Date: November 3, 2020
Author(s): Rob Williams
With NVIDIA’s new $499 GeForce RTX 3070 in-hand, we’re taking a look at gaming performance across a wide-range of games, including some sporting ray tracing features. NVIDIA promises a card that goes up against last-gen’s $1,199 RTX 2080 Ti, and overall, it delivers on that.
Don’t miss our creator look at the GeForce RTX 3070~3090, including benchmarks for Octane, Blender, V-Ray, Arnold, KeyShot, and Redshift.
NVIDIA’s third Ampere-based GeForce launched last week, and because it was much quicker for us to conjure up some creator-type results, we kicked off our coverage with a look at the RTX 3070 in rendering workloads (linked above). Since then, we’ve wrapped-up our gaming testing for NVIDIA’s latest offering, as well as get the 2070 SUPER – last-gen’s $499 GeForce – in there as well.
Like the previous Ampere GeForce gaming articles to be posted, this one will revolve its focus around 4K and ultrawide resolutions. We had planned to include 1440p, but limited time made it impossible to include if we planned to hit embargoes for some upcoming launches. Once AMD’s Radeon RX 6800 series launches later this month, we’ll be retesting everything and will get 1440p added in.
On the topic of AMD, the Radeon overlord announced last week that its new Radeon RX 6000 series is coming soon, and to our delight, we’re being promised really competitive performance. While it may be easy to sum-up NVIDIA’s RTX 3070 today, the picture could be changed up after AMD’s launch drops, especially if the numbers we’re being flaunted hold up.
To NVIDIA’s advantage, its ray tracing performance is widely expected to be better than AMD’s, although we’re not going to know for sure until we have cards in-hand and can dig in ourselves. Even if AMD were to catch up to NVIDIA’s last-gen, Ampere makes another big leap in performance itself, as we will see in our RTX game testing, and saw last week in our rendering testing.
Here’s a quick overview of NVIDIA’s current-gen line-up, with 1080 Ti added in for good measure. It will be interesting to see how that once-$699 card will compare to this two generation newer $499 option in our test results.
|NVIDIA’s GeForce Gaming GPU Lineup|
|Cores||Base MHz||Peak FP32||Memory||Bandwidth||TDP||SRP|
|RTX 3090||10,496||1,400||35.6 TFLOPS||24GB 1||936 GB/s||350W||$1,499|
|RTX 3080||8,704||1,440||29.7 TFLOPS||10GB 1||760 GB/s||320W||$699|
|RTX 3070||5,888||1,500||20.4 TFLOPS||8GB 2||512 GB/s||220W||$499|
|TITAN RTX||4,608||1,770||16.3 TFLOPS||24GB 2||672 GB/s||280W||$2,499|
|RTX 2080 Ti||4,352||1,350||13.4 TFLOPS||11GB 2||616 GB/s||250W||$1,199|
|RTX 2080 S||3,072||1,650||11.1 TFLOPS||8GB 2||496 GB/s||250W||$699|
|RTX 2070 S||2,560||1,605||9.1 TFLOPS||8GB 2||448 GB/s||215W||$499|
|RTX 2060 S||2,176||1,470||7.2 TFLOPS||8GB 2||448 GB/s||175W||$399|
|RTX 2060||1,920||1,365||6.4 TFLOPS||6GB 2||336 GB/s||160W||$299|
|GTX 1660 Ti||1,536||1,500||5.5 TFLOPS||6GB 2||288 GB/s||120W||$279|
|GTX 1660 S||1,408||1,530||5.0 TFLOPS||6GB 2||336 GB/s||125W||$229|
|GTX 1660||1,408||1,530||5 TFLOPS||6GB 4||192 GB/s||120W||$219|
|GTX 1650 S||1,280||1,530||4.4 TFLOPS||4GB 2||192 GB/s||100W||$159|
|GTX 1650||896||1,485||3 TFLOPS||4GB 4||128 GB/s||75W||$149|
|GTX 1080 Ti||3,584||1,480||11.3 TFLOPS||11GB 3||484 GB/s||250W||$EOL|
|Notes||1 GDDR6X; 2 GDDR6; 3 GDDR5X; 4 GDDR5; 5 HBM2
GTX 1080 Ti = Pascal; GTX/RTX 2000 = Turing; RTX 3000 = Ampere
One thing we don’t think we’ve mentioned since the launch of NVIDIA’s Ampere is that the series uses the same NVENC chip as the previous-generation Turing cards. There’s no real downside to that outside of the fact that this launch doesn’t bring anything new for encoders, but, it has added decode support for 8- and 10-bit AV1. That will benefit streaming websites (eg: Twitch) that take advantage of the codec. Interestingly, Microsoft recently leaked that AMD’s next-gen Radeons will also include AV1 decode acceleration, so it’s good that it looks to become a standard offering soon.
