On Tuesday I took a look at the new RTX 3070 Founders Edition as a look at Nvidia’s new Ampere-based GPU ahead of today's launch. Well in addition to the launch, today is also when the embargo drops for aftermarket RTX 3070’s and I’m lucky enough to have the RTX 3070 XC3 Black from EVGA on hand to check out. The RTX 3070 Founders Edition performed well, but today I’m excited to see what an overclock and a different cooler can do. Especially with EVGA going with a more traditional full-length PCB and cooler here over the short PCB that the Founders Edition had to support their unique blow-through design.

Product Name: EVGA RTX 3070 XC3 Black

Review Sample Provided by: EVGA

Written by: Wes Compton

Amazon Affiliate Link: HERE

 

Specifications

Boost Clock

1725 MHz

Memory Clock

14000 MHz Effective

CUDA Cores

5888

Bus Type

PCIe 4.0

Memory Detail

8192MB GDDR6

Memory Bit Width

256 Bit

Memory Bandwidth

448 GB/s

LED Logo

ARGB

Dimensions

Height: 4.38 in - 111.15 mm

Length: 11.23 in - 285.37mm

Width: 2.2 Slots

Display Connections

3x DisplayPort

1x HDMI 2.1

Features

EVGA iCX3 Cooling

Adjustable ARGB LED

Built for EVGA Precision X1

2nd Gen Ray Tracing Cores

3rd Gen Tensor Cores

PCI Express® Gen 4

Microsoft DirectX® 12 Ultimate

GDDR6 Graphics Memory

NVIDIA DLSS

NVIDIA® GeForce ExperienceTM

NVIDIA G-SYNC®

NVIDIA GPU BoostTM

Game Ready Drivers

Vulkan RT API, OpenGL 4.6

DisplayPort 1.4a, HDMI 2.1

HDCP 2.3

VR Ready

Requirements

650 Watt or greater power supply.

PCI Express, PCI Express 2.0, PCI Express

3.0 or PCI Express 4.0 compliant motherboard

with one graphics slot.

Two available 8-pin or 6+2pin PCIe power

dongles

Windows 10 64bit

Warranty

3-years

 

So specification wise the EVGA RTX 3070 XC3 Black is the same as the Founders Edition. To confirm that I did what I always do and ran GPUz. There I could confirm the memory and GPU clocks match the specifications. I also do this so I can document the BIOS version used and the driver I tested with which btw is the pre-launch version 456.96 provided by Nvidia.

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Packaging

Like with the 2000 series, EVGA went with a unique vertical layout with their boxes which I have to imagine when on the shelves with other cards stands out (at least once they stay in stock long enough to do that). The box has a picture of the card standing up on the front although one of the fans is hidden. It has the standard Nvidia green wrap around down on the bottom with the GeForce RTX logo being huge and with the model number below it. The EVGA logo is up in the corner with the XC3 in another huge font down the side of the card and then black above the wrap around. The back of the box has a standard feature list as well as information on EVGA precision X1 software but the information I would love to see like the card dimensions and clock speed information is all missing for those whopping in retail.

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Inside, the card itself comes with plastic on the fan shroud to protect it from any scratches. It then sits in this formed clear plastic clamshell tray. The clear plastic does at least let you get to see the card when you pull everything out. They also have a small installation guide included as well, but the cool EVGA poster is no longer included.

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Card Layout and Photos

For the 3000 series, EVGA did change up the styling on their cards, especially with the FTW model which has full on RGB lighting across the top. Something I wouldn’t have guessed EVGA would have done. Our RTX 3070 XC3 Black is a lot tamer though. The XC3 Black had three fans in an axial layout. The blacked-out shroud looks a little like the last generation of EVGA FTW card, only without some of the additional holes that design had. In line with the fans, there is a scoop shape at the ends of the card that can help pull in air even if the card is a little close to another card, and in between the fans, there is no shroud at all which lets us see the heatsink. The fans are the same design that EVGA has used for a while now with a large EVGA logo in the center and tiny logos all over the fan blades.

