Asus ROG Strix RTX 2070 O8G Gaming Review

Asus ROG Strix RTX 2070: Could the triple-fan design of this third-party graphics card blow away the competition?

Verdict

For those who want a ray tracing-capable GPU that offers a smooth Quad HD performance, then the RTX 2070 is the best-value graphics card available

Pros

  • Excellent value Quad HD performance
  • Ray tracing and DLSS support
  • Remains cool no matter how hard you push it

Cons

  • Very poor overclocking potential
  • Just shy of a good 4K performance

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £648
  • 2304 CUDA Cores
  • 6 GIGA Rays/s
  • 1845MHz boosted clock speeds
  • 8GB GDDR6 VRAM
  • Triple-fan design

What is the Asus ROG Strix RTX 2070?

The ROG Strix RTX 2070 graphics card is an Asus alternative to the Founders Edition supplied by Nvidia. While Asus’s GPU and design tweaks will slightly affect performance, the card still shares the same architecture as Nvidia’s original.

Sandwiched between the recently released RTX 2060 and the ultra-powerful RTX 2080 Ti, the RTX 2070 is one of two mid-range options in the Turing family. This creates a bit of an issue. It’s no longer the cheapest RTX card available, nor does it offer the smoothest frame rates.

ROG Strix RTX 2070

The triple-fan design ensures top-notch airflow for the ROG Strix RTX 2070

So what’s the ROG Strix RTX 2070 good for? Well it’s one of the best-value graphics cards for Quad HD I’ve seen yet, offering a smooth 60fps performance for some of the most intensive titles. It also offers the very best features of the RTX lineup, including real-time ray tracing and DLSS both of which have been earmarked as revolutionary rendering techniques. 

So if you’ve got a Quad HD setup and fancy being among the first to witness the future of video game visuals, but can’t quite stretch their budget to an RTX 2080 or RTX 2080 Ti card, this Asus option may just offer the best balance between performance and price.

UPDATE: DLSS is now supported by Battlefield 5 and Metro Exodus, allowing us to better gauge the prowess of the ROG Strix RTX 2070. I’ll update this section as soon as I’m able.

Related: Best Graphics Card

Asus ROG Strix RTX 2070 – Specs and technology

Below you can see a summary of how the Asus ROG Strix RTX 2070’s specs compare to the Founders Edition of the GTX 1070 and all of the current RTX lineup.

Spec ROG Strix RTX 2070 GTX 1070 (FE) RTX 2060 (FE) RTX 2070 (FE) RTX 2080 (FE) RTX 2080 Ti (FE)
Price £648 £379 £329 £549 £749 £1099
CUDA Cores 2304 1920 1920 2304 2944 4352
Giga Rays/s 6 N/A 5 6 8 10
Base clock 1410 MHz 1506 MHz 1365 MHz 1410 MHz 1515 MHz 1350 MHz
Boost clock 1845 MHz 1683 MHz 1680 MHz 1710 MHz 1800 MHz 1635 MHz
VRAM 8GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR5 6GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR6 11GB GDDR6

Since the ROG Strix RTX 2070 shares the same architecture as the Founders Edition equivalent, there’s no surprise it has identical figures for CUDA Cores, Giga Rays/s, VRAM and base clock speed.

Not sure what all this computer jargon means? CUDA Cores are the heavy lifters, responsible for the main bulk of a graphic card’s performance. The RTX 2080 Ti has almost double the CUDA Core count, which explains why it can reach such high frame rates in comparison. Giga Rays, meanwhile, is a term invented by Nvidia to measure ray tracing performance. 

ROG Strix RTX 2070

The ROG Strix RTX 2070 is just as easy to install as a Founders Edition graphics card

What separates the Asus RTX 2080 from Nvidia’s though, is the boosted clock speed. Asus has managed to eke out an additional 135 MHz of boosted clock speeds. That’s not a massive difference to be honest, so you shouldn’t see a big increase in performance, but it is a boost. 

More significant is the new triple-fan design which helps to keep the GPU cool enough to (theoretically) overclock it even further than any Founders Edition card is capable. This is where you should see the greatest benefit in opting for the third-party Asus model rather than Nvidia’s own.

There are also some aesthetic upgrades sprinkled on top such as customisable RGB lighting. Not only can you select a colour, but you can also pick from a variety of lighting effects such as static and strobing. With Asus’s Aura Sync software, you can also configure the RGB lighting to pulse to the beat of music or indicate the GPU temperature. The lighting is a neat addition, but is practically pointless if you don’t have a transparent tower case.

ROG Strix RTX 2070

The ROG Strix RTX 2070 has all the same port options as a Founders Edition card

The Nvidia and Asus RTX 2070 graphics cards also have the same ports. This includes HDMI Output, Display Port and USB Type-C. The latter two are especially useful for virtual reality. The Display Port can be used with the HTC Vive Pro, while USB Type-C enables use with VirtualLink, which is one of the most streamlined cable solutions available.

ROG Strix RTX 2070 – Ray Tracing

The biggest reason to upgrade to an RTX graphics card is certainly real-time ray tracing. This new technology helps to simulate more realistic reflections and lighting effects.

