RTX Performance on a "Budget" - MSI GeForce RTX 2070 DUKE 8G OC Review

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MSI GeForce RTX 2070 DUKE 8G OC

Small back story before we get to the review. I picked up this RTX 2070 because I thought that I needed to replace a failing GTX 1080. I had sent it in for a warranty claim but the MFG was unable to reproduce the issue I was experiencing so I started pursuing new GPUs primarily looking at GTX 1070 Ti and RTX 2070 cards. I was happy with the performance that the GTX 1080 was providing so I wanted to find something relatively equivalent in performance to it. I just couldn't stomach the cost of a significant upgrade to a RTX 2080 since I wasn't planning on purchasing a GPU at this time. I decided to finally stick with RTX 2070 family of cards since 1070 Ti card prices had begun to inflate. I purchased this card understanding that I would be unable to return it for a refund due to Newegg's return policies for some computer components. This wasn't an issue for me at the time because I was pretty confident that my graphics card was causing my issues.

Unfortunately for me, I ended up discovering that my GTX 1080 wasn't failing because I had the same issue occur with the RTX 2070. Shortly after discovering the real cause (Hyper-V on Windows 10 Pro), I reached out to Newegg to see if they could do anything for me. To my surprise, customer support did offer to refund me. However, the refund would come as in store credit and I would have to pay a restocking fee. Kudos to Newegg for trying to make the situation right but with the significant loss in money spent towards this GPU and the restriction to just Newegg.com for the refund, I decided to keep the RTX 2070 and sell my GTX 1080. Now that we're through all of that, lets get on with the review for this card.

★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)

  • 2 slot width and standard height (In a world where everything keeps growing beyond the standard dimensions)
  • Neutral color scheme (Silver, black and white goes with just about everything)
  • Cool operation (Temps are nice and low under load)
  • Quiet operation (At idle and under load it is very quiet)
  • TU106-400A Die (Didn't take my card apart but GPU-Z and other sources online lead me to believe this specific model has the "binned" GPU die for better overclocking)
  • No "space invader" (card failure) issues so far (keeping my fingers crossed that I got a good one)

  • Fans make a hissing noise (Unsure why they do but I usually can't hear it without really trying to listen for it)
  • Limited availability for RTX and DLSS capable media/games (as of this review)

Other Thoughts
The RTX 2070 is a very capable card that basically replaces the GTX 1080 in both price and performance. So in my opinion, I don't believe it's overpriced. Overall, I believe the RTX 2070 is a good GPU. Yes its ray tracing performance may not be as good as its more powerful brethren but it still supports ray tracing and DLSS. Its rasterization performance is plenty powerful enough for every modern game at an appropriate resolution (1080p-1440p high refresh is pretty good for this one). The RTX series is quite young so this review is definitely subject to change but hopefully there's nowhere to go but up. With ray tracing, we have seen improvements in performance already with optimizations to BFV. Therefore, we can only hope things continue to get better as the technology matures and continues to get adopted.

Full Review
One more quick note and then I promise we'll get into the review. This card DOES NOT have RGB nor lighting effects. The RTX 2070 edition of MSI's DUKE series of cards does not have RGB or lighting effects. However, the RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti DUKE variants DO have RGB lighting. I'm unsure why MSI decided to limit RGB to the 2080 and 2080 Ti DUKE cards but it personally doesn't bother me. Be mindful what you're purchasing if RGB lighting really matters to you.

After searching through a lot of the RTX 2070 series GPUs, I ended up picking this MSI RTX 2070 DUKE OC edition for a few reasons.

1) I required a card that was no wider than 2 slots and also didn't have any excess "height" above the PCIe slot bracket. My current case as of this review is a SilverStone FTZ01 and due to the space constraints with the GPU riser/bracket, I had to be cautious about dimensions. This was one of the few RTX 2070 cards that adheres to a 2 slot width and standard height. However, keep in mind that this card is a bit on the lengthy side (just shy of 12.5 inches in length) and for me that wasn't an issue.

