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Nvidia just swapped the GPU in some of its RTX 4070 graphics cards

Normally made using a small AD104 GPU, new variants of the RTX 4070 have been spotted that use the much bigger AD103 used in the RTX 4080.

nvidia geforce trx 4070 gpu swap ad104 ad103

Nvidia is apparently allowing graphics card manufacturers to make GeForce RTX 4070 cards out of GPUs normally used in its much more powerful graphics cards. Specifically, instead of using the AD104 chips used in standard cards, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 made with the AD103 GPU normally found in the RTX 4080 has been discovered.

The specific variant of what’s arguably the best graphics card of Nvidia‘s original 4000 series lineup, is an MSI RTX 4070 Ventus 3X E 12 GB OC. Nothing looks externally different about the card, and it doesn’t perform any differently from a standard RTX 4070, but it is one of the larger variants of the RTX 4070 on the market.

The discovery was made by TechPowerUp, thanks to a reader submitting a screenshot, which showed GPU-Z failing to recognize this particular card. GPU-Z is TechPowerUp’s widely used graphics card information software, and after analyzing the submission data from the app, the site discovered it was being flagged as using an AD103 chip, rather than the expected AD104.

Ultimately, this isn’t a particularly shocking discovery, as chip makers have long used larger chips to produce lower-end products. By disabling portions of the chip, the same effective performance can be delivered as just using a smaller chip in the first place.

Why would they do this? Well, when chips are manufactured they can often have tiny defects that mean the whole chip can’t function. However, by disabling the area with the defect, the chip can still be used, just with less processing power.

What’s interesting about this is that AD103 is a larger GPU than AD104, as shown in the image below (courtesy of TechPowerUp). As a result, you would expect there to be visible signs of this larger GPU on the card. However, as yet there has been no follow-up to determine if any of these differences have been spotted on the card itself.

nvidia ad104 vs ad103

What we do know is that there’s no reported difference in performance compared to a normal RTX 4070. However, it’s theoretically possible that someone could obtain one of these cards – or another variant that uses an AD103 GPU – and experiment with enabling the disabled sections of the GPU. It’s not an easy task, and could ruin the card, but it has been done in the past with other GPUs, often by flashing it with a different card’s BIOS, unlocking extra performance for free.

For those less inclined to potentially brick their $600 graphics card, though, we instead just recommend grabbing an RTX 4070 Super. It’s a slightly more expensive option but it offers a noticeable upgrade on the non-Super card, making it our pick for the best mid-range graphics card.