One of the card designs that stood out to me with all of the RTX launches was EVGAs new designs. I was surprised to see them go with a transparent cooler design that lets you look inside and see the heatsink. I wanted to get a closer look so EVGA sent over their RTX 2070 XC Gaming. The XC Gaming isn’t their fastest RTX 2070, but it does have the same overclock that the Founders Edition card and it sells for less. So I was really curious to see how it performed and to see if it might be worth spending some of that valuable post-Christmas or tax time money. So today I’m going to run it through all of our normal testing and take a closer look at the card itself. Let's go check it out!
Product Name: EVGA RTX 2070 XC Gaming
Review Sample Provided by: EVGA
Written by: Wes Compton
Pictures by: Wes Compton
Amazon affiliate Link: HERE
The packaging from EVGA is a big departure from what everyone else is doing, at least in one big way. They have it set to be vertical and all other cards have the longest dimension on their width. The box itself is about the same size as the Founders Edition box from Nvidia. The front has a large photo of the card with the VC label in large letters on the left. The wrap around Nvidia RTX strip is still there, it just takes up more width because of the box orientation and it does wrap around to the side as well. The box also has a corner cut off of it for some reason as well. The back of the box doesn’t really have much going on, I would have hoped that EVGA would show a few more photos of features but really there is just a basic feature list from Nvidia and a minimum specs listing as well as information on GeForce Experience down at the bottom at the end of the wrap around band.
When you pull the outside covering off there is a black box inside. This box is filled with foam padding with a cutout in the center in the shape of a video card. There is a foam insert that goes in the hole over the video card. Then inside as you can see the card comes in a static protective bag and it has an installation guide with it on a small paper.
Card Layout and Photos
With the 10 series cards from EVGA, they went a new direction that I really liked that included metal patches on the shroud as well as mesh screens with RGB backlighting. That was a new look from the 900 series of cards so I was surprised to see that with the new RTX cards EVGA scrapped all of that design and went new again. The RTX 2070 XC Gaming’s new shroud design is basically as if they said why do we even want to look at any of that. EVGA went old school with a transparent shroud that has just a hint of tint to it. Back in the day when you could buy transparent cases for your phone or pager, this would be called a smoked shroud. The new look isn’t something I would have expected, but I do like. Nvidia did the window in their reference and founders edition cards for a while, this is just going farther. Getting to see the entire heatsink and the heatpipes coming off the GPU is a great look.
Beyond that, the card has a dual fan design and both fans are about as decked out in EVGA branding as you can get. The EVGA E logo is in the middle and each of the blades has at least 11 tiny E logos on them as well, kind of like how a gold ball has dimples only with more branding. There were some aspects that stayed from the last generations design. The EVGA logo in the top middle and the card model down at the bottom were in the same location last gen. The RTX 2070 XC Gaming also has lighting where EVGAs Black Edition cards look similar but don’t. You can spot the white translucent areas on the front of the card, only the top two are lit and that is only light that comes from the top edge. As for overall size, the card might be the most normal in overall height, you can see the shroud just barely goes past the top of the PCI bracket and at 10.6 inches long it should fit in any traditional build.
Normally to get a look at the cooling design we have to look at the top and bottom edges but the transparent shroud helped with that. But from the top and bottom, you can see that the heatsink is about half the thickness of the card. This profile also shows that this is a normal 2 slot card, not pushing into the 2.5 or 3 slot designs like a lot of other cards. Because of that, the heatsink is tight against the PCB to get that 1 slot width and to leave room for the fans. The heatsink fins run vertically so when the fans blow down on the card the air vents up and down out the top and bottom of the card. The small gap between the heatsinks shows the heatpipes and the front view showed us there were 4 total spreading the heat out across the two heatsinks from the GPU which is a little on the left side of the card (towards the PCI bracket). The top edge also has the GPU model on it, not just the EVGA branding. I love being able to look in and see that you have an RTX 2070, not just an EVGA card. That is also backlit with RGB as well.
