The Nvidia RTX 3070 is a powerhouse graphics card that will easily meet the requirements of all but the most demanding PC gamers and creative professionals. If you’re yet to make the jump to 4K, this is the card to get at the moment.
- Excellent 1080p and 1440p performance
- Smaller design than RTX 3080
- Amazing value
- No real room for overclocking
- Uses older VRAM
- Review Price: £469
- Originally reviewed: Oct 27, 2020
- 5888 CUDA Cores
- 1.73GHz boost clock speed
- 8GB GDDR6
- 220W TDP
- Ray tracing and DLSS ready
- HDMI 2.1, 3x DisplayPort 1.4a
- 1x PCIe 8-pin (adapter to 1x 12-pin included)
Editor’s Note 09/06/21: Nvidia has since released the RTX 3070 Ti. This is a moderately improved version of the base RTX 3070. We’d recommend checking out our RTX 3070 Ti review before making an purchase decision.
The Nvidia RTX 3070 is the latest mid-tier graphics card from PC gaming heavyweight Nvidia, and it’s being pitched as ‘the’ best GPU for most gamers, with the firm quoting it as offering RTX 2080 Ti level performance.
If accurate, this could make it one of the best graphics cards on the market, striking the perfect value-to-performance ratio. It’ll also be an impressive feat in general, given that the RTX 2080 Ti cost in excess of a grand at launch.
So is it worth it? Answering that is a tricky. The RTX 3070 is the cheapest 30-series card on the market at the moment thanks to the absence of a the hotly rumoured RTX 3060. And, having thoroughly put the RTX 3070 through its paces, we can confirm it is an excellent option that strikes a solid balance between price and performance. Just don’t expect it to do 4K Ray tracing gaming at 60fps or above – the Nvidia RTX 3080 remains the entry point to that standard.
But, with AMD Big Navi set to appear in the very near future and expected to radically undercut the RTX line on price, you may justifiably be wondering if it’s worth holding off and seeing what AMD has to offer if you are on a very strict budget.
Specs and design
- New cores improve the efficiency of ray tracing
- RTX 3070 misses out on GDDR6X memory
- Futureproof design with HDMI 2.1 support
The RTX 3070 is built on the same Nvidia Ampere architecture as the more expensive RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 graphics cards. This means you get a few key new technologies not seen on any previous gen’ Nvidia GPU.
These include new RT Cores and third-gen Tensor cores RT Cores. According to Nvidia the new RT Cores can deliver 2x more throughput than the Turing versions seen on the 20-series, making them more efficient and better at ray tracing.
The new Tensor cores back them up with advanced AI chops that makes DLSS generally better at upscaling content, thus further improving frame rates. As a final bonus, it also supports a new Nvidia Broadcast app for AI-enhanced video and voice communications, which make it easier for streamers to add a “professional” veneer to their shows.
The only obvious omission comparing the 3070 to the more expensive 3080 and 3090 cards is that the latter use Micron G6X video memory (VRAM), while the primary uses the same GDDR6 as the older 2070.
The 3070’s specs sheet is also what you’d expect given its place in Nvidia’s current portfolio. This means it sits just below the 3080 in most areas featuring less tensor cores, CUDA cores and memory, but a lower TDP as a result. But that’s still a fairly impressive achievement, especially when you compare it to the previous generation Nvidia’s pitting it against.
Nvidia’s made some impressive claims about the performance jump with a spokesperson quoting it as offering “2080 Ti level” performance across the board and “1.6x faster than the original GeForce RTX 2070” playing most titles.
You can see a more thorough breakdown of how the 3070 compares to Nvidia’s other GPUs in the table below.
|Nvidia CUDA Cores||Boost Clock Speed (GHz)||Memory||Graphics card power (W)|
|RTX 3090||10,496||1.70||24GB GDDR6X||350|
|RTX 3080||8704||1.71||10GB GDDR6X||320|
|RTX 3070||5888||1.73||8GB GDDR6||220|
|RTX 2080 Ti||4352||1.64||11GB GDDR6||260|
|RTX 2080 Super||3072||1.82||8 GB GDDR6||250|
|RTX 2070||2560||1.77||8 GB GDDR6||215|
On paper, the 3070 features a similar physical design to its other 30-series siblings. Specifically, it’s built using the same “super dense PCB design”. In layman’s terms, the design aims to improve cooling by letting the fan air to flow directly through the GPU. This in turn lets it reduce the GPU’s overall size. Nvidia claims the system makes the RTX 3070 16db quieter and offers 44% better thermal performance than the RTX 2070.
