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Hardware Showdown: GTX 1070 vs. RX Vega 56 in 2020

8 Mins read

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Introduction

Although Nvidia’s Turing architecture introduced various new technologies such as ray-tracing and DLSS, according to the data from the Steam hardware survey, market’s adoption of these new graphics cards was rather mellow. Data from January 2020 shows that only 6.32% of Steam’s members own Nvidia Turing card featuring ray-tracing capabilities, while only 1.02% percent of them own AMD’s Navi-based graphics card. What is more surprising is that older cards such as GTX 1070 or RX 580 seem to be growing in popularity. In this article we will try to find out how these graphics cards perform in 2020, and why are they still so popular. Since we already covered the performance of GTX 1060 and RX 580 in our previous article, in this article we will focus on exploring the performance of Nvidia GTX 1070 and its AMD equivalent RX Vega 56.

Both GTX 1070 and Vega 56 are discontinued products in 2020. However, they can still be easily bought on various e-commerce shops such as Amazon or Ebay. In Europe, prices for second-hand GTX 1070’s range from 190€ to 250€, while used Vega 56’s can be found from 215€ to 270€. These prices prove to be very affordable and attractive, since these cards offer great performance capabilities and as such are more attractive to buyers who don’t want to spend more than 300€ on latest graphics cards. Only caveat, however, is that majority of these cards don’t have warranty anymore.

Nvidia GTX 1070 vs AMD RX Vega 56 specifications

Graphics Card NameNVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070AMD RX Vega 56
MicroarchitecturePascal (GP104)GCN 5.0 (Vega 10)
Fab Process16 nm14 nm
Transistor count (million)720012500
Cores/TMUs/ROPs1920/120/643584/224/64
Memory Size & Type8GB GDDR58GB HBM2
Base/Memory Clock (MHz)1506/80081156/1600
Memory Bus/Interface256 bit/PCIe 3.0 x162048 bit/PCIe 3.0 x16
Memory Bandwidth256.3 GB/s409.6 GB/s
Compute6.46 TFLOPs10.54 TFLOPs
TDP150 W210 W
Launch PeriodQ2 2016Q3 2017
Buy It NowCheck priceCheck price

Methodology

Since the release of GTX 1070 and Vega 56, there had been published many tests that benchmarked these two graphics cards. Some of the results of those tests went in favor of GTX 1070, while some of them in favor of Vega 56. In order to sum up the results of all of those tests, we have decided to conduct a meta-analysis of published benchmarked results. This meant sampling the results from other web-sources and analyzing them using basic descriptive and inferential statistics. Our null hypothesis was that there was no statistical difference in average performance between our analyzed graphics cards.

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After formulating research hypotheses, next step was defining inclusion and exclusion criteria by which benchmark web-sources would be selected and analyzed for purposes of this study. After careful thinking, these were the criteria that we adopted for conducting this study:

  • Benchmark results must contain data that refer to Nvidia GTX 1070 vs AMD RX Vega 56 graphics cards.
  • Benchmark results must refer to video game titles released in period from 2015 to 2020.
  • Data should describe performance at maximum settings and at 1080P or 1440P resolutions.
  • Published benchmark results must not be older than 1st January 2019.
  • Testing rigs used for benchmarking must be based on 5th generation of Intel Core i7 processors or newer, and/or AMD Ryzen 7 processors or newer, with overall PassMark Score of at least 12000 or higher, and Single Thread Rating of at least 2000 or higher.
  • Testing rigs must contain at least 16GB DDR4 RAM and must run on Windows 10 OS.

It is worth to note that we excluded all benchmarks older than 1st January 2019 since benchmarks prior to that date probably used older GPU drivers which made graphics card performance worse in some video game titles compared to performance based on newer drivers.

After defining inclusion and exclusion criteria, we have determined additional research strategies that would be implemented in our research. Here they are:

  • Sample of benchmarked video game titles should consist of titles that were published in period from early 2015 to the beginning of 2020.
  • Average calculated results should be based on at least two different benchmark sources.

