MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC Review – Is It Faster Than The Fastest GTX 980 Ti?

Hassan Mujtaba
Posted Jul 14, 2016
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Introduction

Four years ago, NVIDIA introduced Kepler, a brand new GPU based on the latest process node (at the time) with one sole purpose, to deliver the best efficiency in terms of power and performance. Kepler was a radical switch from NVIDIA’s Fermi architecture which delivered more performance for lower power and the DNA of the chips kept on evolving with Maxwell and now as the industry finally says farewell to the 28nm process based GPU, we warmly welcome the latest FinFET GPUs that offer great leap in terms of power and performance efficiency, the same principles which were used to design Kepler and Maxwell before.

As the industry enters FinFET, both AMD and NVIDIA have engaged in a race to offer chips that offer the best performance per watt. Many years ago, NVIDIA announced Pascal, the first of their FinFET based GPUs in road maps. A month has passed since the first 16nm FinFET based GPUs have been launched and shipping around the globe to consumers (GeForce Gamers).

Meet GeForce 10 Series – The High-End GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 Graphics Cards

With Pascal, NVIDIA launched a new generation of GeForce cards, the GeForce 10 series. The GeForce 10 series comprises of Pascal based GeForce GTX 1080 and GeForce GTX 1070. Both cards feature the same architecture and have been aimed at the high-performance gaming market. We already reviewed the flagship MSI GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card here but it is time to look at the more cost effective offering aka the GeForce GTX 1070.

The sample we have today is an MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC edition which was sent to us by MSI Taiwan. We can’t thank them enough for sending us a review sample of the GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X and also the 980 Ti Lightning which we will be using for comparison against the Pascal GPU.

NVIDIA Embraces FinFET With Pascal Graphics Architecture

The Pascal GPU was designed to deliver a generational leap in performance over its predecessors by embracing the latest FinFET process. The increasing demand of graphics performance in high-end gaming PCs and also the emergence of Virtual Reality market have opted graphics manufacturers to focus on next generation of DirectX 12 and Vulkan graphics while delivering increased performance to drive high-resolution, HDR capable displays.

Using the TSMC 16nm FinFET process, the Pascal GP104 GPU was crafted for GeForce gamers and offered in two products that stand a class apart from their predecessors. Right now, we are going to give you a run through of the entire GP104 GPU which is the heart of the GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card.

NVIDIA GP104 GPU Dissected – The Heart of the GeForce GTX 1070 Graphics Card

The NVIDIA GeForce 10 series graphics cards are powered by a Pascal GPU known as GP104. This GPU will have several SKUs which will be housed on several graphics cards. The GP104 GPU houses 7.2 Billion transistors and up to 2560 CUDA cores. This arrangement is achieved through 128 cores per streaming multiprocessor which is the same as GM204 but different compared to the GP100 GPU which has 64 CUDA Cores per SM unit.

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 features the GP104-200-A1 core which comprises of 1920 CUDA cores. The configuration on the GeForce GTX 1070 comprises of 120 texture mapping units and 64 ROPs. Rather than disabling an entire  GPC, NVIDIA decided to cut off specific SMs from all four GPCs which means that the ROP count remains the same as the GeForce GTX 1080 die offering faster rasterization performance.

The Pascal FinFET architecture allows significant increase in clock frequency. The reference GeForce GTX 1070 is clocked at 1506 MHz base anad 1683 MHz boost clock. The model MSI sent us is clocked much higher thanks to their factory overclocked specs.

The GeForce GTX 1070 delivers 6.5 TFLOPs of compute performance on its stock configuration. All of this circuitry is housed in a 314mm2 die size which is impressive considering it could achieve better efficiency and performance stats compared to a Titan X which is based on a 601mm2 die and houses 8 Billion transistors. The complete transistor density has jumped from 10 million to 23 million per square millimeters which is a huge increase.

