It was almost a year ago that Jensen Huang, the CEO of Nvidia first announced the Turing powered GeForce cards. The hype prior to the Turing announcement had been crazy, expectations were set high not just because of how impressive a leap Pascal was over Maxwell, but also because of how amazing real-time Ray Tracing could be in games.
Unfortunately for Nvidia, the RTX 20 series were not received as well as the company had hoped. The cards were launched before there were titles to take advantage of Ray Tracing, with titles such as Metro Exodus not released until months later, and patches for titles such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider seemingly always delayed.
Another problem – the performance of Turing was definitely faster than Pascal, but as we discussed in our recent GTX 1080 retrospective, Pascal was fast. At the GTX 1080 announcement, Jensen Huang had called the GeForce GTX 1080’s performance levels “irresponsible”, a feat possible because of the shrink from the 28nm Maxwell to Pascal, and also leaps in technology.
Turing was definitely on par with the performance leap we’d seen before, but the problem was that Nvidia was charging more money for the products, which made people feel that the cards relative performance had shifted down a peg.
So the focus of this article (and the corresponding video) is to find out if Turing feels a better value product versus when they launched almost a year ago. In a future article, we’ll further investigate Turing and the Ray Tracing and DLSS ecosystem, but in this particular analysis and review we’ll be focusing on the traditional gaming performance, and briefly mention Turing features such as Ray Tracing.
But, earlier this year we heard the first rumors Nvidia were planning a refresh of sorts of their Turing line up (something we had actually leaked as an exclusive, might I add). There were 3 cards in this new ‘Super’ series, the RTX 2060 super, the RTX 2070 Super (the card we’ll be focused on here in our RTX 2070 Super Review) and finally, the RTX 2080 Super.
Two of the super cards (the RTX 2070 Super and the RTX 2080 Super) replace the ‘vanilla’ variations, while the RTX 2060 Super will exist as a more expensive alternative to the original RTX 2060, essentially acting as a half-way-house between the RTX 2060 and the RTX 2070 Super.
|Gaming X Trio
|RTX 2070 Super
|RTX 2080 Super
|RTX 2080 Ti
|RTX 2060 Super
|Base Core Clock
|Boost Core Clock
|15.5 Gbps GDDR6
|VRAM Bus Width
|Ray Tracing Perf
|7 Giga Rays
|7 Giga Rays
|8 Giga Rays
|6 Giga Rays
|8 Giga Rays
|10 Giga Rays
|6 Giga Rays
|5 Giga Rays
|GPU Core Name
Nvidia has ramped up the number of CUDA cores and the clock frequencies significantly, and in the case of the RTX 2080 Super, the memory clocks are also nudged up in a similar fashion, providing the RTX 2080 Super cards extra memory bandwidth. This is definitely a welcome improvement, as previously both the RTX 2070 and RTX 2080 had an identical memory configuration.
So with that said, let’s start by taking a look at the review sample we were provided, MSI’s RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Trio model, which is a custom design featuring higher clock frequencies than the reference RTX 2070 Super Founders Edition cards from Nvidia.
Like other cards in MSI’s Gaming X Trio lineup, the cooler is anything but small or subtle. and the card measures 328 mm (12.9inches) x 140 mm (5.5 inches) x 56.5 mm (2.22 inches). It goes without saying, but this card (or others in the MSI Gaming X Trio line) aren’t designed for Small Form Factor builds. The giant cooler houses 3 fans, 1 smaller one at the rear of the card near the IO, and two ones. These fans use MSIs TORX Fan Technology and double ball bearings.
In practice, unless you really crank the fan speeds up you won’t notice the subtle noise during standard gameplay, although these fans will shut off when the card is at lower temps (such as during day-to-day desktop use or YouTube playback).
As one can imagine, the card is outfitted with MSI’s Mystic Lighting, which is fully customisable via software and a hefty grey back-plate. This is one solid card, and if you someone broke into your home you could potentially take it out of the PCIe slot to use in place of a baseball bat.
The rear of the card is outfitted with 3 DisplayPort 1.4 and a single HDMI 2.0b, which is what you’d expect from modern Nvidia outputs. The RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Trio also demands two x 8-pin power connectors and is rated up to 215W TDP. We’ll get to that a bit later though.
In terms of specs, the GPU is clocked moderately higher than a standard founders edition, with its 2560 CUDA cores running at 1800MHz advertised boost frequency, compared to ‘just’ 1770 MHz of the standard reference model. But, the clock frequency advertised by MSI is ultra-conservative for the RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Trio.
In reality, the core frequency would routinely hit way north of 1950MHz, and with a little tweaking, we could get it to remain stable at over 2100MHz.
In the above graph, we can see the core clock speed fluctuations with the ‘stock’ settings with no custom fan curve or any other adjustments. The numbers at the bottom of the axis represents time (seconds) while the numbers on the left are the clock frequency. The clock speed for MSI’s RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Tri as you can see would regularly maintain around the 1950MHz range.
