TU106 joins the party

How does the smallest Turing yet fair?

In general, the launch of RTX 20-series GPUs from NVIDIA in the form of the RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti has been a bit of a mixed bag.

While these new products did give us the fastest gaming GPU available, the RTX 2080 Ti, they are also some of the most expensive videos cards ever to launch. With a value proposition that is partially tied to the adoption of new hardware features into games, the reception of these new RTX cards has been rocky.

To say this puts a bit of pressure on the RTX 2070 launch would be an apt assessment. The community wants to see a reason to get excited for new graphics cards, without having to wait for applications to take advantage of the new hardware features like Tensor and RT cores. Conversely, NVIDIA would surely love to see an RTX launch with a bit more praise from the press and community than their previous release has garnered.

The wait is no longer, today we are taking a look at the RTX 2070, the last of the RTX-series graphics cards announced by NVIDIA back in August.

  RTX 2080 Ti GTX 1080 Ti RTX 2080  RTX 2070 GTX 1080 GTX 1070 RX Vega 64 (Air)
GPU TU102 GP102 TU104 TU106 GP104 GP104 Vega 64
GPU Cores 4352 3584 2944 2304 2560 1920 4096
Base Clock 1350 MHz 1408 MHz 1515 MHz 1410  MHz 1607 MHz 1506 MHz 1247 MHz
Boost Clock 1545 MHz/
1635 MHz (FE)
1582 MHz 1710 MHz/
1800 MHz (FE)
1620 MHz/ 1710 MHz (FE) 1733 MHz 1683 MHz 1546 MHz
Texture Units 272 224 184 144 160 120 256
ROP Units 88 88 64 64 64 64 64
Tensor Cores 544 368 288
Ray Tracing Speed 10 GRays/s 8 GRays/s 6 GRays/s
Memory 11GB 11GB 8GB 8GB 8GB 8GB 8GB
Memory Clock 14000 MHz  11000 MHz 14000 MHz  14000 MHz 10000 MHz 8000 MHz 1890 MHz
Memory Interface 352-bit G6 352-bit G5X 256-bit G6 256-bit G6 256-bit G5X 256-bit G5 2048-bit HBM2
Memory Bandwidth 616GB/s 484 GB/s 448 GB/s 448 GB/s 320 GB/s 256 GB/s 484 GB/s
TDP 250 W /
260 W (FE)
250 W 215W /
225W (FE)
175 W / 185W (FE) 180 W 150 W 292 W
Peak Compute (FP32) 13.4 TFLOPS / 14.2 TFLOP (FE) 10.6 TFLOPS 10 TFLOPS / 10.6 TFLOPS (FE) 7.5 TFLOPS / 7.9 TFLOPS (FE) 8.2 TFLOPS 6.5 TFLOPS 13.7 TFLOPS
Transistor Count 18.6 B 12.0 B 13.6 B 10.8 B 7.2 B 7.2B 12.5 B
Process Tech 12nm 16nm 12nm 12nm 16nm 16nm 14nm
MSRP (current) $1200 (FE)/
$699 $800 (FE)/
$599 (FE)/ $499 $549 $379 $499

So finally, here we have the full GeForce RTX lineup (as currently announced), compared to their previous generation Pascal counterparts, as well as AMD's highest end option.

Taking a look at the TU106 GPU specifications, as found in the RTX 2070, there are a few aspects to note. First, is the continued use of GDDR6 memory. While the 10-series GPUs segregated the faster GDDR5X memory to the higher-end cards, Turing retains the GDDR6 controller, even in lower end parts.

Despite the similar CUDA core counts (albeit of a different design), the memory change from GDDR5X to GDDR6 alone gives the RTX 2070 a 40% improvement in memory bandwidth over the GTX 1080.

Additionally, the TU106 GPU found in the RTX 2070 still retains the RT Cores for real-time ray tracing, as well as the Tensor cores for deep learning acceleration. While TU106 features less of both of these bespoke cores than the bigger Turing GPUs, this means the RTX 2070 will be able to take advantage of the same RTX software features at the 2080 and 2080 Ti but with potentially less performance.

For this review, NVIDIA did not sample us the Founders Edition version. Instead, we received cards from NVIDIA partners such as EVGA, ASUS, and MSI. So far, the partners seem incredibly eager to showcase their RTX 2070 designs, based on the quantities of cards we are receiving, including the focus of the review today.

The EVGA GeForce RTX 2070 Black Edition

In general, pricing is something we save for the end of the review, presenting the product itself before diving into the value proposition it provides. However, given the vast array of RTX 2070 options out there, I think it's important to discuss why we went with the card we did for the "lead" position of this review.

While we've seen the NVIDIA strategy of pricing the Founders Edition card at a premium then promising less expensive card from partners for a few generations now (GTX 10-series, RTX 2080, RTX 2080 Ti), it seems like this launch will fulfill those price point promises.

Take for example the EVGA RTX 2070 Black Edition–at $499–it's a full $100 cheaper than the NVIDIA Founders Edition RTX 2070. Despite that price difference, the RTX 2070 Black Edition appears to make no compromises. 

Featuring dual axial fans, the design of the RTX 2070 Black Edition is very similar to EVGA's higher-end RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti designs. It's clear this isn't a design purely meant to hit NVIDIA's "starting at" price tag. Given the relative issues that the RTX-series has had with its value proposition, we felt it important to take a look at the most inexpensive class of card to see if the story has changed at all.

It's also worth noting that this EVGA card is identical to the base RTX 2070 specifications in the table above, with a rated GPU Boost clock of 1620 MHz compared to the "factory overclocked" Founders Edition. This will help give us an idea of baseline RTX 2070 performance compared to looking at a highly overclocked partner card.

Looking closer at the design of the RTX 2070 Black Edition, we can see that the cooler is bigger than the PCB itself, with the whole card itself coming in at 10.6-in long. This is a way more manageable size than we've been used to lately with the higher end RTX-based products.

Power is supplied to the RTX 2070 Black Edition through the PCI-express slot, as well as an additional 8-pin power connector, for a total available power draw of around 180 Watts.

The RTX 2070 Black Edition feature the same video connector layout we've seen on the NVIDIA RTX 2070 Founders Edition, with one Dual Link DVI port, two DisplayPort 1.4 connections, one HDMI 2.0, and the new DisplayLink connection for connecting future VR headsets through a single wire.

Review Terms and Disclosure
All Information as of the Date of Publication
How product was obtained: The product is on loan from NVIDIA for the purpose of this review.
What happens to the product after review: The product remains the property of NVIDIA but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.
Company involvement: NVIDIA had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
PC Perspective Compensation: Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by NVIDIA for this review.
Advertising Disclosure: NVIDIA has purchased advertising at PC Perspective during the past twelve months.
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Consulting Disclosure: NVIDIA is not a current client of Shrout Research for products or services related to this review. 
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