MSI GTX 1070 Aero ITX 8G OC Video Card Review

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Up next on the test bench is another 1070 from MSI. This time, however, it is a small form factor GTX 1070 instead of the full sized card. We have in our hands the MSI GTX 1070 Aero ITX 8G OC. The card promises to have everything the full sized card has hardware wise, but in an ITX form factor. Let’s see what magic MSI used to keep this card cool and humming along even with a smaller, single fan cooler keeping temperatures where we need it.

Specifications

As I mentioned in the introduction, the MSI GTX 1070 Aero ITX 8G OC is a full featured GTX 1070 in that it has all the shaders, ROPS, and TMU’s of the larger cards. The only difference here, outside of size, is the clockspeeds are a bit lower, and of course it has a single fan on it and is a lot smaller to fit easily into small cases.

The card comes in at a base clock of 1531 MHz. This yields a base boost clock of 1721 MHz, while actual boost hits 1886 MHz consistently in our testing. Memory comes in at 2002 MHz (8008 MHz GDDR5). This is a bit slower than the rest of the 1070’s we reviewed, but I have to say I expected all the clocks to lower a bit considering its size. That said, as you will see later, there isn’t much of a difference in performance either.

The biggest selling point on this card is obviously its size. Being meant for small form factor cases, the diminutive 1070 Aero comes in at 175 x 129 x 37 mm (6.88″ x 5.07″ x 1.45″) weighing just 1.27 lbs. You will see a picture of it compared to another small card, an R7 250, a bit later in the article for comparison.

The Aero supports a total of four displays using its 2x DisplayPort (v1.4), 2X HDMI ports (v2.0), and a DL-DVI-D connector. These support a maximum resolution of 7680×4320.

More information can be found below and from the MSI website.

MSI GTX 1070 Aero ITX 8G OC
Model Name / GPU GeForce® GTX 1070 AERO ITX 8G OC / NVIDIA GeForce® GTX 1070
Interface PCI Express x16 3.0
Core Name GP104-200
Memory Type GDDR5
Memory Size (MB) 8192
Memory Interface 256-bit
Shaders, ROPs, TMUs 1920 Shaders, 64 ROPs, and 120 Texture Management Units
Boost / Base Core Clock 1721 MHz / 1531 MHz
Memory Clock (MHz) 8008 MHz

Maximum Displays

Outputs (DP/HDMI/DVI)

4 Max displays

DisplayPort x 2 (Version 1.4) / HDMI x 2 (Version 2.0) / DL-DVI-D

Max Resolution: 7680 x 4320

Multi-GPU Technology Yes 2-Way
Power consumption (W) / Power Connectors 150W / 1x 8-pin (500W Reccomended Power Supply)
HDCP / HDMI / DL-DVI Support Yes (all three)
DirectX / OpenGL Version Support DX12_1 / Open GL 4.5
Card Dimensions (mm) 175 x 129 x 37 mm (6.88″ x 5.07″ x 1.45″)
Weight 580g (1.27 lbs)

Features

By far the biggest draw to the Aero ITX card is its small size. This allows it to fit in small form factor systems and HTPC’s and yields a powerful, high-end, GPU in a very small footprint.

The Aero ITX cards have not forgotten about cooling as they used their award winning MSI TORX fan on the card. The patented fan blade design provides superior cooling performance while remaining silent. Speaking of silent, the Aero ITX also uses MSI’s ZeroFrozr technology to eliminate fan noise in low-load situations. It does so by stopping the the fan when they are not needed (until 60 °C).

The heatsink used is comprised of three 8 mm super pipes and a slew of aluminum fins. Like the TwinFrozr cooler on the full sized cards, this heatsink also uses Airflow control to deflect the air to where its most needed.

Last but not least, the Aero ITX sports MSI’s Military Class 4 components using the MIL-STD-810G certified components. These are said to help with the torturous circumstances of extreme gaming and overclocking for extended usage. See more at the website for the Aero ITX!

SMALL PACKAGE, BIG PUNCH

The power of a full size graphics card in an incredibly small package. MSI AERO ITX graphics cards are perfect for small form factor systems and HTPC’s as they only take up a fraction of the space of a full size graphics card. This means they will fit into virtually any system and ensure a smooth gaming experience.

TORX FAN

AERO ITX cards are equipped with the award winning MSI TORX fan. Thanks to the patented blade design, MSI TORX fans provide strong cooling performance while remaining incredibly silent.

DISPERSION FAN BLADE

Maximizes the downward pressure to thrust airflow directly to the heatsink beneath.

ZERO FROZR

ZeroFrozr technology which was first introduced by MSI back in 2008. ZeroFrozr technology eliminates fan noise in low-load situations by stopping the fans when they are not needed, literally bringing noise down to 0dB.

