RT and tensor cores for ray tracing, DLSS, and more
Very effective cooler
$50 less than Founders Edition
Customizable RGB LEDs and shroud trim
Divisive shroud design
Ray tracing and DLSS not available in games yet
Fewer RT and tensor cores could mean reduced ray tracing and DLSS performance
EVGA’s GeForce RTX 2070 XC is cooler, more feature-packed, and just as fast as the Nvidia Founders Edition, but costs $50 less. Between the promise of ray tracing and AI enhancements in the future and faster performance today, it’s well worth your money.
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EVGA’s custom GeForce RTX 2070 XC graphics card is cooler, more customizable, and just as fast as Nvidia’s RTX 2070 Founders Edition. It’s packing dedicated hardware for real-time ray tracing and AI-enhanced graphics. And it’s $50 cheaper, too.
That shouldn’t be a big deal. Nvidia’s Founders Edition cards were designed to be premium priced halo(ish) models, right? But when the GeForce RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti released last month, third-party board makers like EVGA, Asus, and MSI treated the premium pricing of the Founders Edition models as the cost floor rather than a cost ceiling. As such, all those high-end graphics cards are selling for significantly more than Nvidia’s stated starting prices. It’s a major bummer.
Fortunately, that’s not the case with the GeForce RTX 2070 launch. You’ll find cheaper options available from third-party manufacturers on day one, such as the $550 EVGA RTX 2070 XC. And while the $700 RTX 2080 trades blows with the older $700 GTX 1080 Ti, the EVGA RTX 2070 XC offers a performance bump over the GTX 1080 in traditional games to go with all its futuristic ray tracing promises.
EVGA GeForce RTX 2070 XC: Specs, price, and release date
The EVGA GeForce RTX 2070 XC’s underlying specs hew closely to those of the Founders Edition, delivering a small clock speed bump compared to the GPU’s reference specs.
Ports: One VirtualLink/USB-C, three DisplayPort 1.4, one HDMI 2.0b
Power: One 6-pin, one 8-pin, 550W+ power supply required
Release date: October 17, 2018
On top of the out-of-the-box speed boost, EVGA also lets you increase the RTX 2070 XC’s power limit by a lofty 30 percent, giving manual overclockers more headroom than other RTX 20-series graphics cards we’ve seen. The Nvidia Founders Edition only lets you bump the power by 16 percent. We’ll cover overclocked performance in a separate section later. The RTX 2070 packs the same 8GB of VRAM as its predecessor, but the move from GDDR5X to GDDR6 delivered a massive upgrade to memory bandwidth.
This GPU promises to unlock new features in the future, too, thanks to its dedicated RT cores for real-time ray tracing and dedicated tensor cores for bringing the power of machine learning to games, most noticeably in the form of Deep Level Super Sampling. DLSS is an antialiasing method that delivers visual smoothness on a par with Temporal Anti-Aliasing (TAA) at a much lower performance cost, using the power of AI to render scenes more efficiently. The good news: Dozens of games have pledged ray tracing or DLSS support. The bad news: No games support either technology yet, so if you buy into an RTX graphics card, you’re gambling that game developers will embrace Nvidia’s features en masse, and that those features will prove as impressive as Nvidia’s marketing claims.
While the EVGA RTX 2070 XC mirrors Nvidia’s Founders Edition under the hood, it’s the custom-designed cooler that sets it apart.
EVGA overhauled its cooler for the new generation. While the company’s new exterior design may prove divisive, EVGA claims the actual cooling technology is much more effective than before. The dual fans have 23.8 percent more blade area than before, for 11.5 percent greater air flow. EVGA says all those tiny “E” letters emblazoned across the blades somehow help reduce noise levels by four percent. (We’d wager they’re there more for marketing purposes.)
Note that while the $550 RTX 2070 XC features EVGA’s iCX2 cooler design, it does not include the fail-safe fuse and additional temperature sensors that provide deeper details about various areas of your hardware. Those awesome features are reserved for EVGA’s more premium 2.75-slot RTX graphics cards. (The RTX 2070 XC is a traditional two-slot, 10.6-inch-long card.)