The chip features eight 32-bit memory controllers. The card features 8 GB of GDDR5 memory featured across a 256-bit bus and clocked at 8 GB/s. This leads to a total bandwidth of 256 GB/s. NVIDIA uses much faster GDDR5 (X) ram on their GTX 1080 cards but its comes at an added cost. Faster clocked GDDR5 memory still offers great performance and loads of bandwidth to the card. There are tons of features enabled on the Pascal cards such as Compute Preemption, memory compression, simultaneous multi-projection which you can read in our detailed post here.

NVIDIA GeForce 10 Pascal Feature Slides:

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X 8 GB OC Overview

The MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X is a factory overclock model which retains the core configuration of the GP104-200-A1 GPU but comes with higher clock speeds. This model is clocked at 1556 MHz base and 1746 MHz boost clocks which is around 4% increase in clock speed over the reference model. The card has 8 GB GDDR5 VRAM clocked at the reference 8008 MHz which delivers 256 GB/s bandwidth.

MSI has provided three Display Port 1.4, a single HDMI 2.0b and a single DVI-D display outputs with his card. The GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X supports Virtual Reality, DirectX 12, Vulkan, 4K/5K/8K gaming and Gamestream technology with NVIDIA’s Shield. The name suggests that the card uses the Armor X cooler which looks great in its white and black color scheme. We will be giving a detailed look at this cooler and the card in our next section that covers the packaging and unboxing of the product.

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC Specifications:

Graphics Card NameNVIDIA GeForce GTX 980NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 TiNVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan XMSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OCNVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080
Graphics CoreGM204GM200GM200GP104GP104
Process Node28nm28nm28nm16nm FinFET16nm FinFET
Transistors5.2 Billion8 Billion8 Billion7.2 Billion7.2 Billion
CUDA Cores2048 CUDA Cores2816 CUDA Cores3072 CUDA Cores1920 CUDA Cores2560 CUDA Cores
Base Clock1126 MHz1000 MHz1000 MHz1556 MHz1607 MHz
Boost Clock1216 MHz1075 MHz1075 MHz1746 MHz1733 MHz
FP32 Compute5.6 TFLOPs6.5 TFLOPs7.0 TFLOPs6.8 TFLOPs9.0 TFLOPs
VRAM4 GB GDDR56 GB GDDR512 GB GDDR58 GB GDDR58 GB GDDR5X
Bus Interface256-bit bus384-bit bus384-bit bus256-bit bus256-bit bus
Power Connector6+6 Pin Power8+6 Pin Power8+6 Pin PowerSingle 8-Pin PowerSingle 8-Pin Power
TDP165W250W250W150W180W
Display Outputs3x Display Port
1x HDMI 2.0
1x DVI
3x Display Port
1x HDMI 2.0
1x DVI
3x Display Port
1x HDMI 2.0
1x DVI
3x Display Port 1.4
1x HDMI 2.0b
1x DVI
3x Display Port 1.4
1x HDMI 2.0b
1x DVI
Launch DateSeptember 2014May 2015March 201510th June 201627th May 2016
Launch Price$549 US$649 US$999 US$429 US$599 US

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X 8 GB OC Package

The package for the GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC is very simple. It comes in a rectangular cardboard package that features the large Armor branding on the front. MSI wants users to know that the GTX 1070 features brand new features such as Ansel, DirectX 12, VRWorks, GameWorks that were shown off by NVIDIA during the Pascal launch. The card is also part of NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX VR Ready program which means you can enjoy VR gaming as soon as you plug in this card inside your PC.

On the back of the box, we can see several features of the new Armor X cooler. MSI mentions that their Armor X cards feature a powerful and sophisticated cooler design that comes in red and black color scheme. The cooler adopts a dense heatsink with advanced airflow control that is offered by the two Torx fan featured on the cards.

Accessories in the package include a 6-Pin to 8-Pin molex connector, a DVI to HDMI port, quick user guide, MSI stickers and a driver disk. It’s better to download the latest drivers for your NVIDIA based graphics cards from the official GeForce webpage to stay updated.

