There hasn’t been a lot of positive reception to Nvidia’s graphics cards this generation. There’s no doubt that Nvidia’s RTX 40-series GPUs are among the best graphics cards you can buy, but with disappointing generational improvements, higher pricing, and reliance on features like DLSS 3, it’s easy to write off a new graphics card when Nvidia releases one.
But there’s one Goldilocks graphics card from Nvidia’s current generation that’s the right choice for a lot of PC gamers. It delivers all of the best parts of Nvidia’s cutting-edge generation and ignores the insane pricing and disappointing generational uplifts. And now, months after launch, prices have dropped, making it an even better value. That GPU is Nvidia’s RTX 4070.
Not a warm reception
The RTX 4070 didn’t get bad reviews when it launched. It’s the only card from Nvidia’s current generation to have earned an Editor’s Choice badge from Pro Well Tech, as you can read in my RTX 4070 review, and the sentiment from reviewers was generally positive. There were a few exceptions, such as The Verge saying it “was expecting a little more from a generational leap,” but no reviewers thought it was a bad card — much unlike GPUs like the RTX 4060 Ti.
The response from gamers was much different at the time. I searched “RTX 4070 reddit” and took a look at some of the top comments from when the card first released. Here’s a sampling:
- “It will sell well for two reasons: Nvidia’s mindshare and the fact that the value of the other RTX 40 cards is so bad that this card seems acceptable.”
- “Nvidia is set on making graphics cards significantly more expensive over time and, for that reason, you [should] avoid buying Nvidia for the time being.”
- “I hate it.”
Not such a warm reception. Contrast that to a thread that was posted last week, though, where you’ll find basically every commenter recommending the card, claiming that “it rocks,” and that “it’s a no-brainer.” What happened? Well, put simply, the RTX 4070 got cheaper.
The card originally launched for $600. Keep in mind that’s the base price, so you could expect to spend anywhere from $620 to $700 depending on what was available at retailers. Now, you’ll commonly find the RTX 4070 for $550, and if you shop open box and used cards, you’ll find them as low as $450. This price adjustment mainly came in response to AMD’s RX 7800 XT, which managed to match and sometimes beat the RTX 4070 at $500.
I don’t believe the $50 difference really factors into the RTX 4070 being a good graphics card. That’s a pricing adjustment on par with the difference between a stock and overclocked model of any GPU. But it’s a staggering example of how a slight price adjustment can completely upend the narrative around a product. The RTX 4070 went from a solid card with bad pricing to a downright deal basically overnight, and all it took was a $50 price cut.
The RTX 4070 was always a great GPU, balancing performance with price in a way that no other modern Nvidia GPU does while delivering next-gen features. It seems that now the wider PC gaming community is getting the memo. For a section of PC gamers that are willing to spend some money for a peak gaming experience, the RTX 4070 is the graphics card to buy.
The peak PC gaming experience
A friend of mine recently upgraded his PC. After the RX 7800 XT released, he was convinced it was the graphics card we was going to buy. We talked about it a few times, but one day, he spotted an RTX 4070 for a reasonable price and decided to go with it. He called me after, excited that he now had what he described as the “peak PC” for gaming. There are more powerful PCs, no doubt, but that’s an impressive reaction.
You can look at a benchmark chart and quickly see that there are plenty of GPUs that are more powerful than the RTX 4070, both from Nvidia itself and AMD — the RTX 4070 looks downright puny compared to the RTX 4090. But that doesn’t matter much when you look at the actual numbers. The RTX 4070 delivers close, and usually above, 100 frames per second (fps) at its target resolution of 1440p.
Above that, the card can still deliver playable frame rates at 4K. It’s not going to hit 60 fps in every game with all of the settings maxed out, but it will meet and exceed that mark in most games. In my test suite, it only fell short of 60 fps in one game at 4K: Cyberpunk 2077, which remains one of the most demanding PC games around.
The competition from AMD is fierce. The RX 7800 XT can beat the RTX 4070 in some titles, and on average, AMD’s card is 9% faster at 1440p and 6% faster at 4K. That changes when you bring ray tracing into the mix, though. As expected, the RTX 4070 is nearly 13% better with ray tracing at 1440p. Once you factor in Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling 3.5, the comparison isn’t even fair. In a situation that should be impossible for the RTX 4070, like Cyberpunk 2077 at 4K with the maximum ray tracing settings, DLSS 3 can help you achieve frame rates above 60 fps.
There’s some earned criticism of Nvidia increasingly selling the feature set of its GPUs over raw performance, but (short of maybe the $1,600 RTX 4090), the RTX 4070 is the only GPU in Nvidia’s current lineup that nails the balance of solid baseline performance that’s enhanced by a world-class feature set. AMD’s competing GPUs may have a slight edge in overall performance, but not enough to justify skipping out on the features Nvidia’s current GPUs offer.
For some people, AMD’s RX 7800 XT makes more sense. There’s also a group that should spend up for something like the RX 7900 XTX, and yet another that don’t need more than an RTX 4060.
But no card nails that peak PC gaming experience in 2023 quite like the RTX 4070. Its raw performance is ideal for 1440p and more then capable of 4K, and it has a set of features that make impossible gaming scenarios like path tracing in Cyberpunk 2077 a reality. It’s the card you should buy if you want the best PC gaming has to offer in 2023 without an infinite budget.