Nvidia’s Ampere-powered $500 GeForce RTX 3070 plows through games just as quickly as the RTX 2080 Ti, last generation’s blistering $1,200 flagship, as we covered in-depth in our comprehensive Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition review. You need a pixel-packed monitor to get the most out of it, though. Most people stick to straight 1440p or 4K monitors, but if you prefer a more immersive experience, a 3440×1440 ultrawide display would also be a fine fit for Nvidia’s newest graphics card.
3440 ultrawide splits the performance difference between a 4k and 1440p display in terms of raw pixel count. We’ve previously conducted 3440×1440 ultrawide testing for both the $700 GeForce RTX 3080 and $1500 GeForce RTX 3090. Here’s how the more affordable option in Nvidia’s RTX 30-series launch lineup stands up, both against those cards as well as the RTX 2080 Ti that Nvidia is so keen to compare it against.
Spoiler: The GeForce RTX 3070 rocks for pixelicious ultrawide gaming.
We conducted our tests on the same $550, 144Hz Nixeus EDG34S monitor as before. It’s an outstanding value for the price, albeit a bit sparse with extra quality-of-life features. While it only officially supports AMD’s FreeSync Premium adaptive sync technology, you can manually activate G-Sync in Nvidia’s control panel, and it works like a charm. You’ll need to use the monitor’s on-screen display to activate adaptive sync first, however.
Here’s a list of what’s inside our GPU test system, which was built to minimize potential bottlenecks in other components, putting the full brunt of the tests on the graphics card itself:
Intel Core i7-8700K processor ($300 on Amazon) overclocked to 5GHz all-core
EVGA CLC 240 closed-loop liquid cooler ($105 on Amazon)
Asus Maximus X Hero motherboard
64GB HyperX Predator RGB DDR4/2933 ($355 on Amazon)
EVGA 1200W SuperNova P2 power supply ($352 on Amazon)
Corsair Crystal 570X RGB case, with front and top panels removed and an extra rear fan installed for improved airflow
2x 500GB Samsung 860 EVO SSDs ($70 each on Amazon)
Each game is tested using its in-game benchmark at the highest possible graphics presets unless otherwise noted, with VSync, frame rate caps, real-time ray tracing or DLSS effects, and FreeSync/G-Sync disabled, along with any other vendor-specific technologies like FidelityFX. We’ve also enabled temporal anti-aliasing (TAA) to push these cards to their limits when it’s available.
We did not include the legendary GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, as our previous benchmarks show it performing on a par with the RTX 2080 in most games. It’s a hair slower in properly optimized DX12 or Vulkan games.
Yep, Sony exclusives are hitting the PC now. Horizon Zero Dawn hit Steam with some performance issues, but the most egregious ones have been mostly cleared up thanks to hard work from the developers, and the game topped the sales charts for weeks after its release. It also seems to respond somewhat to PCIe 4.0 scaling, which will make this an interesting inclusion when we shift to a PCIe 4.0-based system in the future.
Horizon Zero Dawn runs on Guerrilla Games’ Decima engine, the same engine that powers Death Stranding. Ambient Occlusion can still offer iffy results if set to Ultra, so we test with that setting at Medium. Every other visual option is maxed out.
Gears Tactics puts it own brutal, fast-paced spin on the XCOM-like genre. This Unreal Engine 4-powered game was built from the ground up for DirectX 12. We love being able to work a tactics-style game into our benchmarking suite. Better yet, the game comes with a plethora of graphics options for PC snobs. More games should devote such loving care to explaining what flipping all these visual knobs mean.
You can’t use the presets to benchmark Gears Tactics, as it intelligently scales to work best on your installed hardware, meaning that “Ultra” on one graphics card can load different settings than “Ultra” on a weaker card. We manually set all options to their highest possible settings.
One of the best games of 2019, Metro Exodus is one of the best-looking games around, too. The latest version of the 4A Engine provides incredibly luscious, ultra-detailed visuals, with one of the most stunning real-time ray tracing implementations released yet. We test in DirectX 12 mode with ray tracing, Hairworks, and DLSS disabled for our basic benchmarks.
