Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti 8GB Review: Vega In The Crosshairs

Did you think Nvidia was done launching GPUs based on its Pascal architecture? Despite a fairly comprehensive line-up of GeForce GTX 10-series cards, the company isn’t ready to give AMD the last word in high-end graphics. And so, it’s wedging a new model between the GeForce GTX 1070 and 1080. This one is designed to shine against Radeon RX Vega 56 where GTX 1070 faltered.

To prepare the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti for its mission, Nvidia channels a lot of GTX 1080’s DNA, including vapor chamber cooling and a five-phase power supply. Although the 1070 Ti’s GP104 processor has one of its SMs disabled, performance from the remaining 19 is so good that Nvidia forces board partners to standardize their operating frequencies. Otherwise, overclocked models would beat entry-level GeForce GTX 1080s out of the box.

A $450 price tag really doesn’t leave much room between existing 1070s and 1080s, so there will still be overlap above and below new 1070 Tis. Neat segmentation doesn’t seem to be the point, though. This card appears purpose-built to take Radeon RX Vega 56 out at the kneecaps.

Meet GeForce GTX 1070 Ti

GeForce GTX 1070 Ti is based on the same GP104 processor we introduced you to last May in our Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Pascal Review. The 7.2-billion transistor chip is a product of TSMC’s 16nm FinFET Plus manufacturing.

As you know, GeForce GTX 1080 utilizes GP104 in its entirety, exposing 2560 CUDA cores through 20 Streaming Multiprocessors. GTX 1070 was realized by lopping off five of those SMs, leaving 1920 active CUDA cores. Meanwhile, GeForce GTX 1070 Ti sports 19 SMs. Given 128 single-precision CUDA cores and eight texture units per SM, that adds up to 2432 CUDA cores and 152 texture units. Already, the 1070 Ti looks more like 1080 than its namesake.

GPU
GeForce GTX 1080 (GP104)
GeForce GTX 1070 Ti (GP104)
GeForce GTX 1070 (GP104)
SMs
20
19
15
CUDA Cores
2560
2432
1920
Base Clock
1607 MHz
1607 MHz
1506 MHz
GPU Boost Clock
1733 MHz
1683 MHz
1683 MHz
GFLOPs (Base Clock)
8228
7816
5783
Texture Units
160
152
120
Texel Fill Rate
277.3 GT/s
244.3 GT/s
201.9 GT/s
Memory Data Rate
10 Gb/s
8 Gb/s
8 Gb/s
Memory Bandwidth
320 GB/s
256 GB/s
256 GB/s
ROPs
64
64
64
L2 Cache
2MB
2MB
2MB
TDP
180W
180W
150W
Transistors
7.2 billion
7.2 billion
7.2 billion
Die Size
314 mm2314 mm2314 mm2
Process Node
16nm
16nm16nm

Going a step further, Nvidia gives 1070 Ti a 1607 MHz base clock, exactly matching the 1080’s floor under taxing workloads. A 1683 MHz GPU Boost rating isn’t as aggressive, but again, GeForce GTX 1070 Ti’s plumbing is very 1080-like, so we might anticipate more overclocking headroom than, say, a vanilla 1070 and its heat pipe-based cooler. This is reinforced by a 180W thermal design power specification. Again, that’s GTX 1080 territory compared to 1070’s 150W target.

GP104’s back-end remains intact, including an aggregate 256-bit memory bus, 64 ROPs, and 2MB of shared L2 cache. But whereas GeForce GTX 1080 employs 8GB of 10 Gb/s GDDR5X memory, driving up to 320 GB/s of bandwidth, the 1070 Ti uses 8 Gb/s GDDR5, just like GeForce GTX 1070. If you were hoping this card would serve up superior Ethereum mining performance, that memory spec may be disappointing. Good news for gamers though, right?

Swinging At A Fastball

Architecturally, there’s not much more to say. You can see how GeForce GTX 1070 Ti leans more heavily 1080 than 1070, deliberately going as far as necessary to counter Radeon RX Vega 56. Nvidia really has no excuse if it misses its target here.

Had Nvidia gone much further, it would have eclipsed GTX 1080’s performance. In fact, the company required board partners to cap their operating frequencies to keep overclocked models from beating certain GeForce GTX 1080 SKUs. That won’t stop enthusiasts from overclocking 1070 Ti with popular tools like MSI Afterburner.

It will, however, limit what board partners can charge for GeForce GTX 1070 Ti, since they’re only able to offer bigger coolers and flashier features, rather than guaranteed clock rates. Prior to launch, models available for pre-sale all fell between $450 and $500—a mere $50 spread. In comparison, GTX 1080s ranged from $490 to $720, a $230 difference.

The samples we have in our U.S. and German labs top 2 GHz without much trouble. No doubt, it seems like Nvidia is giving gamers the wink and knowing nod by beefing up 1070 Ti and then shipping clock rates that protect its pricier model. Let’s get into some testing to see if Nvidia’s newest addition can earn a place between two well-established stalwarts in the company’s portfolio.

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