Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 review: The new people's champion topples Titans

Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1070 is one hell of a graphics card, delivering Titan X-level performance at a price real gamers can afford.

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Hitman

Hitman is where things start to get interesting. This glorious murder-simulating sandbox’s Glacier engine is heavily optimized for AMD titles, with Radeon cards significantly outpunching their GeForce GTX 900-series counterparts, especially at higher resolutions. We’re still having trouble coaxing the game’s bolted-on DirectX 12 mode to launch in the wake of a borked game update, so these results are limited to DX11 only.

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While the GTX 1080’s raw power helps bolster it into top-dog status despite Hitman’s Radeon-centric leanings, AMD’s 390X and Fury lineup manage to equal or flat-out beat the GTX 1070 in raw frame rates here. That drives home how important in-engine support for a particular graphics architecture can be.

That said, the GTX 1070 still manages to outperform Nvidia’s own Titan X by a hair in all resolutions once again. The GTX 1070 performance gains over the GTX 970 increase the further you move up in resolution, with a 26.1 percent jump at 1080p, a 39.1 percent jump at 1440p, and a 49 percent jump at 4K.

Next page: Ashes of the Singularity and DirectX 12

Ashes of the Singularity

The varied failings of Tomb Raider and Hitman’s DirectX 12 modes left us with a single DX12 game to test: The superb Ashes of the Singularity, running on Oxide’s custom Nitrous engine.

AoTS was an early flag-bearer for DirectX 12, and the performance gains AoTS offers in DX12 over DX11 are mind-blowing—at least for AMD cards. AoTS’s DX12 implementation makes heavy use of asynchronous compute features, which are supported by dedicated hardware in Radeon GPUs, but not GTX 900-series Nvidia cards. In fact, the software pre-emption workaround that Maxwell-based Nvidia cards use to mimic the async compute capabilities tank performance so hard that Oxide’s game is coded to ignore async compute when it detects a GeForce GPU.

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That leads to some interesting conclusions. Nvidia’s GTX 900-series graphics cards perform worse in DX12 than in DX11, and that’s with async compute features disabled. That’s not the case with the GTX 1070 (or the GTX 1080); in fact, once Pascal GPUs surpass graphics bottlenecks, they can achieve a decent leap in performance in DX12, as shown in the 1440p/high and 1080/high results. I’m extremely curious to see if Oxide decides to lift the hard lock on async compute capabilities for GTX 10-series cards, and if so, whether the Pascal GPU’s new async tricks lead to more consistent DX12 performance gains.

As it stands today, the GTX 1070 again triumphs over the Titan X here, and in fact, in DX11 it’s hands-down the second-most-powerful card after the GTX 1080. But the really intriguing thing is how much of an advantage AMD’s dedicated async compute engine hardware provides in DirectX 12. Radeon cards see sizable performance increases across the board in DX12, as the ACE hardware helps distribute workloads to avoid the GPU bottlenecking seen in Nvidia’s cards. In DirectX 12, the Fury X handily beats the GTX 1070, and the Fury and R9 390X both hang awfully close.

Next page: SteamVR benchmark, 3DMark Fire Strike

At a Glance
  • $430.00 MSRP $450.00
    View

    Meet the new people's champion. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 delivers more performance than the $1000 Titan X for a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the power.

    Pros

    • Faster than a Titan X
    • Meager power requirements
    • Attractive design
    • Killer performance for the price

    Cons

    • Beaten in performance by Radeon Fury cards in heavily AMD-optimized games
    • GTX 970 was a better value in relation to the GTX 980
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