Nvidia RTX 4070 vs RTX 3070: Which midrange graphics card is right for you?

The Nvidia RTX 4070 and 3070 on a split-color background in blue and yellow.
(Image credit: Nvidia)
Where to buy RTX 4070

Several RTX 4070 graphics cards against a green background with a TechRadar Don't Miss badge

(Image credit: Future)

The RTX 4070 is now on sale, and we're hunting down stock in the US and UK to help you find the card you're looking for. Stay up to date with our Where to buy RTX 4070 live tracker so you don't miss a stock drop in your region.

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 is here - finally, a true midrange GPU from Nvidia's mighty new RTX 4000 lineup! We've waited long enough, but how does it compare to its predecessor?

At $599, the RTX 4070 is far more accessible than the other cards currently available in Nvidia's next-gen selection, but it's still not cheap; that means it's gonna have to work hard to justify its spot on our best graphics card list.

Naturally, it dumpsters the card it's replacing - the previous-gen GeForce RTX 3070 - in every conceivable area, with the more sensible price point undoubtedly making it a very attractive choice for PC gamers everywhere.

But it's a hundred bucks pricier at retail than its progenitor, and the RTX 3070 will likely decline in price the longer its replacement is available, so do you really need to spring for the next-gen card? 

We're going to break down all the details, and hopefully you can use this article to figure out what the best Nvidia graphics card for you is - and the RTX 4070 has its work cut out for it. We called the RTX 3070 "one of the best graphics cards of all time" back when we reviewed it in 2021, so this could be one hell of a matchup.

Nvidia RTX 4070 vs RTX 3070: Price

The Nvidia RTX 4070 and RTX 3070 pictured side-by-side on a pink worksurface.

(Image credit: Future)

Generational price increases never make us happy, so you can probably guess which card is going to win this round. At $599 / £599 / around AU$900, the RTX 4070's MSRP sits a hundred bucks (or pounds, if you're on His Majesty's GPU Service) above the retail price of the RTX 3070.

In fact, bad news for Brits: the 4070 is proportionally more expensive in the UK. The RTX 3070 originally retailed for $499 / £469 / AU$809 - no such currency adjustments abound this time.

Now, the 3070 was actually very hard to find for that retail price for quite a while, thanks to the chaos caused by the global chip shortage and a seemingly endless slew of scalpers hoovering up GPUs for crypto mining. In an amusing twist of fate, though, the crypto market crash has seen graphics card pricing stabilize somewhat - you can currently pick up a 3070 for $499.99 on Newegg

Neither of these GPUs will be going on our best cheap graphics card list, sure, but the 3070 is obviously the cheaper option for anyone looking to build or upgrade on a (relative) budget.

We'll dig more into the performance further down, but here's the gist: the RTX 4070 does perform well enough to justify its 20% price rise. The gaming performance disparity increases at higher resolutions, so consider what display you'll be using; if you're using one of the best gaming monitors running at 1080p with a high refresh, the 3070 is going to be the better value. Above that, you do get more bang for your buck with the 4070.

However, chances are the 4070 is gonna be selling significantly above that $599 MSRP in the immediate aftermath of the launch, especially for third-party models of the card - while the 3070 is liable to plunge in value without legions of crypto-bros trying to grab them. So right now, we've got to give the win to the older card; if only to discourage Nvidia from similar generational price hikes in the future!

  • Winner: Nvidia RTX 3070

Nvidia RTX 4070 vs RTX 3070: Design

An Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 graphics card seated inside its retail packaging

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

It's important to note that both the RTX 4070 and 3070 have plenty of variant models available from Nvidia's third-party manufacturing partners, and everyone has different tastes.

Some of you will prefer the classic Founders Edition version, while others might want to spring for an RGB-laden card from MSI, Asus, or one of the other board partners. Ultimately, there won't be a huge amount of difference, so we'll compare Nvidia's FE models here.

Unlike the RTX 3070 FE, which sported two exposed open-face fans on its front side, the RTX 4070 FE shares the same design as the more expensive GPUs in the RTX 4000 lineup - that means a closed-panel layout on one side of the card, concealing one of the two fans behind it. This presumably provides slightly superior airflow, though we don't have the data to properly back up that claim right now.

Notably, the RTX 4070 FE is a lot smaller than the other Lovelace cards Nvidia has released so far, using the same two GPU slots in your PC case as the RTX 3070 FE does. That's great news, since some of us were getting sick of overly chunky GPUs.

Some less welcome news is the presence of Nvidia's highly contentious 12VHPWR 16-pin power connector, which requires a specialized adaptor to be used with older ATX power supplies and was notably at the center of 'cablegate', the crisis that saw some of Nvidia's flagship RTX 4090 cards overheating and damaging people's systems.

Meanwhile, the RTX 3070 FE uses the older but more established 8-pin connection standard for power supply, which is still being used by AMD and may also be found in some third-party models of the 4070 - which rather begs the question of why Nvidia felt the need to include it here. Another win for the 3070, then.

  • Winner: Nvidia RTX 3070

Nvidia RTX 4070 vs RTX 3070: Performance

The Nvidia RTX 4070 and RTX 3070 pictured side-by-side on a pink worksurface.

(Image credit: Future)
My test bench specs

Here is the systems I used to test the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 and RTX 3070:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D
CPU Cooler: Cougar Poseidon GT 360 AIO Cooler
DDR5 RAM: 32GB Corsair Dominator Platinum @ 5,200MHz & 32GB G.Skill Trident Z5 Neo @ 5,200MHz
Motherboard: ASRock X670E Taichi
SSD: Samsung 980 Pro SSD @ 1TB
Power Supply: Corsair AX1000 80-Plus Titanium (1000W) Case: Praxis Wetbench

Unsurprisingly, the RTX 4070 roundly thrashes its predecessor when it comes to raw performance. Both GPUs are 1440p graphics cards, and while there's also the option to use Nvidia's DLSS upscaling tech to play games at 4K, that's the main resolution we'll be comparing these two cards at for gaming.

