070 like-for-like memory capacity, speed, and bandwidth. In our original review of the RTX 2080 Ti, a card which features 11GB of memory, we noted that it felt like a true 4K card. Part of that came from the extra VRAM, a thing you need every time you bump up the resolution.

As the performance numbers for the RTX 3070 show (they’re down below if you haven’t scrolled already), it eclipses the RTX 2080 Ti in both 4K and 1440p. Across the majority of tests we carried out, of which there were a lot. That said, there will be some titles where 8GB might not be enough for things like 4K texture packs and extra detail settings cranked all the way up. 10GB here, in-line with the RTX 3080, would have felt better. Especially as the next-gen consoles push game visuals on the PC side in the coming years.

The RTX 3070 is more than numbers on a spec sheet or results laid out all pretty in a chart. In keeping with the next-gen console talk, NVIDIA’s RTX IO will leverage the same DirectStorage tech that we’ll get to see on the Xbox Series X, leading to GPU-based decompression, faster loading, and better memory management.

In terms of competitive gaming and Esports, NVIDIA’s Reflex technology is something of a game changer in its own right, lowering system latency across a wide range of supported titles like Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Call of Duty. Paired with NVIDIA’s own tools and a G-Sync, well, it just works. With display Latency being the time between input and action carried out and visible on screen, it’s something that goes up considerably when you go from 1080p to 1440p and 4K. Higher than 1080p esports will become a thing because of tech like this.

For content creators RTX Broadcast turns any space into a streaming setup with AI powered voice controls (that can go so far as to remove the background noise of a hair-dryer or lawn-mower) and green-screen-free green-screen effects. Both RTX Broadcast and NVIDIA Reflex present a mix of hardware, software, and AI - and like DLSS are a testament to a future where pure grunt will only represent part of the story.

Still, in the case of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Founder’s Edition, ol’ Grunty is one hell of a story.

Game Performance

Heading into this review, the assumption was that the RTX 3070 would be the 1440p powerhouse to compliment the RTX 3080 and its 4K, err, 4K-ness. No doubt we fully expected it to perform great on the high-end too, but odds are we forgot just how good the 2080 Ti still is.

Here’s a look at the RTX 3070 running the games in 4K with detail settings dialed up to 11 on the following setup.
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Founder’s Edition
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3800X
  • Motherboard: MSI MEG X570 UNIFY
  • Memory: HyperX FURY DDR4 RGB (32GB at 3600 MHz)

Okay, so the first thing you might notice here is that the RTX 3070 doesn’t quite maintain the 4K 60fps at max settings maximum impact of the RTX 3080’s 4K results. That said, tweaking a few settings (with minimal impact to the overall look) and the RTX 3070 is something you’d gladly pair-up with a 4K display.

In terms of performance, on the high-end both DOOM Eternal and Horizon Zero Dawn perform over 10% faster than the RTX 2080 Ti - which is, yeah, impressive. On average at 4K the RTX 3070 beats the RTX 2080 Ti by 4% in standard rasterised non-ray-traced titles. Now you might say that’s basically on par - and you’d be right. Add in some ray-tracing and it’s clear which is the superior of the two.

To keep things even, the two titles where the RTX 3070 performed slightly slower was in Gears 5 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. But we’re talking about 59fps versus 60fps in the case of Lara’s latest, which is pretty much negligible. Or, on par.

Running through the same games at 1440p and 1080p, we see a similarly impressive showing.

Except a couple of strange cases worthy of the Netflix reboot of Unsolved Mysteries - with Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order performing 6% slower than the 2080 Ti in 1440p but 7% faster in 4K. Forza Horizon 4 also ran marginally slower in 1440p. And before you whistle the Unsolved Mysteries theme and say “That ain’t no Unsolved Mystery”, let me add this additional twist - The Division 2 runs 12% faster in 1440p on the RTX 3070 yet basically the same in 4K.

If you have any information please let us know. Cue theme music.

