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MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Gaming Z 8G

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MSI offers a series of high-end graphics card variants, with the X and Z suffixes denoting performance class, Z being the best. The MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Gaming Z 8G ($469) is its high-end take on Nvidia's already-powerful GTX 1070, and with a few big differences compared to the reference card, it's a fantastic performer.

To begin with, MSI's 1070 Gaming Z has a higher overall maximum boost clock speed compared with its 1070 X version, jumping to 1,860MHz from 1,797MHz. There are a couple of modes to run the card on, including Gaming mode, which spins the card down slightly (1,835MHz) and Silent mode, which clocks the card at the same speed as the GTX 1070 Founders Edition (1,506MHz). You can easily swap between these modes with the included MSI Gaming App utility.

The 1070 Z also includes three RGB LEDs as opposed to the 1070 X's two LEDs (the true killer feature worth buying this card for). Two are customizable (you can only change one of the 1070 X's lights), and the third light comes in the form of an upward-facing MSI badge logo, which throws light up into the chassis. Outside of these changes, the X and Z versions of the 1070 are virtually the same, with the Z costing about $20 more than the X.

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Gaming Z 8G

Compared with the Founders Edition GTX 1070, the 1070 Gaming Z has a higher base clock speed (if you run the MSI Gaming App and activate its settings), more lighting, and runs cooler thanks to an extra fan. The software makes the Gaming Z better suited to modders and tinkerers, while the reference card is closer to plug and play. Even better, because Nvidia tends to price the Founders Editions a bit higher, the 1070 Gaming Z costs about the same as Nvidia's reference card.

As expected, performance was superior to the 1070 Founders Edition and the 1070 Gaming X. The card averaged moderately improved frame rates across all gaming tests, and with the minimal price difference, there's little reason not to go for this card if you're looking at a 1070. For more details, including complete benchmark results, read the full MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Gaming Z 8G review at our sister site Computer Shopper.

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