Meet the EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti FTW2: iCX

First things first, there are no surprises with the specifications and physical design of EVGA’s GeForce GTX 1070 Ti FTW2 iCX. But as the top card in the EVGA GTX 1070 Ti stack, the GTX 1070 Ti FTW2 is the most feature-packed model. It also boasts the only RGB LED capability of the bunch, though this partially serves a more practical purpose in addition to the decoration.

Nevertheless, the centerpiece of GTX 1070 Ti FTW2 is the iCX thermal sensor and cooler system, first introduced by EVGA’s GTX 1080, 1070, and 1060 iCX series. An array of onboard thermal sensors and microcontroller units dot the PCB, allowing for enhanced monitoring and regional temperature adaptive behavior. All this can be displayed, logged, and adjusted through EVGA’s Precision XOC utility. In the beginning, only Precision XOC could read the iCX thermal sensor data, but at this point GPU-Z and other standard monitoring tools can display and log that data as well.

So while the dual fan open air construction looks very similar to EVGA’s ACX 3.0 cooler, the fans do not operate the same way. iCX features asynchronous fan cooling, dictated by the 9 thermal sensors distributed among the GPU, PWM/VRMs, and memory. The GPU fan operates in response to the reported GPU temperatures, while the VRM/memory fan operates in response to VRM/memory temperatures. While modern GPUs all have built-in temperature sensors – as do most high-end VRM setups, for that matter – it's very rare for a card's fan speed to be tied to anything besides the GPU. This despite the fact that VRMs in graphics cards and motherboards alike can get quite toasty on their own.

EVGA, for that matter, is no stranger to overheating VRMs. In 2016, their GeForce 10-series FTW models with ACX 3.0 cooler cards began suffering from overheated VRMs, due precisely to the fact that their cooling system was focused on GPU temperatures while ignoring VRM temperatures. In the end, EVGA released an updated VBIOS and offered free thermal mod kits to those affected. But it also served to spur the company into developing the iCX family of cards, where not only was VRM cooling beefed up with more passive components (better transfer from the FETs to heat dissipation surfaces), but also having a fan respond to VRM temperatures. As a result the iCX series can be seen as the pendulum swinging the other way – for most users it's probably a bit overkill, but you can't accuse EVGA of not learning their lesson or taking the matter more seriously these days.

Within Precision XOC, the asynchronous fans may be controlled separately, and can also be assigned separate fan curves for more granular control. The idea is that intelligent fanspeeds can reduce excess fan noise and improve hotspot cooling. Combined with the pre-existing semi-passive zero fan speed idling, iCX cards – and users – can tune or tune fan operation for noise and fan lifespan. In theory, this could also be used to reduce fan power in exchange for extra GPU power on TDP limited NVIDIA-approved designs, something we saw in EVGA’s GTX 970 FTW ACX 2.0, but would mean less for the GTX 1070 Ti FTW2 and its 180W TDP.

The GPU, PWM, and memory thermal sensors go so far as to assist the “G”, “P”, and “M” RGB LEDs on the side. By default, the three status LEDs change color according to temperature; this may be customized to fit or simply replaced with different colors for aesthetic lighting purposes.

Returning to the actual cooler, the GTX 1070 Ti FTW2 incorporates a form-fitted multi-part backplate and backplate, with thermal pads in the appropriate areas. And as part of the iCX cooling solution, some of the plates have pin-like protrusions, or “pin fins”, that increase surface area and in turn improves heat dissipation. Additionally, the iCX heatsink has half-open and L-shaped fins, and the fins themselves have small holes. The openings are meant to improve airflow, while the L-shape is intended to increase surface contact.

Finally, as one last layer of protection, the iCX solution includes a safety fuse on the PCB, which protects the board against more damage should a component fail. So as a whole, iCX, or “Interactive Cooling Xtreme”, is much more focused on user-facing features, rather than a significant reworking of ACX 3.0’s pure cooling performance.

Elsewhere on the GTX 1070 Ti FTW2 board is its 10+2 power phase design, which is presumably a doubled 5 phase design as observed on the GTX 1080 Ti FTW2. Along the top, board features SLI HB connectors as usual, and adjacent to the dual 8-pin PCIe power connectors is the small Dual BIOS toggle.

