Should I get a GTX 1080 or a GTX 1070?

NVIDIA is one of the leading names when it comes to graphics processing units (GPUs), or graphics cards. Its top piece of hardware is currently the GTX 1080, which was released in May 2016. Its younger, slightly-less-powerful sibling, the GTX 1070, was released a month later.

If you're in the market for a new high-end GPU, you may be wondering whether you should get the GTX 1080 or the GTX 1070. To make an informed decision and get the most bang for your buck, you must first look at what each GPU is designed for, and then pit price against performance.

What do you need in a GPU?

Before we get into price points and performance specs to see which GPU offers the best value, it's useful to get an idea of what you plan on using the GPU for. If you're looking at either of these graphics cards, you no doubt have a decent processor and ample RAM for high-end gaming, but at what resolution?

1080p 1440p 4K comparison

If you want quality 4K gaming without having to lower in-game video settings to the point where it's almost not worth playing, grab the powerful GTX 1080 no matter the price difference. Likewise, if you plan on doing a lot of GPU-intensive tasks, such as video editing, go for the bigger sibling.

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If intensive GPU tasks aren't on your plate and you don't mind gaming at 1080p or 1440p, the GTX 1070 should do you just fine. It will be able to run all current games at high settings at this resolution, and it will even be able to power your Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.

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Specs and benchmarks

GTX 1080

To get a better idea of the GPU that offers the best value, you need to take a look at each GPU's specs and benchmarks.

Category GTX 1070 GTX 1080
VRAM 8GB GDDR5 8GB GDDR5X
Memory speed 8Gbps 10Gbps
Memory bandwidth 256GB/sec 320GB/sec
Base clock 1,506MHz 1,607MHz
Boost clock 1,683MHz 17,33MHz
CUDA cores 1,920 2,560
TDP 150W 180W
Price Starts at about $400 Starts at about $600

As you can see, the GTX 1080 takes the cake in almost all areas where specs differ, except for the power it consumes. Tom's Hardware did a number of benchmark tests on the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080, and they provide a better idea of how each GPU performs when it comes to some popular games.

Playing Witcher 3 on the Highest preset at 1440p with a GTX 1080, for example, got an average of about 95FPS, while the GTX 1070, at the same resolution, resulted in an average of about 73FPS. At 4K, the GTX 1080 achieved an average of about 53FPS, while the GTX 1070 hit an average of about 40FPS.

Likewise, running The Division on its Very High preset at 1440p resulted in an average of about 75FPS from the GTX 1080, and the GTX 1070 averaged about 60FPS. At 4K, the GTX 1080 averaged about 43FPS, while the GTX 1070 came in at about 37FPS.

Which GPU should you buy?

GTX 1070

Prices vary depending on which retailer you go with, but you can expect to pay somewhere around $600 for a GTX 1080 and about $400 for a GTX 1070. If you're looking for a GPU for 1080p or 1440p gaming, the GTX 1070 can tidily handle either task. If VR is your bag, the GTX 1070 is also a great choice, because you're probably looking to save some money after dropping hundreds on a headset.

For these reasons, it's the GTX 1070 that offers the best value in most scenarios. Still, if you're looking for the best experience for 4K gaming or if you're editing a lot of video, you'll want to grab the GTX 1080.

NVIDIA GTX 1080 | See at Amazon

NVIDIA GTX 1070 | See at Amazon

More GPU questions answered

If all of this GPU talk has piqued your interest, and you want to know more about graphics cards, check out our guide to everything you need to know about GPUs.

Also, if you don't think the GTX 1070 or GTX 1080 is right for you, have a look at our ultimate GPU buyer's guide for plenty more insight on graphics cards.