At the end you can see that EVGA also slipped in the XC branding which is nice as well, so you actually can see exactly which model you have just by looking in. That same picture also somewhat shows the end of the card which has a metal bracket that holds up the fan shroud. As for power connections, the RTX 2070 XC Gaming has two, one 8-pin and one 6-pin. The 6-pin connection has the width of an 8-pin but with two pins filled. I imagine EVGA is using this same design on an even more overclocked model that has two 8-pins but it isn’t needed on this more mid-ranged overclock.
As for the PCI bracket, there is a little bit of ventilation in it with the angled bracing in the middle but we know the card shouldn’t be forcing much air this way. As for connections EVGA stuck with the same layout as Nvidia did on their Founders Edition cards and didn’t change it up like Asus did. That means you get three DisplayPort connections with an HDMI in the middle. Then down at the bottom, there is a tiny Type-C connection. This is a VirtualLink connection and it is designed to transmit DisplayPort, USB, and power over one connection so you can hook your VR headset up just like you would a monitor without all of the extra boxes needed in the future.
I love the backplate design that EVGA went with as well. Typically backplates are great for protection but they don’t really help with cooling. In fact, they can hold heat in. So EVGA opening things up with a stylish hole design should help with that while still offering at least some protection. Of course, a closed design is a little better at protecting from a few water cooling drips, so keep that in mind. They also cut out the EVGA logo and below that printed on the model name again. Both being upside down so they will be readable when installed in a normal case. For a lot of builds, this and the top edge will be all that is visible and I think EVGA did a good job of including some styling while not going too crazy.
I also got a few pictures of the lighting on the card. When I first looked at it I assumed both white bars above and below the fans would light up as well but really it is just the top of the card with any extra lighting from the top going down into the top white translucent bars as well. I don’t always want or care about lighting and I think this card would look great without it. But the clear shroud does seem like lighting down at the bottom might light up the heatsink in a cool way through the clear shroud that no one else can do. So that is a missed opportunity, not that you ever think of EVGA when it comes to lighting. If anything they have been the anti-RGB.
Our Test Rig and Procedures
Our Test Rig Configuration (with affiliate links)
CPU - Intel i9-7960X
Motherboard - Asus ROG Rampage VI Apex
Memory - HyperX DDR4 Predator 3000MHz
Storage - Kingston A1000 960GB M.2 SSD
Cooling - Noctua NH-U12S
Power Supply - Corsair AX1200w
Case - Primochill Wetbench
To start off my testing I always go with a few of my preferred synthetic benchmarks. They don’t give direct translations to expected in game FPS, but they are consistent and give us a good chance to compare card to card performance. Now keep in mind the RTX 2070 XC Gaming is an overclocked card but only when compared to the “stock” RTX 2070 models like EVGAs base Black Edition card. The XC has the same 1710MHz clock speed that the RTX 2070 Founders Edition has so I’m not expecting it to light up the world, but I hope to see it perform on par with the more expensive Founders Edition model.
My first set of tests were all in 3DMark where I ran all three variations of the Fire Strike test as well as both of the DX12 focused Time Spy benchmark. In all three of the Fire Strike tests, the EVGA RTX 2070 XC came in within a small margin under the 2070 Founders Edition and above the stock clocked Gigabyte 2070 that I took a look at a while back. This also put it in above the GTX 1080 by that same margin. Interesting enough the Vega 64 was ahead in all of these tests.
In Time Spy the EVGA RTX 2070 XC did a little better and outperformed the Founders Edition as the base setting and on the extreme setting. Just in general the RTX cards all do much better on this DX12 focused test so here the 2070s are just behind the GTX 1080 Ti. As for it compared to Vega 64, here Vega 64 didn’t perform as well with the RTX 2070 faster here by 1300 points.