This means that you’ll see be able to see the reflection of a mountain range when looking down at a frozen lake in Battlefield 5, or improved vibrancy of a firecracker illuminating a dark cave in Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

ROG Strix RTX 2070

With ray tracing activated, you can see the reflection of the red building on the surface of the frozen lake

Will you notice these new visual improvements immediately? Probably not. These revolutionary effects are subtle, but definitely help to improve detail and immersion. Certain in-game environments benefit more from the technology than others, particularly the snow-covered alps in Battlefield 5’s single player level Nordlys.

Ray tracing does come with a caveat though, as it puts extra pressure on the GPU and consequently hampers frame rate performance. While playing Battlefield 5, I saw up to a 30fps decline once activating DXR to enable ray tracing.

ROG Strix RTX 2070

Despite such a drop in frame rates, the ROG Strix RTX 2070 is still capable of offering a 60fps Quad HD performance when playing Battlefield 5 with ray tracing activated. 4K fans will be disappointed to know they’ll have to settle for a shaky 35fps performance in order to witness the revolutionary technology though.

UPDATE: Since publishing this review, Nvidia has enabled support of DLSS, which promises to mitigate the ray tracing frame rate drop. Both real-time ray tracing and DLSS are now supported on Battlefield 5 and Metro Exodus. I’ll update this section of the review once I’ve thoroughly tested both games on with the ROG Strix RTX 2070.

Related: Nvidia Ray Tracing: All you need to know

ROG Strix RTX 2070 – Confirmed games to feature ray tracing

Battlefield 5 is currently the only game to actively support ray tracing. This alone is enough to dissuade people from jumping aboard the RTX bandwagon straight away.

Fortunately, Nvidia has confirmed a sizeable list of games that have already pledged support for the new technology. The most noticeable titles include Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Metro Exodus, with many more likely to follow throughout the year. The full list of compatible games is as follows:

  • Assetto Corsa Competizione
  • Atomic Heart
  • Battlefield 5
  • Control
  • Enlisted
  • MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries
  • Metro Exodus
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Justice
  • JX3
  • Project DH

While Shadow of the Tomb Raider is available to buy right now, Square Enix is yet to release an update that will enable support for the technology and there’s no indication to when that update will arrive. I’m hopeful Metro Exodus will support ray tracing at launch, with the game launching on 15 February 2019.

Related: Battlefield 5 Review

ROG Strix RTX 2070 – Deep learning super-sampling

Ray tracing isn’t the only exiting RTX feature. Deep learning super-sampling (aka DLSS) also looks to be hugely significant for video game visuals.

DLSS gives the ROG Strix RTX 2070 a boost by using the aid of artificial intelligence when rendering video. This method won’t create a superior image compared to more traditional methods, but it does ease the workload of the GPU, allowing it to be more efficient. This will, in theory, result in higher frame rates and help counteract the ray tracing rate drop handicap.

However, since DLSS support is not currently available, I’m unable to actually test the technology to see how influential it is on the GPU’s performance. As soon as the required updates are released, I’ll be sure to update this section of the review.

What games have confirmed support for DLSS? This is the full list so far:

I’ve seen no official confirmation of DLSS support for any other titles just yet. I’ll update this list once I hear more.

Related: Hitman 2 Review

ROG Strix RTX 2070 – Benchmarks and performance

Our benchmark tests showed the ROG Strix RTX 2070 to be a high performer for both Quad HD and Full HD games. 4K results are just shy of the standard where you’d see competent frame rates, but the games we used for benchmarking are all seriously demanding. If you’re happy playing titles that were released a few years ago, then Ultra HD at a respected frame rate shouldn’t be a problem. Scroll down to see our benchmark results in more detail.

Testing methodology

I benchmarked the Asus ROG Strix RTX 2070 on our office test rig, which was built to match the specifications of a standard high-end gaming PC. The featured components are listed below:

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get my hands on a Founders Edition version of the RTX 2070 so I won’t be able to offer any insight as to whether you get better value with ROG’s version. 

Instead, I’ve included the benchmark results of other Founders Edition Nvidia graphics cards, so you can see if it’s worth upgrading from the GTX 1070 or whether you might be better off with another RTX GPU.

Editor’s note: I haven’t included the AMD Vega cards, the RX590 and RX580, because I don’t have samples to hand. I’ll update this review when I get them back in.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Shadow of the Tomb is an excellent example of a modern video game boasting some of the best visuals around. This, coupled with its future support for ray tracing and DLSS, makes it a perfect title to use for our benchmark tests.

ROG Strix RTX 2070

The benchmark results show the ROG Strix RTX 2070 isn’t quite capable of a smooth performance in 4K, being 20fps from the highly desired 60fps standard.

Things get a lot more positive in Quad HD and Full HD though. Posting scores of 71fps and 83fps respectively, you’re getting a blistering performance here. In fact, the performance is so great that there’s not a huge difference from the more expensive RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti cards at these resolutions.

Not bothered about ray tracing? Then ROG Strix RTX 2070 still boasts a sizeable enough improvement from the GTX 1070 to warrant an upgrade. In fact, the ROG Strix RTX 2070 offers even better benchmark results than the GTX 1080.

