Nvidia‘s GeForce graphics cards have long been the gold standard for PC gaming, delivering outstanding performance in the latest games powered by Nvidia‘s cutting-edge GPU architectures. The GTX 1070 and RTX 2080 represent two popular cards from different generations – Pascal and Turing. But how do these graphics cards compare, and which one is better for gaming in 2023?
The GTX 1070 launched in June 2016 as part of Nvidia‘s Pascal generation of GPUs. It targeted 1440p and entry-level 4K gaming with its 8GB of GDDR5 memory and 1920 CUDA cores based on a 16nm FinFET manufacturing process.
Two years later in September 2018, Nvidia released the RTX 2080 based on the new Turing architecture and 12nm process. It upped the ante significantly with 2944 CUDA cores, 8GB of faster GDDR6 memory and dedicated RT and tensor cores to enable real-time ray tracing and DLSS.
In this detailed comparison, we‘ll examine the specs and capabilities of the GTX 1070 versus the RTX 2080 to see how these two graphics cards stack up. Key factors we‘ll cover include:
- Specs and architecture
- Performance benchmarks
- Features like ray tracing and DLSS
- Pricing and availability
- Which one is better for different gaming needs
Understanding the strengths and limitations of these GPUs will help you choose the right card for your needs and budget. Let‘s dive in!
Specs and Architecture Comparison
The table below summarizes the key specifications of the GTX 1070 and RTX 2080:
You can immediately see that while the memory capacity is identical at 8GB, the RTX 2080 has faster GDDR6 memory clocks reaching 14Gbps versus 8Gbps on the GTX 1070‘s GDDR5 memory.
The bandwidth also sees a large increase from 256GB/s to 448GB/s. This gives the RTX 2080 a major advantage in memory throughput.
The RTX 2080 also packs significantly more CUDA cores at 2944 vs 1920 on the GTX 1070. These do the work of crunching through graphics and compute workloads. More cores means higher performance potential.
Looking at clock speeds, both GPUs have similar base clocks around 1500MHz. But the RTX 2080 pulls ahead with its 1710MHz boost clock versus 1683MHz on the GTX 1070. Higher clocks translate to improved gaming performance.
On paper, the specifications clearly favor the newer Turing-based RTX 2080 over the Pascal GTX 1070. But let‘s look closer at how the architectural changes impact real-world performance and capabilities.
Pascal Architecture (GTX 1070)
Nvidia‘s Pascal architecture debuted in 2016 as the successor to Maxwell. It represented a significant leap, moving from the aging 28nm process to a new 16nm FinFET manufacturing technology.
This allowed Nvidia to pack more CUDA cores into the GPU and boost clock speeds while improving power efficiency. Pascal also introduced new technology like Simultaneous Multi-Projection to efficiently render multiple viewports needed for VR.
The GTX 1070 sits in the middle of the Pascal lineup, offering excellent performance for 1440p and light 4K gaming with 1920 CUDA cores and 8GB of fast GDDR5 memory. While not the top-end, it brought exceptional value at its $379 launch price point in 2016.
Overall, Pascal powered a huge generational jump in gaming performance over the previous 900 series. The GTX 1070 showcased the strengths of the architecture with its excellent 1440p gaming frame rates.
Turing Architecture (RTX 2080)
In September 2018, Nvidia ushered in a new era with Turing and the RTX 2000 series. The RTX 2080 replaced the GTX 1080 using a new 12nm FinFET manufacturing process allowing for 18.6 billion transistors compared to Pascal‘s 11.8 billion.
Turing builds on Pascal‘s foundation but adds dedicated RT cores for ray tracing and Tensor cores for AI-powered functions like DLSS. These specialized units enable real-time ray traced graphics and improved anti-aliasing not possible on Pascal cards.
The RTX 2080 also steps up with a 25% increase in CUDA cores over the GTX 1080 and faster 14Gbps GDDR6 memory. Combined with architectural optimizations, Turing delivers a big jump in performance over Pascal.
Ray tracing and DLSS were the headline features of Turing. But even for traditional rasterized games, the RTX 2080 provides a sizeable performance uplift over the previous generation thanks to its improved CUDA core counts and memory speeds.
Gaming Performance Benchmarks
Now let‘s see how the specs and architectural changes translate to real-world gaming performance. We‘ve compiled data from multiple professional reviews that benchmarked the GTX 1070 and RTX 2080 head-to-head.
The charts below show average frame rates in several popular games at three resolutions – 1080p, 1440p and 4K. Higher FPS is better.
GTX 1070 vs RTX 2080 Gaming FPS @ 1080p
At 1080p, the RTX 2080 dominates with a 54% higher average frame rate across these game benchmarks. It‘s able to pump out over 100FPS in most titles, while the GTX 1070 trails behind at 65FPS on average.
GTX 1070 vs RTX 2080 Gaming FPS @ 1440p
Increasing the resolution to 1440p further separates the cards‘ capabilities. The RTX 2080 still averages around 90FPS across the board while the GTX 1070 sees much lower frame rates in the 50s.