That’s about it as far as the package is concerned and we move over to the unboxing section where we will get a detailed look at the card and other aspects of the product.

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X 8 GB OC Unboxing

Unboxed, we can see that the GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC comes in a soft foam based packaging material inside the main box. The front of the card looks nice although design scheme could be a matter of personal preference. I think white and black color looks refreshing considering we have been getting a ton of red and black color schemes over the time on hardware products.

The dual 100mm Torx fan feature the fan stop technology which means that the fans won’t spin until the card crosses a certain temperature limit. In our case, that limit was 60C. The card rarely spun the fan in idle work loads and even under operation, they were vastly quiet than blower fan based reference designs from previous NVIDIA NVTTM coolers. Kudos to MSI for making their already fantastic fan design even better. MSI offers the same fan designs on all their Gaming and Armor based products featuring NVIDIA and AMD graphics chips.

The MSI Armor X cooling features a massive heatsink with several aluminum fins that cover the entire length of the card. There are several heatpipes that dissipate heat from the GPU to the heatsink that gets cooled off by air flow provided by the fans. The memory and VRMs have smaller heatsinks for dissipating heat that come with the internal PCB base plate.

Display connectivity on the MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X includes three Display Port 1.4 (4K @ 120 Hz), single HDMI 2.0b (4K @ 60 Hz) and a single DL-DVI which means that it is capable to support all next-gen displays with new standards such as HDR, VR and multi-res / multi-screen panels.

The GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC features a custom PCB but power is provided through a single 8-Pin power connector. The card has a official TDP of 150W but the premium components make sure that every bit of juice gets supplied to core, memory and VRMs when overclocked.

The GTX 1070 GPU comes with two SLI gold fingers which should technically mean that the card supports 4-Way SLI but that has changed in the GeForce 10 series. While 4-Way SLI support is physically present, there are little applications that can even scale well on 4 or even 3-Way SLI. NVIDIA recommends the use of 2-Way SLI with the new high-bandwidth SLI bridge for the best scaling and SLI performance in games that support Multi-GPU. For those who are still interested in 3 or 4 Way SLI can register at NVIDIA’s site for a SLI key to enable support on their cards.

The back of the PCB is bare since MSI didn’t feature a back plate on this design which was a huge let down. The PCB itself is wider than regular cards, even the Lightning has a less wide PCB than the Armor X OC. The matte black coating looks nice and the PCB is very clean compared to some previous cards which I have owned.

Talking about the PCB itself, we can see that the base plate not only adds durability to the PCB but offers a heatsink solution for memory chips and VRMs underneath it. The card features a non-reference PCB with a 6+2 phase PWM. We can see sections of the components cut down which are reserved for the GTX 1080 Armor X OC which comes at a higher price point. This PCB is more than enough to reach overclocks beyond 2 GHz and provides stable current with its Military Class components.

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC Teardown:

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC Picture Gallery:

Test Setup

We used the following test system for comparison between the different graphics cards. Latest drivers that were available at the time of testing were used from AMD and NVIDIA on an updated version of Windows 10. All games that were tested were patched to the latest version for better performance optimization for NVIDIA and AMD GPUs.

Review Test Rig:

CPUIntel Core i7-4790K
MotherboardGigabyte Z97X-SOC Force
Power SupplyXigmatek NRP-MC1002 1000 Watt
Hard DiskKingston HyperX 3K 90 GB (OS)
Storage DiskSeagate Barracuda 1000GB
Seagate Barracuda 500GB
Memory4 x 4 GB G.Skill ARES 2400 MHz
Video CardsMSI GeForce GTX 1070 (Overclock)
MSI GeForce GTX 980 Ti (Overclock)
XFX Radeon R9 Fury X (Reference)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Reference)
Galax GeForce GTX 970 (Overclock)
HIS Radeon R9 390 IceQ X2 (Overclock)
DriversNVIDIA 368.69 WHQL, AMD Crimson 16.7.1
Operation SystemWindows 10 (64-bit)
  • All games were tested on 2560×1440 (2K) and 3840×2160 (4K) resolutions.
  • Image Quality and graphics configurations have been provided in the screenshots below.
  • Games with PhysX were benchmarked with the settings on Low or off for fair comparisons.
  • The “reference” cards are the stock configs while the “overclock” cards are factory overclocked configs provided to us by various AIB partners.

