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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti Founders Edition Review

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Category: Video Cards
Price: $449 & up
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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti Founders Edition Introduction:

Over the past year or so NVIDIA's Pascal-based cards have delivered exceptional gaming FPS results at each twist and turn of the product stack. AMD finally hit back with the Vega series, but still, it could not compete in the rarefied air that the GTX 1080 Ti competes in. Much like with the RX 5 and 4 series cards, AMD gave consumers a product that was good enough to be competitive a couple steps behind the top tier, where a good chunk of the money is being spent. In that respect, AMD did alright.

But alas, this review is not about an AMD product, but the latest video card to roll out of NVIDIA's doors: the GTX 1070 Ti Founders Edition. As both Intel and NVIDIA watched AMD take its best swings, the two set about putting products together that play in that same space. As we saw with the Intel Coffe Lake 8700K review, Intel hit back right where it counted and NVIDIA is poised to do the same here with the GTX 1070 Ti FE. By utilizing the GP104 core with a bump in the hardware counts under the hood, making it something akin to a reduced core count GTX 1080, we just might see this card take over the $449 market. Let's see what it will do.

 

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti Founders Edition Closer Look:

NVIDIA's latest Pascal architecture is built around roughly the same GPC architecture that we have been seeing since Fermi. Enhancements were made at each generational shift through Kepler and Maxwell. The big changes for this go-round are the moves to the 16nm FinFET process and inclusion of the Simultaneous Multi-Projection Engine being incorporated into the Polymorph engine. The Pascal 16nm GP104 architecture uses four Graphics Processing Clusters, 19 Pascal Streaming Multiprocessors, and eight 32-bit memory controllers. In the GP104 iteration of the Pascal architecture, each GPC ships with a dedicated raster engine and five SMs. Each SM contains 128 CUDA cores, 256 KB of register file capacity, a 96 KB shared memory unit, 48 KB of total L1 cache storage, and eight texture units. For the 1070 Ti, it looks like the GPC count has been bumped to four to facilitate the addition of the four additional SM's used to fill out the hardware under the hood. This makes the GTX 1070 Ti more of a cutdown GTX 1080 than a bumped up GTX 1070. 

By using 19 Streaming Multiprocessors, you get a total of 2432 CUDA cores, 152 texture units, and 64 ROPs. Baseline clock speeds for the GP104 core on the GTX 1070 Ti Founders Edition is 1607MHz with a boost clock of 1683MHz, although, as proven since the launch of NVIDIA's Pascal architecture, it will run at a higher dynamic frequency depending on the power and thermal operating conditions. NVIDIA is using 8GB of GDDR5 memory for the GTX 1070 Ti, much like it has been using on the GTX 1070 cards. This configuration delivers a data rate of 8,000MHz running through a 256-bit bus.

All of the work done on the original FE series boards continues to be employed with the GTX 1070 Ti. The original optimized memory trace layouts and pathways, along with the 5-phase dual-FET power supply used on the GTX 1080, are used on this card. A total of 7.2 billion transistors are packed into a 314 mm² die area. The node shrink has proven its worth and allows NVIDIA to pack more hardware in a smaller package that allows the package to run cool and quiet.

 

 

This "Founders Edition" GTX 1070 Ti is the latest version of the Pascal architecture to make it out of the hallowed halls of NVIDIA. Much like with the GTX 1080, the "Founders Edition" is the nomenclature used to replace the reference designs of the past. What we get is the same robust industrial faceted aluminum card design we saw last year as an improvement over the design first introduced on the GTX 690. Much like its forebears, the GTX 1070 Ti is a two-slot design as most video cards in the performance category are nowadays. A clear polycarbonate window is used over the 250W rated cooling solution to let you know when the card is ready for cleaning. The rear cooling plate is a two-piece design that allows you to pull off the section where the cooling fan would be when stacked into a motherboard and chassis while running an SLI configuration. Pretty handy.

Measurements are pretty standard for the form factor NVIDIA has been using, with the card at 10.5 inches long using a two-slot sized cooling solution. This allows the GTX 1070 Ti to fit in the largest selection of chassis on the market in motherboards equipped with a 16x PCIe 3.0 slot. Much like its Pascal-based predecessors, the GTX 1070 Ti easily fits into my mini-ITX chassis, the Node 304. Visually, the only way to tell the GTX 1070 and GTX 1070 Ti apart is the lettering inset into the aluminum shroud.

