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NVIDIA RTX 4070 review: The new 1440p gaming leader

It could be cheaper, but it's no slouch.

Photo by Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Slowly, but surely, NVIDIA is making its 40-series GPUs more affordable. Now it's down to $599 with the new RTX 4070, a mid-range card focused on 1440p gaming. While it's $100 more than its predecessor's launch price, the fabulous RTX 3070, that card typically sold for more than $1,000 due to the supply chain crunch, scalpers and insatiable crypto bros. Based on what we've seen from the 4070 Ti, NVIDIA's new cards are actually staying close to their retail price, which is great news for anyone itching for an upgrade.

Judging from Valve's Steam hardware statistics, I'd wager many gamers are waiting on the eventual RTX 4060 before giving up their old cards, especially if it ends up selling closer to $400. But based on my testing, the 4070 is still a solid choice for practical gamers who may wan to splurge a bit. It's fast enough to deliver excellent 1440p performance with ray tracing enabled, and it can even deliver solid 4K gaming in a pinch too. Even though it's noticeably slower than the $799 RTX 4070 Ti in most benchmarks, that may not matter much when you're actually in the heat of battle. (Just think of all you could do with that extra $200!)

The RTX 4070 is a good upgrade for anyone with an older GPU, but the 4070 Ti is noticeably better.

Pros
  • Excellent 1440p gaming performance
  • DLSS 3 enables better ray tracing performance than before
  • AV1 encoding will be useful to streamers
  • Quiet and cool
Cons
  • Still pricey at $599
  • Not every game supports DLSS 3
$599 at Best Buy

The RTX 4070 features NVIDIA's new Ada Lovelace architecture, sporting 5,888 CUDA cores, a base clock speed of 1,920 MHz (boost to 2,475 MHz) and 12GB of GDDR6X RAM. The 3070, meanwhile, had the same amount of CUDA cores, but it was based on NVIDIA's older Ampere architecture. It could only reach up to 1,725 MHz and had 8GB of slower GDDR6 memory. Despite those differences, the 3070 still holds up well, so I wouldn't rush out to replace it anytime soon. But if you're still holding onto an RTX 20-series GPU or something older, the 4070 may be the GPU you've been waiting for.

NVIDIA RTX 4070 port view
Photo by Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

We received the RTX 4070 Founder's Edition card from NVIDIA, which basically looks like a shrunken down version of the 4080 and 4090. It feels like a premium card, with a sleek metal case, a bevy of heatsink fins and two large fans to deal with heat. It's also a two-slot GPU, like the 4070 Ti, allowing it to fit inside of smaller cases far better than the enormous 4080 and 4090. Port-wise, there are three DisplayPort connections and a single HDMI. As with all of NVIDIA's recent cards, it also includes an adapter to connect two 8-pin PCIe power cables (a single PCIe Gen 5 cable will also work).

3DMark TimeSpy Extreme

Port Royal (Ray Tracing)

Cyberpunk

Blender

NVIDIA RTX 4070

8,610

11,195/52 fps

1440p RT DLSS: 120 fps

6,020

NVIDIA RTX 4070 Ti

10,624

14,163/66 fps

1440p RT DLSS : 135 fps

7,247

NVIDIA RTX 3070

6,226

8,032/37 fps

N/A

3,500

AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT

11,688

13,247/61 fps

1440p FSRT RT: 114 fps

3,516

Once I started benching and playing games with the RTX 4070, it performed just as I expected: Somewhere between the RTX 3080 (which launched at $699) and the 3080 Ti ($1,119). The difference, though, is that it supports NVIDIA's DLSS 3 technology, which can help speed up ray tracing performance by inserting AI-generated frames. I was particularly impressed by how well it handled Cyberpunk 2077: in 1440p with maxed out graphics and "ultra" ray tracing settings, it delivered a smooth 120 fps. The RTX 3070, in comparison, struggled to hold 75 fps with the same settings using the older DLSS 2, which doesn't use frame generation.

Control, an older title that only supports DLSS 2, had a less dramatic performance bump with the 4070. While playing in 1440p with maxed graphics and all of its ray tracing settings flipped on, it reached 106 fps, compared to 90 fps with the 3070. Still, it's a bit of a shock to see a mid-range card scoring triple digit frame rates with all of the game's ray tracing features enabled (which includes reflections, shadows and debris). Not too long ago, Control used to humble the mightiest video cards.

NVIDIA is clearly positioning the 4070 as a 1440p-focused card, but it can still handle some 4K scenarios, so long as you're not too demanding. It hovered at 70 fps in Cyberpunk with maxed graphics and "ultra" ray tracing settings — that's certainly better than you'd see on any modern game console. Control, meanwhile, hit 56 fps on average. If you're only dabbling in 4K occasionally, perhaps for a lazy Sunday session on your TV, that's not too bad.

As with all of NVIDIA's new hardware, the RTX 4070 is also a useful tool for streamers and media creators thanks to its hardware-based AV1 encoder. The company claims it's around 40 percent more efficient than the previous generation H.264 encoder — that means it'll take less bandwidth to deliver clear streams, a boon for anyone who wants to show off 1440p or 4K streams. The popular broadcast software OBS will soon be updated to support AV1 streaming to YouTube, which offers some dramatic clarity boons, according to PCWorld. When it comes to typical H.264 encoding, the 4070 converted 4K test clip to 1080p in 33 seconds, three seconds longer than the 4070 Ti.

NVIDIA RTX 4070 front fan
Photo by Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Thanks to the 4070's excellent cooling setup and relatively modest power demands (it requires a 650W PSU), its temperature never climb above 70 Celsius during my testing. I could only hear its two fans when I spent more than 30 minutes in a game using ray tracing. But really, it's not anything that'll distract you during gameplay.

Now that we've seen NVIDIA's RTX 4070 in action, is it actually worth $599? For anyone with a GPU older than the RTX 30-series, I'd say so. (Though if you can spare an extra $200, the 4070 Ti is noticeably better.) A few years ago, we were hoping and praying for GPU prices to come back down to Earth. We've seen 4070 Ti cards stick close to its initial $799 launch price, so there's a good chance you'll actually be able to find a 4070 this year without overpaying too much. To be smart, it's worth waiting a few months for the 4060 to drop before you make any decisions.

But if you've been hankering for better framerates and playable ray tracing, go with the gaming gods. The RTX 4070 is the new king of mid-range GPUs.