How We Choose And Test Our GPUs
When it comes to finding the best GPUs, there are a lot of different variables to take into account.
Whether it’s vanilla cards straight from the manufacturers, we look into every single option when it comes to choosing the best release of any given GPU. Not only that, but we make sure you have a range of options from the highest-performing, highest-cost cards all the way down to the budget cards designed to be a little less taxing on the wallet.
We thoroughly test every card we recommend. Not only do we put these cards through rigorous benchmarking, but we also use the cards in our work machines and stress-test them to their limit. You can be sure that every card in this guide will not only perform for you but will last you a lifetime too.
Our Top RTX 3070 Ti Picks
When it comes to a really premium aftermarket GPU, you can always count on MSI to really deliver a great product. The MSI RTX 3070 Ti GAMING X TRIO is a great card, with excellent 3-fan cooling and a really nice aesthetic design. It should also go without saying that it’s a pretty quiet card, even when running at a heavy load.
The boost clock has been upgraded from the standard 1770 Mhz of the vanilla card up to 1830MHz which is a pretty decent boost. Unlike a lot of cards in the line, however, you do only have your standard 2 8-pin power ports. That doesn’t mean there’s not some room for overclocking, but even if you leave it as it comes out of the box you’re getting a decent increase on clock speed.
As you can probably expect from the Gaming X TRIO line of cards, the 3070 Ti comes with the FROZR 2 cooling with TORX FAN 4.0 technology. That means you can expect some insanely efficient cooling, including MSI’s own design of twin fan blades as well as maximum contact cooling pipes. On the aesthetic side, you can expect some surprisingly tasteful RGB, as well as MSI’s distinct design philosophy on full display.
With MSI it hardly feels worth bringing up build-quality, but once again this GPU can put up a fair bit of resistance thanks to the extra strong metal backplate. There’s also an included optional support bracket for even more support, perfect if you plan on moving your rig around a lot. Once again the real downfall of the card is the price, which sits at the upper end of the price bracket for 3070 Ti cards.
EVGA’s aftermarket 3070 Ti was a strong contender for the number 1 spot on this list but was just about beaten to the post by the extra clock speed found on the MSI offering above. Either way, EVGA’s XC3 Ultra Gaming series is a solid family of cards and the 3070 Ti entry is no exception to that rule. Not only is it a great-looking card, but it offers a lot more than the 3070 Ti founder’s edition ever could.
If you’re after a slightly more understated aesthetic in your GPU then EVGA has got you covered. Far from the heavy RGB and angular designs of MSI, EVGA has aimed for a very smooth-looking card, with occasional details peaking out from the sides of the card. There’s also a very interesting texture on the fan blades which is part of reducing the turbulence caused by using the GPU under heavy load.
As well as the strangely textured blades, the card comes with EVGA’s ICX3 interactive cooling system. The system supports asynchronous fan modes, as well as stop-start technology to completely shut the fans off when the GPU hits less than 55°C, meaning you can expect your card to be whisper quiet as much as possible. Of course, the system also comes with supercooling efficiency thanks to the extra GPU contact and well-designed heat sync.
The only real downfall for this card is that out of the box it doesn’t have anything done to the boost clock, it still rests at the vanilla 1770 MHz that you get with a Founder’s Edition. At least you can be pretty sure with the next-level cooling solution that you’ll be able to get some extra power from overclocking, but it would have been nice to have seen some gains without having to tweak the card ourselves.
If you need a card that’ll do what you want without forking out an insane amount for it, then ASUS TUF might be just your speed. While it lacks the stand-out visual design of the top entries, you can be sure that the build quality on display here is top-notch, and you get a decent clock speed boost from the card right out of the box, a crucial feature for any series PC gamers out there.
As with our two previous choices, the TUF card features stop-start tech to prevent your GPU fans from spinning up when they’re not wanted. It also features 3 fans spinning in alternate directions to reduce noise and turbulence, and a large heatsink that contacts with the GPU and the VRAM to ensure as much cooling as possible during gameplay.
While there’s nothing particularly visually stunning about this GPU, it does its job well enough. The entire thing is colored grey to ensure it fits into your build, which does make it a little dull, but if you don’t want your card to stand out too much then the color choice and minimalistic RGB included will suit you down to the ground.
Overall the biggest advantages that this card offers are how quiet it is, and its competitive pricing. Considering that it does actually offer an out-of-the-box performance upgrade, and really quiet but efficient cooling, the RRP of the card is quite low. If you can find this card close to its retail price, it may be worth picking up.
If you want a card that can match MSI for their boost clock but doesn’t have the same high price tag, then Gigabyte is ready to provide you with options. The Gigabyte RTX 3070 Ti Gaming OC is a card that managed to match MSI’s efforts in upgrading performance, but does it at a much cheaper price point, coming at the expense of the aesthetic and overall build quality, but not by much.
