NVIDIA has been releasing new generations of graphics cards every two to three years and this makes the older generation cards obsolete. However, the high-end graphics cards from previous generations are still great for many people. So, we will be discussing two popular graphics cards of these days, GeForce GTX 1070 and GeForce GTX 980 Ti.
GTX 980 Ti VS GTX 1070 – Comparison:
First of all, let’s have a look at the details of the architectures of these graphics cards. The GeForce GTX 1070 belongs to the 1000-series graphics cards that are succeeded by the current Turing based RTX 2000-series graphics cards. The 1000-series graphics cards were based on the Pascal architecture and it proved to be a huge improvement over the 900-series graphics cards. The efficiency of the graphics cards was increased this much that GTX 1070 provided similar performance to the GTX 980 Ti while the powerful models of the 1000-series like the GTX 1080 and GTX 1080 Ti were lot more powerful.
On the other hand, GTX 980 Ti belongs to the 900-series that was based on the Maxwell 2.0 architecture. GTX 980 Ti was the flagship card of the generation and was almost as powerful as the NVIDIA Titan X. These graphics cards were although a big improvement over the Kepler and Maxwell 1.0 architecture, their VRAM amount is not so impressive in these times.
The technical specifications of both graphics cards can be seen in the chart below.
|SPECIFICATIONS||GeForce GTX 1070||GeForce GTX 980 Ti|
|Process Size||16 nm||28 nm|
|Base Clock||1506 MHz||1000 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1683 MHz||1076 MHz|
|Memory Clock||2002 MHz||1753 MHz|
|Memory Size||8 GB||6 GB|
|Bandwidth||256.3 GB/s||336.6 GB/s|
|Shader Processing Units||1920||2816|
|Texture Mapping Units||120||176|
|Render Output Units||64||96|
|TDP||150 Watts||250 Watts|
As you can see here, GeForce GTX 980 Ti seems to be leading the GeForce GTX 1070 in almost all fields apart from the clock rates and that is where the game changes. The 1000-series graphics cards came with a lot faster clock rates and thanks to NVIDIA GPU Boost 3.0, they ran at around 2000 MHz of real-time core clocks. Core clocks govern many hardware components. The shader processing units, render output units, and texture mapping units are directly affected by the clocks. The faster the clocks will be, the faster these components will work. As from the chart, you can see that GTX 980 Ti has a low base clock of 1000 MHz while the GTX 1070 offers more than 50 percent improvement, at around 1500 MHz of core clock. Moreover, the real-time clock difference is even more.
As for the memory, GTX 980 Ti does offer a faster memory, thanks to the much wider 384-bit memory bus, however, the VRAM amount is lower than the GTX 1070 by 2 GB. Moreover, GTX 1070 supports the improved compression technique, known as Delta Color Compression, which mitigates the difference between the memories of both graphics cards.
Speaking of efficiency, GTX 980 Ti has 28 nm lithography while the GTX 1070 has 16 nm lithography. This makes the GTX 1070 far more efficient than GTX 980 Ti, to the point, that it consumes almost a hundred Watts less than the latter.
Good Points of GTX 1070
- Better support in games
- Can provide RayTracing in games
- Lower thermals
- Has lower power requirements
- Easily available
- Aesthetically pleasant variants
- Has more VRAM than GTX 980 Ti
Good Points of GTX 980 Ti
- Faster in memory-intensive applications
- Much cheaper than GTX 1070
- Has some rare and antique variants
Important Aspects of GTX 980 Ti and GTX 1070
Now, let’s have a look at various aspects of graphics cards which will dictate the winner of this battle.
Driver support is often underestimated and it is a big mistake to do so because drivers are everything. Drivers govern the performance of the graphics card and with the company focusing more on their latest hardware, the old hardware gets behind. That is one of the basic concepts in the graphics cards and the same happens with the GTX 1070 and GTX 980 Ti.