Next step was to locate and identify web-sources from which benchmark results would be extracted and analyzed. After careful exploration and examination, these were the sources that we selected for data extraction:

From these eight sources, Guru3D, BabelTechReviews and PCGamer had priority in data extraction since all of these websites had a large amount of benchmark data and as such proved to be very reliable. Data from other sources had priority if it was more recent or if there was no data to be found for a particular video game title at primary sources.

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After extracting data from sources, we conducted a descriptive and inferential statistical analysis of obtained data. In the continuation you can see the results.

Peformance at Full HD (1920×1080) Resolution

GTX 1070 vs Vega 56 1080P results
Click to zoom image

As we can see from the chart, both GTX 1070 and Vega 56 prove to be extremely capable cards at rendering maximum quality graphics at 1080P resolution. Both cards easily achieve more than 60 FPS on average in almost all of the games, except in titles such as Ashes of The Singularity, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Metro: Exodus and Control. Even in newer titles such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare or Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, both cards push maximum FPS well over 70 FPS on average. Vega 56 seems to be more capable card on average, and it proves to preform much better in games utilizing DirectX 12 and Vulkan APIs such as Tom Clancy’s The Divison, Forza Horizon 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2. In particular case of Red Dead Redemption 2, it is easily seen that Vega 56 is superior card since it is capable to produce 68 FPS on average at maximum quality, while GTX 1070 barely pushes over 50 FPS. GTX 1070, however, performs much better in titles such as Grand Theft Auto V and Destiny 2.

Overall, Vega 56 seems to be a more capable card than GTX 1070. Both cards do show their age, especially in newer titles, however, they are still capable to offer an extremely satisfactory performance at 1080P. Neither card manages to pump up over 144 FPS in any game at maximum quality, except in DOOM. Lowering settings down, however, remains a viable option if you plan to play esports titles that require you to achieve such high frame rates. Finally, it is worth to note that GTX 1070 proves to be a much better option for apps and games utilizing OpenGL software, and in that aspect is a much superior device compared to Vega 56. Relative performance of GTX 1070 compared to Vega 56 for all 30 analyzed games is summed up in chart below:

GTX 1070 vs Vega 56 relative results
Click to zoom image

As you can see, Vega 56 proves to be 7,0% faster than GTX 1070 on average, and at 1080P. These results, however, aren’t so surprising since Vega 56 was at first marketed as a GTX 1080, and later GTX 1070 Ti contender. In that aspect, Vega 56 is for a league better card than GTX 1070. Keep in mind, however, that Vega 56 was plagued with driver and performance issues after its release, and its retail price skyrocketed during cryptocurrency mining craze since card offered amazing compute capabilities. Also, it is worth to note that Vega 56 has two times more compute units than GTX 1070 and draws 60 W of power more. In that sense, one would expect much better performance from Vega 56 compared to GTX 1070 which was released one year earlier. When visualizing just how much Vega 56’s performance is better (or not) than GTX 1070’s, it is worth to look at the following graph showing normal distribution curve of their benchmark results:

Vega 56 1080P results distribution
Click to zoom image

Following the results of our meta-analysis for 1080P resolution performance, we conclude the following: Vega 56 performs significantly better vs GTX 1070 at Full HD resolution.

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Performance at Quad HD (2160×1440) Resolution

GTX 1070 vs Vega 56 1440P results
Click image to zoom

When looking at 1440P benchmark results for GTX 1070 and Vega 56, we can deduce couple of things. First of all both cards are very solid performers at this resolution. In most pre-2018 titles both cards easily achieve 60 FPS on average with maximum graphics settings. CPU intensive games such as Ashes of The Singularity and Total War: Warhammer II hardly push above 50 FPS on average, while some FPS titles such as DOOM and Battlefield 1 easily go over 60 FPS. In FPS titles, Vega 56 seems to have an upper hand, however, performance in other games is on par with GTX 1070. When we take a look at 2019 titles, situation becomes rather grim. Both cards struggle to achieve enjoyable frame rate, and performance in games such as Control and Metro: Exodus is very disappointing. Lowering settings in those games will probably help a bit, however, as the time goes on, both GTX 1070 and Vega 56 seem to become less viable for 1440P gaming.

