Highly anticipated: Ever since the launch of the RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti, their little brother the RTX 2070 has been surrounded in question marks. A lot of speculation has lead to widespread belief that the RTX 2070 has no real place in Nvidia's product line-up. It seems, thanks to HardOCP, that might not be the case.

Update: TechSpot's RTX 2070 review is now online here.

Those nice, uncontroversial fellas at HardOCP, Brent and Kyle, have managed to procure an MSI-branded GeForce RTX 2070, by shopping abroad, and have put it through its paces one day ahead of Nvidia's NDA date. As they aren't a party to an NDA with either the AIB partner or Nvidia, there were able to publish their results while review sites are shackled an extra day.

Here's a little context: to many GPU enthusiasts, the RTX 2070 has been the subject of much debate. With RTX 2080 Ti having given a partial glimpse as gaming performance with Ray Tracing, the considerably less powerful RTX 2070 could potentially be an overhyped, overpriced show pony, unable to deliver on the Ray Tracing front, and underperforming the likes of its Pascal counterparts.

HardOCP has obliged and dissipated many (but not all) doubts about the 2080 Ti's little brother. Well, those that do not relate to Ray Tracing performance. The review might end up fueling the controversy, for all we know. First of all Nvidia still has an air of FUD around its Ray Tracing, as we are still waiting on the likes of Unigine and UL to create RT-capable benchmarks. Secondly, you might find odd the choice of the GTX 1080 instead of a GTX 1070, or maybe a GTX 1080 TI, as the counterpart for the comparison. HardOCP does make it clear that these are cards which have similar clock speeds, which allows for a literal clock-for-clock comparison, and therein an extrapolation of whether Turing is a more efficient and powerful architecture than Pascal, Ray Tracing aside. The tested RTX 2070 and GTX 1080 cards also share similar price points, which add to the direct comparison.

Diving into the review, Brent and Kyle present us with the MSI GeForce RTX 2070 Gaming Z graphics card, a 2.5-slot, cream of the crop of RTX 2070 graphics cards, and face it off with the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X and the ASUS ROG Strix RX Vega 64 OC. It is clear that the Gaming X is there for clock-for-clock, buck-for-buck comparison, while the Vega card is really there to highlight by how much AMD is trailing its rival. The 2070 leads in all benchmarks, and is only capped in games with extremely high levels of AA and 3840x2160 resolution. It does offer some health 4K framerates in many of the games HardOCP tested, and that was a surprise outcome, says Brent.

All in all the RTX 2070 seems to be a very capable graphics card from a raster point of view. That rejigged SM pipeline is really churning out the pixels. It is offering GTX 1080 Ti-like performance, for a lighter price ($599, which happens to be the price of the RTX 2070 FE from Nvidia, at much better clocks), and still has the untested bag of eyecandy which is Ray Tracing.

MSI, in the meantime, has asked HardOCP to take down the review, but anyone who knows Kyle Bennett's track record also knows it'll be a cold day in Hell before that happens.