Initially, the competition between GTX 980 Ti and GTX 1070 was very close and both graphics cards were beating each other in different games. However, as the new games got released, the performance gap between both cards became big. This can be particularly noticed with DirectX 12 titles, as the Pascal architecture was more optimized for DX12. Even in DX11 games, this phenomenon can be easily seen because NVIDIA dedicatedly optimized the drivers for Pascal architecture.
This difference in performance can be noticed even in old graphics cards such as GTX 700-series graphics cards and the mid-range 900-series graphics cards became better than high-end graphics cards from 700-series with driver improvements over time. With two or more generation differences, the effect becomes twice fold and even the low-end graphics cards like GTX 1050 Ti started performing as good as the flagship of the 700-series.
Therefore, if you want to be future proof, it would be better to invest in GTX 1070 because the more the new games are released the more the performance gap between both graphics cards will become. For example, in games like Forza Horizon 4, the performance of GTX 980 Ti was not so competitive and it performed closer to GTX 1060 than GTX 1070.
As you might have seen above, GTX 980 Ti provides 6 GB of GDDR5 memory while GTX 1070 comes with 8 GB of GDDR5 memory. This 2 GB of difference is significant in terms of gaming because there are now a lot of games that use more than 6 GB of VRAM. VRAM is basically responsible for holding all the data the graphics card is processing and texture quality is the biggest factor in deciding the VRAM usage. The latest AAA games provide very high-resolution textures that exceed the 6 GB of VRAM usage, resulting in stutters in games.
Although you can avoid stuttering by lowering the texture quality, a lot of people are not comfortable with lowering the settings, especially the textures. Since both the graphics cards are considerably pricey, it would be better to buy GTX 1070 if you want to use the highest texture resolution in games.
This thing can be particularly noticeable when you own a big-sized monitor, such as a 32-inch one or even a 27-inch one. The low-resolution textures on the big screen look awful and break the immersion of the game. On the other hand, if you have a 22-inch monitor or even a 24-inch one, you would probably not be able to tell the difference between the Ultra texture quality and the Very High texture quality, so, you can definitely go for GTX 980 Ti.
Since GeForce GTX 980 Ti offers significantly faster memory than the GTX 1070, if you want to use the graphics card in applications where the memory performance matters a lot, GTX 980 Ti might be able to outperform GTX 1070. GTX 980 Ti has a memory bandwidth of 336.6 GB/s while GTX 1070 has a memory bandwidth of 256.3 GB/s. You might be wondering how does GTX 980 Ti has faster memory despite having 2 GB lower VRAM and lower memory clock rates.
To understand that you will have to also focus on the bus width of the graphics card. The memory performance of the graphics card is directly dependent on the memory clock, memory bus width, and memory type. Since memory type of both graphics cards is the same, i.e. GDDR5, the difference lies in the memory clock rate and memory bus width.
GTX 1070 surely has a higher memory clock but the bus width of GTX 980 Ti far exceeds that of the GTX 1070, leading to over 30 percent performance difference theoretically. If not for the Delta Color Compression, GTX 1070 would perform far worse than GTX 980 Ti but the newer generation Delta Color Compression enables it to compete with GTX 980 Ti in the memory department.
Variants Of GTX 980 Ti and GTX 1070
Since GTX 1070 is a newer graphics card, the variants of GTX 1070 are somewhat better than GTX 980 Ti in terms of looks and technologies. Many of the manufacturers redesigned their variants of graphics cards, where the noticeable mentions are ASUS, GIGABYTE, and MSI. Apart from looks, some other things were also improved like fans, which resulted in lower noise and better cooling. Since GTX 1070 is already the cooler card, this resulted in much better cooling than the GTX 980 Ti.
On the other hand, since GTX 980 Ti was the flagship graphics card of the previous generation, some of its variants were super powerful and are considered kind of antique. An example of such a graphics card would be EVGA GTX 980 Ti Kingpin, which is usually a variant that is designed only for the flagship model. That is why you would have a better chance to find a graphics card with a super-strong cooling solution or impressive customizations for GTX 980 Ti than GTX 1070.