GTX 1070 vs Vega 56 1440P relative performance
Click image to zoom

As we can see from the upper chart, Vega 56 is 8,0% faster than GTX 1070 on average at 1440P resolution. This is a remarkable difference and as such shows that Vega 56 might be a better choice if you plan to play on Quad HD resolution. Various driver updates significantly improved Vega 56’s performance over time, and if you plan to combine it with FreeSync monitor, you will have a long-term solution for your gaming needs. Keep in mind, however, that Vega 56 won’t be viable for playing all games on ultra settings at this resolution, but will be good enough to play some FPS titles, or DirectX 12/Vulkan optimized games. As for the GTX 1070, lowering settings will improve performance a bit, but this card is a much better choice for 1080P gaming only.

GTX 1070 vs Vega 56 1440P results distribution
Click image to zoom

Following the results of our meta-analysis for 1440P resolution performance, we conclude the following: Vega 56 performs significantly better vs GTX 1070 at Quad HD resolution.

Conclusion

So, overall benchmark results for GTX 1070 and RX Vega 56 in 30 games, and 1080P and 1440P resolutions can be summed up in this chart:

GTX 1070 vs Vega 56 Overall Results
Click image to zoom

Both cards are great performers at 1080P resolution, even though they are almost 3 and 4 years old, respectively. Statistically speaking, Vega 56 is significantly faster card than GTX 1070. This, however, isn’t too surprising since it is a somewhat newer card. In terms of price to performance ratio, owners who bought their GTX 1070 back in 2016 profited the most. GTX 1070 is still an amazing product that keeps to be a great graphics card for 1080P gaming. It does, however, show its age, but it will still be a good card for a year, or two.

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Vega 56 shines the most in DirectX 12 and Vulkan API optimized games. It also has great compute capabilities. Unfortunately, driver support was for a long time very unoptimized, and after many months of neglect, Vega 56 owners finally got what they deserve, albeit too late. Another disappointing thing is that AMD virtually abandoned its product, so Vega 56 won’t receive any significant driver improvements since AMD is now more focused on its Navi graphics card.


NVIDIA GTX 1070

  • Great performance at 1080P
  • Performance in newer titles still good
  • Great long-term longevity (if bought in 2016)
  • Great for emulation software such as CEMU
  • 1440P performance not very good
  • DirectX 12 and Vulkan API performance subpar in newer titles

AMD RX Vega 56

  • Great amount of raw power
  • Overkill for 1080P gaming
  • Good 1440P performance
  • Works best with DirectX 12 and Vulkan APIs
  • FreeSync equipment is cheap
  • Consumes way too much power
  • Bad driver support
  • Hard to find
  • Was overpriced for far too long

All in all, if you plan to buy any of these two cards, there are a few things to consider. First of all, Vega 56 has more raw power vs GTX 1070, and performs much better, even at 1440P resolution. Major caveat is that it consumes a lot of power. Like, really a lot. A 500W power supply won’t be enough to support this piece of silicon, so if you plan to buy this card, double check whether you have enough power supply, and whether this would be a worthy investment. If you don’t, GTX 1070 might be a better option, but only in a few scenarios. If you are upgrading from a card such as GTX 960 or R9 380, GTX 1070 will be a great upgrade. It is still a good 1080P card and offers good performance in OpenGL applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Blender, and Playstation and Wii U emulators. Keep in mind, however, that performance in DirectX 12 and Vulkan games might not be satisfactory. All together, if you can’t find any of these two cards in between 170€ – 200€ range, it just might be better to buy yourself a brand new RX 5600 XT or GTX 1660 Ti.

If you already own any of these two cards, your best option is to just keep them. Next logical upgrade options would be RTX 2070 Super or RX 5700 XT. These cards are currently rather expensive, so hold on until the release of next generation consoles when both Nvidia and AMD will release their new cards, and prices of first generation Navi and Turing cards will significantly drop down. Until then, there is really no reason to upgrade, as both GTX 1070 and Vega 56 offer great upper mid-range performance.

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