Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Founders Edition review: Better tomorrow and today

Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2070 is a graphics card built for the future, just like the GeForce RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti. And just like its siblings, the RTX 2070’s futuristic hardware comes at a stiff price premium.

At a $500 starting price and $600 for the Nvidia Founders Edition being reviewed here, the inclusion of dedicated RTX hardware bumps the price of Nvidia’s traditionally midrange xx70 GPUs up by well over $100, planting it in the range of the existing GTX 1080. But unlike with the RTX 2080, Nvidia isn’t asking you to invest solely in as-yet-unfulfilled promises for the future. The GeForce RTX 2070 delivers an appreciable bump over the GTX 1080’s performance in today’s games, too.

You can still find the older graphics card on sale all over the place, though, and often at a discount. Should you buy a shiny new RTX graphics card, with its untapped potential for real-time ray tracing and AI-enhanced games, over a cheaper GTX 1080? Let’s review the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Founders Edition ($600 at Best Buy and GeForce.com).

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Founders Edition: Specs, features, and design

Nvidia added dedicated RT cores for real-time ray tracing and dedicated tensor cores for AI enhancements in the RTX series, but that wasn’t the only hardware tweak. The GTX 10-series incarnation stuck to reference speeds and a blower-style cooler that was prone to thermal throttling. This generation, Nvidia equipped its Founders Edition cards with a mild overclock and an improved dual-fan cooling solution to help justify its price premium.

That means Founders Edition specs differ slightly from RTX 2070 reference specs. Here’s how the reference and Founders Edition RTX 2070 stack up under the hood compared to the older $380 GTX 1070 (though again, at its higher price point, the $500 RTX 2070 more directly compares to the $500 GTX 1080).

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rtx 2070 specsNvidia

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 and 2070 Founders Edition specs vs. GTX 1070.

As you can see, the RTX 2070 Founders Edition has more CUDA cores and texture units than its predecessor, as well as a slightly higher boost clock speed and much faster GDDR6 memory. Spoiler alert: The RTX 2070 is a lot faster than the GTX 1070 in traditional games, and even a bit ahead of the GTX 1080.

It’ll be faster in tomorrow’s games, too, as the RTX 2070 includes those dedicated RT and tensor cores to drastically enhance real-time ray tracing performance and unlock the ability to bring machine learning enhancements to games, such as Deep Learning Super Sampling. Unfortunately, no current games tap into either technology, though dozens of games have pledged RTX support.

The lack of available ray-traced or DLSS games is a bummer with this graphics card in particular. The RTX 2070 packs half as many RT and tensor cores as the full-fat GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, and we have no way of testing how much that will impact performance—so you’re taking a leap of faith that not only will those technologies catch on, but the RTX 2070 will be able to handle them well. Fingers crossed.

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