This seems like enough preamble, and there are many test results to pore over, so let’s get started with a quick look at our test setup, and then get into the results:
|Techgage Gaming GPU Test PC|
|Processor||Intel Core i9-10900K (3.7GHz Base, 5.3GHz Turbo, 10C/20T)|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG Maximus HERO Wi-Fi|
|Memory||Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro (CMW32GX4M4C3200C16) 8GB x 4
Operates at DDR4-3200 16-18-18 (1.35V)
|AMD Graphics||AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT (8GB; Adrenaline 20.8.3)
AMD Radeon VII (16GB; Adrenaline 20.8.3)
|NVIDIA Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 (10GB; GeForce 456.38)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 (10GB; GeForce 456.16)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 (8GB; GeForce 457.09)
NVIDIA TITAN RTX (24GB; GeForce 452.06)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti (11GB; GeForce 452.06)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER (8GB; GeForce 452.06)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER (8GB; GeForce 457.09)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (11GB; GeForce 452.06)
|Storage||GeForce: WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB (SATA 6Gbps)
Radeon: WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB (SATA 6Gbps)
|Power Supply||Corsair RM850x (850W)|
|Chassis||Corsair Crystal X570 Mid-tower|
|Cooling||Corsair iCUE H100i RGB PRO XT (240mm)|
|Et cetera||Windows 10 Pro build 19041.546 (2004)|
All of the listed GPUs have been tested with current drivers, and with an up-to-date Windows 10 (2004). Our operating system is kept clean and optimized to reduce benchmark interference, ensuring accurate results. V-Sync, G-SYNC, and FreeSync are disabled at the driver and game level. Both Intel’s chipset driver and Management Engine (ME) are updated to the latest versions.
Note that some of these GPUs have been tested with drivers released before Ampere’s launch. Our sanity checks with the latest driver and game updates with the RTX 3080 showed that all results held true – except for Minecraft. Our RTX testing there had to be scrapped for this article, since a game update invalidated our previous test data. As mentioned above, we’ll be retesting all of these GPUs with the latest drivers and game updates in time for Radeon’s ‘Big Navi’ launch.
This article includes six regular game titles for testing, along with
four three more specific to ray tracing, two more specific to high-performance eSports, and also a bunch of synthetics with the help of 3DMark and Superposition.
Here’s the full breakdown of our benchmarks:
Note: You can download all of the tested setting images at once here (ZIP, 7MB).
At Ampere’s launch, NVIDIA said that its RTX 3070 would perform on par with the 2080 Ti – and sure enough, that’s just the case in our first test. It’s clear that those who just acquired an RTX 3080 won’t need to feel like they should have waited on RTX 3070, because the performance delta between the cards is quite noticeable here – even with the percentile lows.
Destiny 2 runs well on every one of the tested cards here, but if you have a high-refresh monitor, you’ll definitely be eyeing some of the higher-end models. It’s worth noting that we’re using top detail here, so if you’re desperate for another 10-20 FPS, you can dial down some settings to accomplish it easily enough (namely with the shadow quality).
Ultrawide resolution is far easier on GPU hardware than 4K, so more GPUs were able to pass 100 FPS in our testing. The RTX 3090 actually managed to come close to 200 FPS, but sadly, an ultrawide 200Hz costs more than the $1,499 RTX 3090 itself, so that’s a mighty expensive proposition (but a downright drool-worthy one).
It’s becoming clear pretty quickly that the RTX 3070 and RTX 2080 Ti are trading blows like few match-ups we’ve ever seen, and we’ve only just begun our performance look. It’s almost like NVIDIA just took the 2080 Ti GPU and slapped it inside of an RTX 3070!
