Nvidia’s Ampere launch has brought a large step forwards in performance at every price point. The three mainstream cards currently released, the RTX 3060 Ti, RTX 3070 and RTX 3080 all excel in high resolutions and the most demanding current games. The RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070 are closest in specification and price, with the RTX 3060 Ti priced at around $400 and the RTX 3070 starting at $500 for the various partner cards. In this review, we’ll take an in-depth look at those two cards to find out which is going to be best for your needs. We’ve run hundreds of benchmarks and spent many hours tweaking these GPUs to best inform you of their relative strengths, so let’s dig in!
RTX 3060 Ti vs RTX 3070
|RTX 3060 Ti||RTX 3070||RTX 3080|
|VRAM||8GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6||10GB GDDR6X|
|Process||Samsung 8N||Samsung 8N||Samsung 8N|
|PCie Bus||PCIe 4.0x16||PCIe 4.0x16||PCIe 4.0x16|
|Pixel Rate||133.2 GPixel/s||165.6 GPixel/s||164.2 GPixel/s|
|Texture Rate||253.1 GTexel/s||317.4 GTexel/s||465.1 GTexel/s|
|Base Clock||1410 MHz||1500 MHz||1440 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1665 MHz||1725 MHz||1710 MHz|
|AIB Cards||RTX 3060 Ti Card Database||RTX 3070 Card Database||RTX 3080 Card Database|
The main similarity between these cards is in their memory specification: Both have 8GB of GDDR6 Memory operating at 448GB/second bandwidth, across a 256bit bus. They forgo the faster GDDR6X memory specification of the RTX 3080.
The differences lie in the core. Whilst both use the GA104 core, the RTX 3060ti makes do with a cut down version of it. The RTX 3070 has 5888 shader units, 184 tensor cores, and 46 Ray tracing cores. It boosts to around 1725MHz. The RTX 3060Ti has 1000 fewer shader units at 4864, 152 Tensor cores, and 38 Ray tracing cores. It also boosts slightly lower in reference specification, to 1665MHz. In operation, both comfortably exceed their reference boost clocks.
In real terms, we should see performance commensurate to those key specification differences.
To test this, we’ve got our hands on an example of each card. The 3060 Ti is a Zotac Twin Edge OC, a twin fan 2 slot model. This card claims a 1695 MHz boost clock but our example self boosts to sustain 1860MHz and is unusual in that it’s a pure 2 slot design and relatively short at just 222mm. Other than that it has the same specifications as any other RTX 3060Ti.
The RTX 3070 is EVGA’s XC3 Ultra model. It’s a 3 fan card with a ‘2.2’ slot thick cooler, and EVGA claims a boost clock of 1770Mhz for this model, but in fact, it itself boosts to 1950 MHz happily and will sustain a 2150Mhz boost when overclocked.
All tests were conducted on an identical test rig: The System comprises of a Ryzen 7 5800X CPU with PBO enabled, A MSI Mortar B550 motherboard, and 16GB of RAM clocked at 3600MHz Cl16 and operating in dual channel mode. Power Supply is a 650W Gold Antec unit.
‘Real World’ Testing
A note on how we test: These tests are conducted on what we consider ‘real world’ settings. That is, High or Highest unless the very highest settings are a serious detriment to performance. We’re aiming to present to you the cards performance as close as possible to how you will experience them on your own PC, whilst playing the games you love. The tests are completely standardised and identical in each benchmark so the cards are being tested like-for-like. Please see the footnote for details of each benchmark.
Firstly let’s check out some synthetic benchmarks, to see how the GPUs perform in a standardised test and also to verify that our examples are comparable to other versions. We’ll also take a quick look at overclocked performance just to see how much performance there is on the table, although this isn’t an in-depth look at overclocking these cards. We’ve included the GTX 1080 Ti and the RTX 2080 Ti for reference.
In Firestrike we can see the clear segmentation between these cards – the stock 3060 Ti matches the 1080 Ti in this Direct X 11 test that renders at 1080p. The RTX 3070 makes good its promise of matching the RTX 2080 Ti, whilst the RTX 3080 sits in a league of its own at the top. You can see an overclock adds a little to the RTX 3070 and 3060 Ti, but doesn’t bridge the gap between them and the next card up.
In Time Spy which is direct X12 and renders at 1440p, the Ampere cards come into their own with the 3060Ti clearly beating the 1080ti. The RTX 3070 perfectly brackets the 2080 Ti with it’s stock and overclocked configuration, whilst again the RTX 3080 sits at the top over 2000 points clear.
To evaluate Ray Tracing performance we can look at the Port Royal Benchmark, which yields a single score based on overall GPU performance. Here again, we see the RTX 3080’s clear lead, but focussing on the RTX 3060ti we can see it is 1000 points short of the 3070, and an overclock does little to help. The 3070 gains a little more from an overclock, but still falls a little way short of the claimed ‘RTX 2080ti beating claim’.