Then we have the last set of synthetic tests. All of these were run in Unigine Superposition where I tested at 1080p with two different detail settings, then at 4k and 8k for the ultra-high resolution results. The XC was just a touch ahead of the Founders Edition again here in all four tests. Overall this was just behind the overclocked GTX 1080 with 11Gbps memory at 1080p medium but were ahead of the GTX 1080 Ti at 1080p extreme detail. 4k and 8k, on the other hand, were just like the 1080p medium results.
For VR testing I am still hoping to expand our testing in the future as more benchmarks become available, but right now the two most popular is VRMark and the SteamVR benchmark. I’ve included the SteamVR results below, but there isn’t much to talk about as it caps out at 11 and anything on the higher end is reaching that. VRMark, on the other hand, has some interesting results. That have three different benchmarks, all with a target FPS of 109 FPS for a smooth gaming experience in VR. It is more important in VR as lower FPS can be nauseating. Anyhow the three tests break down like this. The Orange room test is similar to the SteamVR test where it tests current mid-range graphics. The Cyan Room tests current high-end graphics. Then the Blue Room test is future looking with highly detailed graphics that we should see in the future. The EVGA RTX 2070 XC outperformed the Founders Edition RTX 2070 in the orange room but came in less and 1 FPS below on the other two tests. Overall this was above the Vega 64 and the GTX 1080, even the overclocked model and in the case of the Cyan Room test above the GTX 1080 Ti as well.
Now we finally get into the in game performance and that is the main reason people pick up a new video card. To test things out I ran through our new benchmark suite that tests 12 games at three different resolutions (1080p, 1440p, and 4k). I also slipped in a few variations on the same games for comparisons like DX11 to DX12, OpenGL to Vulkan, and a couple of games are just tested at their highest setting and lower but still high detail options to show the performance difference when things are turned down slightly. In total, each video card is tested 54 times and that makes for a huge mess of graphs when you put them all together. To help with that I like to start off with these overall playability graphs that take all of the results and give an easier to read the result. I have one for each of the three resolutions and each is broken up into four FPS ranges. Under 30 FPS is considered unplayable, over 30 is playable but not ideal, over 60 is the sweet spot, and then over 120 FPS is for high refresh rate monitors. This covers all of the games tested except Final Fantasy XV that we have a score rather than an FPS because they like to be different.
So how did the EVGA RTX 2070 XC perform? Well, the 1080p chart shows that the RTX 2070, especially the EVGA XC version is going to handle anything you throw at it at that resolution. Even with almost all of our tests being at the highest possible settings, everything was above 60 FPS and three were up over 120 FPS. What this doesn’t show is that nine of those 14 in the 60+ range were actually over 100 FPS with a few just a few FPS short of the 120 FPS cutoff. Two more were around 98 FPS as well, so if anything this chart doesn’t show just how dominant the card is at 1080p. 1440p looks similar but there are two that came in the 30-60 range. This was an improvement over the Gigabyte RTX 2070 that runs at the stock RTX 2070 speeds which had 3. But for the most part, 1440p is completely covered. Then at 4k, we can see the big dropoff where the RTX 2070 can’t handle 4k with just four games coming in over 60 FPS.
Of course, I have all of the actual results as well for those of you who are crazy enough to dig through them like I am. The Final Fantasy XV results are at the top because they are a score, not an FPS and couldn’t be included in the previous graphs. The EVGA XC comes in just a touch over the RTX 2070 Founders Edition and above the overclocked GTX 1080 and below the GTX 1080 Ti. I have our recently added Forza Horizon 4 results at the top as well. The rest of the games really just show that the RTX 2070 FE and the EVGA XC which have the same clock speed trade blows over and over. They are basically the same performance. They are faster than the overclocked GTX 1080 with 11Gbps memory and especially faster than the GTX 1080 FE. Some of the games the 2070 performs close to the GTX 1080 Ti at 1440p and 1080p. The Vega 64 Water Cooled card is typically down below them as well. No big surprises here at all, not that I was expecting any considering the Founders Edition has the same exact clock speeds.
