Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 review: revisiting the super-performers

Doom Eternal, Control, Borderlands 3, Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Three new titles and one returning favourite kick off our RTX 3070 game benchmarks. All four are 'super-performers', modern games using advanced graphics APIs like DirectX 12 and Vulkan that show some of the biggest gen-on-gen performance improvements in our RTX 30-series testing so far. These modern interfaces allow proper CPU utilisation, minimising processor bottlenecking at lower resolutions.

As usual, we've run our benchmarks at three resolutions: 1080p, 1440p and 4K. (We have been asked to run ultra-wide benchmarks too, but you can extrapolate expected performance here pretty easily - 2560x1080 is somewhere between 1080p and 1440p, while the more common 3440x1440 is almost exactly between 1440p and 4K.)

As usual, our benchmark results are presented a little differently to what you might be used to elsewhere on the web. On mobile, you'll get a basic overview, with metadata from the video capture of each GPU being translated into simple bar charts with average frame-rate and lowest one per cent measurements for easy comparisons.

On a desktop-class browser, you'll get the full-fat experience with embedded YouTube videos of each test scene and live performance metrics. Play the video, and you'll see exactly how each card handled the scene as it progresses; you can even choose exactly what GPUs at what resolutions you're interested in and it'll update in real time. Below the real-time stuff is a bar chart, which you can mouse over to see different measurements and click to switch between actual frame-rates and percentage differences. All the data here is derived from video captured directly from each GPU, ensuring an accurate replay of real performance.

The RTX 3070 should offer the best performance per dollar of any card, but does it live up to Nvidia's promises? Let's get started.

Doom Eternal

Doom Eternal kicks off the proceedings, and as a cleverly architected Vulkan title it's a clear choice for anyone looking for what next-gen GPUs can do with the right hardware at their disposal. Turing and Ampere cards both do well here, with older designs doing a little worse - for context, here we have a GTX 1080 Ti falling behind an RTX 2070, where in most games only the RTX 2080 could equal the older card. At 116fps average, the RTX 3070 continues the trend of good performance in modern cards, outdoing its RTX 2070 and 2070 Super predecessors by 64 and 43 per cent, respectively. If you introduce AMD's latest card into the mix, the RX 5700 XT, the RTX 3070 holds a 45 per cent lead over its closest Team Red opposition - so Big Navi can't come soon enough.

However, the RTX 3070 doesn't manage to outperform the RTX 2080 Ti, with the old flagship holding a four per cent lead over Nvidia's latest model. 116fps is still a great result that means you'll be able to take full advantage of a 4K 120Hz display, but why does the 2080 Ti hold the advantage here when Nvidia claimed we'd see equal performance? Most likely it's down to the 2080 Ti FE card's +90MHz factory overclock, which isn't replicated on the 3070 model, as well as the large amount of RAM used by by the game on its highest ultra nightmare setting. On an entry-level RTX 2080 Ti that operates at reference frequencies, we'd expect that gap to shrink down to margin-of-error difference between the two models.

While our RTX 3080 and 3090 coverage focused on 4K performance as this is the most likely pairing for anyone investing into a high-end GPU, the 3070 is more likely to be used on 1080p or 1440p monitors so let's take a look at performance there too. The RTX 3070 manages 229fps on average here, making it a good fit for both 165Hz or 240Hz 1440p monitors, and its lead over the RTX 2070 and 2070 Super holds steady at 63 and 50 per cent. There's no real difference in performance against the RTX 2080 Ti any more, with the two cards within 1fps of each other at 1440p, and the RTX 3070 actually claims a win over the RTX 2080 Ti at 1080p.

Doom Eternal: Vulkan, Ultra Nightmare, 8x TSSAA

  • GTX 1070
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2070
  • RTX 2070 Super
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 5700 XT
  • GTX 1070
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2070
  • RTX 2070 Super
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 5700 XT
  • GTX 1070
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2070
  • RTX 2070 Super
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 5700 XT

Borderlands 3

Borderlands 3 is another recent release, this time built around the more mainstream Unreal Engine 4. We tested the game at its most challenging 'bad ass' graphical preset under DirectX 12 mode, which should provide the best CPU utilisation on high-end processors like the Core i9 10900K we're using in our test rig. This is one of the most challenging games in our test suite, with the likes of the GTX 1080 Ti and AMD's fastest card, the RX 5700 XT, only managing in the region of 30fps at 4K. So how does the RTX 3070 acquit itself?

The RTX 3070 isn't bad here, but you're not looking at a locked 60fps, it's got to be said. The new card manages 44.4fps in the integrated benchmark, which is exactly the same score as the RTX 2080 Ti FE we tested. The RTX 3080 is 37 per cent faster than the 3070, hitting 60fps, while the RTX 3090 stretches that lead to 59 per cent at around 70fps. The previous generation XX70 cards don't do great here, with the RTX 3070 managing a 65 per cent advantage over the RTX 2070 and a 134 per cent lead over the venerable GTX 1070 which doesn't even hit a 20fps average.

