With the Radeon R9 Nano, AMD opened the market for compact high-end graphics cards, because this model was based on the flagship architecture of Fiji. As a result, in mini-ITX format it became possible to collect rather productive gaming systems, although previously one had to be satisfied with mid-range video cards. However, the competitor also has Pascal video cards in a compact format, on the basis of which you can also build a compact gaming computer. In our test lab, MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC card just went through traditional tests.
When Valve introduced its first Steam Machine about two years ago, graphics performance left much to be desired. Compared with the traditional game consoles, the competition with which and aimed Steam Machine, we have not received a significant increase. Gamers wanted the ITX system with powerful high-end graphics cards in a stylish design. Fortunately, AMD soon arrived with a video card Radeon R9 Nano, which provided performance almost at the level of the flagship AMD. But the modern generation of NVIDIA Pascal can also be made in a compact design due to its high efficiency. And the performance will also be quite high. In this case, we mean not only NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 with a short PCB and a compact cooling system, but also faster related models. For example, the MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX or the same ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Mini, one of the fastest compact video cards on the market.
The tested video card, like most high-end models, is equipped with a dual-slot cooler. But compared to the Founders Edition of NVIDIA, its length is reduced to 175 mm, which is noticeable at a glance. The length of the reference video card NVIDIA is 266 mm, that is, on a good 9 cm more. But you do not have to sacrifice performance.
MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC graphics card can even boast of a clock speed increase compared to the reference GeForce GTX 1070, although a version with standard clock speeds is also available. The cooler of the video card consists of a radiator with numerous aluminum fins, thick copper heat pipes and a large 100mm Torx fan. It will be interesting to see what performance the MSI graphics card in ITX format will show in practice.
The video card is based on GPU NVIDIA GP104, which was presented by a California company together with the architecture of Pascal in May 2016, and a year has not passed. In the case of the GeForce GTX 1070, that is, our Aero ITX from MSI, the chip contains three GPC clusters, each consisting of five streaming multiprocessors with two SM blocks of 64 stream processors. As a result, we get 1.920 stream processors (3 x 5 x 2 x 64), which is less than the full version of the chip with four GPCs. To each stream multiprocessor, eight texture blocks are connected, which gives 15 x 8 = 120 TMU.
On the memory interface NVIDIA did not sacrifice in comparison with the top model GP104, we still get eight 32-bit controllers, that is 256-bit memory interface. But not high-speed GDDR5X chips are used, but the old good memory GDDR5. The amount of video memory is 8 GB. As with the GeForce GTX 1080, we get 64 pipelines of raster operations. The chip GPU GP104 contains 7.2 billion transistors, it is produced by 16-nm technical process FinFET at the TSMC plants.
MSI clocked higher clock speeds than the standard NVIDIA model. Recall that the company of California indicated the base frequency of 1.506 MHz and the minimum Boost 1.683 MHz line for its Founders Edition, MSI for the OC version of the GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX card showed the base frequency of 1.531 MHz, in Boost mode it increases at least to 1.721 MHz . But the maximum frequency of Boost depends very much on the cooling system, so in some cases, models with smaller declared frequencies overtake video cards for which manufacturers indicated high Boost values. It will be interesting to see how the compact video ITX will show itself in practice. As for memory, the frequency is standard 2.002 MHz.
Despite the compact size, the MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC performs slightly faster than the Founders Edition of NVIDIA, although the overclocking is not as aggressive as the same MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Gaming or MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero. It will be interesting to see what frequencies the video card will show in practice. Of course, we will measure the temperature and noise level.
MSI has added the ITX graphics card to the previously released GeForce GTX 1070 Gaming models, the less expensive Aero and, of course, the Founders Edition. The video card is much more compact than the reference NVIDIA model, but theoretically it is not inferior to it in performance. However, the regular overclocking of the video card is more moderate than that of conventional MSI models.
Most other OC models from MSI provide a base frequency of at least 1.600 MHz, even approaching the 1.700 MHz mark, but we get only 1.531 MHz for MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC, in Boost mode the minimum frequency is declared at 1.721 MHz. However, this is still higher than the reference NVIDIA graphics card, for which we got the frequency level 1.506 MHz (base) and 1.683 MHz (Boost). 8 GB of memory, which is connected on a 256-bit bus, run at 2.002 MHz, the bandwidth is 256.3 GB / s.