While the EVGA RTX 2070 XC Gaming is clearly focused on gaming, it even has gaming in its name, I always take a look at a few Compute focused tests. I do this because using your PC for rendering video, photo editing, compressing video, and 3D rendering are just as popular with gamers and enthusiasts. Especially with Youtube and Twitch taking over the world. My first test was using Passmark’s Performance Test 9 where I just run the CPU Compute benchmark. Its score gives us a look at an averaged out mix of compute tasks. No surprise the Founders Edition and the XC are right with each other but the GTX 1070 Ti is still above them both on this test, as is Vega 64.
Cinegy is a professional video processing company that uses a very long list of different formats and resolutions in their benchmark. Not every format is even compatible with the RTX cards and as you will see the ADM cards have even more issues because of CUDA specific renders causing no score at all. But I still like to take a look at how the cards so.
Because of the issues that I have had with RTX and AMD compatibility with a lot of our compute tests I have added two more new tests. Basemarks new GPU test that lets us test in DX12, OpenGL, and Vulkan and Geekbanch as well.
Cooling, Noise, and Power
I think the most important tests are the tests that let us look at what sets one brand apart from another and from card to card from the same company with the same GPU. For the most part, all of the other tests are predetermined by the GPU used, the clock speed they set it too, and with some cards the memory capacity. Of course, thermal throttling can play a role too. So checking out power usage, cooling, and noise is important to help you pick which model of card you want once you decide which GPU you want. It is especially important for small form factor builds where all three become even bigger issues.
My first set of tests on the RTX 2070 XC Gaming were to look at its power usage. To do this I put the test bench under a load and document the peak wattage pulled from the entire system with our Kill-A-Watt. So keep in mind these numbers include the CPU, SSD, and cooling and are not just the GPU. But when compared together still give a good idea of the power usage you can expect. Anyhow, I tested with two different loads. First I used 3DMark Fire Strike in its combined benchmark that loads the CPU and GPU. This is close to what you can expect with regular in game usage (adding RTX or DLSS usage could increase this). The EVGA card came in 4 watts less than our Founders Edition card and more importantly 29 watts less than the overclocked GTX 1080 that was somewhat close in performance. The new RX590 is right up with the 2070 as well when they aren’t in the same performance class. My second test was using ADIA64’s GPU stress test, putting only load on the GPU but a more synthetic and demanding load on the GPU than most games. Here the EVGA XC pulled 263 watts and the Founders Edition pulled 270. That RX590 was even higher here and I was surprised at how close the slower clocked Gigabyte RTX 2070 was to the XC.
Next, I wanted to check out noise levels of the two EVGA logo covered fans. My second graph shows the RPM that the fans run when turned up to 100% fan speed. I keep that for reference. Then the noise graph shows decibel readings from 18 inches away at a 45-degree angle from the fan side on our open-air test bench. You can expect lower numbers in a case, but this allows me to get accurate numbers when comparing card to card. I test at 100% and 50% fan speeds for consistency. What I found was the RTX 2070 XC was right in the middle of the pack. Quieter than the new dual fan Founders Edition cards but a little louder than some of the single fan cards. This was also about where the XC fell in the fan speed charts as well, so nothing really out of the ordinary there.
My last round of testing was taking a look at cooling performance. To me, this is the most important of all of the card specific tests. Not only does better cooling allow for more overclocking or better clock speeds, but it also means the fans may run at a lower RPM on average keeping even a loud card quiet. I ran this test twice as well, both times using AIDA64’s GPU stress test to load up the GPU. I ran the test for a half hour or longer if the temps still hadn’t leveled off (they normally are). Then I tested with the stock fan profile and then again with the fans turned all the way up. This way we can see the expected performance and then the potential cooling performance. The delta between the two can mean more overclocking room if you are willing to put up with the fans cranked up. This is where the EVGA RTX 2070 XC performed the best. It was the second coolest card in our stock fan settings test. That Asus RTX 2080 was still out ahead with its huge cooler. Then at 100% fan speed, it dropped down to 47 degrees from the 61 before. The Gigabyte RTX 2070 with a lower clock speed and three fans did perform better in the second test, as did the water-cooled Vega 64.
