The rumors are true: nine months after the launch of the RTX 2070 and six months after the RTX 2060 arrived, both of these Nvidia graphics cards are getting retail upgrades. Behold: the RTX 2060 Super and RTX 2070 Super, coming to stores on July 9 for the same price as their previous numbered versions ($399 and $499 MSRP, respectively).
These will be followed on July 23 by the $699 RTX 2080 Super. Nvidia will continue selling the RTX 2080 Ti ($999) and RTX 2060 (marked down to $349), while the standard 2070 and 2080 graphics cards are already being phased out by Nvidia. (If you’re wondering, AMD has a big launch during this calendar period, as well: the Radeon RX 5700 series, coming July 7.)
We’ll have to wait to see what to expect from the 2080 Super, whose review hardware hasn’t yet landed in outlets’ hands. In the meantime, a last-minute shipment gave us a chance to put the RTX 2070 Super through a few tests ahead of today’s announcement. That helped us confirm some good news: Nvidia finally got an RTX card to the performance point worthy of a $500 investment (and, honestly, the card now runs neck and neck with the original RTX 2080).
More power, not necessarily more efficient
For this new Super line, Nvidia went back to the original RTX cards and packed them with more computing cores (“CUDA cores,” in Nvidia’s parlance), more texture units, more streaming multiprocessors (SMs), and higher base and “boost” clock speeds. In the case of the 2060 Super, its VRAM count has jumped to 8GB, which has caught up to its siblings’ 256-bit memory interface while jumping to 448GHz memory bandwidth. The Super version of the 2080 gets a slight memory bandwidth uptick; the 2070 Super receives no memory-related boosts.
The biggest catch about the Super line is that this is in no way indicative of a new or more efficient process. While Nvidia is proud of the Turing line’s “performance per watt” measure, you’ll still need more wattage for each Super card than its non-Super version. It’s not a ridiculous amount, but if you’re already on the edge with your PSU of choice, be warned. (There’s one exception: the RTX 2080 Super advertises identical power consumption as its non-Super variant. We’re curious to see that in action.)
|RTX 2080 Ti||RTX 2080 Super||RTX 2080||RTX 2070 Super||RTX 2070||RTX 2060 Super||RTX 2060||GTX 1080 Ti|
|Memory Bus Width||352-bit||256-bit||256-bit||256-bit||256-bit||256-bit||192-bit||352-bit|
|Memory Size||11GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6||6GB GDDR6||11GB GDDR5X|
A look at the above table is pretty cut and dry: more power across the RTX board. That’s everything we wanted from the pricey RTX line in the first place, especially while we were left waiting for games to actually unleash their RTX-exclusive bits. To date, the number of games that employ such tricks via proprietary Nvidia tech (global illumination, ray tracing, deep-learning super-sampling) can be counted on your fingers.
What’s more, the only RTX-compatible game on the market that I’d currently argue is a no-brainer, heck-yes upgrade is the newly modded version of 1998’s Quake II. Thus, I wouldn’t have blamed you for waiting for a better price opportunity to dive into the RTX line (according to Nvidia’s public-facing statements, you were far from alone). The Super line might be the perfect opportunity to do so.
Without a comprehensive RTX testing suite at my disposal, I’m limited to some admittedly slim test results (also owing to a tight turnaround between cards arriving in-house and this embargo). But my early tests are telling enough. I put the RTX 2070 Super “Founder’s Edition” up against my daily driver, an RTX 2080 Founder’s Edition that I reviewed 10 months ago.
And I was shocked to discover something that Nvidia didn’t mention in a nearly hour-long briefing about the cards: that the RTX 2070 Super is basically right there with the RTX 2080. Not identical, mind you, but the results are surprisingly tight for a $200 price differential.
The above benchmarks are standard issue for game testing at Ars, and they all see most in-game settings jacked up to near-max values at 4K resolution to guarantee as much of a GPU-bound testing environment as possible. Grand Theft Auto V‘s longest benchmark scene has a three-frame differential in both standard and overclocked versions. The RTX 2080 wins the Hitman 1 showdown in all formats by roughly 7%, while Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a dead heat until both cards get an overclock.
Incredibly, by running EVGA’s X1 Precision overclocking app (which plays nicely with Nvidia cards), I managed to get the RTX 2070 Super to beat its RTX 2080 sibling in at least one game: Quake II RTX, a game whose performance appears to be largely RTX-bound. That resulted in a roughly 5% performance lead for the 2070 Super with the game’s RTX-exclusive global illumination perk turned on, both in “medium” and “high” RTX settings. But be warned: that is not based on a rigid, perfectly controlled benchmark test, so don’t take it to mean the 2070 Super has a clear global-illumination lead on the RTX 2080.
$499 is still a pretty penny to splurge on a graphics card, of course, let alone one whose selling point revolves around a few proprietary standards. But this looks like quite the 2019 GPU. It compares favorably to the existing RTX 2080, which means it does marvelous things in 1440p and even 4K resolutions, while delivering RTX perks that should get PC players closer to truly fluid RTX gameplay scenarios in at least 1080p resolution.
For now, consider this an “impressions” post while we wait for the RTX 2080 Super to land in Ars HQ later this month. At that point, we’ll see what exactly its new “$200 more” sales pitch will be—and we’ll put more games and apps to the test, especially as AMD continues to nip at Nvidia’s heels.
Listing image by Nvidia