Let's sum up our results with a couple of our famous scatter plots. The best values tend toward the upper-left corner of each plot, where performance is highest and prices are lowest. We've converted our 99th-percentile frame time results into FPS to make our higher-is-better system work.
To account for the actual conditions of the graphics card market right now, we've surveyed Newegg and averaged the price of all in-stock models of the GeForce GTX 980 Ti and the Radeon R9 Fury X. We've used the actual price of the Gigabyte Windforce GTX 980 card we employ in our testing, since it's one of the few GTX 980s still available. We've also used the $469.99 retail price of the MSI GTX 1070 Gaming Z card itself in these graphs, since pricing is so wildly variable on GTX 1070s right now.
Unless you skipped straight to our conclusion, the plot of FPS per dollar above should come as no surprise. The GTX 1070 comes eerily close to duplicating the performance of the GTX 980 Ti for less money than that card demanded at launch. The GTX 1070's dot would move even further to the left if we consider that some of those cards are selling for as little as $410 on Newegg right now. Products that deliver more bang for the buck are always easy to get excited about, and the GTX 1070 offers that improvement in spades. The $470 retail price of the fancy MSI card we tested skews the results a bit, though.
In our 99th-percentile FPS per dollar plot, the GTX 1070 just edges out the GTX 980 Ti. We'd be hard-pressed to call one card or the other better by this measure—they both deliver exceptionally smooth gameplay for the money. That said, we'd always pick the Pascal card over a deeply-discounted GTX 980 Ti for its higher power efficiency and new architectural features. Meanwhile, the Radeon R9 Fury X trails the GTX 1070 in both our average FPS-per-dollar and 99th-percentile FPS-per-dollar measures.
Since the GTX 1070 delivers about the same performance as hot-clocked GTX 980 Tis, folks with those cards have no reason to ditch them for this Pascal-powered product. Those gamers won't get a performance boost without stepping up to a GTX 1080. Owners of GTX 770, GTX 780, and perhaps even GTX 780 Ti cards—and similar products from AMD—will likely find the GTX 1070 a compelling upgrade for the money, though. It's also the only sensible step up from the just-released GTX 1060 for builders who want more performance from an Nvidia card without dropping $600 or more on a GTX 1080.
For better or for worse, the GTX 1070 also completes Nvidia's stranglehold on the high-end graphics card market. Some Radeon R9 Fury X cards are now available for prices similar to some GTX 1070s, but the Fury X's performance in our tests often trails the Pascal card, and it needs over 100W more power to hang in there under load. We'd love to see the same kind of vigorous competition at this price point that we're seeing around $200 to $250 thanks to the Radeon RX 480 and the GTX 1060, but our best guess is that AMD's next high-end graphics card is a while off yet.
It's not all bittersweet news today, though. The GTX 1070 Gaming Z card that MSI sent us shows off what's possible when Nvidia's board partners work their magic with Pascal. It's an excellent piece of hardware in every regard: quiet, cool, and fast. Thanks to the strong demand for Pascal cards, however, it's selling for $90 more than Nvidia's $380 suggested price for custom GTX 1070s. We still think it's an OK value at that price compared to the Radeon R9 Fury X and the GTX 1080, but we think you'd really have to like the RGB LED lighting on the backplate to make it worth the $20 price jump over the nearly identical Gaming X variant.
Still, MSI has carried over the mojo that made its GTX 970 Gaming 4G card one of our favorites of its generation. We think the Gaming X and Gaming Z cards are well worth a look if you're in the market for a GTX 1070.