Introduction, Design Features
[Editors’ Note: Be aware that pricing and features for video cards based on a given graphics chip can vary, depending on the actual card maker. AMD and Nvidia make video “reference cards” based on their graphics processors, which they often send out for review. Third-party partners—MSI, Sapphire, Gigabyte, EVGA, Asus, and many others—make and sell cards that often adhere closely to the design of these reference boards (“stock boards”), as well as versions with slight differences in port configuration, clocking, the amount and speed of onboard memory, and the cooling fans or heat sinks installed. Be sure the specs and ports/connections on any “partner” board you’re looking at match what we’ve reviewed before making any assumptions. Here, we’re reviewing Nvidia’s Founders Edition version of the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti, which is roughly equivalent to a reference board but will also be sold in this Founders Edition trim.]
It’s been a far quieter year on the graphics-card front than in the processor realm. In the latter domain we saw a slew of AMD Ryzen CPUs, a new Intel enthusiast platform called Core X, and a shift to six-core mainstream CPUs from Intel, topping out with the Intel Core i7-8700KGeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders EditionAMD Radeon RX Vega 64Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080Radeon RX Vega 56GTX 1070.
That latter assessment likely resulted in Nvidia releasing the card we’re looking at here.
The GeForce GTX 1070 Ti Founders Edition is based around the same GP104 chip that resides in both the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080. And as you might guess, its performance falls somewhere between those two. At an MSRP of $449, it’s priced between those two cards, as well.
But that price might be a bit expensive for it to line up directly with the RX Vega 56. AMD’s competing card has admittedly been selling for $450 and more. But as we were writing this review, an MSI Vega 56 card was in stock and selling on Newegg and Amazon for $420 to $425. Given the volatile coin-mining market, plus the fact that AMD’s Vega cards have been tough to find in stock at their suggested prices since launch, it’s unclear how long we’ll see the Vega 56 at this price level. But at the moment, it is available at a price that’s at least close to its $399 suggested asking price, and lower than the asking price of Nvidia’s new competing card.
So is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti worth paying a little extra for versus AMD’s Vega 56? Or should you just step up to a GTX 1080, which was selling for as little as $489 when we wrote this? A whole lot will depend on what the GTX 1070 Ti actually sells for when you read this, as eager coin miners may drive up pricing—at least in the days and weeks after its initial launch.
Of course, performance is important as well. We’ll have to see how Nvidia’s new card stacks up against the Vega 56, and the GTX 1080. We will say here that the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti sticks surprisingly close to both the GTX 1080 and the Radeon RX Vega 64. But first, let’s take a closer look at the GTX 1070 Ti Founders Edition card itself.
There’s nothing new about the design of the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti Founders Edition, inside or out. It sports the same silver-and-black metal shell and blower-style cooler that we saw initially (in this generation) in the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 cards that debuted in mid-2016.
In fact, the new card is effectively identical to both of those cards, save for the GTX 1070 Ti logo etched into the metal back near the port plate. It’s also the same length as those two cards, at 10.5 inches, which also just happens to be the same length as stock versions of the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 and Vega 56.
Even the supplemental eight-pin PCI Express power connector is the same as you’ll find on those older Nvidia cards. The TDP (thermal design power, a measurement of heat dissipation requirements) of 180 watts is up from the 150 watts of the GTX 1070, and matches that of the higher-end GTX 1080. Note, though, that cards sold by board partners such as Asus, MSI, and Zotac will often have more than one secondary power connector, with the aim of delivering more (and more stable) power for overclocking. The MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Ti Gaming 8G for instance (which we also have in for testing, and pictured below), requires an eight- and a six-pin PCI Express power connector.
Rather than rattle off the full list of the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti’s specs, here’s a table, direct from Nvidia’s press materials…
The 2,432 CUDA cores of the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti are just 5 percent fewer than the 2,560 found on the GTX 1080. That’s interesting given that, as we’ll see in testing, that’s roughly how far behind the new Nvidia card trails the GTX 1080, particularly in our synthetic tests. And the new card’s 1,607MHz base clock matches that of the GTX 1080, though the boost clock of 1,683MHz is down slightly from the listed 1,733MHz of the GTX 1080.
Also of note: the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti uses GDDR5 memory, like the GTX 1070, rather than the faster GDDR5X of the GTX 1080 and GTX 1080 Ti. We don’t expect the lower-speed memory to make a significant difference in most cases, though, as GDDR5 is still very fast, and by far the most common memory type in most mid-to-high-end graphics cards.
The port loadout is also the same as what you’ll find in other recent high-end Nvidia cards. You get a trio of DisplayPort 1.4 connectors, an HDMI 2.0b port, and a dual-link DVI connector for legacy monitors.
You’ll also find a black metal backplate on the card for aesthetics and heat-dissipation purposes, much like most cards in this price range these days. The GeForce GTX 1070 Ti also supports two-way SLI configurations. But given that many games aren’t written to take full advantage of multi-card setups—particularly in the early days after a given game is launched—we’d suggest most gamers opt for a single GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, rather than a pair of these cards or GTX 1080s.
Without anything else of substance that’s new or different with the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti, let’s jump into our benchmarks and see where it lands in the crowded high-end graphics-card space.