NVIDIA’s Revolutionary Real-Time Ray Tracing Technology
Hardware

The Revolutionary NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070:

Product Reviews Showcase Impressive Results

With the RTX line, NVIDIA made a huge technology change. And with that came the promise of stronger AIs, far more photorealistic visual game elements (including avatars), and the potential to push resolutions to even higher levels. But with any massive change the ecosystem must evolve so that users get the full benefit. That is why reviews, while mostly positive, have often drifted to the negative. It reminds me a bit of the rollout of both 1080p and 4K monitors and particularly TVs. With the right content, folks loved them, but with legacy content, they were often disappointed.

Let’s take a brief look at some of the reviews.

TweakTown

TweakTown focuses on the differences between the 2070 and it’s much more expensive and more powerful brother the 2080. On the positive side, they focus on memory performance and how much more powerful this is than the prior GTX 1070. They note that while this card is a good value it also lacks the SLI link, so you cannot add a second GPU to the system at some future date like with prior cards. This suggests that if you want performance headroom, you should likely opt for the RTX 2080, which carries around a $200-$300 premium.

PCWorld

PCWorld focuses on EVGA’s version of the card and argues it is the best value of the RTX cards they have looked at. They talk about the unique advantages of EVGA’s cooler, which increases performance while reducing noise. They also liked how this card’s appearance could be customized, something those of us who build our own rigs always appreciate. They point out that some of the features (ray tracing and DLSS) aren’t yet available in games. They did an impressive number of benchmarks and the card performed well. While suggesting that many may want to wait until titles support the new features, they gave the card an Editor’s Choice Award.

Hot Hardware

EVGA did a decent job of sampling cards out to reviewers because Hot Hardware also used this card as their focus and loved it. They spend far more time talking about the hardware technology and what makes the EVGA version unique. In their initial testing (SiSoft SANDRA), they concluded that the new RTX 2070 “demolishes” the GTX 1080 and nearly matches the much more expensive GTX 1080 Ti. LuxMark is also interesting given the card outperforms NVIDIA’s amazing TITAN card in this test. Most of the other tests showcase the card as a solid performance improvement over both the old GTX 1070 and 1080 cards and generally in striking distance of the GTX 1080 Ti. They ran into a problem with the NVIDIA Scanner tool used for overclocking, showcasing that there is always some risk with a brand-new card, but this kind of thing can be fixed with an update or patch. They conclude that this card is a good value and place it on their Recommended list (“they are clearly the card to buy in this price range”). (I should add that this was impressive review work, very thorough.)

TechRadar

While they took issue with the lower number of Ray Tracing and AI-powered tensor cores compared to the rest of the RTX lineup (suggesting they too might go for the 2080 instead), they also were very impressed with the card’s surprising 4K gaming capability with games like Forza Horizon 4 and Strange Brigade. The 2070 “blew past” the older GTX 1070, 1070 Ti, and 1080 cards. They found the only card in the class that could perform similarly was the AMD Radeon Vega RX 64. They were even more impressed with the 2080 card though, as it outperformed the NVIDIA TITAN card. They also conclude that much of the benefit for this card will be tied to the introduction of Ray Tracing and DLSS into titles.

IGN

They lead with the fact that DLSS and Ray Tracing are coming and that future games will really make this card scream. They point out that the card is optimized for 2560x1440 resolutions and that their benchmarks showcased this is where the card performed best. It was interesting to note that they saw an even more interesting performance boost at 4K, where the 2080 card appears to have a huge advantage. They focused on the GeForce RTX 2070 Founders Edition, which carries a premium price, and concluded that even that card was as close to a “value” as you are likely to find in this class of card.

Tom’s Hardware

Having written for them in the past myself, I value their opinion highly. Tom’s Hardware reported solid performance increases with the card they tested (the Founders Edition) and suggested that the third-party cards, like the EVGA above, are a better value. They also did an impressive tear-down analysis. If you want to see the insides of this card in detail, you should check out this review. It is interesting to note that one of their conclusions is this card’s performance should jump significantly when DLSS is more common. As usual they have an exhaustive number of benchmarks with similar results to the other reviews. They also conclude that third-party cards will provide the best value and that the true power for this card will come when titles supporting more aggressive Ray Tracing and DLSS appear.

ExtremeTech

This is the most negative of the reviews I’ve looked at, but again it focuses on the fact that the technologies that will push this card, DLSS and Ray Tracing, are largely not available yet. They too appear to think that it would be better to either wait until these features appear or to buy up to the RTX 2080 as the better future-proof choice.

Wrapping Up:

There is an old saying “Prospectors get the arrows, settlers get the land,” which likely applies here. The GeForce RTX line is new and two of the most impressive features won’t be available in many titles until next year. The performance increase in these cards is both real and, for many reviewers, compelling with the EVGA version of the RTX 2070 standing out as potentially the best value. Still, with an existing system using a 1070/80, I’d be tempted to wait until the titles showed up before upgrading as benchmarks at that time might drive me more strongly towards the 2080 or 2080 Ti and make the price delta worth it. For a new system, the 2070 appears to be the best value for future-proofing, but I’d likely drift up to the 2080 if I could afford it instead. But for a solid, mid-range, future-proofed rig, the NVIDIA RTX 2070 may be just what the doctor ordered.