Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti review: A loss for AMD

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When I reviewed Nvidia’s RTX 3070 last year, I called it the sweet spot for 1440p gaming. At $499, it came as a more budget-friendly option for those not ready to move to 4K. Now Nvidia has another option: the $599 RTX 3070 Ti.

Compared to the standard version, the RTX 3070 Ti has been redesigned and comes with 8GB of newer and more efficient GDDR6X RAM instead of GDDR6. Like all Nvidia 30-series cards, the RTX 3070 Ti also supports ray tracing and AI-powered DLSS technology to improve frame rates and preserve image quality.

However, the bump to performance is small. I’ve been testing the RTX 3070 Ti at both 1440p and 4K for the past week, and in most titles it lags behind AMD’s cheaper RX 6800 card. I didn’t expect the RTX 3070 Ti to come close to the RTX 3080, but there’s a big enough performance gap here that makes it more logical to buy AMD’s RX 6800 or be willing to pay extra for the RTX 3080.

However, none of these prices really matter. We are in the midst of a global chip shortage that is driving GPU prices to ridiculous levels well above $1,000 per card. You will likely buy any GPU available to buy at your ideal price.

Hardware

Nvidia has changed the RTX 3070 Ti into what appears to be a smaller version of the RTX 3080. It’s a design bump over the RTX 3070, which leads to the 3070 Ti being slightly longer and requiring more power. The RTX 3070 Ti has one fan on either side of the card, with a push-pull system. The bottom fan pulls cool air into the card, which is then blown out the other side closest to your CPU cooler and rear fan. A traditional blower cooler also directs the hot air out of the PCIe slot on the back.

It’s the same system as the RTX 3080, and it keeps the RTX 3070 Ti humming silently. Like the RTX 3070 before it, Nvidia uses its new 12-pin single power connector. It is designed to replace existing 6 or 8 pin connectors and comes with an adapter in the box. Due to the new power requirements, you need to use two single 8-pin connectors with the adapter. I highly recommend getting a single new cable (they cost about $20) from your PSU supplier to plug directly into this card, as it’s much less fiddly than the included adapter.

The RTX 3070 Ti is more like an RTX 3080.

The RTX 3070 Ti has all the ports you would expect on a modern GPU. There is a single HDMI 2.1 port and three DisplayPort 1.4a ports. While the design of the RTX 3070 was simple, I prefer the look of the 3070 Ti. It doesn’t have glowing LEDs like the RTX 3080, but it still looks great in a case with a window.

Unfortunately, the RTX 3070 Ti requires more power than the RTX 3070. The RTX 3070 Ti itself draws up to 290 watts, a jump of more than 30 percent from the RTX 3070. This also means that Nvidia recommends a 750W power supply here from the 650W requirement for the RTX 3070. That pushes the 3070 Ti to the same power requirements as the RTX 3090, even though it consumes much less power. It’s a big jump as the RTX 2070 only needed a 550W power supply.

The RTX 3070 Ti and RTX 3070.

1440p testing

I tested the RTX 3070 Ti with Intel’s latest Core i9 processor. For 1440p testing, I also paired the GPU with a 32-inch Samsung Odyssey G7 monitor. This monitor supports refresh rates up to 240 Hz, as well as Nvidia’s G-Sync technology.

I compared the RTX 3070 Ti with the previous RTX 3070, the RTX 3080, and AMD’s RX 6800 to find out where it fits in at the $599 price point. I’ve tested several AAA titles, including: Fortnite, Control, Death Stranding, Metro Exodus, Call of Duty: Warzone, Microsoft Flight Simulator, and much more. You can also find the same games below that have been tested at 4K resolution.

All games were tested at max or ultra settings on the RTX 3070 Ti, and almost all of them comfortably exceeded 60 fps, with some reaching 100 fps and more. Gears 5, Check, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla saw the biggest gains here over the RTX 3070, with over 10 percent improvement each. But Call of Duty: Warzone, Death Stranding, Microsoft Flight Simulator, and Watch Dogs: Legion were the same or very close.

RTX 3070Ti (1440p)

Benchmark RTX 3070 Founders Edition RTX 3070 Ti Founders Edition AMD RX 6800 RTX 3080 Founders Edition
Benchmark RTX 3070 Founders Edition RTX 3070 Ti Founders Edition AMD RX 6800 RTX 3080 Founders Edition
Microsoft Flight Simulator 40 fps 39 fps 41 fps 46 fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider Rai 115 fps 126 fps 136 fps 147 fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (DLSS) 119 fps 128 fps N/A 154 fps
CoD: Warzone 119 fps 119 fps 134 fps 124 fps
CoD: Warzone (DLSS+RT) 127 fps 125 fps 134 fps (RT only) 133 fps
Fortnite 132 fps 142 fps 157 fps 160 fps
Fortnite (DLSS) 153 fps 164 fps N/A 181 fps
Gears 5 72 fps 84 fps 103 fps 87 fps
Death Stranding 136 fps 136 fps 155 fps 163 fps
Death Stranding (DLSS quality) 165 fps 153 fps N/A 197 fps
Check 95 fps 107 fps 101 fps 124 fps
Control (DLSS quality + RT) 98 fps 109 fps 51 fps (RT only) 126 fps
Metro Exodus 43 fps 46 fps 45 fps 56 fps
Metro Exodus (DLSS+RT) 53 fps 56 fps 39 fps 67 fps
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla 64 fps 72 fps 96 fps 73 fps
Watch Dogs: Legion 65 fps 67 fps 71 fps 79 fps
Watch Dogs: Legion (DLSS+RT) 43 fps 44 fps N/A 67 fps
Watch Dogs: Legion (RT) 24 fps 33 fps 28 fps 49 fps

Fortnite and Death Stranding the best performing games were at 1440p, and with DLSS enabled, both exceeded 150 fps averages. The RTX 3070 Ti is extremely capable at 1440p, and if you’re willing to lower the settings in favor of high frame rates, this card will pair very well with 144Hz or faster monitors.