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Like I mentioned before, this is a longer card than Nvidia’s Founders Edition. It is 285mm in the specifications which include the PCI bracket from what I can tell because my measurement was 281mm. EVGA has it listed as a 2.2 slot card but it does look like a normal dual-slot card and it is 111.15 mm tall which has it sticking up just past the PCI bracket by about 5mm which isn’t a problem at all. The Founders Edition RTX 3070 was 240mm long, so to get that third fan you need to have room for that additional 45mm. But at 285mm, it should fit in most full-sized cases.

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I was really surprised that EVGA didn’t include a backplate on this one. I still consider the RTX 3070 to be a high-end card and backplates are relatively standard most of the time. As far as cooling goes, an open PCB is better, but I like the cleaner look of a backplate as well as the protection it offers. The XC3 Black’s PCB does have a nice flat black finish that doesn’t look too bad and the ventilation cut into the PCB is interesting as well at least so it isn’t all bad. You can see that while obviously a custom PCB, it is still based on the reference design with almost a hard line where the shorter reference PCB would end. EVGA did use the custom PCB to move the power connections to the end of the card and with that also to use the normal 8-pin power connections. Down below that you can also see where they added the three PWM fan connections to the board in this area as well. The longer PCB still ends up coming up slightly short in comparison to the cooler, which sticks out about 10mm.

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Like I said, for the power EVGA did move it down to a more manageable location but I’m a little surprised they didn’t stick with the new smaller 12-pin plug just to save room for more heatsink. But the two 8-pins mean that you won’t need to run an adapter. I’m also surprised they plugs have the clip side facing the heatsink, most companies have been notching the PCB and putting them facing in for a while now to allow the heatsink to be closer to the power plugs.

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The edge profile of the card does show that it is a hair past the PCI bracket thickness which explains the 2.2 slot listed width. It also gives us a great view of the cooler design which runs the full length of the card and has a horizontal orientation of the aluminum sheet metal design. The RTX 3070 XC3 Black has the iCX3 cooler where last generations 2000 series cards had the iCX2 cooler. The plastic shroud covers half of the thickness of the card but leaves a lot exposed on the top and bottom for airflow from the three axial fans to blow out. This does mean that it will blow out into your case and down against your motherboard, but that is expected with aftermarket cards. The end shows the three thick heatpipes and two smaller heatpipes used to pull the heat out across the length of the card. The end also has an interesting red smile with eh EVGA logo in the middle. It reminds me a lot of old AMD reference cards and the original batmobile. The top edge on the shroud has branding, both for EVGA as well as the actual model name. Far too often you just see GeForce or RTX across the top, so it is nice to also see the model number. The EVGA logo portion is also backlit with addressable RGBs adding just a touch of customization while sticking with the normal subtle EVGA look.

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The rear PCI bracket has a full black powder coated finish and for ventilation, they have a random honeycomb pattern. Down along the bottom edge for display connections the XC3 Black has the same layout as the Founders Edition which is three DisplayPort’s and one HDMI 2.1 port down at the bottom.

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I’ve mentioned the size difference between the XC3 Black and the Founders Edition a few times but did want to at least show the difference. So here are the two together. That extra 40mm isn’t enough to be an issue in any full-sized build, but if you are building in something smaller you will want to make sure it won’t be ab issue.

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Here is a look at the backlit EVGA logo on top of the card as well when it's lit up. By default, it rotates through colors but it can also be set using the X1 software.

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Synthetic Benchmarks

As always I like to start my testing with a few synthetic benchmarks. 3DMark especially is one of my favorites because it is very optimized in both Nvidia and AMD drivers. It's nice to not have to worry about it being favored too much either way and the repeatability of the results makes it a nice chance to compare from card to card, especially from the RTX 2070 Founders Edition. The XC3 Black has the same boost clock, but it is possible that different voltage profiles and cooling could make a performance difference. The first round of tests were done in the older Fire Strike benchmark which is a DX11 test. There are three detail levels, performance, extreme, and ultra. In all three the 3070 XC3 Black did perform better than the Founders Edition and in the extreme detail test, it was enough to edge up past the 2080 Ti Founders Edition as well.

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The next two were both based on the Time Spy benchmark. One is the standard test and then there is the extreme detail level. The XC3 Black was out ahead of the Founders Edition here as well and for the extreme detail test, it helped jump the RTX 2080 Ti FE once again.