The cooling system included is a Windforce 3X, a triple-fan system with alternating patterns to keep things both cool and quiet. It’s also a very efficient cooling system with the same stop-start technology that makes other aftermarket cards so great at keeping your system temp down, but only by being active when necessary. You’ll also find decent copper pipes and a heatsink with good contact with the GPU.
From an aesthetic standard, the card is relatively understated but aims for the chunky and angular design that is popular with many gaming graphics cards. This has left the edges jutting out at odd angles, but the RGB area is at least a little more restrained. The card has ended up being overly baulky, missing out on some of the elegance of the design of more minimalist cards.
Still, minor niggles aside this is an excellent choice for a 3070 Ti. Build quality is on par with a card of this price, and it should put up with enough punishment that you’ll not sweat too much while installing the thing thanks to the solid backplate. Overall, a very good card for a very good price, assuming that you can find the space for it in your rig.
ZOTAC GAMING GeForce RTX 3070 Ti Trinity OC
Once again, ZOTAC manages to hog the value spot on our GPU list and it’s not hard to see why. Despite the cheap price, you still get yourself an incredibly decent GPU, with a nice out-of-the-box clock speed boost and some decent cooling and build quality on offer. While this GPU can’t quite match up to the other cards in terms of cooling sound, it more than has them beaten on straight value.
Like other cards in the ZOTAC 30-series aftermarket products, the 3070 Ti Trinity OC has a new 11-blade fan design that increases airflow to a maximum. Not only does this mean more cooling, but it also means better performance. You can thank the extra cooling for the 1800 MHz boost clock that you’ll have access to right out of the box.
It’s also quite a large card, even for a 3070 Ti, as the heatsink is chock full of blades to help dissipate heat more effectively. It also features stop-start technology like many GPUs on the list, but you can probably expect the fans to be on more than they’re off. The card has a tendency to get a little noisy when working under a heavy load, but something has to be sacrificed when making a card this cheap.
At least one area that hasn’t been cheapened out on is build quality. There’s a nice and thick metal backplate that reinforces the card and prevents any damage during installation. It’s also been cut to allow airflow to get through the reinforcing plate, ensuring that heat isn’t going to build up thanks to the extra armor. Overall, you’re going to struggle to find a card with this sort of value.
Things to Think About
If you’re in the market for a new GPU it can be easy to forget that there are important factors that should really influence your purchasing decision. We’ve attempted to list below some of the things you need to take into consideration while shopping around for a new graphics card online.
It should be pretty obvious, but one of the key deciding factors on the cards you can choose from is how much you’re willing to spend. Sure the MSI card has top-tier performance, but it also has a top-tier price, even amongst the 3070 Ti cards we featured. If you don’t have the cash to afford those high-end options, the budget variants are just as solid and come at a reduced cost.
Be realistic about your budget. If you’re buying the card as part of a full build, think about what other areas you’re spending your money and see if you could reduce those costs to include a more powerful card. If you’re buying a GPU as part of an upgrade, consider waiting until you have enough money to afford the card you actually want, or even sell your old card early to make up the extra cash.
Cooling & Performance
When it comes to aftermarket GPUs, the two biggest areas that change are the overall performance and the cooling. When a company gets their hands on the shiniest new hardware, be it from AMD or Nvidia, the first thing they do is whack their own cooling system on there, and try to squeeze some extra performance out of the clock speed.
If you’re more into the idea of overclocking for yourself, consider focusing on the AIB with the best cooling system. If you’re happy with the specs being closer to vanilla, getting a pre-boosted card is worth doing since you get that little extra bit of speed without having to fuss with overclocking for yourself.
One of the most important factors that people often forget about is the size of your chosen GPU. Not only do you need to make sure that your card is going to fit inside your case, but you also need to make sure that you’re not covering up anything essential on your motherboard.
It’s no good buying a highly expensive new GPU only to find you can’t use the thing and have to return it, especially if you already sold or broke your old card. Measure your case space carefully and compare it with the specs given by the card manufacturer to avoid disappointment when the GPU arrives.
And There You Have It
This guide should have you more than prepared to make an informed decision on your next GPU upgrade. Whether you’re aiming for a budget AIB for the best possible price or the no-expense-spared super card from MSI, you can be sure that we’ve provided you the background information that you need.
We’ve benchmarked and tested every card featured on this list extensively. Not only did we put them through their paces in a one-off scenario, but our team has also used these parts in their own day-to-day rigs to make sure they stand up over time. You can buy from these manufacturers in confidence, knowing you’re getting a top-quality product.
If your budget is flexible or you just can’t make your mind up considering checking out our other guides. Not only have we covered the best options for other GPUs, but we also offer comprehensive build guides for a variety of performance and price levels. There’s sure to be something to suit your needs.