That’s impressive – but the question is, can we do any better?
The answer is – yes, of course! In the above graph we added 130MHz to the core clock, 112 percent to the power limit, cranked the core voltage up 100mv (not that it really makes a difference but still), and a custom fan curve. I also had a 960MHz increase on the GDDR6 memory for the RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Trio too.
Our few minutes of tweaking means the card now holds around the 2100MHz for the core. The large ‘leap’ at the start of the graph I kept in to show how quickly Turing ramps up clock speeds when it is hitting a 3D load.
As for the temps of the card – well, with stock values on a test bench (stock fan settings too), the GPU maintained the mid-60s, with the fans occasionally going idle when there were moments pauses in the action even during 3D workloads. (ie, loading which would reduce GPU load). With a more aggressive fan curve, temps were hovering in the mid-50s.
So, let’s go ahead and get some performance numbers so we can have an understanding of how the Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2070 Super upsets the landscape. We’ll be benchmarking the titles as always with the latest applicable patches (auto-applied from Steam or other relevant platforms). Windows is updated to 1903 too, and all the relevant patches are applied too.
For hardware, we’re using an I7-8700K running at 4.7GHZ for all 6 cores, and an MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Pro Carbon AC motherboard. Cooling is taken care of by a DeepCool Captain 240 Pro. OS and games are on separate SSDs.
As you can see from the above benchmarks, the RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Trio is a significant leap forward in performance compared to the ‘original’ RTX 2070. The performance of the RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Trio is much closer to that of an RTX 2080 rather than the RTX 2070.
The above benchmarks were conducted using the benchmark mode of the application or game, where the variance of the run was as little as possible. The below 4 benchmarks (Crysis 1, Resident Evil 2, Wolfenstein 2 and finally the Witcher 3) will be manual runs, where the exact same path and location are followed. The tests were conducted at 1440P and all the quality settings were at their highest, with the exception of Resident Evil 2. The 2GB texture setting is used here because lower-end GPUs have lots of texture thrashing, and we wanted to focus purely on the raw shader performance.
The manual runs tell much the same story as the built-in benchmarking tools – the RTX 2070 Super is virtually replacing the RTX 2080, and given MSI’s Gaming X Trio runs at even higher clock frequencies then obviously that’s only a benefit to the performance of the card.
Earlier in this article, I discussed how the RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Trio can easily be tweaked to regularly maintain a clock speed above 2100MHz. I ran several benchmarks to find out how this affected performance. Tests are run with the same settings as above, albeit rather than ‘stock’ settings I set the following: 130MHz core, 100mv, 112 Power Limit, 960MHz memory and a much more aggressive fan curve.
MSI RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Trio Conclusions
Well, the great news is that for users who haven’t yet jumped into Turing, for the same price as you early adopters paid for their launch cards, you essentially get the card that is a higher performance tier. The RTX 2070 Super is the case in point here – the GPU puts out the same level of performance as the RTX 2080…
There was much criticism for the pricing of the GeForce RTX 20 series when Nvidia launched them late 2018 for their pricing, but if they had launched them at the ‘super’ performance I suspect the complaints about the pricing would have been far less numerous.
For the here and now, the RTX 2070 Super is a great buy – and critically provides just enough performance to nip at the heels of the RTX 2080. In the case of MSI’s Gaming X Trio, there’s enough cooling headroom to crank the frequencies way up, and in essence, the RTX 2070 Super performance numbers compared to an RTX 2080 becomes almost indistinguishable from one another.
We’ll soon be reviewing AMD’s RX 5700 series graphics cards, and there’s definitely a big debate to be had of what is better, AMD’s cheaper offerings or Nvidia’s Turing cards. But, for those who either want the Turing feature set OR prefer team green and have about 500 bucks to spend, an RTX 2070 Super makes a compelling case for itself.
Much like the RTX 2080 it replaces, I don’t feel comfortable declaring the card enough for 4K with all settings maxed out (though things are different if you don’t mind making some tweaks), but for a high frame rate 1080P or 1440P experience, the RTX 2070 Super is an excellent purchase.
As for MSI’s effort with the Gaming X Trio – just like other cards in MSI’s Gaming X Trio line, it’s hard to find fault with the card. It certainly doesn’t significantly innovate over the Pascal Gaming X Trio lineup, but it doesn’t need to. It provides solid performance with lots of overclocking headroom and pretty darn quiet operation.
The only negative for this card is the 30mhz advertised boost frequency over the Founders Edition model… despite the average clock speed did hit way higher than this clock speed of course. I feel this is a bit of a missed opportunity, and it would have been nice to have seen the advertised boost speeds be a little higher, particularly in light of our overclocking results.
If you are in the market for an RTX 2070 Super and don’t mind spending a few extra bucks on purchasing one for better performance, then we’d definitely recommend MSI’s Gaming X Trio as a card you should consider.
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