Another important thing considering the variants of the graphics cards is that GTX 1070 is a mid to high-end graphics card, which is why there exist many small-sized variants of GTX 1070 such as ZOTAC GTX 1070 mini or MSI GTX 1070 Aero which can be used in small cases. On the other hand, you won’t be able to find a GTX 980 Ti variant that you could fit in a small case. Therefore, if you own a relatively small case and are looking to upgrade your old graphics card, it would be better to buy GTX 1070, as you can easily find its mini variants.
One of the biggest differences between GTX 980 Ti and GTX 1070 is the power requirement. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti has a Thermal Design Power (TDP) of 250 Watts while GeForce GTX 1070 has a TDP of 150 Watts. This means that you require an additional 100 watts of power to run GTX 980 Ti. If you are running a power supply of 500 Watts or close to this, you should be fine running a GTX 1070, however, there is a big chance that you won’t be able to run GTX 980 Ti because the real-time power consumption of GTX 980 Ti can sometimes exceed 300 Watts and there is not enough power for other components in PC.
On the other hand, if you are running a power supply of 600 Watts or more, you should be fine running a GTX 980 Ti at full load. Generally, GTX 980 Ti variants require two 8-pin PCIe power connectors, so make sure that you have sufficient connectors available in your PSU. Meanwhile, a GTX 1070 usually requires a single 8-pin power connector although, some high-end variants do require two 8-pin power connectors as well. Overall, the power requirements of GTX 980 Ti are far higher than GTX 1070 even if variants of both graphics cards require two 8-pin power connectors.
The difference in TDP of both graphics cards results in a different amount of heat released and that is why it is important to have a close look at the temperatures of your graphics card. If you are running a PC case that is relatively small and there is not a lot of airflow in the case, then it would be better to buy GTX 1070 because it is not going to dump as much heat in the system as GTX 980 Ti while GTX 980 Ti can increase the ambient temperature inside the system by a lot after a couple of hours which might lead to low system performance, unwanted shutdowns, or crashes.
On the other hand, if you are using a full tower case or even a high-end mid-tower case, then you should not be worried about the temperatures in your case because such cases can easily withstand flagship graphics cards that have around 300 Watt TDP. However, make sure that you are using an adequate number of fans, as only a big case might not be able to work properly with GTX 980 Ti.
If you are still keen on buying GTX 980 Ti and own a small PC case, you can consider buying the blower variant because such a variant dumps the heat directly out of the system. The problem with blower variants is that they run at relatively higher temperatures and are also clocked lower than high-end open-air variants. Moreover, the life span of the graphics card is also decreased if you run it continuously on high temperatures, i.e. around 85 degrees.
However, if you are living in a cool area with an ambient room temperature of around 10 to 20 degree Celsius, you should not worry about temperatures at all because even with blower variant you should be running it at temperatures around 70 degrees which is perfectly fine and you can easily overclock such a graphics card as well to mitigate the difference between blower variants and high-end open-air variants.
Both graphics cards are powerful enough to run most of the VR applications at a stable frame rate, however, GTX 1070 is far better in raw performance when it comes to VR. The reason for this is that Virtual Reality was one of the biggest improvements in the 1000-series graphics cards and a major difference was the SMP, i.e. Simultaneous MultiProjection. The performance of GTX 1000-series in SMP supported content is almost twice, however, that is a separate topic that there is not a lot of SMP content available. Still, GTX 1070 seems a far better option when it comes to future releases and that is why you should not go for GTX 980 Ti if you want to delve in the deep world of VR gaming.