At 1440p, the game becomes more viable to play without turning down the graphics. The RTX 3070 delivers 79fps on average, just a single frame per second behind the RTX 2080 Ti, enough for around a 60 per cent lead over the RTX 2070 and more than a 120 per cent advantage against the GTX 1070. Even if you're upgrading from a GTX 1080 Ti, you're still seeing a noticeable frame-rate jump of 40 per cent. It's a similar story at 1080p, with the RTX 3070 hitting 110fps even at this insanely demanding preset.

Borderlands 3: Bad Ass, DX12, TAA

  • GTX 1070
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2070
  • RTX 2070 Super
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 5700 XT
  • GTX 1070
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2070
  • RTX 2070 Super
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 5700 XT
  • GTX 1070
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2070
  • RTX 2070 Super
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RTX 3070
  • RX 5700 XT

Control

Control is a game that I can't stop thinking about, especially as I've now watched its evocative intro sequence a good few dozen times in the past week. As well as being a truly compelling showcase of RTX features like shadows, reflections and lighting, it's also a tough DirectX 12 game to run even with RTX disabled. Our testing here, with both RTX and DLSS turned off, shows the 3070 managing around 43fps at 4K, just fractionally slower than the RTX 2080 Ti and well within the margin of run-to-run variance (especially as this sequence requires us to follow a path, something we can't do with mechanical precision). You'll need an RTX 3080 card to achieve a roughly 60fps frame-rate, and the RTX 3090 is the only card we've tested that hits that milestone comfortably.

Compared to the RTX 2070, the RTX 3070 represents a 61 per cent increase in frame-rate; compared to the RTX 1070 you're looking at a frame-rate improvement of 175 per cent from switching to Nvidia's new $500 card. AMD's latest card unsurprisingly doesn't handle the game perfectly either, with the 3070 holding a 71 per cent lead over the RX 5700 XT.

What about 1440p results? Here the RTX 3070 is again within touching distance of the RTX 2080 Ti, with a small manual overclock allowing the new card to outperform its factory overclocked competitor. The RTX 3070 also outperforms the RTX 2070 by 58 per cent or the 2080 by 27 per cent. If you're pondering an upgrade from a Pascal GPU, such as the GTX 1070 or GTX 1080, I'm happy to report it should be pretty meaningful in Control and games like it - the 3070 leads the 1070 by 168 per cent and the 1080 by 120 per cent. Those margins shrink by around 10 per cent at 1080p, but still represent a massive gen-on-gen-on-gen improvement.

We'll look at Control's RTX performance later on in this same review, so stay tuned for that!

Control: High, DX12, TAA

  • GTX 1070
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2070
  • RTX 2070 Super
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 5700 XT
  • GTX 1070
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2070
  • RTX 2070 Super
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 5700 XT
  • GTX 1070
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2070
  • RTX 2070 Super
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 5700 XT

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is our final super-performer. Once again, we're looking at a DirectX 12 game with a challenging, realistic benchmark - here with the added complication that the bench is split up into three parts with varying performance profiles, so it's well worth playing back the video to see how the cards are grouped closer in some sections than others.

We'd expect the RTX 3070 to perform relatively poorly against the RTX 2080 Ti here, given the moderate age of the game, and indeed we see a slightly higher margin than in most other games we've tested up to this point: a five per cent lead for the RTX 2080 Ti, perhaps due to its higher clocks and significantly higher memory bandwidth trumping the 3070's better compute. Still, that's enough for a 63fps average at 4K with all of the bells and whistles (sans ray tracing) turned on, so we can't be too upset about that result.

For context, the RTX 3070 still leads the RTX 2070 by more than 50 per cent and the GTX 1070 by a solid 125 per cent. Those margins erode slightly at 1440p and 1080p, but the overall trend remains the same - the RTX 3070 falls into fourth place, behind the RTX 3090, RTX 3080 and RTX 2080 Ti, in that order, while outperforming every other card we've tested.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Highest, DX12, TAA

  • GTX 1070
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2070
  • RTX 2070 Super
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 5700 XT
  • GTX 1070
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2070
  • RTX 2070 Super
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 5700 XT
  • GTX 1070
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2070
  • RTX 2070 Super
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 5700 XT

It's a strong start from the RTX 3070, but it's far from the final word. Let's take a look at some other games with more conservative performance profiles to see how the 3070 does there - will it always beat or tie the RTX 2080 Ti?

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Analysis

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About the author

Will Judd

Will Judd

Senior Staff Writer, Digital Foundry  |  wsjudd

A bizarre British-American hybrid, Will turns caffeine into technology articles through a little-known process called 'writing'. His favourite games are Counter-Strike, StarCraft and Fallout 2. Will also tweets the latest tech deals at @DealsFoundry.

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