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X Overclocking:

The MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X comes with a factory overclocks and utilizes NVIDIA’s GPU Boost 3.0 tech that allows per voltage point clock adjustment. This allows the GPU to boost beyond its stock configuration. In our case, the card was supposed to clock in at boost speeds of 1747 MHz but in all titles, it feature boost clock beyond 1900 MHz (1924.00 MHz to be precise). This gives the card a lot of advantage in terms of performance at stock configurations depending how much cool the card is running and based on its total power consumption which needs to be lower to avoid thermal or power throttling.

We used EVGA’s Precision X software to overclock the sample. We set the power target to 108% which is the maximum rate along with a GPU temperature target of 92C which is also the highest limit allowed on the GPU. We set a core clock speed of +190 MHz and memory clock speed of +220 MHz that gives us clock speeds of 1747 MHz base, 1937 MHz boost and 2112 MHz on the memory.

While running applications such as games and benchmarks, the GPU was breaking past the 2 GHz barrier to 2126 MHz and maintained the speed in majority of titles. Under the more graphics intensive titles, this clock speed varied around 1988 MHz to 2068 MHz that is still a lot more than the clock speeds we had set. The overclocked memory delivered an effective bandwidth of 270.3 GB/s which is 14 GB/s more than the reference config of 256 GB/s.

Since we also had the 980 Ti Lightning from MSI in our hands, we wanted to test it on both stock and overclock configurations against the 1070 Armor X OC to see how well the new GP104 chip stands against the monstrous GM200 chip when at reference and overclocked frequencies. Just to let you know, the GTX 980 Ti Lightning was overclocked to 1355 MHz base, 1467 Mhz boost on the core while it’s 7.1 GHz GDDR5 memory was pushed to 8 GHz which is the same clock speed of reference 1070 models. We had to push the voltage slightly higher on the 980 Ti Lightning to 1.21V to achieve this overclock but we will see if the $429 US Armor X can hold up against an $779 US Lightning card.

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X 8 GB OC Benchmarks (DirectX 12)

Ashes of the Singularity:

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC Review_Ashes of the Singularity (1)

In Ashes of the Singularity which is the first I used to test the DirectX 12 API performance of the new Pascal GTX card, the GTX 1070 Armor X delivered great performance increases over an factory overclocked GTX 970. When compared to the GTX 980 Ti, the cards were very close to one another in DirectX 11 API but DirectX 12 was a different story where the Pascal GPU gained FPS but Maxwell dropped in FPS. This situation occurred at both 4K and 1440p resolutions. AMD cards on the other hand gained significant performance increase when switched to DirectX 12 API which shows the advantages of their Async tuned hardware.

Forza Motorsport 6: Apex:

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC Review_Forza Motorsport 6 Apex (1)

I tested Forza Motorsport 6: Apex at 4K since it looks absolutely gorgeous at this resolution in ultra settings. The GTX 1070 Armor X OC was the only graphics card which was able to achieve 60 FPS when overclocked. At stock, the card came around 56 FPS which is the same as an overclocked GTX 980 Ti Lightning. The card gives a 5% FPS increase over 980 Ti at stock clocks in 4K resolution.

Hitman:

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC Review_Hitman (1)

I had some troubles running Hitman with DirectX 11 when benching the Radeon R9 390X and GTX 970 but they were fixed when I switched to DirectX 12 API. Due to this, you will be looking at only DirectX 12 figures. Just like the AOTS performance tests, Maxwell still suffers from performance degradation when moving from DX11 to DX 12.

