TechPowerUp Best of 2023 - The Best in Hardware & Gaming this Year, Ranked (2024)

TechPowerUp Graphics Card of the Year

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070

NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 4070 is our pick for the GPU of the year. At a starting price of $600 it offers a well-rounded feature-set, maxed out gaming at AAA, and the ability to play at 4K, taking advantage of features such as DLSS. Given how popular DLSS has become over the years, and with the entry of DLSS 3 Frame Generation, the RTX 4070 packs a serious proposition.

Say you play at 1080p, the RTX 4070 has all it takes for 165 Hz competitive e-sports gameplay. Play at 1440p? Go ahead and max out all the game settings, and play at native resolution for a smooth 60 FPS. Got something tougher like 4K? The RTX 4070, while not wholly recommended as a 4K gaming card, has the chops to support gameplay at 4K with fairly high settings, if you know your way around them, or use GeForce Experience to find the right settings.

Then there's DLSS—for the vast majority of DLSS titles that support DLSS 2, you're assured playable frame rates at 4K between Balanced and Quality presets. For some of the newer games that take advantage of DLSS 3 Frame Generation and DLSS 3.5 Ray Reconstruction, you stand to get a near-doubling in frame-rates. And then there's energy efficiency. The "Ada" graphics architecture leverages TSMC 5 nm to build these monolithic GPUs, and with a TGP of 200 W, most RTX 4070 cards come with just one good old 8-pin PCIe power connector.

The Best GeForce RTX 4070 We Tested—PNY GeForce RTX 4070 XLR8

PNY makes the best custom-design GeForce RTX 4070 that we tested—and we've reviewed 11 of them. With a peak gameplay noise of just 24 dBA, you will likely never hear this card, your PSU and case fans will end up louder than it. This is as close as it gets to silence without being fanless. The PNY RTX 4070 XLR8 uses a large aluminium fin-stack heatsink that's overkill for the 200 W GPU, which PNY combines with an aggressively tuned triple-fan setup that places low noise above all else. The GPU still ends up with a reasonable 79°C that doesn't impact its boosting behavior. But for all this, you pay a $50 (8%) premium over the MSRP. We highly recommend you do, because you need to "hear" this thing to believe it!

TechPowerUp Hardware of 2023 Runner Up

AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT

AMD's Radeon RX 7800 XT, with a impressive $500 price-tag, undercuts our winner, the RTX 4070, with superior raster performance at all resolutions. Armed with 16 GB of video memory across a wider 256-bit memory bus, and the latest RDNA 3 graphics architecture, the RX 7800 XT will plow through anything at 1080p and 1440p, giving you the highest frame-rates for e-sports titles at 1080p when paired with high refresh-rate monitors; or maxed out gaming at 1440p. Its 16 GB memory and higher bandwidth also gives it a definite edge over the RTX 4070 at 4K gameplay, where you can get Radeon Software to find the best settings for you, if you don't know your way around them. AMD has had reasonable success with FSR 2 support across a wide selection of games, though not as much as DLSS 2.

So why is the RX 7800 XT sitting in the runner-up position? Two key reasons. The first is ray tracing. RT is no longer the novelty it used to be between 2018 to 2020, most AAA games implement it to various extents—for something as trivial as ray traced global illumination, to motion blur. Nearly all AAA titles implement DXR standardized ray tracing effects for shadows, reflections, and lighting. This is where the RX 7800 XT falls behind the RTX 4070, with the NVIDIA GPU being as much as 16% ahead at 1080p, 14% at 1440p, and 13% at 4K. AMD made noticeable progress in increasing the RT performance of its GPUs with RDNA 3, but this is only its second GPU generation to implement it—NVIDIA is on its third. In pure raster (non-RT) gameplay, the RX 7800 XT averages just 2% higher than the RTX 4070 at 1080p, 4% higher at 1440p, and 6% higher at 4K. The second reason by the RX 7800 XT trails the RTX 4070 in our contest is power—this GPU can draw around 250 W of power at gaming, compared to 200 W for the RTX 4070. Every RX 7800 XT card we've come across needs two 8-pin power connectors. The RX 7800 XT is still a formidable challenger to the RTX 4070, helped a big deal by its $100 lower price, if you're willing to overlook the RT performance and power-draw.