MIGHTY COOLING IN A TINY PACKAGE

Underneath the AERO ITX shroud is an incredibly compact heatsink comprised of 8mm copper super pipes and countless aluminum fins. Airflow Control deflects the airflow to where it’s most needed to keep the GPU cool during demanding gaming sessions.

MILITARY CLASS 4 COMPONENTS

One of the deciding factors in performance is the quality of the components used. That is why MSI only uses MIL-STD-810G certified components for AERO ITX cards. These components have proven durable enough to withstand the torturous circumstances of extreme gaming and overclocking for extended usage.

GPU-Z

Below is our gratuitous screenshot using the latest version of GPU-Z. Still has all the same parts of its full sized counterparts, just with a bit less clocks!

GPU-Z v1.18

 

Retail Packaging and Accessories

Below are some shots of the retail packaging and how it rests inside. High level information including the card inside, the model (OC) and it being VR Ready grace the front while other features and specifications are on the back. When opening the box, you will see the card sits snug in form fitting foam inside its anti-static bag. Accessories include driver disk and a quick start/instruction guide.

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Meet the MSI GTX 1070 Aero ITX 8G OC

Ahh… here we go with its diminutive little self, the MSI GTX 1070 Aero ITX 8G OC. You will really get a feel for its size a few scrolls down, but, here she is in all her Small Form Factor (SFF) glory! As you can see the heatsink shroud is mostly black with their large TorX fan cooling down the GPU. The card does not come with a backplate, nor can you order one I don’t believe. Not a big deal in the least with its intended use, crammed inside a SFF case!

MSI GTX 1070 Aero – Front

Back

Alternate 1

Alternate 2

Bottom’s Up!

Top Down!

Side

A Closer Look

Outputs on the card are still full compliment. You get two 2x HDMI (v2.0), 2x DisplayPort (v1.4), and DL-DVI-D. Having dual HDMI (among other things) gives it the “VR Ready” specification. In order to power this little beast, one 8-Pin PCIe power will be required. Between it and the slot allows a total of 225 W to get to the GPU and be in spec.

Outputs – 2 HDMI, 2 DisplayPorts, and 1 DVI

8-Pin Power Required!

Removing the heatsink was quite easy on this card coming off with just six screws total. Not that they come off frequently. Some of these full sized cards with backplates and plates for the memory/VRM I’ve seen use over a dozen screws before!

On the base of the heatsink we see a total of three heatpipes. The two on the outside flattened pretty good. These attached to a baseplate which in turn makes contact with the GPU itself. We can also see good contact on the VRM thermal pads, and partial contact on the vRAM. Not really a huge issue of course as memory really doesn’t get that hot. These overclocked just fine as well. Here we see a 5+1 VRM design, which is the same as the Founders Edition, except in use here are higher quality power bits.

Heatsink Removed

Heatsink Base

Power Delivery (6 phase)

Close up of the GP104-200 die and the Micron Memory.

GP104 Core

Micron Memory IC

I promised I’d show you a picture of just how small the card is. Ironically, it is bigger than the other card used. However, that card is a budget AMD R7 250. There isn’t nearly as much going on there as there is on the GTX 1070. It is taller than the bracket though, so keep that in mind when choosing a case and this card.

R7 250 and MSI GTX 1070 Aero ITX

Monitoring/Overclocking Software – MSI Afterburner

We all know about MSI Afterburner by now I am sure. You are able to control everything you need to from this application. Fans and fan curves, voltage, core and memory clockspeeds, monitoring the GPU and system… all here.

Test System

GPU Test System
CPU Intel 7700K @ 4.2 GHz (to match previous testing)
Motherboard ASUS Maximus IX Apex
RAM 2×8 GB DDR4 GSkill Trident Z @ 3000 MHz 15-15-15-35 2T 1.35 V
Graphics Card MSI GTX 1070 Aero ITX 8G OC
Stock: Core -1531 MHz, 1886 MHz (Actual Boost), / 2002 MHz Memory
Overclocked: Core – 1626 MHz, 1949 MHz (Actual Boost) / 2205 MHz Memory
Storage OCZ RD400 (512GB)
Power Supply SeaSonic SS-1000XP (80+ Platinum)
Operating System Windows 10 x64 (Fully Updated)
Graphics Drivers 376.33
Other Equipment
Digital Multimeter, Kill-A-Watt

Benchmarking Method/Settings

Note all testing below uses 1920×1080 screen resolution (settings also carry over to 2560 x 1440 and Surround/Eyefinity testing, if applicable).

