Nvidia next-gen GPU leak suggests RTX 4070 may be some way behind RTX 4090

RTX 3050 graphics card next to the 3080 and 3090
(Image credit: Nvidia)

Nvidia’s AD104 chip, which is expected to be the third most powerful GPU of the next-gen Lovelace (RTX 4000) series, is about to enter the testing process, according to fresh info from the grapevine.

This comes from one of the more regular contributors of leaks from the world of graphics cards, Kopite7kimi on Twitter.

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It’s a short and sweet tweet, telling us only that AD104 is about to start being tested by Nvidia, meaning the chip itself is done, but the GPU now needs to be put through its paces so the exact spec can be firmed up so it runs well (for example, how fast clock speeds can be pushed while retaining stability, among a whole lot of other considerations).

What isn’t elaborated on here is what graphics card(s) from the Lovelace range will use AD104 and its subvariants. Currently, we expect that might be the RTX 4070, but all we know for sure is that this is the third-tier Lovelace GPU behind AD102 and AD103, and as such it’ll be a mid-range chip.

While AD102 will be the engine of the flagship RTX 4090, as the top-tier GPU, it’s expected that the next card down, the RTX 4080, might employ AD103 – rather than the same GPU as the 4090, which was the case with the RTX 3090 and 3080. Logically, then, AD104 would be the RTX 4070 as mentioned.

However, Nvidia could plump for a whole different scheme of things, and maybe AD104 could end up in the RTX 4060. We just don’t know, but in the past, Kopite7kimi has claimed that AD104 is destined for the RTX 4070, and from what we’ve heard on the grapevine overall (and going by past history, too), that seems to make the most sense.

Analysis: The tangled web of rumors around Lovelace

You may recall that we heard AD102, the flagship GPU, was already in testing when Kopite7kimi tweeted about it a month ago.

This lines up with what we’ve heard in the past about Nvidia readying the RTX 4090 to be the initial GPU launched for the Lovelace range, with it possibly going up against the mid-range of AMD’s next-gen, Navi 33, maybe as soon as September. The broad theory is that AD103 and AD104 would follow next – encompassing the RTX 4080, 4070 and 4060, maybe – entering testing a month or two after AD102, and that appears to be what has happened going by Kopite7kimi’s fresh tweet.

That being the case, we can perhaps pencil the RTX 4070 in for a November launch, likely alongside the RTX 4080 – but all of this is rumor-based guesswork, and should be taken with a great deal of caution (it’s still very interesting to hear all this, though, as a general indication of where we might be in the run-up to the release Lovelace).

Regarding things playing out this way, there is admittedly something of a spanner in the works: namely Kopite7kimi’s other recent assertion on Twitter that Nvidia is planning an RTX 4000 launch for mid-July, just a month and a half away now. But that’s so close, surely this is referring to a paper launch, or initial reveal, rather than a GPU (RTX 4090 presumably) hitting the shelves. A July unveiling for a September on-sale date would fit, but as ever, we’ll just have to see.

Whatever the case, Nvidia generally employs a staggered launch, meaning one batch of graphics cards (or a single card, maybe, for Lovelace), followed by more, and this seems a pretty certain bet.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).