Nvidia’s ‘binning’ practice could mean the best RTX 2070s are third-party cards

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Nvidia has reportedly begun binning — that is, selecting for performance — its RTX 2070 cards, delivering the best of them to its third-party partners, thereby making those with aftermarket coolers and overclockers likely to be the greatest performers. Existing owners and potential buyers will be able to find out whether they have a specially binned RTX 2070 by looking at the GPU core. Those that are binned have a special lettering to designate them as such.

The Turing generation of graphics cards from Nvidia has had some serious ups and downs since its unveiling earlier this year. Not everyone was convinced that they were really designed with gamers in mind, and everything but the 2080 Ti proved to be relatively comparable to cheaper, last-generation graphics cards. But as supplies of Pascal cards dwindle, the RTX 2070, 2080, and 2080 Ti, are likely to take over as the most popular new GPU buys — reliability issues notwithstanding.

While gamers await more affordable alternatives, like a rumored GTX 2060, the 2070 remains the most affordable of the new generation. At prices between $500 and $600, it’s still not a cheap card, but the new binning suggests it may be worth splashing out the higher amount, as doing so can get you a much more capable card. As TechSpot highlights, The UT106-400A-A1 GPUs that are appearing in some cards tend to offer greater clock speeds and overclocking potential than the non-binned TU106-400-A1 chips found in reference cards from Nvidia and third parties.

Binning is hardly a new strategy in the PC hardware game. Intel famously “created” its Anniversary Edition 8086 CPU earlier this year with a specially binned Core i7-8700K that was selected to be able to reach the 5GHz frequency that characterized the special edition CPU.

However, it does mean that the chip lottery of buying new cards is rigged against those hoping to end up with a great overclocker while spending less. If you want to buy an RTX 2070 and get the highest of overclocking potential, shelling out more for the 400A-A1 chip is likely going to be worth it.

That doesn’t mean that the reference cards sporting the 400-A1 chip will be terrible in comparison, just that they’ve been tested and found wanting where the 400A-A1 chips were not.

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