Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti review: The best 1440p graphics card in weird graphics card times

We review the EVGA GTX 1070 Ti SC Black Edition and Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1070 Ti Founders Edition vs. Radeon Vega.

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EVGA GTX 1070 Ti Black Edition specs and features

geforce gtx 1070 ti 1 Brad Chacos/IDG

The EVGA GTX 1070 Ti SC Black Edition.

Nvidia’s aiming to eradicate the Radeon Vega 56’s lead in yet another way. While customized RX Vega graphics cards have yet to appear, months after AMD’s GPU released, a full range of custom GTX 1070 Ti cards will be available at launch.

We’re also reviewing the EVGA GTX 1070 Ti SC Black Edition, which costs $20 more than Nvidia’s Founders Edition. The GTX 1070 Ti SC Black Edition carries over the design from EVGA’s other Black Edition cards. In addition to a fancy LED logo and a 5+1 power phase configuration that noses out the Founders Edition’s setup, it sports the same ACX 3.0 cooler that impressed us so much on the EVGA GTX 1080 FTW.

Here’s how we described ACX 3.0 in that review:

“The new generation of EVGA’s vaunted custom-cooling solution features a pair of massive 100mm fans that shut off in low power scenarios and contain double ball-bearings that help them last up to four times longer than competing cards, EVGA claims. Those sit over a full-sized set of heat sink fans, with the GPU itself covered by a large copper plate with six heat pipes of various sizes snaking out of it.”

evga acx 3.0 EVGA

EVGA's custom ACX 3.0 cooling solution.

You’ll see how effective ACX 3.0 performs later in our review. But perhaps the most interesting part of the EVGA GTX 1070 Ti SC Black Edition’s spec sheet is its clock speed rating: 1,607MHz base/1,683MHz boost "plus." In fact, every card in EVGA’s GTX 1070 Ti lineup—including the beefy, high-end $500 FTW2 model—lists the exact same clock speeds. And if you look at the clock speeds on custom GTX 1070 Ti graphics cards from other manufacturers, they all do too. What gives?

Simple: Nvidia isn’t allowing customized GTX 1070 Ti cards to be overclocked out of the box—presumably to keep overclocked versions of this step-down card from challenging the top-end GTX 1080. Here’s what Nvidia’s Bryan Del Rizzo said when I asked about it.

“GeForce GTX 1070 Ti lives in the small price band between the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080. Given the number of products in this category we are aiming to simplify the stack-up, and let gamers get the extra performance through manual overclocking.”

Massive, massive bummer. But as he says, manual overclocking is still allowed, and because of that the restriction isn’t stopping Nvidia’s hardware partners from developing workarounds to drive their graphics cards to faster speeds.

How to use EVGA’s GTX 1070 Ti auto-overclocking tool

EVGA’s Precision XOC software is typically used by enthusiasts to overclock their GeForce graphics cards manually. But EVGA developed a new version of its Precision XOC overclocking and monitoring software with “an exclusive feature for the GTX 1070 Ti”: an auto-overclocking tool that scans your card and automatically applies an “optimal overclock” with no technical know-how needed on your end.

evga precision xoc gtx 1070 ti Brad Chacos/IDG

The Precision XOC tool lets EVGA work around the GTX 1070 Ti's clock speed lockdown, and the packaging materials make sure you know it.

The packaging for the EVGA GTX 1070 Ti SC Black Edition (and its other GTX 1070 Ti models) includes a slip of paper with a QR code emblazoned on it, directing you to the company’s Precision XOC software. You’ll have to register with your name and email address to use the software, and the auto-overclocking process requires you to input your card’s serial number, in case Q.A. help winds up being required. You can find the serial number on a sticker on the back of the EVGA GTX 1070 Ti SC Black Edition as well as on the card’s box.

Precision XOC will automatically detect your GTX 1070 Ti the first time it launches and offer to “Run EVGA Precision XOC scanner” on it—that’s the auto-overclocking tool. Agree and you’ll be presented with three options. The quick scan cycles through preset overclocking ranges appropriate to your card, and takes 15 to 20 minutes. A full scan thoroughly tests your hardware to create a custom overclock more precisely tuned to your particular graphics card, but it can take up to an hour. Finally, as always, you can manually overclock the EVGA GTX 1070 Ti SC Black Edition.

evga precision xoc EVGA

Using Precision XOC's auto-overclocking tool for the EVGA GTX 1070 Ti SC Black Edition is easy-peasy.

I ran the quick scan on my model, as I’m guessing that’s what most people will do—and it was dead simple. The EVGA Precision XOC Scanner ran for 17 minutes, and then applied a solid +101MHz overclock to the card. In practice, that resulted in clock speeds of 1,924MHz to 1,949MHz running The Division at 4K resolution, and up to 1,974MHz at 1440p.

You could no doubt push performance higher by manually tinkering with the card’s power target, overclock, and memory speeds, but a 101MHz boost is respectable indeed, and we used EVGA’s configured overclock to test the GTX 1070 Ti SC Black Edition in our performance benchmarks. A card like the EVGA GTX 1070 Ti FTW2 ($500 on Amazon) could presumably hit even higher marks, as it includes EVGA’s revolutionary iCX cooling technology and a 235-watt maximum power draw, compared to the SC Black Edition’s 217W. Cooling and available power can play a major difference in overclocking.

If you accidentally close the Precision XOC Scanner or want to run the auto-overclocking tool again, you can do so by clicking the yellow arrow icons in the software’s interface until you’re on the Basic OC Scanner page, then clicking Run. It’ll restart the process.

Whew, that was a long diversion—but a necessary one if you buy a custom GTX 1070 Ti. Let’s dig into how this hardware handles!

Next page: Our test system, performance benchmarks begin!

At a Glance
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