ProsAmazing efficiency; ultra-quiet fans; good price/performance ratio
ConsUnimpressive overclocking headroom; questionable Nvidia marketing
It's been a while since we've published a video card review, which shouldn't be too surprising given how long it's been since a truly-new card has hit the market (June 2015, for anyone counting). Well, new cards arrived in spades (no pun intended!) in June 2016, and we've been hard at work pushing a couple of retail GTX 1070s to their limit to bring you the straight story on this ultra-popular new GPU. Nvidia knew it was going to shake up the market when it announced the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 back in early May 2016, but it took a few liberties with its marketing in order to make the most of the situation. The key issues were price and availability.
If you've been following the GPU releases this year, including the GeForce 10 series, based on the new Pascal design, and AMD's Radeon RX 480, based on the Polaris design, you know that they've all delivered the same or more performance for less money than previous-gen cards. This feat was achieved not so much through a breakthrough in design (these cards are basically die-shrunk versions of last year's Maxwell and Fiji designs), but rather a breakthrough in manufacturing technology (the die shrink from 28nm to 16nm, in the case of the GeForce cards). As it turns out, it's a bit harder to ramp up production on new technologies than it is on new designs, which has fueled an absolute feeding frenzy for the very few samples that Nvidia and AMD have been able to turn out. This in turn has driven prices through the roof, well beyond the "$599" for the 1080 and "$379" for the 1070 that Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang proudly announced at the 10-series debut in May 2016 (as well as the "$200" AMD claimed for the RX 480, but that's an issue for another review).
Truth be told, we had intended for our first next-gen review to be of the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Superclocked, but because we purchase all our review samples at retail, we ran into the very same roadblocks that everyone else has. In fact, on the one day that a handful of GTX 1080 SCs showed up in stock, we arrived at the virtual storefront too late, but caught a consolation prize: the GTX 1070 SC. And so we're here bringing you a review of that card, which we hope will be at least as interesting (the card will certainly sell in greater numbers!).
Note that this article was initially published as a "preview" but has since been updated to "full review" status. We tested four different cards, as follows:
- EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 Superclocked 8GB (reference and +163MHz/9000MHz)
- EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB (reference and +200MHz/7800MHz)
- EVGA GeForce GTX 980 4GB (reference and +249/7800MHz)
- EVGA GeForce GTX 970 4GB FTW (reference and +250MHz/7800MHz)
Each card was run at reference clocks (meaning we removed any factory overclock), as well as the highest stable overclock we could achieve. For the record, the GTX 1070 Superclocked comes with a factory overclock of +88MHz, which is less than 5%, and would only improve performance by 3-4% given the imperfect scaling of core overclocks. We ignored it for purposes of this article.
We tested our cards in five games plus two benchmarks, as follows: 3DMark Fire Strike, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Far Cry 4, The Witcher 3, Crysis 3, Battlefield 4, and 3DMark Time Spy. Just as we were finishing the benchmarks for our GTX 980 Ti, Crystal Dynamics released a huge new patch for Rise of the Tomb Raider, which significantly affected DX11 and DX12 performance. Given that our benchmarks were immediately rendered irrelevant, we went back and benchmarked the new version of the game, this time using the built-in benchmark so we could include both DX11 and DX12 numbers. And then, when we had finally finished all of our testing, FutureMark released its long awaited DX12 benchmarking tool, Time Spy, which we of course had to run. That delayed our article another day as we reinstalled each card to test them in Time Spy.
While we had initially planned to include GTX 1070 SLI benchmarks in this review, those will have to wait until another time due to the amount of testing that went into benchmarking in the tests above. We re-run all our cards with the latest patches and drivers, never re-using old data as is often done on other sites. We're providing benchmarks at both the typical 1920 x 1080 resolution, as well as the increasingly-popular 2560 x 1440 resolution. Note that while we considered running 4K benchmarks, the cards we're using aren't targeting 4K gamers, and we think gamers with 4K monitors will want to look at the GTX 1080 or 1070 in SLI. Update: We've since published our full GTX 1070 SLI 4K benchmarks - check them out here!
The test bench we used consisted of the following components:
- CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K
- Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Gaming 6
- Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 2x8GB DDR4-3000
- Solid-State Drive #1: Samsung 850 Evo M.2 500GB
- Solid-State Drive #2: Crucial MX200 1TB
- Power Supply: EVGA Supernova 850 G2
- Case: Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX
- CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U14S
- Operating System: Windows 10 Home
We utilized Nvidia GeForce Driver version 368.69 for all our test cards.
Important note: To avoid a potential source of bias, The Tech Buyer's Guru does not accept sample video cards for review, and instead buys all its test samples at retail. Our readers can help support these reviews by purchasing products we recommend through the links in this article, such as the EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 Founders Edition and EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 Superclocked, or any of the components in our test rig listed above.
Description and Features
The GTX 1070 Superclocked uses EVGA's new ACX 3.0 cooler, which is a big step up in style versus the ACX 2.0 cooler. It includes not only white LED lighting for the top-mounted branding, but also white LED "patches", for lack of a better word, on the front of the card. All five mesh-type areas light up during use, including the two under the EVGA and GeForce GTX 1070 nameplates. We're not sure this is a big selling point, as the added lights can't be seen when the card is mounted in a standard case, but we do like the light-up branding on the top of the card. It's just too bad about the odd yellow "SC" emblem that clashes with the rest of the color scheme.
Like the Founders Edition model, this card includes a solid backplate, which adds to the style of the card (and yes, this actually can be seen when the card is mounted!). It also provides a nominal amount of extra cooling, along with protection from damage during handling and installation. Versus the Founders Edition, the EVGA backplate is more interesting to look at, in our opinion. And unlike just about every other custom-cooled GTX 1070 on the market, the EVGA Superclocked isn't larger than the Founders Edition, checking in at 10.5" long and 4.4" tall (plus another 1/4-inch or so for the light-up nameplate), which is great for anyone looking to fit this card in a small case.
All right, enough description, let's get to our benchmarks, shall we?