How does this translate into actual gaming performance though? We’ll focus on the two cards in question here to work out the differences between them.
Looking first at some fast-paced shooters, COD Warzone shows how capable both of these GPUs are at 1080p and 1440p, and even at 1440p ultrawide, we’re still at around 144FPS making full use of a high refresh rate monitor. We’re using high settings here so you’re not even sacrificing fidelity for speed and you could push framerates higher with lower settings. This game is actually heavily dependent on CPU as well so if it’s the game you care about, you’ll get better results with the 3060Ti and a great CPU than you will with the 3070 and a compromised CPU. By 4K we are struggling to exceed 100FPS so I wouldn’t recommend these GPUs – or playing warzone in 4K on them. Note how close the two GPUs remain across the board with just 10-15FPS separating them.
Rainbow 6 Siege is even faster-paced, and again both GPUs exceed 240FPS at 1080p, 1440p and 1440p ultrawide. They even exceed 144FPS at 4k, and this in on very high settings across the board. Again, we see limited performance improvement from the additional spend on an RTX 3070, and CPU performance is always going to be more important here.
Finally, as an example of a well optimised first-person shooter, Doom eternal on Ultra Nightmare settings shows strong scaling both with hardware and resolution. Again, we see very high framerates of around 300FPs average on 1080p, over 200 for both the 3060Ti and 3070 at 1440p, and well over 144Fps at 1440p ultrawide. Here, about 20FPS separate the 3060Ti and 3070 with settings like for like, but realistically the difference to the player of 205 FPS vs 225 is minimal, both provide an excellent experience and exceed the refresh rates of very high-performance monitors at 1440p and 1440p ultrawide, and it does well at 4K too.
Moving on to more demanding AAA titles, this is where we perhaps see a little more separation between the two cards.
Red Dead Redemption’s inbuilt benchmark gives us an insight into the demands of current games. These have all been run at identical settings, a mix of high and ‘ultra’ and favoring visual quality to best show off the game’s graphics. In reality, you can drop settings for more performance at no real cost to the visual quality of the game. Nonetheless exceeding 60FPS is our target here. Even at 1080p, we see averages below 100FPS: That’s a function of both of the demands of the game but also the fact that the rendering pipelines in Ampere are set up to be more efficient at higher resolutions so you’re not seeing their full potential at 1080p. Moving on to 1440p both GPUs exceed 60 FPS, but the 3070 scores 87FPS to the 3060Ti’s 69 FPS. Both are totally playable, but you can see that you will have to lower settings a bit more on the 3060ti for equivalent performance – manually forcing settings to ‘high’ except keeping textures at ultra sees performance to 81FPS on the 3060Ti, but keeps the games visual flair intact. At 1440p ultrawide again we see that both remain playable but there’s a hit to the performance with 59 FPS on the 3060Ti and 68 on the 3070. Again, moving to high in place of ultra on the 3060Ti equals the 3070’s performance here and both GPUs remain very enjoyable to play. At 4K, still on ultra, we’re seeing 45 and 50 FPS respectively and this will probably look jarring to many people. We need a mix of medium and high settings on the RTX 3060 Ti, and high and ultra on the RTX 3070, to hit 60FPS average. Getting the very best out of titles like Red Dead 2 at 4K needs more GPU power but if you’re willing to accept some compromise to settings either card plays acceptably well.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is either less ambitious or just better optimised depending on your point of view, but still delivers state of the art visuals. At the highest settings, you’re getting the full effect and at 1080p you can see both GPUs comfortably exceed 144FPS. At 1440p both are just above 100FPS, with the 3070 around 15 FPS ahead, but this is an excellent result for both. Moving up to ultrawide, we’re at 81 and 94 FPS respectively, again close enough to not see a vast difference when gaming, and within reach of a few settings tweaks to equal performance. At 4K we fall under the 60FPS target with the 3060 Ti struggling a little at 54FPS, but the 3070 managing 63 FPS average. The game will play acceptably well at 4K on these cards, and this is at the very highest settings.
And finally, Flight Simulator 2020 requires a brutal mix of next-generation graphical and CPU power, and you can see that by the fact we’re CPU limited at 1080p high settings on both cards with GPU utilization rarely exceeding 90%. This test comprises a 3-minute low-level flight over Manhattan and 60FPS is the highest performance possible on this system – not even an RTX 3080 exceeds it. At 1440p and 1440p ultrawide, the 3070 takes a 10% lead over the 3060 Ti and extends it to more like 20% at 4K. Both of these GPUs are exceptionally capable in this title at 1440p and 1440p ultrawide, and you can mix ultra and high settings for stunning scenery and near 60FPS performance. As the first-person shooters, this is a title that actually needs careful consideration of the whole system to get the best performance out of it. See our Flight Simulator Performance Analysis guide for more benchmarks and recommendations for this title.