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The last test was using the Unigine based Superposition benchmark and I tested at 1080p with medium detail and again at 1080p with the extreme detail setting. For the extreme detail, the performance bump was once again enough to jump the 2080 Ti FE but the Ti is still out ahead in the medium detail test.

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VR Benchmarks

As for Virtual Reality, I love it but it is more demanding than traditional gaming. This is partially because of the resolutions needed to render for two eyes and because they render more than what is immediately visible. But also because of post effects to get the proper “fisheye” effect for it to look proper in your eyes with the HMD. You also have to have much higher expectations for frame rates in VR, skipping frames or lower FPS can cause motion sickness in VR. Because of that, I ran a few tests.

My first test was again in Superposition. This time I tested the VR Maximum and VR Future tests using the Vive resolution. Like in the other Superposition test I tested at an extreme detail which this time is the VR Future test and a more reasonable detail which is the VR Maximum test. Here the EVGA RTX 3070 XC3 Black gained two FPS over the Founders Edition on the Future VR test but still stayed behind the 2080 Ti. The VR Maximum result on the other hand favored the Founders Edition slightly (and is also CPU limited as well).

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For VRMark the XC3 Black gained a little under 2 FPS in the blue room test which is the future looking and more demanding of the two. The 2080 Ti was still out ahead by 7 FPS on that test. But for the cyan room test, the XC3 Black saw a big jump of 14 FPS which put it just slightly ahead of the 2080 Ti.

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In-Game Benchmarks

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 9 games at three different resolutions (1080p, 1440p, and 4k). Most of the games tested have been run at the highest detail setting and a mid-range detail setting to get a look at how turning things up hurts performance and to give an idea of if turning detail down from max will be beneficial for frame rates. In total, each video card is tested 48 times and that makes for a huge mess of results when you put them all together. To help with that I like to start with these overall playability graphs that take all of the results and give an easier to read 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.

So how did the EVGA RTX 3070 XC3 Black perform? Well, when broken down by FPS range and resolution the RTX 2070 XC3 Black was great at 1080p where it came in over 120 FPS on 12 of the results, and the rest were over 60 FPS. At 1440p things swung down slightly closer to half and half with 7 over 120 FPS and 9 over 60 FPS. Then at 4K we finally saw some results come in under 60 FPS with 5 in the 30-59 FPS range. Even still 11 out of the 16 were still over 60 FPS which is impressive. Going back to my 3070 Founders Edition review, none of these results changed.

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That isn’t to say that they performed the same though, when we get into the actual results you can see that across the board the EVGA did outperform the Founders Edition. This is especially impressive given that they do have the same clock speeds but the EVGA also has a different power profile which makes a big difference. In my Founders Edition review, I was especially curious how it performed compared to the RTX 2080 Ti and at that time they came out even. But the increase in performance with the XC3 Black was enough of a bump to put it ahead of the 2080 Ti in five more tests. Of course, an aftermarket 2080 Ti could do the same thing. This kept the 3070 XC3 Black right up at the top of the charts with just the RTX 3080 consistently outperforming it (and the 3090 if I had one). At least until AMD's just announced GPUs can help stir things up near the top.

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Compute Benchmarks

Now some people don’t need a video card for gaming, they need the processing power for rendering or 2D/3D production, or in some cases people who game also do work on the side. So it is also important to check out the compute performance on all of the video cards that come in. That includes doing a few different tests. My first test was a simple GPU Compute benchmark using Passmark’s Performance Test 9 and the RTX 3070 XC3 Black did gain a few points on the Founders Edition, but not a significant gap with its 10814 over the FE’s 10726 points.

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In Basemark the XC3 Black had enough of a bump to put it up over the RTX 2080 Ti in the DirectX12 results but the OpenGL result ended up lower than the Founders Edition surprisingly.

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My favorite compute benchmark is Blender. This is because it isn’t just a random test, but a popular program that is used in the real world. Not to mention it is open source! The EVGA RTX 3070 XC3 Black managed to cut out 4 seconds compared to the RTX 3070 Founders Edition. They are still in a class of their own, especially when you get into running using Optix which takes advantage of the tensor cores in the RTX cards. With that, you can drop the 127 seconds down to 70 which is 3 seconds lower than the Founders Edition as well.