Pascal on the other hand showed a nice increase along with the GCN based Radeon cards. GTX 1070 Armor X was 2 FPS faster on average compared to the overclocked GTX 980 Ti Lightning. The Radeon R9 Fury X was also close to the GTX 1070 Armor X in 4K and 2K resolutions. When overclocked to 2 GHz, the GTX 1070 flew past all cards giving a highly playable frame rate.

Rise of the Tomb Raider:

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC Review_Rise of the Tomb Raider (1)

Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the most beautiful game that I have played recently and was patched to the DX12 API. The game features a wide variety of settings and we chose Very High, HBAO+ and SMAA for testing. The GTX 980 Ti Lightning was on par with the reference clocked GTX 1070 Armor X on both overclocked and stock configs. The Armor X custom overclocked made it flew past 80 FPS on 1440p and 45 FPS on average at 4K resolution.

The GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X has been the all rounder in all DirectX 12 tests but let’s see how it performs in synthetic and DirectX 11 based gaming tests.

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X 8 GB OC Benchmarks (DirectX 11)

3DMark Firestrike:

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC Review_3DMark Firestrike (1)

3DMark Firestrike is the most popular tool used by PC gamers and testers to evaluate the performance of their PCs. I couldn’t miss this performance test every time I get either a new PC or a new graphics card. During testing  , the GeForce GTX 980 Ti Lightning crushed the GTX 1070 in all configurations. It has a lead of over 1000 points when both cards were clocked at stock speeds and around 700 points when both cards were overclocked. This shows that Maxwell GM200 is a beast of a compute chip but gaming performance is a different story as seen in the DirectX 12 benchmarks.

If you are going to break some performance numbers in benchmarks, then the GTX 980 Ti is vastly optimized and powerful to do that. But Pascal GP104 has advanced graphics feature that help it deliver better gaming performance over synthetic tests.

Battlefield 4:

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC Review_Battlefield 4 (1)

Battlefield 4 has been vastly optimized since the day it came out. I actually had the chance to play long sessions of BF4 during the past months and I was absolutely thrilled by the performance gains and multiplayer optimizations that have been added to BF4 recently. The game has not only become more playable but also improved in the departments of latency and hit detection which were a complete mess in the beginning.

This 2013 title has seen a lot of action, from various DLC releases to the Mantle update from AMD and several patches. I played a few maps in the Final Stand DLC, mostly Giants of Karelia and Operation Whiteout while the maps were full for testing out the performance. During testing, the GTX 1070 Armor X delivered impressive FPS on both 4K and 1440p resolutions with Ultra (4xAA / HBAO+) settings. The 980 Ti and 1070 are really close to hitting that 4K 60 FPS mark which could easily be achieved by lowering down the settings a bit. Over 100 FPS with 1440p resolution was a delight.

Doom:

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC Review_Doom 2016 (1)

It’s 2016 and Doom is finally here. My testing wouldn’t be complete without including this title and I am glad Id released the Vulkan patch just a few days ago while I had these graphics cards near me. All cards were capable to deliver ample frame rates on 1440p resolution using Nightmare settings so my focus turned over to 4K.

In 4K, the GTX 1070 and overclocked 980 Ti were the only cards capable to achieve that 60 FPS number (980 Ti came where close to it). However, Vulkan pushed the R9 Fury X performance very close to 60 FPS at 4K, even beyond that of 980 Ti Lightning (overclocked). The Radeon cards got a massive boost with Vulkan update due to AMD’s readiness for the new API.

The GeForce cards delivered either 1 FPS or no gain at all. NVIDIA has stated that a graphics driver release will improve the performance but so far this looks like the case of Async compute with DirectX 12 on Maxwell card except this is across the board (Maxwell and Pascal). Regardless, the GTX 1070 Armor X was the fastest solution in both OpenGL and Vulkan API renderer on Doom.