If you look at it from the perspective that this gen’s $499 GPU trades blows directly with last-gen’s $1,199 GPU, then it’s easy to be impressed with what’s on offer here.
Yet again, we see the RTX 3070 and 2080 Ti trade punches, and given the minor variance between them, we could very well retest and see their positions flip around again. We mentioned above that the RTX 3070 is impressive from the perspective that it matches a last-gen card that cost more than twice as much, but another angle is that the FE also takes up less room inside of your PC, and from our testing, will also be quieter during heated gaming sessions.
F1 2020 isn’t the most graphically intensive game in our testing lineup, but when maxed-out, it still looks ridiculously good, and does well to satiate the appetite of every Formula 1 fan. Naturally, virtual racing experiences improve with high-refresh monitors, and fortunately, the RTX 3070 offers ample performance at maxed-out detail settings, but with lots of wiggle room if you want to try to reach 144Hz.
Up to this point, the RTX 3070 has traded even blows with the 2080 Ti, but the last-gen card manages to step ahead further in this game than most others. Granted, we’re talking about a difference of 6 FPS off of 105 FPS, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
It’s easy to compare the 3070 to the 2080 Ti because they are essentially equaled in performance, but a more interesting comparison would be against the 2070 SUPER from last-gen, as it was also priced at $499. The 3070 shouldn’t make 2070S owners feel like they are lagging behind, but those who are diving into a new build now will definitely enjoy a better bang-for-the-buck than anyone who recently purchased the 2070S.
CS: GO has an obvious CPU bottleneck in our particular test of choice (a timedemo of tournament play), making 4K necessary to see interesting scaling. As a game that benefits from fast clock speeds, we’re keen on seeing how AMD’s upcoming Zen 3 will change performance in this game. Not that these frame rates are paltry. If you have a 4K/144 or ultrawide 200Hz monitor, you don’t need a top-end card to get the FPS you need. You could very well need a CPU upgrade, however.
Siege is a game perfect for using one of the new 360Hz monitors that are now hitting the market. Bear in mind the performance you see is with the game at really high detail, so even if you didn’t have a current-gen GPU, you should be able to hit these sky-high FPS with some graphics adjustments.
We’re going to take a look at RTX/DXR gaming on the next page, featuring Fortnite, Control, and Quake II.
For our RTX testing, we’re employing the help of Fortnite, Control, and Quake II. Ordinarily, Minecraft would be joining this group, but a recent game update invalidated our previous test results (for the second time since Ampere’s launch!)
Because ray tracing is so demanding on GPU hardware, 4K resolution is ruled-out for most games right now, except maybe Minecraft. This assumes that you’re not able to take advantage of DLSS, which will let you see a convincing 4K render, upscaled from a lower resolution with the help of AI and NVIDIA’s Tensor cores.
Since NVIDIA is the only company currently enabling support for DXR ray traced games, only GeForces and the TITAN card are found in these results. Once the new Radeons drop, we’ll add them to any one of our DXR/RTX tests that they happen to run in.
Which GPU you have will dictate which special graphics settings you will use at a given resolution, and unless you have a top-end card for 1080p or 1440p use, you will likely want to enable DLSS. That goes for the RTX 3070, which hits 54 FPS even with DLSS at 4K. Granted, there are many graphics settings that can be tweaked to improve this, so consider this a worst-case scenario.
As with Fortnite, you’ll want to take advantage of DLSS to get really playable frame rates in Control. Only our 4K test uses DLSS here, but we may expand that to 1440p in our next round of retesting. At 1080p, the 3070 can handle the game with ray tracing but without DLSS, delivering about 60 FPS average.
Quake II is one of the unfortunate RTX games that doesn’t have a DLSS option, which is too bad, as the game is really grueling on GPU hardware, making 4K ambitions laughable even on the RTX 3090. The RTX 3070 can fortunately deliver enough oomph to deliver 90 FPS at 1080p, or just under 60 FPS at 1440p. As usual, we’re using high detail settings here, so you can adjust downward to improve 60 FPS goals if you need to.
According to 3DMark, the RTX 3070 trades blows with the RTX 2080 Ti, which probably shouldn’t be a surprise at this point. Compared to the last-gen cards, especially the 2070 SUPER that occupied the 3070’s $499 price-point, huge generational gains (~40%) in performance can be seen.
