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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

PNY GeForce RTX 4070 12GB XLR8 Review

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The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 is the first true midrange graphics card of this generation, but not every graphics card with the GPU is as good as Nvidia’s Founders Edition. The PNY GeForce RTX 4070 12GB XLR8 unfortunately falls victim to the same trappings as a lot of aftermarket cards do: a lackluster cooler that adds extra length to the GPU without improving performance or temperatures.

PNY GeForce RTX 4070 XLR8 – Photos

What’s worse is that this isn’t even one of the RTX 4070 models you can get for the $599 base price Nvidia launched with. Instead, you’re going to have to pay an extra $80 for the privilege of using this graphics card. And honestly, it’s just not worth that price tag.

A High Asking Price

The PNY GeForce RTX 4070 12GB XLR8 will set you back $679, a good $80 more than the RTX 4070 launched at. There are other versions of the RTX 4070 that are significantly more affordable, like the Asus Dual GeForce RTX 4070, which costs the same $599 as the Founders Edition.

For a third-party graphics card that doesn’t really bring anything to the table other than worse cooling and some RGB lighting, $679 is simply too much to ask for. This is the graphics card you get when every other model is sold out, but fortunately, we’re not in the massive GPU shortage we all experienced during Covid anymore.

PNY GeForce RTX 4070 12GB XLR8 – Design

One of the major benefits of the Ada Lovelace graphics architecture is the ability for GPU manufacturers to fit them on much smaller graphics cards. Just look at the Founders Edition: The graphics card is just 9.5 inches long and has incredible cooling and performance.

While there aren’t many GPU manufacturers that can match the beauty of Nvidia’s Founders Edition cards, the PNY GeForce RTX 4070 XLR8 stretches out the RTX 4070, making it a 12-inch long dual-slot graphics card. This does mean PNY is able to fit three fans into the design, which along with a slot in the backplate that allows air to pass through the heatsink and out the back of the card, doesn’t exactly result in better cooling.

What’s worse is that you can clearly see that the PCB – the printed circuit board that houses the GPU and all the circuitry that makes the RTX 4070 – only takes up half of the graphics card. That means there’s no real reason the card has to be this long, and if PNY instead opted for a thicker heatsink, this graphics card would be able to fit easily into a dual-fan design.

One design win for this PNY RTX 4070, though, is the 8-pin power connector. Rather than the 16-pin 12VHPWR connector that Nvidia’s 40-series cards are infamous for, the PNY RTX 4070 XLR8 is powered by a single 8-pin power connector, no adapter required.

Controversy aside, this allows for a much cleaner PC build, as Nvidia’s little adapters have added unsightly cable mess to PC building since the RTX 3080 launched back in 2020. It also makes us wonder: if PNY was able to use the smaller power connector with the smaller PCB with this RTX 4070, why are more and more third-party graphics card manufacturers requiring the 12VHPWR connector these days?

This PNY graphics card does also have plenty of RGB lighting, with zones covering the fan shroud. The default lighting mode, however, kind of looked like a strobe light going off in my PC, though, so it’s something you’re probably going to want to tinker with to find the right lighting profile or just turn off entirely.

PNY GeForce RTX 4070 12GB XLR8 – Cooling and power consumption

With a triple-fan cooler and an extra three inches for cooling, you’d think the PNY GeForce RTX 4070 XLR8 would have out-of-this-world cooling. Well, not so much. After running the graphics card through my entire benchmarking suite, the PNY RTX 4080 XLR8 peaked at 72°C, which is the same temperature that the Founders Edition reached when I tested the original card.

That sounds fine, but when you consider this is both more expensive and also has a larger cooler with more fans, the cooling should be better rather than identical. What really drives the nail in this coffin is that out of the box, the PNY RTX 4070 XLR8 actually consumes less power than the Founders Edition. This is reflected in the performance, which I’ll dive into in a moment, but that small loss in peak GPU power means you’re getting less performance, too.

So, you’re stuck with a larger cooler that isn’t as effective, with a higher price, and a graphics card that will fit in fewer systems than pretty much any other version I’ve seen on the market.

PNY GeForce RTX 4070 12GB XLR8 – Performance

When you’re paying an extra $80 for a graphics card, you’d think you’re getting at least a little bit more performance, rather than less. But, at stock settings, the RTX 4070 XLR8 is between 3-8% slower than the Founders Edition, depending on the test.

If you’re looking for a full breakdown of what to expect when you get an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070, check out our main review. Here I’ll primarily be looking at how this PNY graphics card compares with the Nvidia-made original.

This is especially apparent in the most demanding games like Cyberpunk 2077, where the PNY card gets 49 fps at 4K to the Founders Edition’s 53 fps. That seems like a minor difference, and it is, but when you’re deciding which version of the RTX 4070 to buy, it matters quite a bit.

This huge power difference is also apparent in Far Cry 6, where at 4K the PNY RTX 4070 gets 117 fps to the Nvidia RTX 4070’s 121.

Likewise, in the synthetic 3DMark tests, the PNY RTX 4070 XLR8 struggles. It’s 3.4% slower than the reference RTX 4070 in the new Speed Way test. And, in Port Royal, which tests ray tracing performance, the PNY card is similarly around 3% slower.

These aren’t night-and-day differences, but it’s enough to make the PNY RTX 4070 a slower version of the GPU across the board. If you’re just after the most performance RTX 4070 for the money, this PNY version should be at the end of your list.

Verdict

The PNY GeForce RTX 4070 12GB XLR8 costs $679, which is a substantial increase over the base price of the RTX 4070. But even with that price increase, you’re getting reduced performance, along with a larger graphics card that’s going to be harder to install in smaller PC cases. It is one of the few RTX 4000 cards out there that isn’t using Nvidia’s strange new power adapter, but that is in no way worth stooping to grab this card over the other, better options out there.

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