Fallout 4:

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC Review_Fallout 4 (1)

Fallout 4 is a great addition in the Fallout universe. Fallout fans like me have fallen in love with this new game since it was released. Being a huge fan on RPGs and especially Sci-Fi RPG (Mass Effect for life), the game has the most advanced version of the Creation engine which was recently updated with NVIDIA’s GameWorks feature.

We tested the game on Ultra settings with AA enabled and found out that the GTX 1070 can deliver more than 80 FPS at stock config at 1440P. The GTX 980 Ti Lightning averages at 67 FPS. The R9 Fury X surprisingly hit past the 980 Ti with 70 AVG FPS.

Far Cry Primal:

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC Review_Far Cry Primal (1)

GTA V:

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC Review_GTA V (1)

GTA V is the most optimized gaming titles that has been made for the PC. It’s so optimized, it even runs on my crap GT 840M based laptop with a smooth FPS on a mix of medium/low settings. I mean what???

Aside from being optimized, GTA V is a great game. It was the Game of The Year for 2013. At 1440p Ultra quality, the game gave us smooth frames on all cards were tested. For 4K, we toned down the settings to High quality to get around 50-60 FPS on the high-end cards. The GTX 1070 was the fastest in our testing when over clocked. At stock speeds, it was a single FPS slower than the 980 Ti Lightning (overclocked).

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor:

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC Review_Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor (1)

Tom Clancy’s The Division:

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC Review_Tom Clancys The Divison (1)

The Division is a game which I finished really fast in single player but I was unable to hook up with it in the dark zone. That still doesn’t mean that it’s not a beautiful game to play so I booted it up for testing, repeated a few single player missions on ultra quality and the smooth gameplay made New York city more immersive than ever before.

All high-end cards can deliver 60 FPS at 1440p but 4K changes that. The GTX 980 Ti Lightning gained a lead over the GTX 1070 in this title while the Radeon R9 Fury X came very close to the reference 980 Ti Lightning. Overall, the experience was good playing the game again but this is probably the last time I am playing The Division. It’s not a bad game at all but it’s certainly not my type of game.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt:

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC Review_Witcher 3 Wild Hunt (1)

Witcher 3 is the greatest fantasy RPG of our time, it has a great story, great gameplay mechanics and gorgeous graphics. This is the only game I actually wanted to get a stable FPS at 4K. With Gameworks disabled, I gave all high-end cards the ability to demonstrate their power. The Fury X and 980 Ti Lightning came close to each other but the GTX 1070 turned out to be the fastest. As fast as an overclocked 980 Ti Lightning. The GTX 1070 Armor X overclocked went past 40 FPS at 4K.

It still wasn’t the magical 60 FPS number I wanted to hit at 4K toning down the settings a bit, I was able to achieve numbers were close to 60 FPS. It was still amazing to get a much smoother frame rate than what I was getting before on a single GTX 970 inside my personal rig.

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X 8 GB OC Thermal Tests

No graphic card review is complete without evaluating its temperatures and thermal load. The MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X OC is fitted with the most advanced version of the Twin Frozr V cooling design. The latest Armor 2 X cooler features a massive heatsink with three 8mm heatpipes which extend beyond the aluminum fin based design. The card comes with PWM cooling and an anti-bending plate that keeps the card sturdy and durable in the most harshest environments inside your PC.

The Patented Torx fan design and Zero Frozr technology featured on this card make sure that it delivers the best cooling performance and best acoustics while operating.

Note – We tested load with Kombuster which is known as ‘Power viruses’ and can permanently damage hardware. Use such software at your own risk!

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X 8 GB OC Power Consumption

I compiled the power consumption results by testing each card under idle condition and while it was peaking during gaming sessions. Each graphics card manufacturer sets a default TDP for the card which can vary from vendor to vendor depending on the extra clocks or board features they plug in on their custom cards. Default TDP for the GTX 1070 is set at 150W and since we are testing a custom board, the figures can be lower or also exceed the default TDP.