Since NVIDIA guarantees only the minimum Boost bar, in practice we usually get much higher clock speeds. The same goes for the tested MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC, which in most of our tests worked at 1.911 MHz. On the other hand, in some places the frequency dropped to 1.873 MHz, but in some games it went up to 1.936 MHz. In general, the clock frequencies can be called quite stable.
Despite the compact cooling system and high clock speeds, we have obtained relatively low temperatures. Depending on the game, they were in the range from 67 to 69 ° C.
Before we proceed to the MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC tests, let me quote the technical specifications of the cooler, PCB and other specifications.
With a length of only 175 mm, the MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC graphics card is significantly shorter than the conventional GP104 models. Recall that the reference version has a length of 266 mm. But the thickness of the radiator – all the same two slots, a large 100mm fan of the Torx line helps cool the cooling. As usual, power is supplied to the video card via an additional 8-pin PCI Express socket – MSI does without the second power connector.
In Europe, the price of MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC is about 430 euros, which is 40 euros more expensive than the cheapest graphics card GTX 1070.
With a length of only 175 mm, the MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC graphics card can be called one of the most compact models on the market. At first glance, it can be confused with other video cards of medium or even initial level. But before us is a real high-end model with 1.920 stream processors and 8 GB of GDDR5 memory, the performance of which should be enough for all modern games, even in 4K resolution. The video card is perfect for compact ITX gaming systems and mini-PCs for the living room.
To cool the GP104 chip and a powerful power subsystem, not only a thick copper plate contacting the GPU but also a radiator with numerous aluminum fins and three copper heat pipes up to 6 mm thick is used. Finally, we note the 100mm fan of the Torx family, which MSI recently began to offer separately as a casing fan.
The length of the PCB was significantly reduced compared to the Founders Edition, but the thickness of the cooling system is still two slots. However, for ITX systems, which provide for the installation of a video card, this is not such a serious obstacle.
On the dual-slot stub, you can see the DVI output, as well as the HDMI and DisplayPort pairs. You can also notice numerous air vents that help the hot air out of the PC case.
MSI abandoned the complex system of RGB-backlighting, which is present in expensive models. But the fan stops in idle mode, the video card runs passively and is absolutely noiseless. As with NVIDIA’s Founders Edition, the graphics card is powered by one additional 8-pin PCI Express connector. As a result, up to 225 W from the power supply can be fed to the video card, although the TDP is declared at 150 watts.
There is nothing special behind MSI GeForce GTX 1070. MSI abandoned the metal plate, which improves cooling and imparts additional mechanical strength.
There is also support for SLI, so you can combine several compact graphics cards, if required.
Two-slot cooler is screwed to the PCB with six screws. We unscrewed them and removed the cooler, after which we were able to examine the short MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC. The video card is rather densely filled with components.
As usual, around the GPU GP104 (from three sides) are the memory chips, making up 8 GB of GDDR5. The power subsystem, which is usually located in the back of the PCB, is now rendered in front of the GPU.
Unlike the Founders Edition, where four phases are responsible for the power of the GPU, MSI for its version of ITX has increased their number by one and a half times – up to six phases.
MSI has installed memory chips from Micron. Memory chips do not give in to overclocking, they quickly start to give artifacts of an image, or the video card simply “flies”. Probably, it is for this reason that MSI limited itself to standard clock frequencies.
Many other manufacturers, such as ASUS or Gigabyte, install copper tubes so that they come in direct contact with the GPU, which should provide better heat dissipation, but MSI did not go for such a step. As we see in the case of the cooler GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC. Copper components under the plastic casing of the cooler are nickel plated for beauty. A Torx fan is installed on top, a special shape of the impeller blades which provides a larger airflow with less turbulence and noise.
The delivery set is rather meager. MSI has added to the video card Aero ITX OC only a CD with a driver and a quick start guide. There is no coupon for any games, no power adapter.
Let’s pass to an estimation of noise level, power consumption and temperature.
MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC completely turns off the fan when the GPU temperature drops below 56 ° C, the video card runs passively and completely silently.
Under the load the situation is different. Here the fan already has to work actively to divert the accumulating heat. But the 100mm model still works nicely quietly. We got a noise level of only 40.5 dB (A), despite the compact size, the graphics card does not work any louder than its competitors. And sometimes even quieter: models ASUS, ZOTAC and Gigabyte showed even greater noise level.
