Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Graphics Card Roundup

Palit GTX 1070 GameRock Premium Edition

JetStream, Super JetStream, GameRock, and GameRock Premium Edition: Palit sure does provide a lot of GeForce GTX 1070-based options. The card we're testing is just as bulky as its name thanks to the oversized cooler.

Despite all of the cooling headroom you'd seemingly get, this version does have issues with hysteresis, causing the fans to start and stop during warm-up. Unfortunately, the situation isn't any better, even after downloading an available firmware update. Consequently, we're putting further updates to this piece on hold until we're offered a real solution.

Just like the GTX 1080-based version, this card looks massive at first glance. But we'll have to test how much of that bold appearance translates into real-world benefits.

Technical Specifications

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Exterior & Interfaces

The fan shroud is made of relatively thick, white plastic. The top and front are decorated with metallic blue and  brushed metal highlights.

A weight of 1053g makes this card about 180g lighter than the 1080-based version. However, with its length of 28.7cm, height of five inches (12.8cm), and two inches (5.2cm) of width, it boasts the same dimensions as its higher-end counterpart and also spans three slots. The two massive 100mm fans with rotor diameters of 96mm further emphasize the card's size.

Flip the card over and it's covered by a one-piece backplate without any openings for ventilation. It is decorated with a highly visible GameRock logo and requires an additional 5mm for clearance. Since there are no thermal pads between the plate and PCB, the backplate serves decorative purposes only. While it is perfectly possible to use the card without this plate, removing it requires taking off other components, likely voiding Palit's warranty.

The top of the card is dominated by a centered, brightly lit Palit logo. An eight-pin auxiliary power connector is positioned at the board's end and rotated 180°. This isn't a humble product by any means; it stands out and wears its heft proudly.

At its end, the card is completely closed off, which makes sense since the fins are positioned vertically and won't allow any airflow in that direction anyway.

The slot bracket features five display outputs, of which four can be used simultaneously in multi-monitor setups. In addition to one dual-link DVI-D connector, which doesn't loop through any analog signal, you also get one HDMI 2.0b port and three DisplayPort 1.4-capable interfaces. The rest of the slot plate is peppered with openings that look like they're meant to facilitate airflow. However, they're more decorative than functional.

Board & Components

The board looks clean enough, similar to the 1080-based version. It uses eight Samsung K4G80325FB-HC25 modules, each able to store up to 8Gb (32x 256Mb). Each chip operates at voltages between 1.305 and 1.597V, depending on the selected clock frequency. However, caution should be advised! Some manufacturers have switched to Micron memory modules, which is recognizable in the BIOS naming scheme (86.04.26.xx.xx versus Samsung's 86.04.1E.xx.xx).

The 8+1-phase system, like Nvidia's reference cards, relies on the sparsely documented uP9511P for PWM control. Also like Nvidia's own implementation, the controller finds a home on the back of the PCB. All eight of the GPU's phases are realized using this component, which is actually designed as a 6+2-phase jack-of-all-trades.

The DC/DC voltage converters' dual-channel MOSFETs are controlled directly, as these eight SiC632s are so-called driver MOSes. They combine the actual power MOSFETs for high-side and low-side, as well as the gate driver and Schottky diode on one chip. This is certainly more cost-efficient and a plus for compact designs, especially when a large number of voltage converter circuits are in play.

In contrast to Palit's GTX 1080 model, this board's memory gets power from one phase (instead of two). It's controlled by the same undocumented chip used on Nvidia's reference board, which should be almost identical to the well-known 1728. A dual N-Channel model is used for the MOSFETs, which combines both high-side and low-side.

The Foxconn coils are middle-class. Depending on the layout, they operate more or less quietly. And as is often the case, a well-known INA3221 handles current monitoring.

Two capacitors are installed right below the GPU to absorb and equalize peaks in voltage.

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.

The graphs clearly show that the GPU Boost frequency after warm-up and under load falls from an excellent 2076 MHz to a still-good 1975 MHz (and sporadically a little lower). It is also apparent that voltage follows the sinking clock rates. While we measured up to 1.062V in the beginning, this value later drops as low as 0.901V.

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.

Since manufacturers sacrifice the lowest possible frequencies to gain an extra GPU Boost bin due to Nvidia's restrictions, the GTX 1070 GameRock Premium Edition's power consumption is slightly higher at idle. Palit sets the first GPU Boost step at 316 MHz.

Idle
11W
Idle Multi-Monitor
13W
Blu-ray
13W
Browser Games
92-110W
Gaming (Metro Last Light 4K)
173W
Torture (FurMark)
174W

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

Of course, power dissipated as waste heat needs to be dealt with as efficiently as possible. So, we start by looking at the backplate, which doesn't do any real cooling and instead leaves that job to Palit's 2.5-slot thermal solution. The entire structure matches what you get on the GTX 1080 card. It appears almost decadently oversized given how much less power a 1070 consumes. On the other hand, this isn't a bad problem to have. We'd rather have too much cooling than not enough.

A copper sink moves heat away from the GPU and spreads it through a total of five pipes (three 8mm and two 6mm). Palit chose to orient the sink's fins vertically, which results in short, straight 8mm pipes that work more efficiently. The two smaller pipes don't do much except provide additional area to support the transport of heat away from the sink and towards the cooler's edges.

The performance of this truly monstrous cooler leaves little to be desired. Since the temperatures only get to 151°F (66°C) during our gaming loop (154°F/68°C in a closed case) and 151°F (66°C) as well during our stress test (158°F/70°C in a closed case), the fans only need to run at low power, which should have a positive impact on the measured noise level.

The transfer of heat away from the VRMs works perfectly, despite low fan speeds and very little airflow. That massive cooler and its endless fins works wonders.

During our stress test the temperatures do rise a bit at the hottest spot, despite low average power consumption. All other areas remain at perfectly safe values, though.

Sound Results

Let's talk a bit about the one single quality that dominated our impression of this graphics card: its noise level. While some folks might enjoy the deep roar of a well-oiled machine, we the sound of silence from our graphics cards. When it's disturbed, the culprit is usually a fan or sometimes the VRM's coils. But a maximum of 1000 RPM for the two fans should be no reason to declare a state of acoustic emergency.

To examine this behavior in more detail, we need to take a closer look at the fan curve, which unfortunately reveals an unpleasant surprise. Since the fans generally start late and keep quiet, it takes diligent measurement of tachometer signals and PWM values to detect poor hysteresis. Palit confirmed this for us, even.

When the card is idle, no noise is measurable due to its semi-passive mode. We thus abstained from trying to take any readings.

The values we measured under load are blissful, and the machine is a purring kitten. A result of 35.1 dB(A) is good considering the temperatures involved. Only the mid-range coils tend to stick out a bit. If it wasn't for their audible chirp disturbing the calm of night, you might even question whether the card was running at all.