Nvidia is seemingly experimenting with pricing right now, as if gauging just how much people will spend.
The top-of-the-range GeForce GTX 1080 sells for not far off £700, and even the GTX 1070, its junior sibling, sits at the £400 price point that used to be occupied by the likes of the flagship GTX 980. If you want an overclocked version with a swanky cooler, you’d expect to pay even more, but the Asus Strix GTX 1070 OC card only costs a relatively small premium over standard cards. Is it worth it? Believe it or not, it is.
The GTX 1070 is basically the same card as the GTX 1080, only with slightly cut-down innards. You get 1,920 stream processors, instead of the 2,560 of the premium card, and regular GDDR5 memory instead of the 1080’s super-fast GDDR5X memory. Still, it’s got a high 8GHz effective clock speed and a 256-bit memory interface; that makes for a total memory bandwidth of 256GB/sec, compared to its big brother’s 320GB/sec.
The standard GTX 1070 specification also has a lower core clock than the reference GTX 1080 spec, with a maximum boost frequency of 1,683MHz, compared to the 1080’s 1,733MHz. However, this overclocked Asus card turns that around with an overclocking mode that can push the speed as high as 1,860MHz. Note that we tested performance in this mode, which is disabled by default: you’ll need to enable it to get performance scores comparable to ours.
Physically, the GeForce GTX 1070 is a massive chunk of tech, measuring 298mm long – you’ll need to make sure there’s room in your case, especially if you have a middle drive cage installed. Asus has used the space well though. The Strix card sports three large, quiet fans, sitting on top of a bank of fins and heatpipes, backed by a fancy backplate with a Strix logo cut into it.
Behind the logo there’s a multicolour LED lighting system, which bathes the PCB in your lighting choice. You can set it to always-on, breathing, strobing, colour cycling or pulsing in time with music. You can even set it to reflect your GPU temperature. It’s completely unnecessary, of course, but you can’t help feeling some affection for such an unashamedly showy piece of component design.
The Strix GTX 1070 is a powerful card all right. In our tests, it managed to produce playable frame rates in every one of our test games at every resolution, including 4K. The only slight wobble was in Crysis 3 at 4K, where it dipped briefly to 29fps – just below the hoped-for minimum of 30 frames per second. Throughout, it happily outpaced Nvidia’s most powerful last-generation card, the GeForce GTX 980 Ti, as well as AMD’s top-end rival, the Radeon R9 Fury X.
Power efficiency is fantastic too. Sitting idle, our system drew just 69W with the Strix 1070 installed, increasing to 256W at full load. For comparison, with the GTX 980 Ti installed, our system drew as much as 381W from the mains. It’s no wonder this card only needs a single 8-pin PCI-E power socket.
If you’re hungry for the absolute best performance, there’s also room to tweak internal frequencies further. Asus doesn’t overclock the memory by default, but we were able to boost it by 275MHz without any trouble. Since the GPU is already overclocked, there wasn’t so much headroom here, but we were still able to add an extra 75MHz. This overclock had a negligible effect on power consumption, while giving our frame rates a slight boost: Crysis 3 was lifted to a minimum of 31fps at 4K.
Even in the face of this aggressive overclocking, the cooler proved very quiet, while successfully keeping the GPU core below 60°C. Naturally, the fans do rev up when the GPU is under load, but you hardly notice the difference in noise.
While the GTX 1070 will probably stretch your budget, it delivers excellent 4K gaming capabilities. Indeed, it isn’t far behind the GTX 1080, and the price is significantly lower.
The Asus Strix card we tested costs a little more than a regular model, but it’s not too steep a premium for the best possible performance. It offers amazing speed, it’s quiet and it comes in a cute and distinctive casing. It’s also potentially a great card for VR, with a handy pair of HDMI 2 outputs – one for a TV and one for a VR headset.
|Graphics processor||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070|
|Core frequency||1657MHz base clock, 1860MHz boost (OC mode); 1632MHz base clock, 1835MHz boost (Gaming mode)|
|Pipeline||1,920 stream processors, 64 ROPs|
|Memory||8GB GDDR5, 8GHz effective|
|Compatibility||DirectX 12, OpenGL 4.5|
|Outputs/inputs||Dual-link DVI, 2 x HDMI 2b, 2 x DisplayPort 1.4, SLI|
|Power connections||1 x 8-pin|
|Size||298mm long, dual-slot|