Digging deeper, EVGA’s L-shaped heat sink fins with holes punched through for improved airflow already impressed, but the company claims it’s managed to increase the heat sink’s total dissipation area by 58 percent with this new generation of graphics cards. The punch press backplate, meanwhile, supposedly increases thermal conductivity by 155 percent. That’s a lot of numbers to throw around, but one thing’s certain, as our testing will reveal later: The EVGA RTX 2070 XC runs ice-cold.
Online reaction to EVGA’s redesigned shroud has been… mixed, to say the least. Some people love the transparent plastic shroud and the fans covered in tiny “E”s, and some people frankly hate it. For people who love it, EVGA now lets you add a personal touch to your system by swapping out the trim around the fans with different color options, though those kits cost extra. The company’s superb Precision X1 software, which was rebuilt from the ground up this generation with great success, allows you to change the color of the RGB LEDs inside the logo on the edge of the card.
And if you hate the new design? You can’t see the shroud and fans when the graphics card is installed in a traditional system, with the fans oriented downward. It just looks like any other recent EVGA graphics card, with an illuminated logo on the side and an intricate backplate up top.
Enough about how the EVGA RTX 2070 XC looks. How does it handle? Let’s get to the benchmarks.
Next page: Our test system, gaming benchmarks begin
Our test system
Our dedicated graphics card test system is packed with some of the fastest complementary components available to put any potential performance bottlenecks squarely on the GPU. Most of the hardware was provided by the manufacturers, but we purchased the cooler and storage ourselves.
Each game is tested using its in-game benchmark at the highest possible graphics presets, with VSync, frame rate caps, and all GPU vendor-specific technologies—like AMD TressFX, Nvidia GameWorks options, and FreeSync/G-Sync—disabled, and temporal anti-aliasing (TAA) enabled to push these high-end cards to their limits. If anything differs from that, we’ll mention it.
EVGA GeForce RTX 2070 XC performance benchmarks
Let’s kick things off with Strange Brigade ($50 on Humble), a cooperative third-person shooter where a team of adventurers blast 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 with async compute off.
Here and throughout the testing process, the EVGA RTX 2070 XC delivers virtually identical results to the more expensive Nvidia RTX 2070 Founders Edition. That means it smashes the older GTX 1070 FE, and performs about 10 percent better on average than the GTX 1080, which is its true comparison because both cost $500 to $600. That lead increases to just above 20 percent in Shadow of War and Rainbow Six Siege, a pair of games that respond favorably to the RTX series’ newfound async compute capabilities. That’s why AMD’s Vega 64 outpunches the GTX 1080 in those titles, too.
Rather than repeating “Yup, the two RTX 2070 cards are neck and neck” over and over again, we’ll just provide the game benchmarking results without much additional commentary.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Shadow of the Tomb Raider ($60 on Humble) concludes the reboot trilogy, and it’s utterly gorgeous—even the state-of-the-art GeForce RTX 2080 Ti barely manages to average 60 fps with all the bells and whistles turned on at 4K resolution. Square Enix optimized this game for DX12, and recommends DX11 only if you’re using older hardware or Windows 7, so we test with that. Shadow of the Tomb Raider uses an enhanced version of the Foundation engine that also powered Rise of the Tomb Raider.
Far Cry 5
Finally, a DirectX 11 game! Far Cry 5 ($60 on Humble) is powered by Ubisoft’s long-established Dunia engine. It’s just as gorgeous as its predecessors, and even more fun.
Next page: Games benchmarks continue
Ghost Recon Wildlands
Move over, Crysis. If you crank all the graphics options up to 11, like we do for these tests, Ghost Recon Wildlands ($50 on Humble) and its AnvilNext 2.0 engine absolutely melts GPUs.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Middle-earth: Shadow of War ($50 on Humble) adds a strategic layer to the series’ sublime core gameplay loop, adapting the Nemesis system to let you create an army of personalized Orc commanders. It plays like a champ on PC, too, thanks to Monolith’s custom LithTech Firebird engine. We use the Ultra graphics preset but drop the Shadow Quality setting to High to avoid exceeding 8GB of VRAM usage.