While 3DMark’s main tests earlier showed the 3070 and 2080 Ti to trade blows pretty evenly, the RTX 3070 falls short of the 2080 Ti’s performance in each one of these specific subtests, including ray tracing. We have to imagine that the Ti’s extra 3GB of memory helps in some cases here. We’ll be scraping these results after this article in preparation for the next launch, and will update the DLSS test to DLSS 2.0, as well as introduce a just-released ray tracing test that touts support for the new Radeons.
VRMark seems to agree with 3DMark’s feature tests, in that the RTX 3070 is going to sit behind the 2080 Ti in most of these intense graphics battles. It’s really hard to consider that a bad thing given the price of the new card, but it’s also hard to not keep drawing comparisons between the two since they so often align on the performance ladder.
We’re foregoing our 4K Superposition test this go-around due to a bug we discovered in our testing scripts, but at 1080p, the RTX 3070 seems to be favored over the RTX 2080 Ti, but only by a super slight positional measurement. In this test, the 3070 comes out 36% ahead of last-gen’s RTX 2070 SUPER.
To take a look at the RTX 3070 from a power and temperatures perspective, we rely on both rendering and gaming workloads to push the GPU. For rendering, we use the Classroom 2.8 project in Blender, and for gaming, we use UL’s Fire Strike Ultra. Both tests are run for ten minutes, with their maximum wattage and temperatures reported. The power test is total system power pulled from the wall, using a Kill-a-Watt meter.
As we saw with both the RTX 3080 and 3090, both our render and gaming stress-tests draws about the same amount of power out of the RTX 3070 – which is to say, about 300W total platform. For a card that can deliver 4K/60 pretty easily in modern games, that’s pretty admirable. While the 3070 doesn’t definitively beat out the 2080 Ti in all cases, it does manage to come extremely close for about 50W less.
With regards to temperatures, all of these GPUs are keeping well within their top-end limits, but it’s still nice to see powerful GPUs run cool. The RTX 3070 does well with that in gaming, when compared to the RTX 2080 Ti, shaving 9°C off. We don’t intimately test noise because the environment doesn’t allow for it, but at max load, we can easily say that the RTX 3070 is much quieter than the RTX 2080 Ti Founder Edition – mostly because the Ti can sometimes burst its fan to a noticeable degree at random times.
There are many angles to look at the RTX 3070 from, but ultimately, what NVIDIA has delivered here is undoubtedly impressive. We’ve seen some folks in the community express their discontent due to the fact that the 3070 doesn’t definitively topple the 2080 Ti, but the fact is, we’re seeing a new $499 GPU that wages a successful battle for close to parity with last-gen’s $1,199 offering.
An even more important comparison might be between the RTX 2070 SUPER and RTX 3070 – the battle of last-gen $499 GPU vs. current-gen $499 GPU. In that match-up, NVIDIA’s latest proved to deliver anywhere between 30~45% better FPS, and we’re not talking about synthetic tests, but real gaming tests. Add to that the fact that the Ampere generation brings even better ray tracing performance, we’re happy to see what NVIDIA’s brought to the table here.
As it stands today, NVIDIA is offering a ton of horsepower for the current-gen $499 price, and if you care at all about ray tracing, it seems likely that RTX GPUs are going to be the go-to for the next little while from either a performance or support standpoint. While AMD is going to be offering full DXR ray tracing support with its new Radeons, most of the games released so far have been developed with RTX in mind, so we’d expect it to take a while before games are updated for better AMD support. And better support should definitely come, considering the new consoles exclusively use Radeon.
If you’re not glued to one vendor or another, it may be worth waiting to see what AMD has in store with its launch in a few weeks, since its Radeon RX 6800 is set to do fierce battle with the RTX 3070. That assumes you’ll even be able to find the 3070 in stock before then, because as you probably expected, those that hit the shelves fly right off of them again moments later. It’s unfortunate, especially since we’re in the midst of an exciting gaming season. Speaking of, if you’re interested in Watch Dogs: Legion performance, we included the RTX 3070 in our performance article from last week.
When the new Radeons get here, we’ll be able to form much better impressions of the current stack from both vendors, but as it stands today, NVIDIA is offering a compelling option with the 3070. It’s great for high-FPS 1440p and can deliver smooth 4K performance if you’re willing to sacrifice the occasional high graphics setting.
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