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 Picks
ASUS ROG Strix Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Gaming
Our top choice among RTX 3070 cards is no contest, the ASUS ROG Strix RTX 3070 takes the crown. Not only does it feature some good-looking design choices, but it also features amazing cooling and a slight increase to the boost clock too. Is it any surprise coming from ASUS’ premium gaming brand?
One of the most interesting features of the card is the inclusion of 2 HDMI ports, which is a pretty rare find for most GPUs. That should make running a dual-monitor setup much easier if you favor HDMI monitors. You also get a 1775 MHz boost clock, although you can push it further with overclocking if that’s just not enough power for you.
The real start of this card is actually the cooling. The center fan of the 3-fan system spins in a different direction to the other two, allowing for much more efficient cooling as well as less noise. This GPU also features a heat sync with full contact onto the main graphics processing chip, meaning you get much better heat transfer and dissipation. Not to mention the extra room has allowed some tasteful RGB to be added to the side of the card, having a positive effect on the aesthetics.
If there’s one major disadvantage to the ASUS ROG Strix version of the 3070 it’s the price. There are certainly more expensive cards out there, but this version of the 3070 sits at the upper end of the card’s price bracket. If you’re trying to save your money, you may want to look elsewhere.
We’ve talked about EVGA aftermarket cards before, and for good reason. They always feature decent cooling, a nice boost clock upgrade, and of course steller build quality. This card is no exception to that rule, and only narrowly missed out on the top spot due to the overall quality of the ASUS card we eventually went for.
Probably the most impressive aspect of this GPU is the clock speed. It’s been taken from the standard 1730 MHz up to a staggering 1815 MHz, which is a nice bonus. Combined with the steller iCX3 cooling system that was also featured on the EVGA 3080 IAB, you can see why this card is such an attractive proposition.
Of course, you also get EVGA’s high-end build quality, something that can’t be taken for granted if you’re planning on installing the card yourself. It’s incredibly sturdy, and shouldn’t buckle under pressure, even if you slip up while upgrading your rig.
The final word here is on overclocking. If you don’t feel like the out-of-the-box power is enough for you, there’s plenty of headroom for squeezing even more out of the card. With the built-in cooler alone you should be able to get a fair bit extra without any more of an investment, as long as your case has decent airflow that is.
MSI’s gaming X trio line has a habit of showing up at the top of a lot of our lists recently, but this time the excessive price on display has bought it down a peg or two. Having said that, this is still an excellent card if you absolutely have to have the highest boost clock you can find, no matter what the cost is.
MSI really still knows how to build a good aftermarket graphics card, pouring all of their skill into both the cooling, the boosting, and the aesthetics of this 3070. Once again, they’ve included their FROZR 2 cooling system with TORX 4.0 fans, so you can be sure that your heat dissertation is going to be top-notch, all without getting overly loud too.
You’ll need all that great cooling as well since the card features a boosted clock of 1830MHz, even higher than the EVGA card we featured above. You can also be sure that the card won’t bend, thanks to the extra tough design, and the addition of an extra support bracket for even more graphics card security.
Of course, all that extra power, fancy cooling, and high build quality come with a cost, and you can expect to pay a fair bit for this card, even if you find it close to the retail price. Still, it might be worth it if you want one of the best, and most powerful, 3070s on the market.
ZOTAC NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Twin Edge OC
Just like our guide on the best 3080s, ZOTAC once again takes the value spot for the best 3070 aftermarket card. It’s no shock to see this card hit our ‘best of’ list, with ZOTAC raising the bar on their build quality while still managing to retain some of the best value around when it comes to buying powerful GPUs.
Considering the excellent value on display here, it’s shocking how well the cooling system on this card works. It’s even more shocking when you realize it’s only got a 2-fan setup, which is a first among the cards on this list. Of course, with only 2 fans you can also expect this card to be the shortest card on our list, which is great if you’re looking for a card to fit inside a more compact gaming rig.
The 2-fan setup uses stop-start technology, as well as ZOTAC’s own IceStorm 2.0 to provide the best, and quietest, cooling possible. You can expect great direct airflow to the PCB of your card, helping to stop things melting under extreme load, and the stop-start tech means the fans will stop running unless your card hits a predetermined temperature.
As we mentioned above, the build quality on ZOTAC’s 30-series cards is much improved over the last-gen GPUs, with an extra backplate to prevent bending or snapping of the card. While it’s still not up there with the toughness of ASUS or MSI, it’s still a card that won’t fall apart, and for a price that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. If there’s no wiggle room in your budget, then this is probably the card for you.
Things to Think About
When it comes to getting your new GPU there are lots of things to take into account. Even if you’ve been building PCs since your childhood, keeping up-to-date with the latest dos and don’ts of graphics cards can be a daunting task. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of different things you need to take into consideration when thinking about which GPU to buy.
Price is certainly one of the biggest factors when it comes to making a decision on your new GPU. If you want the best graphics card that you can find, then you’re going to need to be ready to spend a fair bit of money to get it. By the same token, if you’re budget is tight, you need to think about aiming for more budget-friendly options.
Make sure that you do your research when buying your card. With the ongoing chip shortage, you can’t rely on cards being available at their retail price anymore. You should also make sure that you’re buying from a reputable seller, or you could be scammed or ripped off.
Cooling & Performance
When it comes to aftermarket GPUs, the two biggest areas that change are the overall performance and the cooling, which go hand in hand. When a hardware company gets their hands on a new graphics card, they each have their own way of adapting and upgrading it to suit what a gamer needs.
When you’re looking into aftermarket cards, check out what the company has focused its time and effort on. For example, MSI has a habit of going for the biggest boost clocks and the best cooling, no matter the resulting size or cost of the card to the consumer. Similarly, if you want a card that has a modest boost to performance and cooling but is still cheap, modern ZOTAC GPUs are probably much more suitable.
Another big factor in choosing your card is the size. You need to be 100% sure when you’re buying a card that it’s going to fit into your rig in the first place. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than spending a lot of money on a GPU, only for it to arrive and not fit. Make sure you measure your chosen card accurately to ensure it’ll fit inside your PC. You should also take into account any slots or ports that it’ll cover-up.
Size can also affect which card you should choose. For instance, the ZOTAC card above is not only of great value but is easily the smallest card on the list. If you prize compact technology over the best performance, then your best bet would be aiming for that particular card.
And There You Have It
The information contained in this guide should have you more than prepared for choosing your next GPU. No matter what your needs or budget are, there will be a card on this list that is perfectly suited to them. You can also be confident in all of the cards that we’ve selected, as they all come from reputable sellers with decent build quality.
We’ve personally benchmarked each of the cards on this list, so you can be sure that our advice is genuine. We also stress-test each card, putting them under heavy load to make sure they can stand up to the pressure, even when used in our day-to-day machines as well. Whether it’s gaming or intense video work, we’ve made sure that these cards can handle the strain.
If your mind still isn’t made up you should consider checking out some of our other guides. We’ve covered everything from complete builds to different components from a variety of different price brackets and performance types. You can be sure that we’ll have something to suit you no matter what you need.