Ghost Recon Wildlands

Ghost Recon Wildlands is one of the most demanding titles on sale due to its detailed and sprawling open world. For this reason, we added the game to our benchmarking roster to see how the graphics cards perform when pushed to the max.

ROG Strix RTX 2070

It’s also a disappointing reading for the Quad HD and Full HD results, with even the latter resolution falling short of the 60fps target – even the RTX 2070 performs better here. If you’re looking to upgrade from a GTX 1070, then these benchmark scores may cause you to hesitate with only slim margins separating the card.The ROG Strix RTX 2070 again fails to offer a respectable 4K benchmark result. This proves that unless you’re happy to stick to older games, this graphics card is just not up to the Ultra HD task.

It’s hard to be too critical though, as Ghost Recon Wildlands is a notoriously GPU-intensive game. The Quad HD and HD results are still decent enough to be playable and you can lower the video settings if you really want to boost frame rates.

Ashes of the Singularity Escalation

I included Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation for benchmark tests too, as it’s a great example of a strategy game where on-screen action can really give the GPU a beating.

ROG Strix RTX 2070

Ashes is so intensive that there isn’t a big margin between all the benchmark scores here. Still, the ROG Strix RTX 2070 showcases impressive scores. Results hovered around the 60fps target for every resolution, even proving capable in 4K.

Impressively, the ROG Strix RTX 2070’s performance isn’t far behind the RTX 2080 Ti. Considering there’s more than a £400 price difference between the two cards, the former represents fantastic value for Ashes and potentially other strategy titles too.

3D Mark

3DMark has a collection of software that draws out scores for various aspects of a graphics card including performance, power consumption and average temperature while running a video game.

The Firestrike Extreme program is benchmark software which simulates a video game in order to determine the performance of a graphics card. The ROG Strix RTX 2070 achieved a score of 5649, which predictably sits between the RTX 2080 and RTX 2060.  

It’s the 3DMark Heat result that left me most impressed. At 50ºC, the ROG Strix RTX 2070 is easily the coolest graphics card in the group test. This is no doubt due to the triple-fan setup, ensuring the graphics card doesn’t get too toasty no matter how hard you push it.

Power consumption is also reasonably low at 274.8W, so you probably won’t need out rush out and buy a new PSU to get this card up and running.

ROG Strix RTX 2070

ROG Strix RTX 2070

ROG Strix RTX 2070

ROG Strix RTX 2070 – Overclocking

With the triple-fan setup resulting in low temperature, you’d expect the ROG Strix RTX 2070 to be highly overclockable. Unfortunately this isn’t the case.

I was only able to achieve a meagre 120MHz overclock, which is really disappointing. That equated to just a 2fps improvement on the benchmark software Unigine Heaven. This is such a poor result that there’s little point in bothering overclocking the GPU.

Asus clearly tried its best to draw the optimum performance out of Nvidia’s RTX card by implementing the triple-fan setup. But while the the GPU did remain cool throughout the benchmark tests, rarely surpassing 57°C, it just wasn’t capable of achieving a clock speed over 2055 MHz. Nvidia’s other RTX graphics cards showed similar overclocking results, suggesting the Turing architecture is limited to these clock speeds.

Fortunately I found more luck with the 8GB GDDR6 VRAM, where I was able to achieve a whopping 1025 MHz overclock.

Why buy the ROG Strix RTX 2070?

The ROG Strix RTX 2070 finds itself in a tough position stuck between the bargain-tastic RTX 2060 and 4K-ready RTX 2080 Ti. That’s not to say there isn’t a place for this graphics card though.

While 4K might be too much of a stretch when playing modern titles, the ROG Strix RTX 2070 showcases a high-value performance for Quad HD gaming. Not only does it surpass the performance of a GTX 1080, but it also offers the exciting ray tracing and DLSS features, ensuring that this card is future-proofed to the hilt.

ROG Strix RTX 2070

The ROG Strix RTX 2070’s RGB lighting can be customised with different colours and effects

And while ray tracing has an adverse impact on frame rates, like with any RTX card, I was still able to achieve a 60fps performance with DXR turned on, further establishing this is an excellent GPU for a Quad HD setup.

The only question mark hanging over the ROG Strix RTX 2070 is whether you’re better off going for the Founder’s Edition. Since the ROG’s triple-fan setup doesn’t provide the desired boost for overclocking, the only performance-based incentive you’re getting here is the increased boosted clock speeds. How much does this affect frame rates? I’m unable to say for now, as I’m yet to get my hands on the Founders Edition RTX 2070. I can’t see the increase being substantial though.

Related: Nvidia RTX 2060 Review

Verdict

For those who want a ray tracing-capable GPU that offers a smooth Quad HD performance, then the RTX 2070 is undoubtedly the best-value graphics card available.

The only major downside here is that the ROG triple-fan design feels like a needless expenditure since the GPU’s architecture isn’t open to a significant overclock. Sure, temperatures are pleasingly low, but I’ve never experienced thermal issues with dual-fan RTX graphics cards to make an upgrade worthwhile.

Score