Specifically this means the Founders Edition RTX 3070 looks a lot like its siblings and features the same atypical 12-pin power connector. An adapter comes in the box, so you won’t need to swap out your PSU when upgrading, if it’s powerful enough.
But there are a few key differences. For starters the twin fan system places both coolers on top of the GPU’s top. The GPU is also noticeably smaller than the RTX 3080, being around two inches shorter. This, plus its lower TDP, could make it a better option for smaller builds, though be warned it’s still a fairly chunky monkey, so if that’s your goal you may be waiting for a third party mini-card from the likes of Zotac.
Connectivity is also slightly different. Round back the 3070 features a single HDMI 2.1 and three DisplayPort 1.4a inputs.
Performance and benchmarks
- Hits high frame rate for 1440p resolutions
- Struggles to reach 60fps for demanding AAA games
- DLSS sees significant ray tracing performance improvements
But, the most important question when picking a GPU is “how powerful is it?” and the RTX 3070 doesn’t disappoint. We reviewed the RTX 3070 using a rig with the below specifications. Every game we benchmarked was run with their graphical settings maxed out.
Test rig specs:
- Asus ROG Strix Z370-E Gasming (LGA1151)
- Intel Core i9-9900KF
- 16GB DDR4 RAM
- Samsung SSD 860 EVO 500GB SATA SSD
- Corsair RM750X PSU
- MasterLiquid Pro 280 cooler
Running the RTX 3070 through Trusted Reviews standard suite of benchmarks, the results were almost completely in line with Nvidia’s claims. The tests include a mix of synthetic benchmarks and real world, in game, testing.
You can see how it performed in each test in the tables below.
Editor’s Note: We didn’t benchmark the RTX 3070 against AMD’s latest cards as the ongoing pandemic cut us off from our samples. We’ll update this review when we can.
Control is one of the best examples of Ray Tracing and DLSS. The game doesn’t feature an internal benchmark so we ran through a segment of the game full of advanced reflections, demanding physics and multiple NPCs, taking an average FPS count as we went.
Here the RTX 3070 easily matched the performance of the RTX 2080 Ti, with the difference in frame rates being negligible across 1080p, 1440p, and 4K with Ray Tracing turned on or off.
This means the card is more than powerful enough to run the game at post 60fps with Ray Tracing on in every resolution but 4K. Though given the price that’s hardly surprising.
Battlefield V was one of the first games to support Ray Tracing and it remains a great test to see how any GPU will handle the tech in big open, multiplayer environments. The game features numerous demanding environments full of reflective surfaces and NPCs than can easily be counted.
Like Control, Battlefield V doesn’t have an internal benchmark so we tested it by taking an average FPS count while playing a demanding section of the Nordlys War Story. Here the game ran at solid, playable frame rates in every resolution, including with Ray Tracing turned on.
The Division 2
The Division 2 is a massive multiplayer shooter with a huge active player base. It’s not the newest game and it doesn’t feature support for Ray Tracing or DLSS, but its internal benchmark is still a solid metric to gauge how a GPU will play most popular online shooters.
During testing the RTX 3070 easily managed to run the internal benchmark, which features numerous explosions, lighting effects and NPCs in active combat, at over 60fps in every resolution but 4K.
Borderlands is another big budget online cooperative shooter. Though it has mass appeal Borderlands 3 is a pig of a benchmark that really pushes any GPU, even though it doesn’t support Ray Tracing. As a result its internal benchmark remains a solid indication how a GPU will handle any big-budget, triple-A game.
With the game’s graphics settings maxed out the RTX 3070 once again delivered comfortable post 60fps performance in every resolution other than 4K.
Doom Eternal is a fast-paced, first-person shooter. It’s also one of the best optimised games on the market and one of the only games we use for benchmarking that forces users to play using the increasingly common Vulkan, not Direct X 11/12 API.
The only downside is that it doesn’t have an internal benchmark built in. We tested the graphics cards by checking the average frame rate after running through the opening section of the game’s first level.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn is a port of one of the PS4’s most beautiful, and ambitious, games. It’s a sci-fi epic full of huge high detail environments and advanced physics and effects that really put an GPU to task. Unlike Doom, it’s also not the best optimised game around, making it a good gauge how well a GPU will run super demanding / finicky games.