The new 16nm process on the GeForce 10 series cards based on Pascal architecture deliver huge increases in performance per watt values meaning that the GTX 1070 is able to deliver higher performance while sipping in drastically lower power. You can see the results for yourself below which show that the GTX 1070 has a total power consumption of 179W at stock and 185W at overclocked specifications. The GTX 970 has a total power draw of 163W but delivers vastly lower performance figures compared to 1070. The 980 Ti which manages to come on par with the GTX 1070 has a power draw of 315W at stock and 368W at overclocked specs which is almost twice as high.

Conclusion – Is 980 Ti’s Reign Finally Over?

The Pascal architecture is the most technically advanced chip utilizing the FinFET process. But all that technical superiority means jack to the regular consumer who’s in the market to grab a graphics card for his PC Gaming needs. The MSI GTX 1070 Armor X comes at a price of $429 US whereas the MSRP set for the 1070 is $379 US. It’s a bit pricey at the extra cost but price isn’t an issue if the graphics card performs as its advertised to do so.

The MSI GTX 1070 Armor X is faster than the GTX 970. It’s almost 2x the performance increase over the 970. Compared to one of the fastest GTX 980 Ti out there, the GTX 980 Ti Lightning, the GTX 1070 Armor X while being similar in performance to the card annihilates it in all other aspects. It has lower power draw than the 980 Ti Lightning, it has lower noise output than the 980 Ti Lightning, it has tons of new features added in the Pascal architecture, it is fully VR Ready with SMP (Simultaneous Multi-Projection) and best of all, it’s vastly cheaper. Even at $429, the GTX 1070 Armor X OC is around $250 – $300 US cheaper than a 980 Ti Lightning.

So what does all this performance means? Well you’ll be touching a very playable frame rate at 4K and toning down the graphics quality a bit will let you play at 60 FPS on the same resolution. Sounds like a great deal but you want more? The 1070 Armor X OC has a beefy PCB and a twin fan cooler which runs surprisingly well and the color scheme looks really nice. The PCB on the card will let you clock the chip past 2 GHz offering even more performance out of this card. This card is an all in one package with great gaming performance which remains unmatched at this price point.

If you are a GTX 970 or similar graphics card owner and looking for an upgrade to play at 4K or 1440P with smooth FPS, the GTX 1070 Armor X is a great card at its price. If you already own a GTX 980 Ti or R9 Fury X graphics card, then you can look into the GTX 1080 which offers a nice improvement over both cards at an similar price point based on our earlier review. I would recommend every PC builder who had plans for a Fury X or 980 Ti upgrade to get a GTX 1070 instead unless you are getting them around $299 US.

I am not suggesting that the 980 Ti and Fury X aren’t ideal cards for gaming, they have been available for more than a year and had a great run. The Fury X still shows massive increases in next-gen APIs while the 980 Ti has fast performance across several titles. Many users have them inside their PCs but technology is replaced at a fast pace with cheaper and better offerings. This is a similar case where 980 Ti and Fury X have been replaced in price and performance by the GTX 1070.

The GTX 1070 is without a doubt a very exciting card which would appeal the high-end gamer at $400-ish price. MSI’s model adds more value and features to an already great product.

Summing it up, the MSI GeForce GTX 1070 is the best choice for high-end and mainstream gamers who are looking to play their games with maxed settings at the higher resolutions of 1440p and 4K. The MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Armor X gives the best frame rate with the most stable clock rates that touch the 2 GHz mark with ease and higher when overclocked. At $429 US, the 1070 Armor X OC would give you performance like an overclocked 980 Ti with lots of room available for overclocks.

You can buy the MSI GeForce GTX 1070 from here.

Are you going to purchase the MSI GTX 1070 Armor X based on this review?

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