Looking for a new graphics card and unsure of whether you should get an NVIDIA RTX 4070, or if you need the extreme performance of the RTX 4090? In this guide, we’ve covered the main differences between the two options to help you choose the right option for your needs.
NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 4070 and RTX 4090 are worlds apart, but, in a way, they’re the perfect duo for a GPU comparison.
The 4090 is the crème de la crème of GPUs, the flagship for gaming, and the 4070 is your average PC gamer’s go-to for high-end performance. Comparing the RTX 4070 vs 4090, then, is a great way to see just what, if anything, the average gamer is losing out on by opting for the $1,000 saving that an RTX 4070 brings.
How much performance is left on the table is only half of the story, though, because that performance might not be too relevant. If you’re using a 60Hz monitor, for example, you won’t need 200+fps.
In this guide, therefore, we’ll compare the RTX 4070 vs 4090, not just from a raw performance perspective, but from an actual usability perspective. We’ll look at different use cases for each GPU so you can make the best purchasing decision for your own gaming needs.
- Best RTX 4070 Graphics Cards
- Best RTX 4090 Graphics Cards
- Best RTX 4070 Prebuilt Gaming PCs
- Best RTX 4070 Laptops
- Best RTX 4090 Prebuilt Gaming PCs
- Best RTX 4090 Laptops
What is the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070?
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 was released in April 2023. It’s a graphics card that sits close to the midrange but offers high-end performance—albeit not as high-end as some of the best graphics cards on the market, like the RTX 4080, RX 7900 XTX, and RTX 4090.
Based on NVIDIA’s ‘Ada Lovelace’ GPU architecture, the 4070 offers some of the latest graphics technologies and features like DLSS 3 upscaling. It uses the same AD104 GPU that the more expensive RTX 4070 Ti uses but with some disabled cores and lower clock speeds.
What is the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090?
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 was released in October 2022 as the first NVIDIA GPU of this generation. It’s currently the fastest and most powerful graphics card on the market, performing much quicker than the runner-ups, the RTX 4080 and RX 7900 XTX.
Like the 4070, the 4090 is also based on NVIDIA’s ‘Ada Lovelace’ GPU architecture and offers all the latest graphical bells and whistles such as DLSS 3.
For all these features and its impressive raw performance, however, there comes a steep price tag. The RTX 4090 costs much more than any other consumer GPU on the market.
New NVIDIA 40-Series Features
Both the RTX 4070 and RTX 4090 offer the following new features and technologies:
- DLSS 3
- New RT and Tensor Cores
- Dual AV1 encoding
- Shader Execution Reordering (SER)
Probably the most enticing of the bunch is DLSS 3. The previous DLSS iteration—DLSS 2—allowed users to upscale their game resolution via Tensor Cores that use Deep Learning, improving framerates without losing too much graphical fidelity. DLSS 3, however—helped along by new Tensor Cores—also allows for AI frame generation, which improves framerates even more.
Apart from this, 40-series GPUs’ SER implementation and new RT Cores allow for better ray tracing performance compared to 30-series GPUs. Combining this ray tracing performance increase with DLSS 3 should make ray tracing a breeze for 40-series cards in those games that support the new DLSS iteration.
Finally, both the 4070 and 4090 have the hardware to support AV1 encoding. This is a quicker encoding format than previous ones, and as soon as streaming and content creation platforms fully support it, this will be a useful tool in content creators’ arsenals.
4090 vs 4070: Price Comparison
|Cheapest retail prices
At MSRP, the RTX 4090 is $1,000 (167%) more expensive than the RTX 4070.
This price difference roughly tracks to online AIB retail prices, where the cheapest of both respective GPUs cost about the same as their MSRPs.
However, the cheapest RTX 4090 GPUs tend to cost slightly more than MSRP, and the more expensive 4090 GPUs can cost much more—for example, many models cost upwards of $2,700, and some even cost over $3,400.
Considering the RTX 4090 and RTX 4070 occupy spaces at opposite ends of the current-gen GPU spectrum, there are plenty of graphics cards between them to consider:
Probably the most enticing of these few graphics cards is the RX 7900 XT. While the 7900 XT was a bit of a flop upon release, according to LinusTechTips’ recent testing, AMD driver updates have now made it perform significantly better than the 4070 and 4070 Ti and more in line with the much more expensive RTX 4080.
If Linus’s recent benchmarks accurately depict what 7900 XT users can expect from the GPU today, the 7900 XT now performs much, much better than the 4070. As we saw in our RTX 4070 vs RX 7900 XT comparison, these recent benchmarks show that the 7900 XT performs about 41% better than the 4070 at 1440p and 4K resolutions.
You should consider the other three GPUs listed above, too. If the 7900 XTX has seen the same improvements as the 7900 XT, for example, it could be the obvious choice for a circa $1,000 GPU instead of an RTX 4080.
