MSI RTX 2070 Gaming Z Review
Published: 16th October 2018 | Source: MSI | Price: |
Much of what we think about the MSI RTX 2070 Armor also applies to the MSI RTX 2070 Gaming Z. Such is the consistency of the nVidia yields that the days in which there are select "golden silicon" chips around are behind us, and no matter what model you buy you can be sure that the underlying GPU is pretty much the same all around. Equally the excellence of the continually refined GPU Boost means that even a bone stock card can overclock to a certain degree, narrowing the gap between the high end versions and the value models.
Thus the decision to buy the RTX 2070 Gaming Z largely depends upon what graphics card you're currently running, the budget you have available, how much you love to live on the leading edge of technology and all that good stuff. If you've come here straight from a search engine then we'll repeat what we said in the Armor review. Everyone else can skip the next paragraph to see what we feel about the Gaming Z specifically.
Which graphics card you already own places a clear line in the sand. If you've got the GTX 970 or GTX 1070, and anything lower or older than that, then the RTX 2070 is a good buy. There is enough extra oomph built in that it can handle the modern games with aplomb in 1080 or 1440, and then the performance is title specific in 4K with some games demanding more than it can deliver in almost any scenario, others comfortably working with maximum detail, and others still requiring a teensy bit of fettling to maximise performance at this most demanding resolution. Sitting upon that metaphorical 'to buy or not to buy' line in the sand are the GTX 1080 and Vega RX64. Both of which give performance very similar, although the GTX 1080 tends to be happier in older or less demanding titles, whilst the RX64 is very similar in every game but with a much higher heat and power draw price to be paid. Lastly the GTX 1080Ti is generally better in nearly all titles, but then that is recent enough that if you own one you're probably not seeking an upgrade just yet. Where the waters get muddied are, as they were with the RTX 2080 and RTX 2080Ti, in the potential future benefits of the RTX architecture. With Tensor cores handling lots of AI based fun and games and the RT cores improving the lighting then there are oodles of things the RTX can do which the GTX cards cannot match. Of the list of current titles with their preliminary support only Final Fantasy XV is in our benchmark suite but the benefits of the Tensor Cores and DLSS are spectacular there. Whilst the GTX 1080Ti usually out-performed the RTX 2070 in our benchmarks, FFXV showed that the future is unquestionably bright as the MSI card brought super-sampling to the party with its glorious eye-candy and lack of jaggies, yet at a performance level the Pascal card couldn't match even if we disabled AA entirely. So clearly in the future the RTX 2070 will be the card to own.
Now if you still want to rush to your local hardware emporium and procure a RTX 2070 with its Turing TU106 GPU, should you plump for the Armor or the Gaming Z? We think that the Gaming Z takes home the prize in every regard, and even the extra £40 purchase cost is more than made up for by the extra features and spectacular overclocking performance. The Armor looks okay and performs well, but it's a tiny bit underwhelming. You feel that it performs exactly how you'd expect, especially if you have already read our previous Turing GPU reviews. It's better than what has come before, but its improvements are more future-based than today. However, the Gaming Z really sets the soul ablaze as the significantly faster factory overclock and manual overclock are backed up by a much beefier cooler, which also looks a lot nicer and blends in better with our modern monochrome systems. In fact the Gaming Z often made it all the way up our benchmark graphs to the back of the stock RTX 2080, which is a not inconsiderable feat.
All in all if you're in the market for a RTX 2070 then the MSI Gaming Z is a fantastic card. Its only just over £500 yet you get the fantastic Twin Frozr 7 cooler, a huge factory overclock and some glitzy RGB lighting for your investment, and thus it wins our OC3D Performance Award.
The MSI RTX 2070 Gaming Z is available with an MSRP of £599.99.