DirectX RayTracing Features
DirectX RayTracing (DXR) features were one of the most prominent features implemented in the RTX 2000-series graphics cards and those graphics cards come with dedicated RayTracing and Tensor cores. NVIDIA GTX 1600-series graphics cards, however, did not support those features just like the previous generation graphics cards. But NVIDIA released specific drivers in mid-2019 that enabled DXR features in the games with 1600-series and 1000-series graphics cards. This meant that you can enable RayTracing in the games with NVIDIA GTX 1070 or any other Pascal graphics card but these drivers did not enable these features on older generation cards like GTX 980 Ti, despite the fact that the performance of both graphics cards would be quite similar.
The reason for this is that the performance of these Pascal graphics cards in RayTracing is not nearly as good as RTX-series graphics cards and most people would not use this feature and prefer higher frame rates instead. Moreover, these drivers only enabled RayTracing and not all the exclusive features of the RTX-series graphics cards such as DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling), which is used to remove aliasing in games. This is because deep learning in real-time does not work without dedicated RT cores and any Pascal graphics card would not be able to do DLSS.
Overall, if you are dazzled by the RayTracing features of RTX-series graphics cards and want those looks in games, you should consider buying GTX 1070.
NVIDIA Compute Capability
Both the GTX 980 Ti and GTX 1070 are very popular graphics cards for developers who are working on image processing, machine learning, and other AI development stuff. A particularly interesting feature that GTX 1070 provides is that it supports NVIDIA Compute Capability 6.1 while GTX 980 Ti supports NVIDIA Compute Capability 5.2. This means that GTX 1070 will support development features that are not accessible to the GTX 980 Ti and you would have better compatibility with development tools when using a GTX 1070.
These features are particularly interesting to those who use various kinds of software technologies for artificial intelligence and machine learning. There are lots of libraries that only work with specific NVIDIA graphics cards and currently RTX 2000-series graphics cards have maximum support, with NVIDIA Compute Capability of 7.5. Since 2000-series graphics cards have dedicated Tensor cores you would have far better performance in machine learning applications, although if you cannot afford those graphics cards, GTX 1070 should be great for you.
At the release of GTX 980 Ti, it was one of the fastest gaming graphics cards but as the Pascal-series graphics cards were released, it dropped all of its charms. The GTX 1070 promised similar performance in games while being far more efficient.
However, there was this particularly interesting thing regarding GTX 980 Ti. The stock clocks of the graphics card were very low and that is why it was getting a hard time beating GTX 1070 in games. But the overclocking potential of these graphics cards was huge and with proper technique, one could overclock a GTX 980 Ti to over 1400 MHz easily and up to 1500 MHz of real-time clocks if you are lucky. This made a huge difference in performance because the real-time core clocks of GTX 980 Ti hovered around 1150-1200 MHz. That is why it is important to note here that an overclocked GTX 980 Ti performed better than GTX 1070.
Now, you would be guessing that this could be done to the GTX 1070 as well but things are not very similar when overclocking the GTX 1070. Since GTX 1070 had a high base clock of around 1500 MHz, the overclocking did not make much of a difference. The GPU Boost 3.0 is also in work here because the real-time clock rates of GTX 1070 are around 1900 MHz to 2000 MHz, which is significantly higher than the base clocks. That is why if you push GTX 1070 more than 100 or 150 MHz, the graphics card won’t be able to tolerate it and crash the drivers.
Overall, it could be said that GTX 980 Ti is a definite winner when it comes to overclocking and it is able to perform at least as good as GTX 1070 in most applications.
The biggest difference between GTX 1070 and GTX 980 Ti is their price. When GTX 980 Ti was released, it was one of the most powerful single graphics cards and had a high MSRP of $649. This graphics card was only second to GTX Titan Maxwell that was available for $999. On the other hand, when the GTX 1000-series graphics cards were released, the GTX 1070 had an MSRP of $449. The MSRP of these graphics cards is hugely different, with GTX 980 Ti being far more expensive than GTX 1070, however, the prices of GTX 980 Ti dropped after the release of the GTX 1000-series graphics cards. Still, it does not make sense in buying new GTX 980 Ti, not to mention that it is almost non-existent in any of the stores.