With the cooling of MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC in idle mode, problems are not observed. The fan under normal load Windows stops, so the video card heats up slightly more than in the case of models, the fan of which always works. But our temperature of 40 ° C remains quite reasonable.
If you load a graphics card, the fan is already active, the temperature of the GPU is predictably increasing. In our tests, we got a maximum of 69 ° C in the game “The Witcher 3”. As you can see, in spite of the compact dimensions of the video card, you do not have to compromise on noise or temperature levels in comparison with competitors. Other models, similar to MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Gaming, heat up a little more, reaching a temperature of about 72 ° C. In any case, the temperature values can not be called critical.
We received no surprises for power consumption. The test system with MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC consumed slightly more than 125 W in idle mode. And we even got a minimum level of energy consumption in comparison with other tested models. The architecture of Pascal shows excellent efficiency, the chip in idle mode reduces clock speeds and voltages.
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 and AMD Radeon RX 480 graphics cards are the least consumed under load. The MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC tested consumed 324.3 watts with the whole system. The competing models show a higher level of energy consumption, even above the 340W bar. Recall that we measure the energy consumption of the entire system.
After you connect a second monitor to the MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC we do not get a significant increase in energy consumption. Between work in the mode of one or two monitors do not have much of a difference.
The 3Dmark test from Futuremark is one of the most popular synthetic tests, it allows you to conveniently compare different systems or individual components. Individual modes (Preset) allow you to evaluate various aspects of the system – up to the resolution of UltraHD / 4K. The test was originally developed under DirectX 11, but today 3DMark also allows you to evaluate the optimization for DirectX 12, analyzing the number of Draw calls.
Luxmark 3.0 is a rendering test that relies on the OpenCL interface and a wide hardware base of video cards. Luxmark was developed as a test for determining the performance of LuxRender. LuxRender 2.x API is used to calculate the scene. The result is given in samples per second.
The GPUPI test calculates the number of pi via different interfaces. Programs such as SuperPi have long been used to evaluate the computing performance of hardware, it is possible to calculate through processors and video cards. As you can see from the GPUPI name, this test is based on the GPU calculation. We used the OpenCL API and calculated the number of pi to 500 million or 1 billion characters. GPUPI allows you to conveniently appreciate the 64-bit performance of hardware.
The MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC graphics card works at higher clock speeds than the reference clock, but we still tried to increase the frequency of the GPU and memory. In normal mode, the Boost frequency increased to 1.911 MHz, but we were able to get 2.012 MHz, GPU4 GPU gain was more than 5%. Also, 8 GB of GDDR5 memory we managed to overclock about 2.224 MHz. For its size, the MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC accelerates quite well. Although, of course, the models of ASUS, EVGA, Inno3D and ZOTAC, oriented to overclockers, are accelerating even better.
If earlier manufacturers were able to fit in the ITX format only mid-range video cards, now this is possible for high-end models. With MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC you can collect a really fast gaming computer that is able to cope with all modern games. You can run games in the resolution of 1440p, depending on the game maybe even a resolution of 4K. Although you will have to sacrifice the level of detail. In any case, the performance for the compact ITX model is simply excellent. Unless only the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Mini will provide a higher level of performance.
Despite the compact design, we did not find any problems with cooling. The GP104 remained relatively cool even under full load. Here, the graphics card can not be shy of larger competitors such as GeForce GTX 1070 Gaming or EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 GAMING ACX 3.0, which can even get hotter. A 100mm fan can not be called noisy. Under the usual Windows desktop, the fan stopped, the video card worked passively and absolutely noiselessly. Under load, the fan has already started to rotate, but the noise level of 40.5 dB (A) is relatively low. Many other video cards, as well as the Founders Edition of NVIDIA work with a noticeably higher noise level.
Serious drawbacks with MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC, we did not find. The performance of the video card was not inferior to the usual GeForce GTX 1070 models. Unless you can criticize the meager package of delivery. For a video card with a price of 430 euros, we would like to get more bonuses in the kit. But MSI put only a CD with a driver and a quick start guide into the box. Would not prevent the power adapter, as well as a coupon for the full version of the game.
In Europe the surcharge for it is about 40 euros – for MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC will have to pay 430 euros. It seems to us that the surcharge is justified, given the compact size, high performance and excellent cooling system.