Why it matters: A modded GeForce RTX 3070 shows the untapped potential of the Ampere card when equipped with 16 gigabytes of VRAM. Newer AAA games have much higher requirements in that department, but Nvidia has yet to adapt its more affordable offerings to this new reality.
When Nvidia launched the GeForce RTX 4070 graphics card with only 12 gigabytes of GDDR6X memory, gamers were understandably less than willing to part with $600 of their hard-earned money to get one. The card does sell well in the US and some parts of Europe, but the modest amount of VRAM it comes with is a sign that Nvidia has either learned nothing from the RTX 30 series launches or is simply too focused on the AI craze to care about gamers.
This allowed AMD to extoll the value of its mid-range and high-end RX 6000 and RX 7000 series cards, all of which come with more VRAM than Team Green equivalents. We recently explored the importance of ample VRAM in an up-to-date comparison between the Radeon RX 6800 and the RTX 3070, and the results are telling – the eight gigabytes of VRAM on the RTX 3070 are holding it back and making it look like a low-end product when running newer AAA games, while the RX 6800 has aged much better and even manages better ray tracing performance in some titles.
One can only wonder what the RTX 3070 would have been like with 16 gigabytes of GDDR6, and it turns out YouTuber Paulo Gomes recently turned on his hot air soldering station to find out. Replacing the VRAM modules and grounding some resistors effectively doubled the card's GDDR6X memory, and it didn't require any BIOS or driver modding to have it recognized in software.
After some quick testing, Paulo found that he needed to set the card to work in high-performance mode to prevent random flickering or black screens when running 3D applications. Otherwise, the results are quite interesting despite only featuring one game – Resident Evil 4.
The modded card not only achieved a higher average frame rate but also went from single-digit one percent and 0.1 percent lows to more respectable values around 60 and 40 frames per second, respectively. The testing was done at a resolution of 2,560 by 1,080 and VRAM usage went over 12 gigabytes at times.
If anything, this serves as a reminder to vote with your wallet when companies decide to apply the shrinkflation model to their products. Thankfully, gamers appear to have wised up to Team Green's shenanigans and aren't rushing to buy cards like the RTX 4070 at their current price, and this along with AMD's move to reduce prices on some RX 6000 series offerings will hopefully lead to further price cuts in the future.
In related news, the RTX 4060 Ti and the Radeon RX 7600 are tipped to arrive in a few weeks, possibly at a price point that is more in line with their capabilities.