The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition is here — or at least it will be on October 29, and we can provide a full review today. Following in the footsteps of the GeForce RTX 3080 and GeForce RTX 3090, this is the third of the new Nvidia Ampere architecture GPUs. In terms of performance, price, and features, these new GPUs rank at the top of our GPU benchmarks hierarchy and are some of the best graphics cards right now. Except, they're still almost impossible to find in stock. Will the RTX 3070 suffer the same fate at launch, and how does it stack up against the other current and previous-gen GPUs? That's what we're here to find out.
Fundamentally, the GeForce RTX 3070 will be similar in a lot of ways to the RTX 3080 and 3090 … except, not really, because changes to the core counts, memory capacity, and memory speed can all have a pretty significant impact on performance. Nvidia claimed during the Ampere reveal in September that the RTX 3070 was "faster than the RTX 2080 Ti," which would be an impressive result if it's true. It has more cores and higher TFLOPS ratings, but less memory and bandwidth. Here's the block diagram for GA104 along with the full spec sheet for the Ampere GPUs, along with the RTX 2070 / 2070 Super that the newcomer replaces.
|Graphics Card||RTX 3090||RTX 3080||RTX 3070||RTX 2070 Super||RTX 2070|
|Process Technology||Samsung 8N||Samsung 8N||Samsung 8N||TSMC 12FFN||TSMC 12FFN|
|Die size (mm^2)||628.4||628.4||392.5||545||445|
|SMs / CUs||82||68||46||40||36|
|Base Clock (MHz)||1395||1440||1500||1605||1410|
|Boost Clock (MHz)||1695||1710||1725||1770||1710|
|VRAM Speed (Gbps)||19.5||19||16||14||14|
|VRAM Bus Width||384||320||256||256||256|
|GFLOPS FP32 (Boost)||35581||29768||20314||9062||7880|
|TFLOPS FP16 (Tensor)||142 (285)||119 (238)||81 (163)||72||63|
The RTX 3070 is both a big step up from the previous-gen cards it replaces, as well as a relatively large step down from the RTX 3080. On paper, it has about 32 percent less compute than the RTX 3080, and 41 percent less bandwidth. For comparison, the 2070 had 25 percent less compute than the 2080 but had the same bandwidth. Compared to the RTX 2070, however, the 3070 should be a significant jump in performance. It has over 150 percent more FP32 compute and 67 percent more RT TFLOPS, though it still only has the same 448 GBps of bandwidth. Going into the review, we were very curious to see how the 3070 would stack up against the previous-gen cards in real-world benchmarks, and Nvidia's claims of beating the RTX 2080 Ti seemed unlikely.
It's also interesting to note the massive difference in power requirements compared to the RTX 3080. There's a 100W gap in TDP, and we know from our testing that the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 can use every bit of their power budgets. This is the first Ampere GPU where we have a basically direct TDP comparison point with the previous-gen Turing GPUs. Both the RTX 2070 Super and RTX 2080 have 215W TDPs, so this will finally be Nvidia's chance to prove that, yes, Ampere actually can be significantly more power efficient than Turing.
Meet the GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition
The design and aesthetics of the GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition are similar in many ways to the RTX 3080 and 3090 Founders Editions — it's just nowhere near as large. You get the finned radiator look on the main body, with dual fans that include a built-in rim to improve static pressure, all in a dark gray color with silver highlights. There are several noteworthy differences between the 3070 FE and the 3080/3090 FE, however.
First, both fans are on the same side of the cooler (the side that normally faces down in a typical ATX case). There's also no 'X' silver cross on the side that faces up. Instead, a large grooved rectangular piece with a cutout at the back of the card allows the air to still flow through the radiator fins. Nvidia talked a lot about redesigning the 3080/3090 to handle the higher TDP. Obviously, the 3070 isn't in the same category of power and heat, and being a smaller card, it perhaps wasn't as beneficial. The card still runs cool and quiet, as we'll see later.
The other big change in terms of aesthetics is that there's no lighting at all, RGB or otherwise. The GeForce RTX logo on the top of the card is pretty tame compared to some graphics cards, though for some people, this would be a positive change. There's also only a small RTX 3070 logo on the side of the card, which is a bit weird to me as there's a ton of room for a larger logo. All of Nvidia's previous-gen 20-series Founders Edition models at least had a green GeForce RTX logo on the top edge, and the 3080 and 3090 have RGB logos (though the tool to configure the RGB lighting still hasn't been released). The RTX 3070 eschews all such nonessentials and just provides the basics as far as looks go.
There's not a lot to say about the rest of the card. It has the same triple DisplayPort 1.4a outputs and a single HDMI 2.1 port and can drive four monitors without trouble. The rest of the IO bracket is for the front fan's exhaust, but the bracket is silver instead of the matte black finish used on the 3080 and 3090 FE cards.
The RTX 3070 Founder Edition also uses Nvidia's new 12-pin power connector, but this time, instead of a y-combiner that takes dual 8-pin PEG connectors, it's just a single 8-pin port that's converted to a 12-pin port. Was this really necessary? I mean, I sort of like the extension cable because it's far easier to leave it connected and just detach the 8-pin connector. But then again, I swap GPUs pretty much daily, so my usage is not at all like a typical user. Also, the 12-pin connector is basically the same length as an 8-pin connector and is only a few millimeters narrower, but the orientation is such that putting on an 8-pin connector instead wouldn't have been a problem.
We haven't had time to do a full teardown of the 3070 Founders Edition yet, as we wanted to finish benchmarking before taking it apart. We'll update this section with additional images and commentary in the near future.
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