Strange Brigade is a cooperative third-person shooter where a team of adventurers blasts through hordes of mythological enemies. It’s a technological showcase, built around the next-gen Vulkan and DirectX 12 technologies and infused with features like HDR support and the ability to toggle asynchronous compute on and off. It uses Rebellion’s custom Azure engine. We test using the Vulkan renderer, which is faster than DX12.
Total War: Troy
The latest game in the popular Total War saga, Troy was given away free for its first 24 hours on the Epic Games Store, moving over 7.5 million copies before it went on proper sale. Total War: Troy is built using a modified version of the Total War: Warhammer 2 engine, and this DX11 title looks stunning for a turn-based strategy game.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Shadow of the Tomb Raider concludes the reboot trilogy, and it’s utterly gorgeous. Square Enix optimized this game for DX12, and recommends DX11 only if you’re using older hardware or Windows 7. We test with DX12. Shadow of the Tomb Raider uses an enhanced version of the Foundation engine that also powered Rise of the Tomb Raider and includes optional real-time ray tracing and DLSS features.
This DX11 game isn’t really a visual barn-burner like the (somewhat wonky) Red Dead Redemption 2, but it still tops the Steam charts day in and day out, so we deem it more worthy of testing. RDR2 will melt your graphics card, sure, but GTA V remains so popular years after launch that upgraded versions of it will be available on the next-generation consoles. That’s staying power.
We test Grand Theft Auto V with all options turned to Very High, all Advanced Graphics options except extended shadows enabled, and FXAA. GTA V runs on the RAGE engine and has received substantial updates since its initial launch.
Rainbow Six Siege
Like GTA V, Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Siege still dominates the Steam charts years after its launch, and it’ll be getting a visual upgrade for the next-gen consoles. The developers have poured a ton of work into the game’s AnvilNext engine over the years, eventually rolling out a Vulkan version of the game that we use to test. By default, the game lowers the render scaling to increase frame rates, but we set it to 100 percent to benchmark native rendering performance on graphics cards. Even so, frame rates soar.
Final thoughts and analysis
The results here were a bit surprising, but far from disappointing. The RTX 3070 traded blows with the RTX 2080 Ti at 1080p, 1440p, and 4K resolutions in our review. 3440×1440 basically splits the difference between 1440p and 4K, but at this resolution, the RTX 3070 consistently fell behind the former $1,200 flagship, coming out ahead only in GTA V. The gap is a few percentage points and a handful of frames in the other games, though. Nvidia’s new graphics card is between 1 to 5 percent slower than the RTX 2080 Ti in most titles, though the gap widened to 9 percent in Total War: Troy—a DirectX 11 title that also doesn’t result in a good showing at more standard resolutions.
All that said, though, the GeForce RTX 3070 delivers more than enough power to keep a 3440×1440 ultrawide monitor fed well beyond the gold standard of 60 frames per second. In some particularly well-optimized games, it can even push the edges of a 120Hz+ display.
Once again, this level of performance previously cost $1,200, and the RTX 3070 costs $500. That dramatic performance-per-dollar increase can’t be oversold. The RTX 3070 is a great option for PC gamers eager to feed an ultrawide display with no visual compromises, and without setting their wallets on fire.
If you’re somehow able to find a new GeForce RTX 2080 Ti for around the same $500 price as an RTX 3070, however, opt for that card to fuel your 3440 ultrawide display instead. Not only is it the smallest of hairs faster in pure gaming frame rates, but Nvidia’s last-gen flagship also comes with a more substantial 11GB of GDDR6 memory. The RTX 3070’s 8GB should be fine for 3440×1440 gaming in the vast majority of today’s games. However, memory capacity becomes precious at higher resolutions–and it may become more so in the future, now that the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles are both moving to 16GB of VRAM when they launch in a couple of weeks. Console upgrades tend to push specifications forward on the PC side of things, too.