Looking at synthetic and creative tests first though, the RTX 4070 beats the 3070 comfortably in every area except the Handbrake video transcoding test, where the gains were very minimal since both GPUs use the same video codec. Photoshop performance (as tested by the PugetBench benchmark) was also similar, with the 4070 retaining a smaller edge.

Elsewhere, 4K rendering in Lumion 12.5 was massively faster on the 4070 - unsurprising since the 4070 is a lot more 4K-capable than the 3070 - while performance in both the CUDA and RTX tests of the V-Ray GPU rendering benchmark was hugely superior to the older card.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
HandBrake (4K to 1080p, FPS)1701671.80%
Lumion 12.5 (4K render, 4-star, FPH)26499166.67%
V-Ray GPU (CUDA)1,8711,42331.48%
V-Ray GPU (RTX)2,6291,81944.53%
PugetBench Photoshop1,5171,4862.09%
Row 5 - Cell 0 Row 5 - Cell 1 Row 5 - Cell 2 Row 5 - Cell 3
Average Creative Performance1,5871,25126.86%

Looking at synthetic graphical tests, the PassMark 3D synthetic test saw the 4070 perform about a 12% better on average across all resolutions than the older card. Results elsewhere were more pronounced; the most significant differential we saw was in ray-traced workloads, as demonstrated by the 3DMark Port Royal RTX benchmark.

This was unsurprising; Nvidia is now onto its third generation of ray-tracing technology, so it's not earth-shattering news to see that's the area where the RTX 4070 most reliably defeats its predecessor.

Average performance across all resolutions in our synthetic tests was just above 20% better in the 4070 - lining up with the price increase almost exactly, but not the staggering 50%+ increase some had been hoping for.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
PassMark 3D34,91331,06312.39%
3DMark Firestrike44,28834,69627.65%
3DMark Firestrike Ultra10,0378,60516.64%
3DMark Time Spy17,77813,49631.73%
3DMark Port Royal11,1548,26934.89%
Row 5 - Cell 0 Row 5 - Cell 1 Row 5 - Cell 2 Row 5 - Cell 3
Average Synthetic Performance36,68730,33920.92%

Of course, gaming is the real meat here, since the RTX 4070 is the card PC gamers are going to want to snap up - and the RTX 3070 is one of the most popular gaming GPUs right now according to the Steam Hardware Survey - occupying the number four spot at the time of writing and climbing fast.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Gaming (FPS, 1440p, Max graphics settings, No DLSS)
Total War: Warhammer III917226.39%
Cyberpunk 2077 (No RT)48449.09%
Cyberpunk 2077 (Psycho RT)352540.00%
Tiny Tina's Wonderlands1077738.96%
Returnal (No RT)1017829.49%
Returnal (RT On)765538.18%
Row 6 - Cell 0 Row 6 - Cell 1 Row 6 - Cell 2 Row 6 - Cell 3
Average performance (1440p)765928.81%

Once again, we see here that ray-traced workloads are where the RTX 4070 shines, outperforming the 3070 far more significantly in games with RTX on. Without ray-tracing, Cyberpunk 2077's performance only varied by nine percent between the two cards; turning on the heavily demanding Psycho RTX preset saw that differential leap all the way up to forty percent.

The results above are all for playing at 1440p, since that's the most reasonable comparison point; as you can see in our Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 review, the RTX 4070 does actually excel a lot more at 4K than the 3070, even without DLSS.

And since it's one of Nvidia's next-gen GPUs, it can take advantage of full frame generation with DLSS 3, potentially providing even higher framerates at higher resolutions. If you're looking to play at 4K, this is a no-brainer. Below that, the performance gulf gets smaller, and the 3070 remains a perfectly valid choice.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Final Performance Averages
Synthetic Benchmarks36,68730,33920.92%
Creative Benchmarks1,5871,25126.86%
Gaming Benchmarks (all resolutions)977529.34%

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Final Performance Average13,39811,01521.63%
Final Points Per MSRP Dollar22.3722.071.36%
  • Winner: Nvidia RTX 4070

Which one should you buy?

The Nvidia RTX 4070 and RTX 3070 pictured side-by-side on a pink worksurface.

(Image credit: Future)

So, it looks like the RTX 4070 actually loses this time fight. That price-to-performance stat up above is particularly damning - barely 1% more bang for your buck than the last time around, Nvidia? And that's using dollars; pricing in other regions actually sees the 3070 offer better value for money.

But honestly? We still feel perfectly happy recommending the RTX 3070; we stand by what we said about it back in 2021. It really is one of the best GPUs ever made, and if you're able to get one below MSRP in the coming months, it'll be a very sound investment.

That doesn't mean that the 4070 is bad, though - quite the opposite. It actually offers the most performance per dollar of any of Nvidia's current RTX 4000 lineup, by a pretty significant margin; its big brother the RTX 4070 Ti is close, but the more expensive next-gen GPUs don't even touch it when it comes to value for money. 

AMD isn't even in the conversation here either; we've yet to see more affordable desktop cards from Team Red's Radeon RX 7000 series. So if you want a sensibly-priced graphics card that is fully future-proofed, we'd argue that the RTX 4070 is the one to pick. While Nvidia has said some newer features (like DLSS 3) will be available on previous-gen GPUs, they're bound to perform better on newer hardware.

Oh, and again, if you've got a 4K monitor, buy the 4070. The 3070 is great, but it's simply not a true 4K card even with DLSS. That's part of why you're probably going to see the 4070 creeping up the ranks of our best graphics card list in the near future!

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.