Where the RTX 3070 Ti really disappoints is when you compare it to the AMD competition. AMD’s RX 6800 beats the RTX 3070 Ti in almost every game at 1440p, with Check and Metro Exodus are the rare exceptions. Some of AMD’s beats here are significant, with Gears 5 and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla both see more than 20 percent performance gains. I tested all cards with Nvidia’s Resizable Bar enabled and AMD’s Smart Access Memory enabled. Both are identical technologies designed to increase frame rates, and it’s clear that certain games prefer AMD’s card here.

The RTX 3070 Ti uses a push-pull cooling method.

4K testing

On the 4K side, the performance is less impressive. I used Acer’s 27-inch Nitro XV273K, a 4K monitor that offers up to 144Hz refresh rates and G-Sync support for all tests. None of the games came close to maximizing the 144Hz refresh rate, and if you really want high frame rate 4K gaming then you’ll need an RTX 3080 or RTX 3080 Ti.

Only half of the games I tested managed to hit 60 fps or more at 4K, and you’ll need to lower the settings to a high or medium level to achieve playable frame rates. As always, DLSS helps, but ray tracing alone is too much for this card at 4K. Watch Dogs: Legion ran at only 10 fps and was unplayable on ultra settings and with ray tracing on. DLSS helped bring that to a slightly more playable 26 fps, but that’s still not a very smooth experience.

RTX 3070Ti (4K)

Benchmark RTX 3070 Founders Edition RTX 3070 Ti Founders Edition AMD RX 6800 RTX 3080 Founders Edition
Benchmark RTX 3070 Founders Edition RTX 3070 Ti Founders Edition AMD RX 6800 RTX 3080 Founders Edition
Microsoft Flight Simulator 21 fps 21 fps 26 fps 30 fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider Rai 62 fps 69 fps 71 fps 84 fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (DLSS) 75 fps 82 fps N/A 102 fps
CoD: Warzone 67 fps 67 fps 84 fps 89 fps
CoD: Warzone (DLSS+RT) 68 fps 95 fps 82 fps (RT only) 119 fps
Fortnite 67 fps 71 fps 76 fps 84 fps
Fortnite (DLSS) 101 fps 108 fps N/A 124 fps
Gears 5 45 fps 51 fps 56 fps 64 fps
Death Stranding 78 fps 85 fps 90 fps 98 fps
Death Stranding (DLSS quality) 103 fps 114 fps N/A 131 fps
Check 55 fps 55 fps 51 fps 65 fps
Control (DLSS quality + RT) 54 fps 62 fps 24 fps (RT only) 72 fps
Metro Exodus 25 fps 28 fps 26 fps 34 fps
Metro Exodus (DLSS+RT) 38 fps 41 fps 22 fps 50 fps
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla 55 fps 63 fps 89 fps 64 fps
Watch Dogs: Legion 38 fps 39 fps 43 fps 52 fps
Watch Dogs: Legion (DLSS+RT) 27 fps 26 fps N/A 40 fps
Watch Dogs: Legion (RT) 7 fps 10 fps 15 fps 21 fps

As with 1440p, AMD also beats Nvidia here with the RX 6800. Microsoft Flight Simulator, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and Call of Duty: Warzone they all manage more than 20 percent improvements over the RTX 3070 Ti. Where the RTX 3070 Ti really shines against AMD is when you enable DLSS, but with AMD’s response to DLSS later this month, that could soon change.

Some of the performance differences between the RTX 3070 Ti and RX 6800 are likely due to AMD’s Smart Access Memory which performs well in certain titles, compared to Nvidia’s more limited Resizable BAR support. I also noticed during Watch Dogs: Legion testing that the average frame rate during testing varied widely, in what could be some kind of driver or game bug. Nvidia is currently investigating whether this is a bug or not.

Nvidia’s RTX 3070 Ti is quiet during demanding games.

With a retail price of $599, I expected more from the RTX 3070 Ti. AMD’s RX 6800 is still technically priced lower than the RTX 3070 Ti, and my testing showed it outperformed the Nvidia card surprisingly. On the Nvidia side you get the addition of DLSS and with that better ray tracing performance when you pair them together. Nvidia’s NVENC and professional tooling support is also very useful when editing or streaming videos to Twitch.

But for games, AMD’s RX 6800 takes the lead in this price range. Nvidia’s RTX 3070 Ti also only comes with 8GB of VRAM, compared to the 16GB on the RX 6800. I can’t help but feel that 8GB will be a challenge at some point during this card’s lifespan. so it’s a shame that only Nvidia got bumped into the memory spec and not the size.

Not that the retail price of either card really matters now. The chances are very slim that you will find the RX 6800 or RTX 3070 Ti in stock this week. That means again that the best GPU you can buy right now is often what you can actually buy.

Photography by Tom Warren / The Verge