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RTX and DLSS

Being an RTX card I also like checking out the performance of some of Nvidia’s features. Namely the ray tracing performance and the performance improvements you can see by using DLSS combined with the tensor cores. In most of the tests, I’m really only comparing a few of the RTX cards as well as a GTX 1080 Ti for comparison. But in the 3DMark Port Royal test, I have been tracking ray tracing performance in all of the RTX cards as well as a few of the GTX cards introduced into the mix as well. Here the RTX 3070 XC3 Black did manage to gain on the Founders Edition slightly, but it wasn’t enough to catch up to the RTX 2080 Ti at all.

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Next, I wanted to check out the performance in Metro Exodus which I do our normal testing in as well. The RTX only performance of the XC3 Black gained 1 FPS which was enough to overtake the 2080 Ti. But with RTX and DLSS on the 2080 Ti still had an edge. Just a much smaller one with the nearly 2 FPS jump from over the Founders Edition. The same goes for the DLSS only test which saw a jump of 3 and a half FPS but was still 4FPS behind the 2080 Ti. More importantly, this test gives you an idea of how DLSS, even if you don’t want to run RTX can give a performance increase. But it nearly catches you back up to non-RTX performance when you run them together. The XC3 Black came in at 50.61 FPS with the same settings but both RTX and DLSS off.

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In Wolfenstein: Youngblood I tested at 4k with the highest detail setting. For this one, I just wanted to see the performance difference between having DLSS on or off while running RTX. The XC3 Black went from 70 FPS off to 111 with DLSS set to the middle balanced setting. This was 4 FPS over the Founders Edition with DLSS and 6 higher without which is impressive in itself!

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Next, I tested using a benchmark based on the game Boundary. For this one, I wanted to see how all of the different DLSS settings would perform, including turning it off completely. You can see that you go from 14.8 FPS without it up to 26.3 on the highest detail. Up to 32 FPS on the balanced DLSS setting and then 38.2 on the performance setting. Each was a slight improvement over the Founders Edition. But overall it shows that you can go from unplayable to a range that isn’t smooth but is playable.

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The last tests were done in a benchmark based on the game Bright Memory. Here I wanted to check out the performance difference between different RTX settings. The very high detail performance was the same as the Founders Edition, but in the rest, the XC3 Black did improve over it. You can also see how running mid-range RTX settings can get you 8 FPS over the high detail or if you need it the low setting has a big jump of 18 FPS over the very high setting.

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Cooling Noise and Power

For my last few tests, rather than focusing on in game performance, I like to check out other aspects of performance. These are also the most important ways to differentiate the performance between cards that have the same GPU. To start things off I took a look at power usage. For this, I use our Kill-A-Watt hooked up to the test bench to record the total wattage of the system. I ran two tests with the first using 3DMark Fire Strike to put the system under a load similar to normal in game performance. Here the XC3 Black pulled 402 watts. This is a big jump over the 375 that the 3070 Founders Edition pulled in the same test. I then tested again using AIDA64’s Stress Test this time which would only load the GPU not the CPU as well. Here the XC3 Black pulled 358 watts. This is 24 watts over the Founders Edition. Now, this additional power draw does finally clue us into why the EVGA RTX 3070 XC3 Black is able to outperform the Founders Edition across the board while still having the same boost clock speed. More power does allow for the clocks to stay closer to the boost clock when under load.

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My next round of tests were looking at noise levels. These are especially important to me because I can’t stand to listen to my PC whirling. Especially when I’m not in game and other applications are using the GPU. EVGA does turn the fans off on low power usage, in fact, they don’t turn on until the GPU reached 55C. For my testing, though I first tested with the fan cranked up to 100% to get an idea of how loud it can get, then again at 50% to get an idea of its range. The XC3 Black wasn’t exactly quiet with its three large fans cranked, it came in at 61.8 decibels. The Founders Edition was significantly quieter here. The 50% fan speeds were much better however at 38.7 decibels. I then tested the fan noise under load. For this, I used AIDA64’s Stress Test for a half hour to warm things up and with the stock fan profile, I tested the noise level which wasn’t bad at 36.3 decibels. This was in the bottom half of our charts and was 2.6 decibels lower than the Founders Edition. I did also track the 100% fan speed when I had them cranked up and with all three fans running at 3745 RPM it is no wonder why they were so loud.