Graphics Card Specs
|Clock speed (base/boost)
|1.9GHz / 2.5GHz
|2.23GHz / 2.52GHz
|Power connector (reference)
|1x 16-pin or 1x 8-pin (depending on manufacturer)
|1x 16-pin (12VHPWR adapter)
As is to be expected from a GPU with a $1,000 higher price tag, the RTX 4090’s specifications far surpass the RTX 4070’s across the board.
The RTX 4090 has almost triple the RTX 4070’s CUDA Cores, Tensor Cores, and RT Cores. It also has double the VRAM capacity and double the video memory bandwidth. Boost clock speeds remain similar, though, and both cards can require a 16-pin power connector—although some 4070 GPUs require only one 8-pin connector.
The RTX 4090 is a behemoth. It’s the biggest consumer GPU on the market, and when it launched, it set a new standard for what we mean by a ‘big’ GPU. You should definitely ensure your PC case and other components can handle housing a 4090 before you buy one.
The RTX 4070, on the other hand, is about as big as the previous-gen RTX 3070. It’s a relatively normal-sized GPU and is smaller than all other current-gen GPUs (but presumably the RTX 4060 and RTX 4060 Ti will be the same or smaller).
Power Draw and Thermal Performance
For the 4090’s raw horsepower, you need a similarly beefy PSU. Its 450W TDP makes NVIDIA recommend an 800W PSU (at minimum) for the 4090. For the 4070’s measly 200W power requirements, however, NVIDIA only recommends a 650W PSU.
Also Read: The Best Power Supplies for 2023
Regarding temperatures, both the 4070 and 4090 should stay shy of 70c while gaming. Some online tests show the 4070 FE running a little hotter, and some show the 4090 FE running a little hotter. Both GPUs are within a few degrees of each other, however.
What’s far more important for temps will be your specific choice of AIB GPU, which applies to both the 4070 and 4090.
4070 vs 4090: Gaming Performance
We’ve given you charts presenting averages of benchmark frame rate results for the RTX 4070 and RTX 4090 for each resolution. We took these results from several online reviews, such as those from TechSpot and TechPowerUp.
Underneath these charts, we’ve given you the average framerate difference between the two cards for each resolution as a percentage. This should give you a comparison of the 4070 vs 4090’s gaming performance that’s broadly representative of what you can expect from these GPUs across different PC systems.
Framerates averaged from multiple online benchmarks.
On average, the RTX 4090 performs about 43.4% better than the RTX 4070 at 1080p.
Most gamers will find that an RTX 4070 is more than enough for 1080p gaming. The RTX 4070 should stay above 120fps in most games and above 144fps in many of them. In the most demanding titles on the market, it might struggle to maintain 144fps for a 144Hz monitor, though—at least when run on max settings.
The RTX 4090, of course, won’t struggle to maintain 144fps in any game on the market at this resolution, even when cranking settings up to max. If you’re wanting to play Cyberpunk 2077, for example, on max settings at framerates consistently above 144fps, then a 4090 will be a safer bet than a 4070.
But even fairly demanding titles—just not those very few ultra-demanding ones—should run smoothly at high framerates on an RTX 4070. Games are more CPU-bound than GPU-bound at this resolution, so for 1080p gaming it’ll probably be worth saving money by opting for a 4070 and upgrading the rest of your system, like your CPU.
Framerates averaged from multiple online benchmarks.
On average, the RTX 4090 performs about 70.1% better than the RTX 4070 at 1440p.
For 1440p gaming, whether to opt for an RTX 4070 or an RTX 4090 will depend on whether you want to play demanding games and whether you want to max out your settings. And on your monitor’s refresh rate, of course.
Also Read: Is 1440P Worth it for Gaming?
An RTX 4070 will, unfortunately, struggle to handle high refresh rate 1440p gaming in many modern games if you want your graphics settings on max. In the most demanding titles, it will struggle to average 100fps, and in many other good-looking modern titles, while it will stay above 100fps, it might struggle to average 120fps or 144fps for those 120Hz or 144Hz refresh rate monitors.
The RTX 4090, on the other hand, will handle all of this easily. Whether you’re playing Cyberpunk 2077 or F1 22—two of the most graphically demanding games—an RTX 4090 should provide smooth gameplay on 120Hz and 144Hz monitors.
If you want that kind of smooth gameplay with an RTX 4070, you’ll either have to lower your graphics settings, or enable DLSS. If you’re planning on playing games that support DLSS, and you’re happy using it instead of rendering at your native resolution, an RTX 4070 should be enough for smooth 120Hz or 144Hz 1440p gaming.
Framerates averaged from multiple online benchmarks.
On average, the RTX 4090 performs about 98.6% better than the RTX 4070 at 4K.