Here again the 3070 was mere frames away from matching the 2080 Ti’s performance, meaning outside of 4K it’s more than powerful enough to run Horizon Zero Dawn at its max graphical settings above 60fps.
3DMark Time Spy Extreme
Time Spy Extreme is one of the most demanding tests in 3DMark’s library. It’s a synthetic benchmark designed to test a GPU’s Direct X 12 4K performance. As a general synthetic test it is a decent guide to judge a GPU’s overall performance. Unlike the other tests it doesn’t gauge performance in frames-per-second. Instead it just gives the card an overall numerical score. Higher is better.
Port Royal is a benchmark bespoke designed to test real-time Ray Tracing. Like Time Spy, a higher score is better.
The 3070 again matched the 2080 Ti Time Spy Extreme, cementing its record as a top-notch card for 1440p gaming, or 4K with Ray Tracing turned off. The only slight blip was that its Port Royal score was behind the 2080Ti, which is surprising given how closely the two have scored in our other tests.
Overclocking heat and power consumption
- RTX 3070 saw a peak 324W power consumption during testing
- Struggled to offer increased performance after overclock
If you’re a massive tinkerer, be warned, the RTX 3070 is not massively overclockable. Doing a rough and read overclock in MSI Afterburner I was only able to get a 100MHz Clock and 120MHz stable boost.
Any amount more than that and my benchmarking tools/games became unstable and prone to crashing. Considering how good the card’s raw performance, the trend is more than forgivable, though it does mean it’s unlikely we’ll see massive boosts in performance on third-party RTX cards from the likes of Asus, MSI, PNY and Zotac.
Thermal performance and power consumption are also in line with what I’d expect from a 30-series monster truck GPU. During testing I found the RTX 3070 FE floated at a peak temperature of around 76 degrees while stress testing it in Time Spy Extreme. System power draw peaked at 324W during the same test, reflecting its lower TDP, making it a solid upgrade for people that don’t have a super high capacity PSU in their rig.
You should buy it if…
- You want a 1440p performance
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 is our top recommended graphics card for those who want to engage in 1440p gaming. It saw a plus 100fps performance for the majority of games we tested when set to a Quad HD resolution.
- You want to make use of ray tracing
Nvidia still has a big advantage over AMD for the light-rendering technology, with a more efficient performance especially when paired with DLSS.
- You don’t have a really expensive PSU
The RTX 3080 is clearly a more powerful GPU, but it also demands more power. If your PSU can’t handle that much power consumption, it may be worth sticking to the RTX 3070 instead.
You shouldn’t buy it if…
- You want to play every game in 4K
The RTX 3070 is capable of playing many games in 4K, but it was also shy of hitting 60fps in Ultra HD for the likes of Control, The Division 2 and Borderlands 3. If you really want a 4K performance, we suggest spending more for the RTX 3080 instead.
- You have a 1080p monitor
If you still own a 1080p monitor, there’s really no need to buy the RTX 3070 as its performance power will be going to waste. Check out the RTX 3060 Ti if you’re happy to settle for Full HD, as it’s a good £100 cheaper.
- You want to overclock
During testing, we found that the RTX 3070 Founder’s Edition isn’t very overclockable, although that may not be the case with third-party variants.
You might like…
No. The Nvidia RTX series is generally better, as it supports fancy features such as DLSS and ray tracing. However, having the RTX moniker doesn’t necessarily mean the GPU is more powerful than a GTX counterpart. For example, Nvidia’s GTX 1080 Ti will generally see a superior raw performance than the RTX 2060.
The RTX features (such as DLSS and ray tracing) need to be activated in each individual game via the graphics settings. However, not all games will support the RTX features so double check the compatibility first.
The graphics processing unit is designed to render graphics, which is particularly important for gaming, creating 3D models and editing video.
The ‘power supply unit’ converts mains AC to low-voltage regulated DC power for the internal components of a computer.
Advanced light-rendering technology that allows for more realistic lighting and shadow effects within in-game worlds.
Deep learning super sampling is Nvidia’s image upscaling technology which can improve a game’s framerate without reducing the quality of the visuals.
Nvidia’s GPU architecture for 20-Series graphics cards
Nvidia’s GPU architecture for 30-Series graphics cards
Technology designed to reduce latency in optimised games, like Apex Legends and Fortnite, using AI wizardry.
‘Framerate per second’ indicates how many images are shown within one second. The higher this figure, the smoother in-game motion will appear. Powerful discrete GPUs are far more likely to offer higher framerates compared to integrated graphics housed inside processors.