  Fan Curve Zero Idle Fan Speed Power Limit Temperature Target
BIOS 1 (Default) Standard Yes 120%
BIOS 2 Aggressive No 130%

Now a staple higher-end EVGA feature, Dual BIOS is exactly what it sounds like: 2 usable VBIOSes, selected via that small switch on the top of the card. The purpose of the Dual BIOS function then is two-fold: offer a second configuration for the card for less common use cases, and to include a second BIOS so that the card can safely have further BIOSes flashed without rendering the card unbootable, which is handy if you're into BIOS modifications.

In the case of the FTW2, these BIOSes are fairly different, and as a result the BIOS selection can have a material impact on overclocking performance. The default, out of the box BIOS, BIOS 1 (Master) runs the card as described thus far, with a typical low-noise fan curve, standard 83C temperature target, a maximum power limit of 216W (120%), and zero fan speed idle enabled. BIOS 2 (Slave) is far more overclocking oriented, dropping zero fan speed idle while utilizing a more aggressive fan curve, and on the power/temperature side the card's temperature target is raised to the 93C maximum and, most importantly, the power limit is raised to 235W (130%).

It goes without saying then that BIOS 2 is meant to offer the better out-of-the-box overclocking experience – in particular the increased power limit can't be achieved in software – but it still has to respect NVIDIA's voltage limitations, not to mention the card's power limitations. Speaking of which, considering that the GTX 1070 Ti is presumably still unfriendly to actual voltage increases, the 375W total from dual 8-pins and PCIe slot is overkill for the default dual BIOS.

As far as display output goes, the GTX 1070 Ti FTW2 is fairly straightforward with 3 DisplayPorts, 1 HDMI, and 1 DVI-D, covering the usual bases of TV and VR with HDMI, as well as DVI-only monitors and legacy uses with DVI-D.

The EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti FTW2 Review Meet The EVGA GTX 1070 Ti FTW2: Precision XOC
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  • Le Québécois - Thursday, February 1, 2018 - link

    I had been looking at the price for the GTX 1070/1070ti/1080 VEGA56/64 since early November. It's only the week before Christmas that I saw a slight price drop on some of the GTX 1080 on I was lucky enough to get a MSI GTX 1080 GAMING X 8G for $550.

    By the time I installed it a week later, it was already back above $700... and it only got worst from that point on.

    I really hope your current card isn't as old as my 7970 was.

    The funny/sad thing for me now is that I'm still only using a good old 12 yo 22" 1680x1050 monitor and almost all of the good 27" 2560x1440 are sold out near me right now :(.
  • CplShawn - Thursday, February 1, 2018 - link

    I was still using my GTX580 until last week when it finally died. I got a 950 from a coworker for $40, and it's doing okay, the fan is very loud. I was looking forward to getting a 1080Ti, but there is no way in heck that I'm going to pay current prices.
  • Lord of the Bored - Friday, February 2, 2018 - link

    I've got a Radeon 380, 4 gig.
    I wouldn't even be looking to update right now if I hadn't grabbed a Rift during the summer sale. That bumped me just outside my comfort zone, which is a shame since it turns out I REALLY like VR.

    Oh well, it is still servicable. I can stalling for a little more time.
  • DnaAngel - Tuesday, May 22, 2018 - link

    And now you can get a 1080 for $550-$575 lol. It's all over the place.
  • Crazyeyeskillah - Monday, February 5, 2018 - link

    Can't wait to pay 800$+ for this card.
  • DnaAngel - Monday, May 21, 2018 - link

    The 1070Ti is marketed to compete with the Vega 56? Heck, in a good bit of these benchmarks, esp at 1440p, the 1070Ti is neck and neck with not the Vega 56, but the Vega 64, which is almost 2x the price LOL.

    And yet as of writing this, AMD still has the 56 at $630 and the 64 at $800. Just bought a GTX 1070Ti for $475 2 days ago to replace my R9 390 that just died.
  • DnaAngel - Monday, May 21, 2018 - link

    I want what AMD is smoking. For the current price of a Vega 64, you can get a 1080Ti lol. Or you can save a few hundred and get a $475 1070Ti that matches or outperforms Vega 64 at 1080/1440p in most titles hahaha.

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