While I was waiting on the temperature testing I did also get a few thermal images of the EVGA RTX 2070 XC. It gives us a good look at how the card blows its heated air out the top and bottom of the card, especially with some of that heat trapped under the card. Like with any other GPU like this I wouldn’t recommend mounting the card over an M.2 drive. The openings in the backplate seems to be doing a better job of letting that heat out on the back of the card. You can see each opening is warmer than the fully covered areas.
Overall and Final Verdict
Well, I’m excited to get a chance to check out one of EVGAs RTX cards and it is just in time for the RTX 2060 launch! I think the most immediate thing to me was just how good this card looks and that seems to carry across most of the EVGA lineup. The smoked transparent fan shroud looks amazing and is still somehow not too flashy, at least to me. I know it was a big trend back in the ’90s for electronics to look trendy with transparent or semi-transparent casings and it is one I wouldn’t be against seeing come back. Being able to see the heatsink behind everything was nice. With that, I liked the EVGA didn’t go crazy with overly styling stuff or too much RGB lighting. But ironically I wouldn’t have been upset to see them include at least one light down at the bottom of the fan shroud, the top lighting lit up the top and the fan side a little. But down at the bottom that lighting made it look like the bottom lights were just not on. Plus a little light would have made it easier to see the heatsink. Please don’t add a ton of lights, but one or two to even things out wouldn’t be bad.
Performance wise the EVGA RTX 2070 XC Gaming hung right with the Nvidia Founders Edition RTX 2070. That wasn’t really a surprise given they have the exact same clock speed, but with this being a cheaper card than the Founders Edition it was nice to see. It also had great cooling performance and like all of the RTX 2070’s, it was perfect for high refresh rate 1080p gaming and 1440p. It was faster than the GTX 1080 in most situations with our overclocked GTX 1080 with 11 Gbps memory being the only exception and only in some games. The Vega 64 and the RX590 didn’t compete with it in most tests and the GTX 1070 Ti being the next closest card, but it also was outperformed across the board.
I mention how the RTX 2070 XC compares with those cards because at the end of the day, getting an RTX card at all really depends on pricing. Especially with RTX and DLSS features only starting to trickle into the market and mostly with Battlefield V. At the original launch Nvidia’s previous cards, namely the GTX 1080 were available at much better prices. But not that availability has dried up for new cards those prices are significantly higher. The cheapest new GTX 1080 on Newegg is $750. There is a refurbished model for $519 and a few around $600, but even ignoring the refurbished part I think the RTX 2070 is a better pickup at that price range.
As for the EVGA RTX 2070 XC specifically, well there are a few RTX 2070’s available at that $499 price point with the stock clocks. This is the cheapest overclocked model available on Newegg right now. But there are two other cards at that same $549 price point and both of those have a little higher clock speed. When comparing this card with the Founders Edition it seems like a steal, same clock speeds, better cooling, slightly less power usage, and I think some people will like the looks of the EVGA more. But the two Gigabyte cards at $549 will make the decision harder. Personally, I like the EVGA styling better and being a two fan design it is also a little shorter. The Gigabyte wouldn’t even fit in the ITX build I currently have the EVGA XC in.
Also to help with your decision, they currently are giving away a game with the purchase. You can pick from Battlefield V or Anthem, an upcoming game. Battlefield V already has RTX support and is expected to get DLSS very soon and Anthem is going to have both as well. So not only do you get to pick from two new and big-name titles, but they give you a chance to check out those mostly unused features that set the RTX cards apart from the GTX cards. Should you get one? Well if I was on the market for an RTX 2070 I think this is the card I would go with all things considered. As for if you should get an RTX 2070 over something more expensive or cheaper? Well, that depends on what you are looking to play and what resolution. 4k isn’t going to work with big titles at high settings, but the RTX 2070 is perfect for 1440p gaming or high refresh rate 1080p.
Live Pricing: HERE