All Synthetic benchmarks were at their default settings, with game benchmarks at noted settings:

  • 3DMark Fire Strike – Extreme, default setting.
  • 3DMark Time Spy – Default
  • Unigine Valley Benchmark v1.0 – 1080p, DX11, Ultra Quality, 8x AA, Full Screen
  • Unigine Heaven (HWbot) – Extreme setting
  • Crysis 3 – Very High settings with 8xMSAA/16xAF (2nd level when you procure and use the Crossbow to get across the level and kill the Helicopter)
  • Metro:LL – DX11, Very High, 16xAF, Motion Blur – Normal, SSAA Enabled, DX11 Tessellation – Very High, Advanced PhysX – Disabled, Scene D6
  • Dirt: Rally – 1080p, 8x MSAA, everything on Ultra that can be, enable Advanced Blending
  • Grand Theft Auto V – 1080p, high settings (see article below for details).
  • Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor – 1080p, everything Ultra that can be (Lighting quality High), FXAA and Camera + Object Blur, DOF/OIT/Tessellation enabled.
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider – 1080p, SSAA 4X, VSync Off, DirectX 12 On, Very High Preset
  • The Division – 1080p, Ultra Preset, VSync Off
  • Far Cry: Primal – 1080p, Ultra Preset, VSync Off
  • Ashes of the Singularity – 1080p, DX12, Crazy Preset

More details found in our article: Overclockers.com GPU Testing Procedures

GPU’s Used for Comparison:

Synthetic Benchmarks

So how did the little card that could do in this testing? Pretty darn good. Although the clockspeeds are a bit lower, its still a full 1070 with all of the 1070 performance. You can see in these tests its only a couple of percent behind in our synthetic testing. Nothing a little overclock won’t take care of and still plenty for 1080p and 2560×1440 gaming… even in a SFF or HTPC!

3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) and 3DMark Time Spy

Unigine Valley (Extreme) and Unigine Heaven (Hwbot – Extreme)

Gaming Benchmarks

The games side of things really shows the same as with the synthetic testing. The slightly higher clocked full sized cards are running slightly faster throughout the testing. All titles are of course still plenty playable at 1080p resolutions.

Crysis 3, Dirt: Rally, and Metro: Last Light

Far Cry: Primal, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, and GTA V

Rise of the Tomb Raider, The Division, and Ashes of the Singularity

2560×1440 Results

Moving up a bit to 2560×1440, we see in most titles there are plenty playable frame rates here too at our Ultra/Highest settings we choose to run these games at. Certainly some concessions will need to be made with ROTR and maybe Crysis 3. Otherwise you are close to or above 60 FPS in our games list.

2560×1440 Results

Pushing the Limits

Here I was able to raise the power limit to 112% raise the voltage a bit (what little that actually means on Pascal) and get the core up to 2012 MHz for a working ‘average’ on the core. The power limit at 12% above stock is really putting a glass ceiling on the card and dropping bins when it poked through the 112% limit. On the memory side, I was able to push the Micron based ICs to 2252 MHz. There is probably a bit more left in the tank, but I chose to lean on the core since it matters more performance/benchmarking wise.

5.1 GHz CPU, GPU @ 2012 MHz (actual boost) / 2252 MHz Memory

Temperatures and Power Consumption

Temperatures for this smaller cooler really stayed under control and quiet in my testing environment. Granted, for this type of card, my environment isn’t exactly similar being open air versus the typical confines of a SFF case. As always, YMMV. But the fan spun up and kept things around 70-72 °C while barely being audible.

Temperatures

Power consumption for the system peaked at 289 W in Unigine Valley overclocked while at stock speeds, hit 277 W. Sipping on the power, Pascal!

System Power Consumption

Conclusion

MSI has taken an incredibly viable 1080p/2560×1440 card and shrank it down to SFF size while still having nearly the same performance. The heatsink and TorQ fan used on the card to keep it cool is pretty silent until you break 70% fan speed (I only did this when pushing the limits). The black heatsink shroud/fan with white brand and model lettering lend its look to fit in with most aesthetics. Can you believe though it does NOT have an RGB LEDs???!! I’m not complaining really, just surprised in this day and age. But really, considering its intended use in SFF builds that generally do not have plexi/glass sides, it isn’t a problem.

I don’t really have anything bad to mention. The overclocker in me wants more headroom (in all NVIDIA cards, let’s be honest here), but I do understand why limiting it compared to full sized cards is a good thing in this situation. It still rocks the house like a 1070 does without it.

Pricing on this card comes in at $396.89 at newegg.com. As far as ‘mini’ GTX 1070’s go, the cheapest is $380, so the pricing really isn’t much different honestly. The full size cards are from that point well into the $450+ range so its really is a good deal. I recall a generation or so ago there was a pretty stiff premium for the little ITX cards. Not so far here!

If you are looking for an ITX card for that SFF build, I wouldn’t look much further than the MSI GTX 1070 Aero ITX 8G OC. It has the small size needed, quiet fan, and performance you’d expect out of a GTX 1070 of any size. This is overclockers.com approved!

Click here to find out what this means.

– Joe Shields (Earthdog).

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