Ray Tracing and DLSS

Although this review has pretty much kept the comparative competitiveness between the RTX 3070 and the RTX 2080 Ti, for those wondering how it stacks up against the RTX 2070, well, it’s around 60% faster. Which is the sort of generational leap that fits firmly within NVIDIA’s claims of this new range of GPUs presenting the company’s biggest generational leap to date.

The value with the RTX 3070 though, it’s safe to say, lies in its next-generation ray-tracing and AI-based DLSS rendering capabilities. On this front the on-par or better than the RTX 2080 Ti is all the more impressive - because the 2080 Ti was for the most part a supercharged version of the RTX 2080 created to offer the best ray-tracing experience possible.

As per the numbers above - ranging from 1080p to 1440p to 4K - the RTX 3070 offers up excellent 60fps and above 1440p ray-tracing performance. Which presents a good indicator of what to expect with both Watch Dogs: Legion and Cyberpunk 2077. This is not to say that sub 60fps is unplayable, paired with a G-Sync ultimate display both Control and Minecraft we still very smooth in 4K - but it’s almost set in stone that PC games need to hit 60fps or not even bother.

And It Looks Good Doing it Too

Like the RTX 3080, the GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition is gorgeous. Even with both fans on the same side the same radical new cooling design of its older sibling the 3080 is here - where air comes in one fan then gets expelled from the other. The traditional twin-fan look also features a smaller board with metallic grills, a hidden heat pipe, and a metal finish that is sturdy and solid. Much like the RTX 3080 the fans remain off when idle (at around 50-degrees) and when under load remains extremely quiet, with the fans rarely peaking and temperatures rarely rising above 72-degrees.

The value with the RTX 3070 though, it’s safe to say, lies in its next-generation ray-tracing and AI-based DLSS rendering capabilities. On this front the on-par or better than the RTX 2080 Ti is all the more impressive.

The RTX 3070 also features HDMI 2.1 for 4K 120Hz with HDR playback on modern TVs, another feather in its cap. And much like the lower overall power draw, it feels like a sleek, modern, and improved version of the RTX 2080 Ti. Weirdly it also features the same 12-pin connector as the RTX 3080 Founder’s Edition except this time a single 8-pin is all you need to get the truly impressive performance outlined above. A fact that will see several Partner Cards bump up the draw to deliver higher performance - stay tuned to AusGamers on that front.

Like the 3080 before it the RTX 3070 feels next-gen, a step forward for PC gaming. Trying to sum it all up in a single point feels impossible, and in a way that’s a good thing. Sure, it’s faster than a 2080 Ti but it’s also smaller. The RTX 3070 is quiet and power efficient to boot. It’s ray-tracing performance is exceptional and primed for next-gen releases like Cyberpunk 2077. Features like DLSS, NVIDIA Reflex, and RTX Broadcast add weight to the idea that great hardware is backed up by great software. In the end the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Founder’s Edition is the culmination of several impressive things coming together. In everyday terms: DOOM Eternal, max settings, 4K, 107+ frames-per-second.
What we liked
Faster than the 2080 Ti in 1440p and 4K
Excellent ray-tracing performance
Small, quiet, and relatively cool
Most power-efficient Ampere card to date
Founder's Edition design is gorgeous
What we didn't like
Only 8GB of VRAM
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 09:20am 28/10/20
Just a shame we won't be able to actually buy one of these in Australia. Third-party cards are likely to be $200-300 more than the un-available FE.
Posted 12:09pm 28/10/20
maybe we could work out a time share arrangement with the 1 card sent here to count as a retail release.
Posted 01:14pm 28/10/20
i'm still waiting on a tuf 3080 which apparently asus are no longer making. :/
Posted 09:03am 31/10/20
so I played the first game I've played in years that actually felt like it was taxing my 8 year old PC (Hell Let Loose). I am on the verge of a new PC anyway and wondering if I should go the whole hog for a 3xxx series or if a 2080 series would still be adequate and better bang for buck, with the assumption I could upgrade to 3xxx later?
Posted 01:36pm 31/10/20
I'm still waiting for my MSI 3090 gaming X trio FFS
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