Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070: the Digital Foundry verdict

The fastest $500 graphics card... for now.

The RTX 3070 is undoubtedly a terrific graphics card. It delivers performance in line with the RTX 2080 Ti at a very reasonable asking price of $500, lowering the cost of entry to high frame-rate 1440p and stable 4K gaming substantially. Moreover, the Founders Edition card we tested is cool, quiet and equipped with future-looking features, including a single HDMI 2.1 port that matches perfectly to next-gen 4K 120Hz HDR displays.

With that said, there is an asterisk on those results, with the Founders Edition 2080 Ti we tested with marginally beating the 3070 in some games thanks to the older card's out-of-the-box overclock. Regardless, the 3070 FE's significantly improved power efficiency, HDMI 2.1 port, upgraded RT performance and better-performing cooler make it a better choice than the RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition even with that performance differential in mind - in a hypothetical situation where you could find both cards for the same price.

Perhaps more relevant is the comparison with the RTX 3080. Normally we expect to find diminishing returns from higher-tier graphics cards - you might pay 30 per cent more for one hypothetical video card over another, but only get 20 per cent better performance. That's not really the case with the RTX 3070 and 3080, where - at least in some games - you're getting more or less 40 per cent better performance by spending 40 per cent more, so in some sense they're equally good value for 4K gaming. If you're gaming at a lower resolution like 1080p or 1440p, then the margin between the two cards narrows as you're becoming partially constrained by your processor - something we experienced even using the Core i9 10900K, which at present is the fastest gaming CPU on the market. So in some sense the RTX 3080 is the best value high performance card for 4K, and the RTX 3070 is the better value choice for 1440p gaming - especially as its 8GB of VRAM is less likely to be an issue at this resolution.

Despite the delayed launch, it's safe to assume that RTX 3070 units will be hard to find for the immediate future. With that in mind, it would be no bad thing to wait until AMD's competing Big Navi cards have also hit the market before deciding which graphics card you'll pick up. Team Red is talking a big game with their upcoming cards and has proven in the past that they'll compete on price if they can't do so on pure performance.

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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