The latest in a long line of successful games, F1 2018 ($60 on Humble) is a benchmarking gem, supplying a wide array of both graphical and benchmarking options—making it a much more reliable option than the Forza series. It’s built on the fourth version of Codemasters’ buttery-smooth Ego game engine. We test two laps on the Australia course, with clear skies.
Next page: Games benchmarks continue
Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation
Ashes of the Singularity ($40 on Humble) was one of the very first DX12 games, and it remains a flagbearer for the technology to this day thanks to the extreme scalability of Oxide Games’ next-gen Nitrous engine. With hundreds of units onscreen simultaneously and some serious graphics effects in play, the Crazy preset can make graphics cards sweat. Ashes runs in both DX11 and DX12, but we only test in DX12, as it delivers the best results for both Nvidia and AMD GPUs.
We’re going to wrap things up with a couple of older games that aren’t really visual barn-burners, but still top the Steam charts day-in and day-out. These are games that a lot of people play. First up: Grand Theft Auto V ($30 on Humble) 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.
GTA V is the one game where the older GTX 1080 and GTX 1080 Ti holds a clear (albeit slight) performance advantage over their successors, highlighting that while the cards are similar, there are some noticeable architecture differences under the hood.
Rainbow Six Siege
Finally, let’s take a peek at Rainbow Six Siege ($40 on Humble), a game whose audience just keeps on growing, and one that still feels like the only truly next-gen shooter after all these years. Like Ghost Recon Wildlands, this game runs on Ubisoft’s AnvilNext 2.0 engine, but Rainbow Six Siege responds especially well to games that lean on async compute features.
Like we said in the beginning: Siege loves the RTX 2070’s improved async compute capabilities, and it really shows here.
Next page: Fire Strike, power, and heat
Fire Strike, power draw, thermals, and noise
We also tested the GeForce RTX 2070 Founders Edition using 3DMark’s highly respected Fire Strike synthetic benchmark. Fire Strike runs at 1080p, Fire Strike Extreme runs at 1440p, and Fire Strike Ultra runs at 4K resolution. All render the same scene, but with more intense graphical effects as you move up the scale, so that Extreme and Ultra flavors stress GPUs even more. We record the graphics score to eliminate variance from the CPU.
Everything falls where’d you expect, which is always the case with Fire Strike tests. The EVGA graphics card and its more potent cooling solution (more on that shortly) falls just ahead of Nvidia’s RTX 2070 FE.
We test power draw by looping the F1 2018 benchmark after we’ve benchmarked everything else with a card, and noting the highest reading on our Watts Up Pro meter. The initial part of the race, where all competing cars are onscreen simultaneously, tends to be the most demanding portion.
The EVGA RTX 2070 uses slightly less power than the GTX 1080 and even the Nvidia RTX 2070 FE under load. Maybe those little “E”s all over the fan blades made the difference? The new RTX cards use much more power than the older GTX 1070 FE, but delivers much more performance in return. And really, like we said earlier, the vastly increased price point makes the RTX 2070 more of a GTX 1080 competitor.
We test thermals by leaving HWInfo’s sensor monitoring tool open during the F1 2018 5-lap power draw test, noting the highest maximum temperature at the end.
Look at those temperatures! Even with a traditional two-slot, 10.6-inch design, the EVGA RTX 2070 XC doesn’t get hotter than 66 degrees Celsius—a huge improvement over the Founders Edition’s 73-degree heat. Even EVGA’s entry-level cooling solutions are damned impressive.
The EVGA RTX 2070 XC is quiet enough, delivering noise levels on a par with the RTX 2070 Founders Edition’s. It’s not silent, but it’s not loud or annoying by any stretch, even under full load. With all that extra thermal headroom, you could use EVGA’s Precision X1 software to adjust the card’s fan curves for higher temperatures but lower noise levels if you were so inclined. Yay options!
Next page: Overclocking, should you buy the EVGA RTX 2070 XC?
