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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The new prince

If the GTX 1080 is the new graphics king, the GeForce GTX 1070 is a prince worthy of a royal reception. This beast lives up to the lofty promises set by Nvidia, delivering Titan-toppling performance for half the power and a whopping 62 percent lower price. That’s breathtaking. Thanks, 16nm FinFET!

For the first time in history, a graphics card in the $350 to $400 price range delivers truly no-compromises 1440p/60fps performance. The GTX 1070 is probably overkill for 1080p resolution unless you’re playing on a 144Hz screen. If you’re playing on a 60Hz 1080p screen, you’re better off from a price-to-performance standpoint waiting to see what the eventual GTX 1060 and its Radeon rival can do. And like the Titan X, the GTX 1070’s probably underkill for playing at 4K resolution. You’ll clear 30fps, but struggle to hit 60fps in many games unless you dial back graphics details—though investing in a 4K G-Sync monitor would transform any lingering stiffness into buttery-smooth performance onscreen.

What’s also interesting is how the GTX 1070 affects the rest of the graphics card world.

Not only does the GTX 1070 immediately invalidate any reason for gamers to buy the Titan X—though ferociously overclocked GTX 980 Ti custom cards can likely meet or top its results, for much more money—it renders AMD’s Fury lineup obsolete. Unless you need the $500 Radeon Nano’s mini-ITX form factor or the $650 Fury X’s closed-loop liquid cooling for specific build needs, the GTX 1070 is the clear winner, and for less money. There’s zero reason to buy an air-cooled $500 Radeon Fury or even a $400 Radeon R9 390X over this. Just don’t do it—unless AMD responds by drastically slashing prices, of course, which it may have to do as a response (although that might not be an option for the Fury line, given the sky-high cost of high-bandwidth memory).

The future

AMD may very well have an ace up its sleeve with Radeon graphics cards based on its own 14nm FinFET Polaris GPUs. We have no idea what Team Red has planned on that front, but it’s hosting a livestream for “Polaris updates” from Computex in just a few days, at 10 p.m. Eastern on May 31. Employee leaks suggest a Radeon RX 480 might be revealed, but nothing's been confirmed at the time of this writing. Between the time this review launches on May 30 and the GTX 1070 actually hits the streets on June 10, we’ll have a more concrete idea of what AMD has planned.

dsc00802 Brad Chacos

Even though the GTX 1070 delivers Titan X-class power and comes heartily recommended, it doesn’t feel like quite as much of a slam dunk as the GTX 1080. While the new king improved performance over its predecessor by a solid 70 percent across the board, this new prince’s gains over the older GTX 970 vary from 25 to 73 percent, depending on the game and the resolution setting. 

Part of that’s no doubt because the GTX 970 was such a remarkable deal, delivering roughly 85 percent of the GTX 980’s performance for a mere $330—an incredibly unique value proposition. The GTX 1070 delivers roughly 70 to 75 percent of the GTX 1080’s performance for $380. 

And with performance always falling just the slightest bit above the Titan X, it feels like Nvidia intentionally held back a bit, giving the GTX 1070 juuuuust enough oomph to justify the “Faster than Titan X” headline, and not an inch more. Because of that, the GTX 1070 doesn’t necessarily vanquish AMD’s heavy-hitters in heavily AMD-optimized games like Hitman—though it equals them for considerably less money, and devastates them in other titles.

A few questions also remain: Will you even be able to find $380 versions of the GTX 1070 on launch day, or will the release be limited to the $450 Founders Edition? Will Pascal’s new async capabilities level the playing field with AMD’s dedicated hardware, or will Polaris-based Radeon cards blow away their GeForce rivals in DX12 games that lean heavily on the asynchronous computing? Will developers embrace new Pascal-only tools like Ansel and Simultaneous Multi-Projection? We simply don’t know yet.

But put all those nitpicks aside. The GeForce GTX 1070 delivers Titan X-level performance for $380 and that’s amazing—full stop. The people have a new champion. Don’t hesitate to buy one immediately if you’re looking for the ultimate 1440p gaming experience… unless AMD hard launches the Radeon R9 490 and 490X at Computex, that is.

It sure is a thrilling time to be a PC gamer.

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At a Glance
  • 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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