 

 

You would be hard-pressed to tell apart the connectivity options available on the GTX 1070 Ti from those on the GTX 1070, because they're exactly the same. Display connectivity includes a trio of DisplayPort 1.2 certified, 1.3, and 1.4 ready ports; a single HDMI 2.0b port; and a single Dual-link DVI port that supports up to four independent displays at one time with six connector nodes. Using this configuration, the GTX 1070 Ti supports 4K displays at 120Hz, 5K displays at 60Hz, and 8K displays at 60Hz by using a pair of cables. However, at those resolutions gaming is going to require more than one card.

Pascal GPUs officially support PlayReady 3.0 (SL3000) and hardware level support of HEVC decode. The I/O panel has enough free space to allow the airflow to escape the three heat pipe aluminum fin array-style cooling solution and faceted aluminum shroud when the fan speed is bumped to the maximum level! Much like in previous designs, the GTX 1070 Ti sports an intake air channel on the back end of the cooling shroud. Airflow directly from the front of the chassis can be pulled into this channel, helping cool the power circuitry at the back of the PCB. So far this option allows the cards to run below their 94 °C rating and well below when the fan is turned up.

 

 

Power connectivity on the GP104-based GTX 1070 Ti is pretty much what we saw with the GTX 1080, where a single 8-pin PEG connection is used to supply the juice to run the board and components. This card, with a 180 watt TDP, is only going to need a single 8-pin PEG connection to deliver the power to run it. With 150 watts coming from the PSU with an additional 75 watts from the PCIe slot, there is a total of 225 watts available for use by the GTX 1070 Ti. It does not seem like a lot of overhead available, but the combination worked for the higher CUDA core count GTX 1080, so it should be fine here. A 500 watt PSU is the recommendation for use with the GTX 1070 Ti, which should handle the entire system, as long as you are using a solid mainstream motherboard CPU package.

NVIDIA's SLI multi-GPU solution is supported on the GTX 1070 Ti. Two cards is the preferred solution, although three and four card solutions are supported, but not recommended. To improve bandwidth between GPUs, NVIDIA has linked the two SLI bridge connections on the PCB to work in a high bandwidth mode to handle the data throughput with the Pascal architecture. To handle this bandwidth, NVIDIA has put together a trio of SLI bridges supporting 2, 3, and 4-Way configurations. That being said, the best solution for VR gaming is a three card solution with a pair of GPUs handling the graphics, with the third card handling the audio and async compute functionality. As close as this card is to the GTX 1080 from a hardware pespective, this should still hold true.

 

 

The cooling solution used on all the higher end Pascal 16nm-based GTX 10 series cards is a robust vapor chamber design. This design is built to carry a 250W load. The Pascal GP104 core used on the GTX 1070 Ti is rated at a 180W TDP, so this cooling solution should easily handle the thermals. NVIDIA has proven that this design has been truly effective at managing thermals over the past few architectural changes by using similar blower-based designs across each series of cards. Keeping the thermals in check is one thing, but keeping the noise generated by the blower fan down is another area where NVIDIA has excelled. Noise has been reduced with smart monitoring and management of the fan profiles. 

Crafting a premium product was the goal with the Founders Edition cards. That mantra has not changed with this latest card, the GTX 1070 Ti Founders Edition. The optimized memory trace layouts first used on the GTX 1080 were the learning curve and NVIDIA keeps up bandwidth on the 8Gbps rated GDDR5 memory. The 5-phase dualFET power delivery system first used on the GTX 1080 is used on the card to deliver clean power to the Pascal core and memory.  

 

 

Reference cards in the past were the stop gap for early release, but now NVIDIA builds out cards that will last the whole product cycle. As such, the cards get the full retail treatment when offered to the public. NVIDIA gets in the game with its packaging and delivers the GTX 1070 Ti just as you would see it on the shelf of your big box retailer or if you purchased it online. Internally, there is a dense foam that keeps the card in place and protected during shipping. Included in the package is a quick start guide, support documentation, and a welcome manual to the NVIDIA family. 

 

Just on specifications alone, the GTX 1070 Ti FE earns my hard earned coin! Add in the next level performance and additional ecosystem enhancements, and you really cannot go wrong with this one.




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