The graphics card industry has been much more subdued this year compared to the processor industry. In the latter area, the last eight months have seen an influx of AMD Ryzen CPUs, the introduction of Intel’s Core X enthusiast platform, and the transition to six-core mainstream CPUs from Intel, culminating in the Intel Core i7-8700K ($330.00 at Amazon)(Opens in a new window).
The graphics industry, and high-end graphics cards, in particular, has seen only three big releases so far in 2017. Early in the year, Nvidia released the potent GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition, and by the end of the year, AMD’s Radeon RX Vega cards had arrived, with the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 competing with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 and the Radeon RX Vega 56 edging out the GTX 1070 by a razor-thin margin.
Based on that latter evaluation, I believe Nvidia released the card we are discussing.
The GP104 processor found in the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 also underpins the Founders Edition of the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti. Its efficiency, as you might expect, is intermediate between the two. It falls in price between those two cards, with an MSRP of $449.
The price tag, though, maybe too high to go head-on with the RX Vega 56. It’s no secret that AMD’s comparable card costs $450 and up. Newegg and Amazon both sold an MSI Vega 56 card for around $420 to $425 while we were writing this review.
It’s unknown how long we’ll see the Vega 56 at this price level given the unstable coin-mining market and the fact that AMD’s Vega cards have been hard to find in stock at their advertised cost since launch. But at the moment, you can get it for less than the $399 MSRP that Nvidia had set for their new rival card.
Is it reasonable to expect the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti to justify its higher price tag in comparison to AMD’s Vega 56? Or you could just get a GTX 1080, which started at $489 at the time this article was written.
The price of a GTX 1070 Ti at the time you read this may have changed significantly, as its demand from cryptocurrency miners might cause its price to rise sharply in the days and weeks following its release.
Of course, efficiency is also crucial. We need to check how the new Nvidia card compares to Vega 56 and the GTX 1080. Here, we’ll state that the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti holds its own against both the GTX 1080 and the Radeon RX Vega 64. First, though, let’s have a closer look at the GTX 1070 Ti Founders Edition graphics card itself.
[Editor’s Note: Prices and specifications for video cards based on a certain graphics chip can vary widely from manufacturer to manufacturer. Video “reference cards” based on graphics processors from AMD and Nvidia are regularly sent out for testing and evaluation.
Many companies such as MSI, Sapphire, Gigabyte, EVGA, Asus, and others produce and sell cards that are nearly identical to the design of these reference boards (“stock boards”), or that have only minor differences in areas such as port configuration, clocking, the amount and speed of onboard memory, and the cooling fans or heatsinks installed.
Make sure the “partner” board you’re considering has the same features and input/output options as the ones we looked at. Reviewing the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti Founders Edition, which is functionally identical to the reference board but will also be available in this special edition.
Design & Features
Both the interior and outside of the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti Founders Edition are unchanged from previous versions. It shares the same silver and black metal casing and blower-style cooling as the original (current generation) GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 graphics cards, which were released in the middle of 2016.
The only noticeable difference between the new card and the older one is the GTX 1070 Ti logo engraved into the metal on the back, next to the port plate. The card is 10.5 inches long, the same as the reference design for the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 and Vega 56.
Those more recent Nvidia cards have the same supplementary eight-pin PCI Express power connector as the earlier ones did. Thermal design power (a measure of heat dissipation requirements) of 180 watts is more than the 150 watts of the GTX 1070 and is on par with the flagship GTX 1080.
However, cards sold by board partners like Asus, MSI, and Zotac will typically feature more than one secondary power port in an effort to provide more (and more steady) power for overclocking. For example, the MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Ti Gaming 8G (also illustrated below) needs both an eight- and a six-pin PCI Express power connector in order to function properly during testing.
The GeForce GTX 1070 Ti has 2,432 CUDA cores, which is just 5% less than the 2,560 found in the GTX 1080. This is intriguing because, as we will see in our tests, the new Nvidia card lags behind the GTX 1080 by about the same amount.
The new card’s base frequency of 1,607 MHz is the same as the GTX 1080’s base clock, while the boost clock of 1,683 MHz is lower than the GTX 1080’s advertised boost rate of 1,733 MHz.
Also, unlike the GTX 1080 and GTX 1080 Ti, which employ the faster GDDR5X memory, the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti sticks with GDDR5 memory. While GDDR5 is still quite fast and the most popular memory type in most mid to high-end graphics cards, we don’t anticipate the slower memory to make a major difference in most circumstances.
Performance Testing & Conclusion
Testing cards are in a state of flux right now due to two technologies that are having trouble gaining popularity, as we’ve highlighted in our other recent card evaluations.
DirectX 12 (DX12) is the first of these, and it has been around since 2015. Microsoft’s latest API is designed for video games, but it lacks extensive real-world testing. Nonetheless, DX12 is expected to become the standard graphics API in the future, and this card was built to last for at least that long.
Therefore, it is crucial to determine whether or not a card has adequate support for DX12 before making a purchase. Hitman (2016 edition), Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Futuremark’s 3DMark DX12 benchmark, Time Spy, were used to put the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti through its paces. Also, as DirectX 11 is expected to remain popular for a while yet, we tested a number of games with that API.
Additionally, we have VR aid. As virtual reality grows in popularity, a handful of VR-specific benchmarks are appearing, such as FutureMark’s VRMark. But for the time being, it’s also vital to keep in mind the needs of the headset manufacturers, HTC in the case of its HTC Vive, and Oculus with its Oculus Rift.
At present, the AMD Radeon RX 480 (or the more recent RX 580) and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 are the minimum requirements for running these VR headsets. The GeForce GTX 1070 Ti is far superior to both of those GPUs, so it should have no trouble running any virtual reality game released in the last few years.
3D Mark Fire Strike Ultra
Starting with Futuremark’s 2013 3DMark, we ran the Fire Strike Ultra benchmark. As a simulated test of gaming prowess, Fire Strike is a useful indicator of overall skill. The goal of Ultra is to replicate the strains of 4K gaming graphics rendering.
It was clear from the start that the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti was significantly faster than the AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 in this benchmark. The latest Nvidia card behind the GTX 1080 by 8 or 9 percent. However, the Radeon RX Vega 64 is the best option among these cards of a similar price. This situation won’t last forever, though.
We also ran the cards through the less demanding 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme test and found results similar to those obtained with the Ultra setting.
Tomb Raider (2013)
Allow me to suggest that we begin our game testing with some classics. Here, we started up 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot, testing at three different screen resolutions and the game’s highest detail setting (“Ultimate”).
Now that we’ve moved on to real-world testing with genuine games, the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti is looking better, especially when compared to the AMD Vega cards in this initial title. The GeForce GTX 1070 Ti not only outperformed the Vega 56 but also outperformed the more expensive Vega 64 in all but 4K, where it lagged behind by a few frames per second. At the time of writing, the cheapest Vega 64 we could find was $570.
Then, we put Sleeping Dogs, an older game with a difficult real-world gaming benchmark test built into it, to the test.
The GeForce GTX 1070 Ti again trounced the AMD RX Vega 56 and, this time even came out on top against the Vega 64. In this case, the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti and GTX 1080 were barely 3 frames per second apart at 4K.