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To finish up my tested I of course had to check out the cooling performance. To do this I ran two different tests. I used AIDA64’s Stress Test run for a half-hour each to warm things up. Then I documented what temperature the GPU leveled out at with the stock fan profile and then again with the fans cranked up to 100%. With the stock profile, the EVGA XC3 Black came in at 67 degrees which was 4 degrees lower than the 3070 Founders Edition. Cranking the fans up that dropped down the 51 degree’s which interestingly kept the XC3 Black right in the same spot in our charts and was 3 degrees lower than the Founders Edition. The delta between the stock and 100% results shows how much room is left in the cooler. I went ahead and included that as well which is 16 degrees. I wouldn’t run the triple fan setup at 100%, it was just too loud. But you could turn things up if overclocking.

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While running the stock fan profile testing I also took the time to get a few thermal images so we could see what is going on. On the fan side, you can see that most of the heat is coming from between the first two fans where the GPU  is at and towards the end, things are running cool. You can also see from this point of view where the air blowing out the bottom of the cooler is heating up the motherboard as well. The top view shows the difference between the left and right sides is significant. The back view explains why there seems to be a hot spot on the side of the GPU closest to the PCI bracket which is where they have the VRMs.

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Overall and Final Verdict

After checking out the RTX 3070 Founders Edition we know that the RTX 3070 is a solid performer, competing with the RTX 2080 Ti at a significantly lower price. But what about aftermarket cards? Well, the first one to come in is the EVGA RTX 3070 XC3 Black which is EVGAs lower-priced 3070. Even still it comes with their triple fan layout and their iCX3 cooler. To fit all of that though, EVGA went away from the short PCB that Nvidia used on the Founders Edition and went with a full-length semi-custom PCB. This allowed them to change the power connection down to the end of the card and to go with dual 8-pin power connections over the new 12-pin that Nvidia has been using. This means no adapters are needed and it does fix the weird wiring issue that the Founders Edition had with the power in the center of the card. The downside is to fit the three fans this card is a lot longer than the Founders Edition, 45mm longer to be specific. This most likely won’t be an issue with anyone building in a full-sized case, but for SFF you will want to make sure everything is going to fit. The XC3 is also a touch wider at 2.2 slots but it does mostly stay with the normal PCI height.

Performance ended up being better than I expected. You see, the XC3 has the same boost clock as the Founders Edition. But from the power testing, I can also see that the card is pulling more power. I think more power is allowing the XC3 Black to stick to its boost clock more while under load allowing it to outperform the Founders Edition. It was enough to jump past the 2080 Ti in a lot of the tests that the 3070 hadn’t already jumped it as well. That power usage is something to keep in mind though, as it does mean more heat and over time a higher power bill as well. Cooling performance, even with the extra heat was good. The cooler even has a lot of headroom left if you crank the fans up. Not that I would recommend it, because at 100% they are loud. But that headroom did allow the actual noise performance to be great. It ran quiet.

Styling is good, especially if you like EVGA’s typical blacked out look. There is a touch of RGB with the backlit EVGA logo up top but that is about it. The main downside here, when compared with the Founders Edition, is the XC3 Black’s shroud is plastic (though a thick plastic). They also didn’t include a backplate where the Founders Edition goes all out with a thick metal backplate that gives the card a higher quality feel and better durability.

As for pricing, right now at launch, EVGA has the RTX 3070 XC3 Black on sale for $499.99 which matches the Founders Edition pricing but the official MSRP of the card is $529.99. We are going to have to wait and see how the recently announced AMD cards perform to know how all of this will fit in the market long term. But at least right now, the RTX 3070 is a good value. Offering what was top shelf performance not long ago from the RTX 2080 Ti at a much lower price. While it is still a lot of money, if you are gaming at 1440p or even 4k this might be the sweet spot. The XC3 Black specifically isn’t a bad option as long as you don’t mind not having a backplate. Its performance is solid across the board. Of course, this all depends on availability, which as we have seen with the RTX 3080 and 3090 has been bad. EVGA however has been great in allowing people to get in a queue for orders and doing their best to avoid bots and resellers.

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Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: https://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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