GTX 1070 vs RTX 2080 Gaming FPS @ 4K
At 4K resolution, the gap widens to a massive 61% lead for the RTX 2080. It can handle 4K gaming at over 60FPS in most titles, while the GTX 1070 struggles to break 30FPS.
Across all resolutions, the RTX 2080 demonstrates significantly higher frame rates thanks to its superior architecture and specs. While the GTX 1070 is respectable for 1080p, it falls well short of delivering a smooth 4K experience.
Ray Tracing and DLSS
A major innovation of Nvidia‘s Turing architecture was dedicated ray tracing (RT) cores designed to enable real-time ray traced graphics. Ray tracing renders light and shadows much more realistically than traditional rasterization techniques.
RTX cards like the 2080 can enable ray tracing in games for more cinematic visuals. Titles with ray tracing support include Control, Cyberpunk 2077, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Watch Dogs: Legion and many more.
The RTX 2080 can handle ray tracing smoothly in 1440p and 4K thanks to its specialized hardware and Tensor cores that accelerate the demanding calculations. With only traditional CUDA cores, ray tracing is far too taxing for the GTX 1070.
Ray tracing in Control significantly enhances lighting and reflections
DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) is another cutting-edge graphics feature available only on RTX cards like the 2080. It utilizes AI and Tensor cores to intelligently upscale images while avoiding the blurring inherent in normal upscaling.
This gives a major performance boost while maintaining crisp image quality. DLSS can accelerate frame rates by over 50% in supported games. Once again, the GTX 1070 lacks any hardware or driver support for this technology.
For gamers who want access to advanced graphics like ray tracing and DLSS, the RTX 2080 is the clear winner over previous-gen cards like the 1070. These features are redefining the new standard for game visuals.
Pricing and Availability
At launch in 2016, the GTX 1070 initially retailed for $379, delivering exceptional value and performance for a mid-range card. In early 2017, pricing climbed amidst a crypto mining boom but later stabilized around the original MSRP.
Now in 2023, used 1070 cards are readily available from various retailers for very low prices in the $150 to $250 range. The abundant second-hand supply makes this a very affordable option, though lack of warranty is a risk.
The RTX 2080 debuted at a much higher $699 MSRP reflecting its position as a luxury flagship card. Through its lifespan, street prices have gradually declined and settled around $500 to $600 for new units.
Here are current pricing options to consider for each GPU:
- Used GTX 1070 – $150 to $250 on eBay
- Refurbished GTX 1070 – $250 to $300 on Amazon, Newegg
- Used RTX 2080 – $400 to $500 on eBay
- Refurbished RTX 2080 – $500 to $600 on Amazon, Newegg
The used market provides GTX 1070 cards at heavily discounted prices compared to the 2080. But you trade off warranty protection versus a refurbished unit.
Ultimately, the RTX 2080 still commands a significant premium reflecting its stronger performance and more advanced features like ray tracing. But deal hunters can find GTX 1070s for tremendous value if ray tracing is not a must-have.
Which GPU is Better for You?
So with everything we‘ve covered, which graphics card is better for gaming in 2023? Here are some guidelines based on use case:
For 1080p gaming at high frame rates, a used GTX 1070 is plenty powerful enough while being great value. It easily pushes over 60FPS maxed out.
At 1440p resolution, the GTX 1070 is still viable but may require tweaking some settings down to maintain smooth 60+ FPS. The RTX 2080 gives more headroom here.
For the best 4K gaming experience, the RTX 2080 is vastly superior. The 1070 will choke below 30FPS in demanding 4K titles while the 2080 breezes past 60FPS.
If you want cutting-edge features like ray tracing and DLSS, the RTX 2080 is your only option. Its dedicated RT and tensor cores can handle these graphics while Pascal cards can‘t.
For content creation like 3D modeling, video editing and streaming, the RTX 2080 provides significantly better performance and encoding quality.
If you‘re on a very tight budget, used GTX 1070s deliver strong 1080p performance for under $200. But you miss out on warranty and future proofing.
Overall, while the GTX 1070 remains very capable, the RTX 2080 is decisively a more powerful graphics card. Its improved architecture coupled with exciting new features like ray tracing clearly outweigh the last-gen 1070.
However, with heavy discounts on used Pascal cards, the 1070 still brings value for 1080p gaming on a budget. It all comes down to your individual performance needs and budget.
Nvidia‘s steady iteration on GPU architectures has delivered major leaps in performance with each generation. The RTX 2080 demonstrates clear gains over the GTX 1070 thanks to its advanced Turing design and ray tracing capabilities.
While both GPUs are solid options, the RTX 2080 is unquestionably the more future-proof card that will hold up better to demanding new games. Its 2944 CUDA cores and 14Gbps GDDR6 memory give it a strong speed advantage.
Ray tracing support also makes the 2080 more "next-gen ready" to power new immersive graphics modes not available on older Pascal cards. If you want great value for 1080p, the discounted GTX 1070 remains a capable budget choice that still beats entry-level cards.
But for those chasing higher frame rates or resolutions, the RTX 2080 is by far the superior graphics card investment for performance today and next-gen gaming technology moving forward.