EVGA GeForce RTX 2070 XC overclocking
We haven’t traditionally included overclocking performance in our reviews, but the new one-click Nvidia Scanner auto-overclocking tool, baked into third-party software like EVGA’s slick Precision X1, makes overclocking RTX 20-series cards a breeze. Just click the scan button, wait 20 or so minutes for the software to determine the perfect voltage curve for your particular GPU, then click Apply when it’s done. Bam! You’ve overclocked your graphics card—no muss, no fuss. For better results, drag the voltage, power limit, and temperature sliders all the way to the right, which lets the card consume more power and run hotter in the quest for more frames.
You’re still beholden to the silicon lottery, though. Our EVGA RTX 2070 XC got a +128 score from Nvidia Scanner. After applying the customized overclocking and voltage curve, GPU-Z registered our base/boost clock speeds at 1,497MHz and 1,797MHz, respectively. That’s just behind our Nvidia RTX 2070 Founders Edition reference sample, which hit +160, but EVGA’s higher power limit flexibility helped it close the gap. EVGA lets you increase the RTX 2070 XC’s power limit by 30 percent, the highest amount we’ve seen with any RTX 20-series graphics cards. The Nvidia RTX 2070 Founders Edition only lets you increase power by 16 percent.
With the automatic overclock and increased power and voltage limits applied, both the EVGA RTX 2070 XC and Nvidia’s Founders Edition hovered between 1,995MHz and 2,010MHz in games, depending on the load, and delivered virtually identical overclocked results. The overclocking resulted in a 4-percent to 5-percent performance increase in several games, though some titles stayed pat.
Manual overclocking and memory overclocking could no doubt boost results even more, but the Scanner-supplied overclocked delivers more performance with minimal effort. There’s every reason to exercise this feature if you buy an RTX 20-series card.
Should you buy the EVGA RTX 2070 XC?
Absolutely, if you’re in the market for a $500 graphics card that delivers stellar 1440p gaming, solid entry-level 4K gaming with the help of a G-Sync monitor, or ultra-fast 1080p gaming a high refresh rate monitor.
Our GeForce RTX 2070 Founders Edition review established that Nvidia’s new GPU is the best graphics card you can buy in this price range. GTX 1080 prices start around $480 on Newegg, and most Radeon Vega 64 options are selling for north of $580. Pass. While the RTX 2080 is no faster than the GTX 1080 Ti despite its higher prices, it’s essentially asking you to pay a premium to gamble on the promise of ray tracing and DLSS alone.. The RTX 2070 gives you access to that untapped potential and a solid across-the-board performance boost. The new RTX-series GPUs also take a much smaller performance hit on HDR displays. It’s well worth paying slightly more than you would for a GTX 1080 to get all those extras.
And with EVGA’s superb GeForce RTX 2070 XC, I do mean “slightly.” At $550, you’re not paying much more than you would for a GTX 1080, but you’re paying far less than the Nvidia Founders Edition’s $600 asking price. EVGA delivers more features for the lower price, too—customizable RGB LEDs and shroud trim, a far superior cooling solution, and a higher power limit option for overclocking than we’ve seen with any rival RTX GPUs. Quick, effortless software tweaking can get this card running at 2GHz in no time.
Add it all up, and the EVGA RTX 2070 XC is a winner. The only potential reason for pause: All RTX 2070 GPUs pack half the futuristic RT and tensor cores of the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. Nvidia’s released some canned ray tracing and DLSS demos to reviewers, but without being able to test the technologies in actual games, we don’t know how much (if any) of a performance impact the reduced core counts will bring in next-gen RTX workloads. If you’re gung-ho about ray tracing and DLSS, consider waiting for games to support the technologies in real life before deciding whether to invest in an RTX 2070 or one of its more potent siblings.
Putting that aside, the EVGA RTX 2070 XC nevertheless gets you a spot at the ray tracing table, delivers better performance than the GTX 1080 in traditional games, packs a potent cooler with nifty customization extras, and does it all for $50 less than Nvidia’s comparable Founders Edition. Highly recommended—though at $380 or so, the older GTX 1070 remains an intriguing and much cheaper option for gamers with a 60Hz, 1440p display.
Brad Chacos spends his days digging through desktop PCs and tweeting too much. He specializes in graphics cards and gaming, but covers everything from security to Windows tips and all manner of PC hardware.