The Best Radeon RX 7800 XT We Tested—PowerColor Radeon RX 7800 XT Hellhound

PowerColor has been at the top of its game with quality control and board design, as we learned in our recent tour of their new manufacturing facility. The RX 7800 XT Hellhound isn't the fastest RX 7800 XT from PowerColor (a feat that goes to its Red Devil), but is the most well-optimized product in terms of noise. The card features a dual-BIOS. With its default BIOS (out of the box), the card posts gaming noise figures of 25 dBA, which is in the same league as the PNY RTX 4070 XLR8 that we described above. This even more impressive considering the 25% higher gaming power draw. PowerColor has simply picked an overpowered heatsink and gone to town with noise optimization for the fans. There is a "Quiet" BIOS that lowers the noise further down to just 23.4 dBA—amazing! PowerColor is selling the RX 7800 XT Hellhound at a street price of $530, and we would highly recommend spending the $30 above the AMD MSRP for what's on offer here.

Notable Mentions

Both our winner and runner-up are from a segment of graphics cards that play the biggest role in presenting the PC as a superior gaming platform to consoles, as the graphics card market recovers from the horrors of the crypto-famine. There are cheaper segments with more volumes, but those would clash with consoles, and we wouldn't consider them as influential. On the higher-end of things, there are plenty of solid options, but for some serious coin.

The ASUS ROG MATRIX RTX 4090 is an engineering masterpiece, and is the fastest gaming graphics card you can buy. The card uses not just the most stunning-looking liquid cooling solution, but also liquid metal TIM for the GPU, something that's never been pulled off on a mass-produced graphics card. Backed by some of the highest factory OC and power limits in the industry, we get the highest frame rates money can pay for. Except this thing costs $3,200 and is hard to find. You could build a complete 4K gaming desktop for this price using an RTX 4080 or RX 7900 XTX.

Speaking of the RTX 4080, one card that stole our heart and took it away to Austria is the ASUS x Noctua RTX 4080. A design collaboration between ASUS and Noctua, the card is what you get when you combine a ROG Strix RTX 4080 PCB with an mammoth 5-slot air cooler with a heatsink the the size of a cinder block, combined with two Noctua NF-A12x25, and fan-tuning by the air-cooling legends themselves. What you get is a 27.9 dBA fan noise using the P-BIOS (default BIOS), and a jaw-dropping 23.6 dBA using the Q-BIOS (quiet BIOS). Not impressed when looking at the PNY and PowerColor cards above? Well, how about the fact that this is an RTX 4080, which can rip through any AAA game at 4K with maxed out settings and ray tracing, without the need for DLSS? The only reason this card isn't at least our runner-up is because it costs $1,650. At this price you instead just buy an RTX 4090 for 50% more memory and 9% more performance.

The Best Gaming Technology

NVIDIA DLSS 3 Frame Generation

NVIDIA DLSS 3 Frame Generation was announced late last year along with the GeForce RTX 40-series "Ada" graphics cards, to some skepticism, since we'd seen interpolation techniques before, and knew it to be a lazy way to increase frame-rates, especially in a dynamic use-case like gaming, with drastic changes to the scene, which can cause ghosting. NVIDIA debuted its RTX 40-series last year with only its most premium RTX 4090 and RTX 4080 SKUs, which didn't really need Frame Generation given their product category. A lot has changed over the course of 2023, and we've seen DLSS 3 become increasingly relevant, especially in some of the lower-priced GPU SKUs, such as the RTX 4060 Ti, or even the RTX 4070. NVIDIA spent the year trying to polish the technology along with game developers, to ensure the most obvious holdouts to this technology—ghosting, is reduced, as is its whole-system latency impact, despite Reflex being engaged by default. We've had a chance to enjoy DLSS 3 Frame Generation with a plethora of games over 2023, including Cyberpunk 2077, Alan Wake 2, Hogwarts Legacy, Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered, Naraka: Bladepoint and Hitman 3.

TechPowerUp Best of 2023 - The Best in Hardware & Gaming this Year, Ranked (2024)

References

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Madonna Wisozk

Last Updated:

Views: 5720

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (48 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Madonna Wisozk

Birthday: 2001-02-23

Address: 656 Gerhold Summit, Sidneyberg, FL 78179-2512

Phone: +6742282696652

Job: Customer Banking Liaison

Hobby: Flower arranging, Yo-yoing, Tai chi, Rowing, Macrame, Urban exploration, Knife making

Introduction: My name is Madonna Wisozk, I am a attractive, healthy, thoughtful, faithful, open, vivacious, zany person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.