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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 review: the typical performance upgrade spectrum

Metro Exodus, Dirt Rally 2, Assassin's Creed Unity.

We conclude our testing of traditional, rasterised game performance with the six-year-old Assassin's Creed Unity and the more recent Metro Exodus and Dirt Rally 2.0 - which were actually released just a week apart in February last year.

Our performance data is more than just a readout of an average frame-rate at the end of a test. Instead, we use the FCAT tool built into Rivatuner Statistics Server (RTSS). This tool overlays a coloured border to the left side of the screen, where each new frame is represented by another coloured box in the sequence - and its height signifies the time it took to generate. We capture a direct feed of the game footage and border from the graphics card we're testing, analysing the resultant video file with our own tools to essentially write down the frame-time for each frame. This metadata is then uploaded to the Eurogamer website and then rendered by the server into the live performance widgets you see below.

Metro Exodus

Metro Exodus is where we'll start this section. The game is well-known in DF circles for its ray tracing, which includes emissives and global illumination, but we're looking at the traditional rasterised implementation for this test (RTX comes later!). We're using the integrated benchmark here, which is now stable enough to run consistently - something we couldn't say at the game's initial release.

The RTX 3070 manages around 53fps here, so it's just a a few clever settings tweaks from a comfortable 4K/60. The RTX 3080 is 32 per cent faster, at 70 fps, while the 3090 is a solid 51 per cent faster at around 80fps. It's worth noting that the RTX 2080 Ti also takes a measurable lead here beyond the realms of 'margin of error', with an eight per cent faster result than the 3070.

At 1440p, the game becomes more easily playable at 84fps, which is 33 per cent faster than the 2070 Super, 22 per cent faster than the 2080 and 13 per cent faster than the 2080 Super. Again, only the 2080 Ti outstrips the 3070 from the last generation models, but the gap in performance drops to a more manageable five per cent.

Metro Exodus: Ultra, DX12, TAA

Dirt Rally 2.0

Codemasters' Dirt Rally 2.0 is the first racing game we've included in our graphics card test suite for some time, and it comes with a nicely configurable benchmark that can be activated using launch commands. That makes testing a lot more straightforward, and the 142 second sequence we're using here allows the cards to heat up a little bit as well.

The RTX 3070 performs better here than in Metro compared to the RTX 2080 Ti, this time coming ahead by a narrow margin - just 1fps at 4K, or about two per cent. The RTX 3080 leads the 3070 by 21 per cent, while the 3090 holds a 38 per cent margin over the cheapest Ampere card to be announced.

Compared to last-gen options, the 3070 beats the 2070 Super by 48 per cent, the 2080 by 37 per cent and the 2080 Super by 24 per cent - a pretty comprehensive victory for a $500 card. If we look further back, the 3070 has 140 per cent faster 4K performance than the GTX 1070, dropping to a 124 per cent advantage at 1440p and 115 per cent at 1080p.

Dirt Rally 2.0: DX12, Ultra, TAA+8x MSAA

Assassin's Creed Unity

Assassin's Creed Unity gets a bad rap for its launch woes, especially on console, but the PC version of the game - and the game running on Xbox Series X - is genuinely a technical achievement of some merit. The game remains a challenge to render at 4K, even six years after release, with the RTX 3070 managing only 73fps here. By comparison, the RTX 3080 is 32 per cent faster than the 3070, while the 3090 is 48 per cent to the good against its little brother.

Compared to older cards though, the RTX 3070 looks pretty impressive. It's 63 per cent faster than the RX 5700 XT, 77 per cent faster than the GTX 1080 and 126 per cent faster than the GTX 1070. There's a smaller gap to last-gen cards, with the 3070 effectively tying the RTX 2080 Ti and leading the 2070 Super by 37 per cent. The ordering remains similar at 1080p and 1440p, with the 3070 and 2080 Ti only trailing the 3090 and 3080.

AC Unity: Ultra High, DX11, FXAA

That brings our analysis of traditional rasterised games to a close, but it's only half the story. The RTX 3070 also boasts redesigned ray tracing cores that should offer considerably better RT performance, so we've tested the GPU in four RTX games: Control, Metro, Battlefield and Quake. That analysis is on the next page, so let's take a look.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Analysis

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Will Judd avatar

Will Judd

Deputy Editor, Digital Foundry

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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