Meanwhile, the prices of used graphics cards have been changing for the last two years but as of now, the GTX 1070 is somewhat expensive than the GTX 980 Ti. This makes the GTX 980 Ti great for people who are looking to save a couple of bucks and want to play relatively old games.
GTX 980 Ti was a flagship card that was initially accessible to only a handful of people. On the other hand, GTX 1070 is a very popular high-end graphics card that is favored by tons of enthusiast gamers. Therefore, there is a big chance of finding a GTX 1070 than finding a GTX 980 Ti. In fact, it is almost impossible to get a new GTX 980 Ti but you should still be able to find used GTX 980 Ti graphics card.
Similar Features of GTX 980 Ti and GTX 1070
Now, after looking at all the differences, let’s have a look at the similarities between both graphics cards and see why you should not be preferring one over the other.
There is a common misconception that older generation graphics cards are not fully compatible with the latest graphical APIs like Vulkan and DirectX12. This is very misleading and you should know that both the GTX 980 Ti and GTX 1070 fully support DX12 and Vulkan. In fact, DX12 is now supported on very old graphics cards like GTX 680, etc. as well. Therefore, you should not give preference to GTX 1070 for the reason that GTX 980 Ti won’t be able to support games like GTX 1070 does. That is a separate discussion that the performance of GTX 1070 is quite better than GTX 980 Ti when it comes to the latest APIs.
PCI Express Version
Nowadays, PCIe 4.0 has been released but still, almost every graphics card supports PCIe 3.0. The same is the case with GTX 980 Ti and GTX 1070 and both graphics cards run on PCIe 3.0 x16 and are fully compatible with older PCIe versions like 2.0. If you are running a system with PCIe 2.0, it would be better to buy GTX 1070 because its memory bandwidth would probably not be bottlenecked by the system while GTX 980 Ti has a high memory bandwidth and it will easily saturate PCIe 2.0.
NVIDIA ShadowPlay is a feature that allows you to record your gameplays in an efficient manner and it supports most of NVIDIA graphics cards. Initially, it was assumed that GTX 1000-series graphics cards do not support ShadowPlay anymore but it was a baseless assumption and both the GTX 980 Ti and GTX 1070 support ShadowPlay, allowing you to record any game.
Multi GPU Support
There is often a need for multiple graphics cards, especially in the case of computing applications. Both GTX 980 Ti and GTX 1070 support multi GPU installation and you can even use them in SLI if needed, although the performance in games is not very good and often leads to micro stutters, not to mention the fact that many games do not support SLI at all.
NVIDIA G-SYNC is a mind-blowing technology that prevents tearing in games. Both the graphics card and monitor must support G-SYNC in order for its functionality. Fortunately, GTX 980 Ti does support G-SYNC and so does the GTX 1070, so you can buy any of these graphics cards in order to enable G-SYNC.
I/O ports are very important if you are interested in a multi-monitor setup. Thankfully, both the graphics cards usually come with 1 x DVI-D port, 1 x HDMI port, and 3 x DP ports. This the standard configuration of both the GTX 1070 and 980 Ti, however, some variants might provide 2 x HDMI ports, and 2 x DP ports.
In this article, we presented various factors of both the GTX 1070 and GTX 980 Ti and explained the reasons for why you should be buying one or the other. Overall, the practical applications of GTX 1070 are higher than GTX 980 Ti, with better gaming performance, efficient operation, low thermals, and elegant aesthetics. On the other hand, GTX 980 Ti proved to be faster in memory-intensive applications, is cheaper than GTX 1070, has far better-overclocking support, and yet supports every AAA game released till now.
So, if you have enough budget for GTX 1070, you should consider buying it because it is more future proof than GTX 980 Ti and is easily available while GTX 980 Ti provides somewhat better value and is great for people who are low on budget.
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