For 4K gaming, there’s little case to be made for opting for an RTX 4070. I mean, the 4090 literally performs twice as well as the 4070 at this resolution. Sure, it costs more than twice as much, but price-performance differences are rarely linear.
The 4070 can handle 4K gaming in a pinch—especially if you enable DLSS 3—but if you’re going to be playing modern, graphically intensive titles and you want them to look great, it won’t be easy. In fact, a 4070 will struggle to average even 40fps in the most demanding titles at max settings, 4K resolution.
The RTX 4090, however, can provide an average of about 100fps even on max settings in most modern games. Those very few really demanding games might drop below this, but not by far. A 4090 should keep even these games sailing smoothly above 60fps.
Ray Tracing and Upscaling
Score taken from TechPowerUp’s testing (1440p chart).
Based on TechPowerUp’s ray tracing testing, the RX 7900 XTX does ray tracing about 71% better than the RTX 4070 at 1440p.
Just like with its raw rasterization performance at 1440p and 4K, the 4090 demolishes the 4070 when it comes to ray tracing performance.
These things stack up, too. For instance, if you’re already operating at a framerate disadvantage at 1440p or 4K resolution with a 4070, ray tracing’s performance hit will probably be unbearable without a countermeasure like DLSS upscaling. But because the 4090 already operates at high framerates, and then also does ray tracing better, ray traced high resolution gameplay is a breeze for the 4090.
But DLSS is an option, and in some games DLSS 3 is an option instead of DLSS 2. If you don’t mind enabling it and the games you want to play support it, the 4070 fares just fine with ray tracing enabled—at least, just as fine as it does when ray tracing and DLSS are disabled.
The 4070 should see much more of a benefit from DLSS, too, despite the 4090 having many more Tensor Cores. This is because a jump from, say, 80fps to 140fps at 1440p for the 4070 will be much more noticeable than a 4090’s jump from 150fps to 220fps.
Game Performance Summary
While the RTX 4090 performs much better than the RTX 4070 across all resolutions, this extra performance won’t be needed—and certainly won’t be worth the $1,000 markup—for some gamers.
At 1080p, unless you want to play those very few ultra-demanding titles maxed out without ever slipping below 144fps, an RTX 4070 should be more than enough.
At 1440p, if you’re happy playing some of the more demanding titles on high rather than ultra settings, an RTX 4070 should serve you well for 120Hz and 144Hz gaming. But if you want to max games out—even very demanding ones—and still make the absolute most of your high refresh rate monitor, a 4090 will be better.
For 4K gaming, an RTX 4070 should be good enough for those of you who only want to play less demanding titles, or those of you who will be enabling DLSS—especially DLSS 3—in most games. But if you want 100+fps in most games at this resolution, and if you want smooth native 4K gameplay even in very demanding games, a 4090 is the only way to go.
More Performance Comparisons
- RTX 4070 Ti vs RX 7900 XT
- RTX 4070 Ti vs RX 7900 XTX
- RTX 4070 vs RTX 4080
- RTX 4080 vs RX 7900 XTX
- RX 7900 XTX vs RTX 4090
- RTX 4080 vs RTX 4090
Verdict: Is it Worth Buying the RTX 4070 or RTX 4090?
The RTX 4070 and RTX 4090 are two graphics cards clearly targeted at two different kinds of PC gamer.
The 4070 is for those who want a current-gen, high-end GPU capable of smooth 1440p gaming without breaking the bank. The 4090 is for those who have little in the way of budget consideration and want smooth 4K gaming or the ability to never have to lower any settings at 1440p.
For 1080p gamers, the choice is obvious: go for a 4070, unless you want to be above 144fps 100% of the time in absolutely any game on max settings.
For 1440p gamers, if you’re happy lowering some settings from maximum down to high in more demanding games, an RTX 4070 should be enough for 120Hz or 144Hz monitors. If you want to never have to consider the possibility of lowering your settings to make the most of that high refresh rate gameplay, and if you have $1,000 extra to spare, a 4090 might be worth it.
For 4K gamers, it probably makes sense to opt for a 4090 over a 4070, unless you’ll only be playing less demanding titles. But unless budget is of no concern, we saw in our ‘Alternative GPUs’ section that there are plenty of viable alternatives to the expensive 4090. The RX 7900 XTX, for example, does very well at 4K—probably even better now than upon release thanks to driver updates—and costs significantly less than a 4090.
Especially given that the 4070 can utilize DLSS 3 to offset some lost performance, the main reason to opt for a 4090 over a 4070 is if you want flagship performance and you don’t mind spending an arm and a leg to get it. And there’s nothing wrong with that—flagship performance certainly will feel good, and you’ll likely never have to worry about lowering your in-game settings.
For the average gamer, however, an RTX 4070 will be a much better value proposition. And for those who want a little more than the 4070 can offer, there are plenty of cheaper alternatives to the 4090.