2) After some researching, I was fairly confident that this model contains the TU106-400A RTX 2070 die. This should be noted because it has been shown by Gamers Nexus to clock a little bit higher and therefore perform better than the TU106-400 RTX 2070 die. Using GPU-Z it says that this one is the TU106 Revision A1. MSI Afterburner shows GeForce RTX 2070 on TU106-A GPU. Even if it's not the "binned" version, at least it comes factory overclocked which is nice. Newegg at the time doesn't sell the "standard" model of the MSI RTX 2070 DUKE anyway.

3) I have had positive experiences with MSI's GPU products in the past. I liked that this GPU had a neutral color scheme and what I knew to be a well performing and quiet cooler. MSI's Frozr series of coolers work very well from my experience.

To more specifically address the MSI RTX 2070 DUKE OC, I think this card is great. It runs cool, quiet and has plenty of performance. I don't mind that it doesn't have lighting effects. The neutral color scheme is nice as well. MSI is finally getting away from their red and black days. I've used several MSI GPUs in the past and have walked away pleased with their performance and features. This DUKE card is no exception. I recommend this card if you want something that is aftermarket, runs cooler and quieter than the founders edition and retains generally standard GPU dimensions.

Now to review the performance of the RTX 2070 GPU. I came from a GTX 1080 so I wasn't expecting a major improvement. To receive a noticeable jump in performance I would need to upgrade to a 2080/2080 Ti. I'm sure I've gained a few frames since this is about equivalent to a GTX 1080 but slightly faster. It plays everything I throw at it without issue. Since I have a 165Hz 1440p monitor, I'm willing to drop the quality down to medium/high to take advantage of the high refresh rate while not sacrificing too much on visual quality. If I were to increase everything to ultra, I believe this card would be able to keep a solid 60+ FPS in most titles at 1440p.

For the namesake feature of RTX (ray tracing), if this card didn't come with Battlefield V for free I would have no way to experience RTX right now. I didn't plan on purchasing Battlefield V until it severely dropped in price. With a test in War Stories (the campaign), I'm able to get 60FPS at 1440P with setting everything to Medium quality (including RTX). It's nice to experience RTX, but I definitely prefer higher refresh rates for shooters over higher fidelity. Ray tracing is a cool and interesting feature that adds that extra "wow factor" to games. I can only hope that more games adopt it and continue to perform better than these initial implementations of the technology.

Another feature of the RTX series is DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling). I can't test or take advantage of DLSS since I don't own Final Fantasy 15 (FFXV). Therefore, I have no comment on its performance. As it sits now, there is a lack of ray tracing and DLSS capable media/games out there. So why did Nvidia push so hard on these features? Because we're supposed to get hyped up and buy for "the future" that's why. However, their plan backfired at least initially. The general guidance from almost every tech reviewer when the RTX 20 series of GPUs launched was to buy the top end GTX 10 series GPUs instead.  The GTX 10 series price to performance deltas were a much better proposition than the new RTX 20 series of GPUs. One of the only valid argument for the RTX 20 series has been the RTX 2080 Ti. It is a BEAST of a GPU and is the most "worth it" card for the RTX 20 series. However, it comes in at a BEAST of a price that most people (myself included) simply cannot afford.

Let's backtrack for a moment. Today, go out and try to find a GTX 1080 that comes in at a reasonable price (around $500ish like it's supposed to). Also, try to find a 1080 Ti that sells for the price it's supposed to ($700ish). Most of the prices have been marked up extremely high due to Nvidia ceasing production of these cards. They don't really exist in "new" condition anymore at their retail prices. You have to go to the used market to get one which of course has its own set of risks. So, if you want a NEW Nvidia GPU with GTX 1080 level or higher performance, your only option is to go with the RTX 20 series.

For the conclusion, see the TL;DR above.

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