Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Graphics Card Roundup

Nvidia GTX 1070 Founders Edition

The GeForce GTX 1070 Founders Edition is based on the same GPU as Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080, only with 25% of its CUDA cores and texture units disabled. As we learned in our Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB Pascal Review, though, the processor's back-end still serves up 64 ROPs and 2MB of L2 cache. Also, GDDR5X memory is replaced with standard GDDR5, while the 1070 sports a less sophisticated cooling solution and a lower power target of 150W.

The Founders Edition board is actually what Nvidia used to call its reference design. This time around, however, the company decided it wanted a piece of the premium card sales as well. Renaming its own offering is supposed to help sidestep the negative connotation that sometimes accompanies reference implementations.

Technical Specifications

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Exterior & Interfaces

The injection-molded aluminum cooler cover is metallic silver and black in color. Its design exudes quality, but the metal construction also contributes to the card's relatively high weight of more than 35 ounces (one kilogram).

The back of the board is covered by a two-piece plate. It's purely aesthetic and does nothing for cooling. If you have a couple of cards next to each other in SLI or if you'd simply prefer more airflow, the backplate can be unscrewed without a problem.

There's an illuminated GeForce GTX label on top of the card, and an eight-pin auxiliary power connector is positioned toward the end.

Nvidia's angular and rugged design is certainly a matter of taste. But it certainly stands out. In a windowed case, you can count on turning heads.

Peeking down through the card's end reveals the heat sink's fins. The mounting frame offers up to three screws for attaching additional brackets. You'd use those for stabilization in a case.

The slot plate features five outputs, four of which can be used simultaneously in a multi-monitor setup. In addition to one dual-link DVI-D interface, the rear bracket also exposes an HDMI 2.0 output and three DisplayPort 1.4-compatible connectors. The rest of the plate is peppered with openings to encourage better airflow.

Board & Components

In addition to the one phase for memory, only four out of six available power phases for the GPU are implemented.

Nvidia leans on Samsung for its GDDR5 memory. Eight K4G80325FB-HC25 modules are each able to store up to 8Gb (32x 256Mb). Voltages are specified between 1.305V and 1.597V, depending on the clock rate.

The 4+1-phase system relies on the sparsely documented µP9511P PWM controller. Since this controller can't communicate directly with the VRM's phases, Nvidia utilizes 53603A chips for solid PWM drivers (gate drivers) and controlling the power MOSFETs (primarily of type 4C85N).

Two capacitors are installed right below the GPU to absorb and equalize peaks in voltage. The board design looks tidy and well thought-out.

Power Results

Before we look at power consumption, we should talk about the correlation between GPU Boost frequency and core voltage, which are so similar that we decided to put their graphs one on top of the other. This also shows that both curves drop as the GPU's temperature rises.

After warm-up, the GPU Boost frequency flirts with 1.7 GHz under load. This is mirrored by our voltage readings. While we measured up to 1.031V in the beginning, that value later dropped as low as 0.812V, if only temporarily.

Combining the measured voltages and currents allows us to derive a total power consumption we can easily confirm with our instrumentation by taking readings at the card's power connectors. In fact, let's start with the measured power consumption values in the following table:

Idle9W
Idle Multi-Monitor12W   
Blu-ray10W
Browser Games94-113W
Gaming (Metro Last Light 4K)148W   
Torture (FurMark)150W

These charts go into more detail on power consumption at idle, during 4K gaming, and under the effects of our stress test. The graphs show how load is distributed between each voltage and supply rail, providing a bird's eye view of load variations and peaks.

Temperature Results

As you can see from the 1070's cooler, Nvidia went with a simple copper heat sink instead of the GeForce GTX 1080's vapor chamber-based solution. Given the price of this card, that's a rather incomprehensible cost-cutting measure.

The beefy frame helps with rigidity, but it was also designed to host thick thermal pads, which dissipate waste heat from the MOSFETs and memory modules.

Unfortunately, Nvidia's cooling compromises have an effect on the temperatures we measured:

Not only does GP104 touch 176°F (80°C), it actually exceeds that value in a closed case. During the gaming loop in an open case, we measured 172°F (78°C) at the GPU package.

We observed similar power consumption during the torture loop, which is due to the fact that this card hits its power target. Not surprisingly, we also see corresponding temperatures.

Sound Results

As a consequence of the higher temperatures, Nvidia's fan has to work harder. During our stress test, the fan speed rose slowly in the beginning due to a lower clock rate. However, after about 30 minutes, it eventually caught up with what we saw during our gaming loop.

The obvious consequence of a spinning fan is noise. Yet, our acoustic measurements are still relatively moderate when the card is idle, despite the sound's slightly snarly character.

Under prolonged load, the noise levels reach almost 42 dB(A). That's still acceptable for a radial fan. At this point, the frequency spectrum becomes rather wide, so the noise doesn't feel too intrusive:

Overall, the radial fan solution is workable. But it's miles away from making this a quiet, gentle card.