Much of the hype around the Ampere cards has focussed on Cyberpunk 2077, thanks to it’s highly demanding graphics and implementations of both RTX and DLSS 2.0. Whilst we have spent significant time playing it and testing it, we don’t feel it’s ready for anything more than a qualitative assessment at the moment. Performance is changing all the time with fixes and updates – hopefully for the better. Similarly, the complexities of performance variations with RTX on or off, and the various DLSS settings by their nature make it largely a matter of opinion as to what you prefer. DLSS is also somewhat of a ‘black box’ – AI-powered upscaling is by its nature hidden from the user and provides remarkable results but ones that may feel a little strange to players not accustomed to it. We’re planning a more in-depth look at these features soon, but for now, let’s consider it like this: Do these GPUs allow you to play and enjoy the game, and does the RTX 3070 offer a significant advantage over the RTX 3060Ti?
Both GPUs allow 60+FPS in-game without using RTX or DLSS at 1440p. Using RTX for lighting and reflections means you need DLSS turned on to achieve acceptable performance on either GPU, but even the 3060Ti manages 60FS with DLSS in balanced mode rendering at an internal resolution of 960p and upscaling to 1440p. It looks remarkably good doing this and it’s likely going to come down to personal preference how you want to play the game. The RTX 3070 is powerful enough to also run RTX shadows and higher quality RTX lighting and maintain 60FPS, or simply hit higher frame rates. There’s so much customisation built into just the RTX and DLSS settings that you’re bound to find a compromise that works for you and this goes for either GPU. At 1440p ultrawide, both cards begin to struggle to hit 60FPS, and at 4K you are either looking at maximum assistance from DLSS or unacceptable performance, particularly on the 3060Ti. RTX isn’t viable with frame rates dropping to the 30’s. With RTX off and DLSS set to balanced the 306 0Ti is still capable of 60FPS at 4K though, showing the value of that upscaling technology.
For Cyberpunk 2077, either the RTX 3060 Ti or 3070 provide a more than acceptable experience at 1440p.
At 1440p ultrawide or 4K, we’d recommend the RTX 3080 to experience the full gamut of next-gen graphics this title has to offer.
Value is of course relative: If you want the higher performance of the RTX 3070 and are prepared to pay for it, then that represents value to you. However, looking at the various performance differences, we see the RTX 3070 is around 10% faster at 1080p, 12-14% faster at 1440p and ultrawide, and 15% faster on average at 4k. However it’s 20% more expensive at suggested retail price. Further, as we’ve shown in these tests the RTX 3060 Ti is just as capable as the RTX 3070 and it’s often just a case of slight settings tweaks to bring the cheaper card up to the same level of performance. Factors like the identical VRAM specification make it even harder to separate them.
If you want the best value then that’s clearly the RTX 3060 Ti.
If you’re prepared to pay for that slightly richer visual experience or extra performance, then the RTX 3070 brings that to the table for around $100 more.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Best for 1080p High-FPS Gaming
At 1080p you’re not getting the best of these cards – although they’re obviously excellent performers. You’ll want to pair them with a top flight CPU to get as much performance as possible, and a very high refresh rate 1080p monitor. There’s just a 10% average difference here across all the titles, and we’re already achieving high framerates, so if you must go overkill at 1080p the RTX 3060 Ti is the right choice. Nvidia has a new GPU model release imminently and this should better cater for 1080p gaming.
Best for 1440p Gaming
At 1440p again the RTX 3060 Ti is a strong performer, with the RTX 3070 offering slightly higher framerates or visual settings, whichever is your preference. But there’s no night-and-day difference between these cards and if you’re working to a budget the RTX 3060 Ti is the right choice.
Best for 1440p Ultrawide Gaming
At 1440p ultrawide, you do see slightly more performance from the RTX 3070, and if you’re intending on playing AAA titles at that resolution it’s a great starting point. For occasional or more casual gaming the RTX 3060 Ti also does well.
Best for 4K Gaming
And finally, at 4K, either of these cards can provide an acceptable experience but if you’re planning a 4K Gaming PC then that really is still the realm of the RTX 3080.
Footnote: Game settings used in benchmarks
|Call of Duty: Warzone||High Preset. Averages obtained over a 5 minute Battle Royale match on ‘Karst’ against bots.|
|Rainbow 6 Siege||Very High Preset: Averages as reported by inbuilt benchmark.|
|Doom Eternal:||Ultra Nightmare: Averages obtained from 3 minutes play in first mission.|
|Red Dead Redemption:||‘Favors Quality’ with all settings Ultra but particles medium. Averages as reported by inbuilt benchmark.|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider||Highest Preset. RTX and DLSS off. Averages as reported by benchmark.|
|Flight 2020||‘High End’ Preset. Averages obtained from a 4 minute AI flight over Manhattan in a Daher TBM 930, external view.|