Forget the RTX 4090 - the RTX 4070 is the graphics card I want

An imagined RTX 4090 against a black background
(Image credit: Nvidia/Future)

We’re now tantalizingly close to Nvidia’s big reveal presentation at GTC on September 20, where official details on Team Green’s powerful new RTX 4000 GPUs will finally be revealed, but I have to say: my excitement for the event has been tempered significantly by recent news.

That’s right, it looks like we won’t be getting the RTX 4070 with the first batch of Nvidia’s new GPUs; instead, current rumors suggest that we’ll see the flagship RTX 4090, along with two different models of the RTX 4080; one with 12GB of VRAM, and a fully-tooled version with 16GB.

Hopes for an affordable RTX 4060 reveal weren’t exactly high, but I admit that I was personally looking forward to seeing the RTX 4070; I’ve long maintained that the xx70 GeForce GPUs have always been the best option for the discerning (and budget-conscious) PC gamer.

These cards strike the perfect balance between price and performance; I used a trusty GTX 1070 for years, eventually upgrading to the ray-traced generation with an RTX 2070 that lasted me for almost as long. While I don’t have an RTX 3070 in my current rig, I’m always pleased to see it on the spec sheet for a laptop or desktop PC I’m reviewing. As correctly noted by our lovely former computing editor Jackie, the 3070 is one of the best GPUs ever released.

Gigabyte RTX 3070 graphics card

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

Performance for every gamer

So no, I don’t really care about the RTX 4090 or the two flavors of its little brother, the 4080. Let me guess, they’re going to provide unbelievable gaming performance, perhaps finally breaking the glorious 8K 60fps gaming barrier, and they’re also going to cost a ridiculous amount of money and spew out waste heat like nobody’s business? Pass.

The simple fact is that while high-end GPUs might sell out fast, that’s more due to stock shortages than huge amounts of demand. The average gamer doesn’t want an xx90-series card; hell, with the current cost-of-living crisis, the average gamer probably can’t afford one! I know I can’t.

In fact, the July 2021 Steam Hardware Survey showed - much to my vindication - that the best-selling RTX 3000 GPU was the 3070 by far, with it accounting for more than quadruple the sales of the far more expensive RTX 3090. The flagship card was actually the worst-selling of the entire 3000-series lineup; presumably because most people don’t have $1,500 or more to spend on a graphics card.

four rtx 4090 gpus lined up in a row

(Image credit: Wccftech)

Upgrades, people, upgrades

There’s no way to truly quantify the actual best graphics card, since every PC gamer has different needs and a different budget. But for my money, the RTX 3070 might be the closest to perfection any manufacturer has reached, and the RTX 4070 - whenever it does launch - could surpass it.

The RTX 4000 series launch is ripe with potential for anyone in need of an upgrade, too. Plenty of gamers are still rocking 20- or 10-series GeForce cards; according to the August 2022 Steam Hardware Survey, only three of the top ten most-used GPUs were 3000-series cards (the RTX 3070, and the desktop and laptop variants of the RTX 3060).

The other seven were all 10-, 16- and 20-series cards, which were without exception the budget-friendly xx50 and xx60 models. The most-used GPU on Steam is the humble GTX 1060, still chugging along with 1080p goodness even in 2022. The stats don’t lie; GPUs that won’t break the bank are simply more attainable.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB

(Image credit: TechRadar)

If you’ve already got an RTX 3000 card, you don’t really need to upgrade to the 4000 series (although if you’ve got the cash, don’t let me tell you what to do). If you’ve got an older GPU, though, this could be the time to upgrade; RTX 3000 cards are getting cheaper and cheaper, and the graphics card deals will only improve once the new generation is on the market.

I’ll take a moment here to plug the RTX 3070 again - seriously, go get one. But if you’ve got your eye on Nvidia’s next-gen GPUs, I humbly request that you hold off on buying a 4080 or 4090; the 4070 is likely to fulfill all your 4K gaming needs for a much more reasonable price, and should serve as a powerful centerpiece of your gaming rig for years to come.

Of course, the rumors might be wrong - come September 20, we might see an RTX 4070 - or, heaven forbid, a 4060 - joining the Lovelace launch roster. If you’re reading this after the event, you can come and celebrate/commiserate with me on Twitter. Please Nvidia, if you’re reading this: give the people what they want. Give me an RTX 4070. Pretty please. 

Christian Guyton
Editor, Computing

Christian is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing Editor. He came to us from Maximum PC magazine, where he fell in love with computer hardware and building PCs. He was a regular fixture amongst our freelance review team before making the jump to TechRadar, and can usually be found drooling over the latest high-end graphics card or gaming laptop before looking at his bank account balance and crying.

Christian is a keen campaigner for LGBTQ+ rights and the owner of a charming rescue dog named Lucy, having adopted her after he beat cancer in 2021. She keeps him fit and healthy through a combination of face-licking and long walks, and only occasionally barks at him to demand treats when he’s trying to work from home.