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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition Review: Taking on Turing's Best at $499

Fast and efficient, the RTX 3070 basically matches the previous gen 2080 Ti at less than half the cost.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 FE
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 FE

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The first two RTX 30-series Ampere GPUs pushed power ratings to the highest levels we've ever seen for a 'reference' design. RTX 3070 dials things back to relatively sane levels of just 220W, basically matching the 215W TDP of the RTX 2080 and RTX 2070 Super. 

It's a bit surprising that Nvidia only uses a single 8-pin PEG connector to feed the 12-pin connector, though, since the 8-pin is rated for 150W. Add in 75W from the PCIe slot, and it's basically right at the limit — the 2070 Super and 2080 both had an 8-pin plus 6-pin PEG configuration. At stock, the GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition should be within spec, but overclocking might have some oddities to investigate further.

For these tests, we run Metro Exodus at 1440p ultra without ray tracing or DLSS. We also use FurMark running at 1600x900 in a window using the stress test mode. We'll look at power, GPU clocks, temperatures, and fan speeds. We also measured noise levels of the RTX 3070, from a distance of 15cm. At idle, from that distance, our PC's noise floor is 46.0 dB (or 34 dB from where my head is relative to the case on the floor). After running Metro for 15 minutes, the 3070 FE noise levels were barely above that — 46.8 dB. Needless to say, the fans are doing an excellent job of cooling without making a lot of noise.

Clock speeds, temperatures, fan speeds, and power are all interrelated. Drop the clocks, and you reduce the power and temperature. Raise the fan speed, and you reduce the temperature and power use, potentially allowing for higher clocks. It's a four-way balancing act, and utilities like EVGA Precision X1 and MSI Afterburner allow you to customize your particular card (within limits).

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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Power use is just a bit below the rated 220W during Metro Exodus testing, while FurMark comes in at 224W. That's for stock operation. Overclocked with the power limit raised by 9 percent, power use reached 238W during Metro and 245W with FurMark.

Incidentally, that also pushes the card beyond the 225W theoretical limit of an 8-pin connector and the PCIe slot. Our PCIe slot measurements did go just above 75W during the overclocked tests, reaching 78.8W, while the maximum from the PCIe slot was 70W at stock. Meanwhile, the 8-pin connector had a peak power draw of 178.4W — even stock saw the 8-pin hit a peak of 165.3W, but we're not particularly worried about that since the power cable has two 8-pin connectors.

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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Average GPU clocks for the RTX 3070 Founders Edition are above the advertised boost clock, but what's interesting is that they're also slightly below the measured clocks for the RTX 3080. The boost clock is officially 1730 MHz on the 3070 and 1710 MHz on the 3080, but the 3080 ran at 1876 MHz average compared to 1863 MHz average on the 3070. FurMark flips the tables, with the 3070 averaging 1595 MHz and the 3080 getting 1576 MHz — both below the rated boost clock but above the base clock (which Nvidia doesn't actually list these days).

With the overclocked settings, the 3070 also averaged nearly 2GHz, coming in just 37MHz short. It periodically boosts above 2000 MHz but won't maintain those clocks — at least with the Founders Edition and a 220W + 9% (240W) power limit. Some third-party cards will very likely stay above 2GHz while gaming.

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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The RTX 3070 FE at stock runs pretty cool, reaching a peak temperature of 69C after a couple of minutes of gaming. The average temperature during our Metro testing was 66C, but note that the longer you game, the higher the average will get. When overclocked, the peak temperature and average temperatures were basically unchanged, but that's because we applied a custom fan curve that was a bit more aggressive. In FurMark, clock throttling kicks in to keep temperatures in check, with a peak stock result of 68C and an overclocked result of 70C, with average temperatures of 66.5C and 68C, respectively. 

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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

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Here you can better see the results of our fan speed customization with the overclocked 3070. It settled in at about 1600 RPM when overclocked, compared to 1300 RPM at stock. Also, note that the GTX 1070 is getting old and can be a bit of a curmudgeon, and the fans appear to be working extra hard to keep it running at around 75C. A good deep cleaning of the radiator fins and fan blades would likely help — something to keep in mind if you have an older GPU that's overheating or running loud.

In general, the GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition performs well, and the new cooler and fan design get the job done. Considering this is a much smaller card than the 3080, the thermal and noise results, in particular, are welcome. You could definitely fit the card into a smaller case, though we'd still recommend something with a decent amount of airflow. If you want a cooler-running RTX 3070, third party cards will definitely fill that role — some companies are basically taking their RTX 3080 coolers and slapping them on a 3070, which will provide ample cooling for the lower-power GPU.

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Jarred Walton

Jarred Walton is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on everything GPU. He has been working as a tech journalist since 2004, writing for AnandTech, Maximum PC, and PC Gamer. From the first S3 Virge '3D decelerators' to today's GPUs, Jarred keeps up with all the latest graphics trends and is the one to ask about game performance.

  • mikeymyke
    Wow quite late on the review, just like the other reviews.
    Reply
  • tupoun
    Hello, please stop these 1.000,- € cards present as 499,- $ GPUs. Thank you.
    Reply
  • thusinutz
    Did this post time travel a from a period where we naively believe that a 3070 could be bought for usd 500? I'll keep my 1070 for perpetuity. Thanks.
    Reply
  • Krotow
    Please don't irritate people with 500$ price for 3070. It was never true. Think 1000$ and above now.

    Lack of RGB is giant bonus for anyone who want his PC being hidden and silent under table.
    Reply
  • thusinutz
    Krotow said:
    Please don't irritate people with 500$ price for 3070. It was never true. Think 1000$ and above now.

    Lack of RGB is giant bonus for anyone who want his PC being hidden and silent under table.
    I created an account just to complain about this LOL
    Reply
  • etre
    Well, maybe keep the price out of the title, like is a salient point.
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    The initial GPU review posts, which all went up on the appropriate launch dates (as in, not one second late on any of them) were all a single monolithic page. There are reasons behind that, but the short summary is that the managing editors at Tom's Hardware are now redirecting the original URL into the new paginated version. The text and charts have not changed, on any of the reviews. It's just a change in the presentation. The original review was posted at https://www.tomshardware.com/news/nvidia-geforce-rtx-3070-founders-edition-review and the new version with pages is at https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/nvidia-geforce-rtx-3070-founders-edition-review -- which is why the comments reset. (You can still read the original comments in the old forum thread if you want:

    https://forums.tomshardware.com/threads/nvidia-geforce-rtx-3070-founders-edition-review-taking-on-turings-best-at-499.3657278/
    Reply
  • Krotow
    Ironically initial reviews with old MSRP prices appeared on most painful moment in GPU purchasing history ever :)
    Reply
  • ctn.gooners
    Just logging into to complain the horrible availability of this card on Best Buy. Their ordering system doesn't work and just being screwed by scalpers.

    Best Buy needs to honor orders base in the time it was ordered rather than releasing them.

    And shame on Nvidia. Horrible company to allow it
    Reply
  • Crazzy Crisis
    I hate to break it to the people in the comments but the MSRP for the 3070 is still $499. You can buy one at that price, albeit with infamously extreme difficulty. Use Hotstock and keep an eye on stores that are not Ebay for stock. Literally just bought a 3070 on 1/6/21 for MSRP after 3 weeks of waiting. On Best Buy, which another comment was complaining was facilitating bots to instantly sweep up everything.

    Stop being so dramatic, it's just a graphics card. It will not change your life. If you want to complain about paying $1000 bucks to scalpers, go for it. But you paid the idiot tax and put money in their pocket. Do not assume the rest of us need to as well.
    Reply