We continue our acquaintance with the new NVIDIA video cards. Next in line is the third model of the new generation – the GeForce RTX 2070. Among the solutions based on the Turing architecture, this is the most affordable offer so far. Therefore, the GeForce RTX 2070 is of particular interest. In this review, we will get acquainted with a simple version of the GeForce RTX 2070, compare its performance with older NVIDIA graphics cards and AMD Radeon RX Vega 64.
Before moving on to the review of the MSI graphics accelerator, let’s briefly recall the main characteristics of the GeForce RTX 2070. This card is based on the TU106 processor with 2304 CUDA stream processors, 144 texture units, 288 tensor cores and 36 RT cores. There is a full 256-bit memory bus and GDDR6 modules with an effective frequency of 14000 MHz. The core frequencies are declared at 1410 MHz and 1620 MHz (base value and Boost Clock). Founders Edition versions operate at a frequency formula of 1410/1710 MHz. Learn more about the features of the entire line of new video cards in the Turing Architecture Review.
MSI GeForce RTX 2070 Armor 8G
Our introduction to the GeForce RTX 2070 series starts with a simple graphics card that runs at minimum frequencies of 1410/1620 MHz without factory overclocking. And within the MSI lineup, this is one of the most affordable versions. Cheaper only GeForce RTX 2070 Aero with turbine-type cooling.
The adapter comes in a small box.
Nowadays, video cards are almost not equipped with accessories. Therefore, it is pleasant to note that in addition to the traditional software disk and instructions, inside the box there is a set of two cardboard cup coasters and even a small funny comic.
Before us is a large video card with a length of 31 cm and a width of more than 15 cm. It is made in black with small white inserts on the case.
The thickness is about two and a half slots. It seems that with the launch of GeForce RTX, all manufacturers are switching to overall cooling, which takes up more than two slots.
The reverse side is covered with a metal plate with a stylized image of a dragon on the surface.
On the side of the case there is a small window with a logo, which is provided for RGB-backlit. In the corner of the video card there are two power connectors – six and eight pins.
MSI has a standard set of connectors on the rear panel: three DisplayPort, one HDMI and one VirtualLink (USB Type-C).
Upon external examination, one can note a clear similarity between Armor and Gaming solutions of the previous generation. But if you look under the casing, you can see certain differences. There is no large plate at the base. Implemented direct contact of heat pipes with the GPU. Also, the radiator consists of two sections of plates. The side section is raised above the board to make room for surface elements.
Five tubes of standard diameter 6 mm are used. The print shows that three tubes completely cover the chip, and the side tubes only partially contact the surface. You can also note the inhomogeneous thickness of the grooves that are formed at the junction of the tubes. One of these channels is clearly thicker than the others. This is offset by a layer of thermal paste.
All this design at the same time removes heat from memory chips and some power elements. For this, thick blue thermal pads are used. They should not be confused with a blue viscous substance, which is used as a thermal interface for individual elements in older NVIDIA Founders Edition video cards. Memory pads are applied directly to the heat pipes on both sides of the chip (some of them are removed in the photo). It turns out that the GPU and GDDR6 modules mutually influence the overall temperature regime.
The shroud with fans is screwed onto two thin strips from the outside of the radiator.
Fans with a diameter of approx. 100 mm (impeller diameter approx. 95 mm). Similar fans are used in the top-end Gaming series. Their special shape of the blades creates a powerful diffused airflow, better blowing through the radiator.
The board is covered by a metal plate, combined with a stiffener. This item is the heatsink of the VRM unit. The inductors and capacitors in the core power supply unit are covered with thermal pads for contact with the main heatsink. But since the gaskets rest against the ribs of the plates, such contact is ineffective.
The plate that covers the back of the board is also involved in cooling. In the processor area and under the memory modules there are thick thermal pads for contact with the PCB surface.
Based on the results of the inspection, we can state some simplifications in the design of Armor regarding Gaming video cards. And the overall workmanship is somewhat lower, which is to be expected, since we are talking about a more budget series.
MSI’s large PCB is reminiscent of older GeForce models.
The GPU is powered by six phases.
The full marking of the processor is TU106-400-A1.
Soldered eight Micron 8OA77 D9WCW memory chips with a total capacity of eight gigabytes.
MSI GeForce RTX 2070 Armor 8G runs at the lowest frequencies for the series. This is a base value of 1410 MHz and an average Boost Clock of 1620 MHz, the effective memory frequency is 14000 MHz.
GPU frequencies depend on load and power limits. Traditionally, we use the Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition looped benchmark as a heavy gaming test. In 4K resolution, most of the time, the frequencies were below 1700 MHz, up to drawdowns of 1660 MHz.
Testing took place on an open stand at a room temperature of about 20 °C. Under such conditions, the GPU heated up to 68–69 °C. The fans did not reach 1500 rpm. These are good indicators. It can be assumed that in more severe operating conditions, the standard operating temperature will be at or above 70°C.
In a number of games, the core frequencies were higher. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 2560×1440 resolution, the operating frequency range was at the level of 1700-1770 MHz. Peak Boost performance in rare moments reached 1845-1860 MHz.
The power limit can only be raised by 14%, and this is not enough for overclocking. Therefore, when accelerating the video card, you did not get Boost stabilization, but you will see the usual frequency curve, but with higher values. Recall also that the built-in Scanner in the EVGA Precision X1 utility helps determine the overclocking of new video cards. In this case, it showed +160 MHz for the core, but we settled on a higher value. For overclocking, the base frequency was set to 1590 MHz with an average Boost Clock of 1800 MHz. The memory was overclocked to a net effective value of 16.2 GHz.
In the heavy test of Final Fantasy XV at maximum resolution, the operating frequency range was 1860-1920 MHz. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 1440p it’s somewhere around 1920-1960 MHz. Peak values up to 2070 MHz.
To stabilize during overclocking, the fan speed rose to 66% (1700 rpm), there was a slight hum. The increase in GPU frequencies is not too significant, but it immediately provokes an increase in heating even with the acceleration of the blowing fans. And although the results are very comfortable, in harsh operating conditions, heating can be higher. It should also be noted that there were failures in a couple of tests at 4K resolution. The video card was clearly working at its limit, and reducing the base frequency by 10-20 MHz (to the level predicted by the built-in stability test) would be the best option for practical use in overclocking.