Beware Of GeForce RTX 3070 Ti Laptop GPUs Being Sold As Desktop Graphics Cards
You've no doubt heard of the NVIDIA RTX 3070 Ti, but have you heard of the 3070 TiM? Probably not because it isn't technically a real product. You can buy one direct from China, and it is, by all accounts, a functional video card. However, it's just a laptop version of the 3070 Ti dressed up in a desktop card format. Yep, it's pretty weird.
The card comes from a small GPU manufacturer called 51Risc, and it looks like a typical mid-range GPU at first. There's a heatsink with dual fans, an I/O shield with four video outputs, and a PCIe connector. However, the dual-slot card doesn't have the standard GA104-400 GPU you'd find in a "real" 3070 Ti. Instead, it's the GA104 (GN20-E) found in 3070 Ti laptops. With its lower power requirements, the card needs just a single 8-pin PCIe cable.
51Risc doesn't hide the providence of its new GPU, but neither does it go out of its way to tell you about its shortcomings. A proper desktop 3070 Ti has 6,144 CUDA cores and a 1,770 MHz boost clock, but the 3070 TiM has just 5,888 CUDA cores and up to 1,485 MHz boost clock. Both cards have 8 GB of RAM, and the TiM actually does have a higher throughput memory. By all accounts, the RTX 3070 TiM should perform about as well as a desktop RTX 3060 Ti. That makes it around 20% slower than a "real" RTX 3070 Ti.
The RTX 3070 TiM is currently listed for $337 (first spotted by VideoCardz), which is not a bad value if the hardware works as advertised. That's a little less than the RTX 3060 Ti desktop card, and about $200 less than the desktop RTX 3070 Ti. The same manufacturer makes GPUs based on the regular desktop parts, so it's unclear why it would start making laptop GPUs into desktop cards. If it's profitable, it will probably continue happening, though.
Video cards are no longer ultra-rare today, following years of punishing shortages. If 51Risc had started selling these modified laptop cards a year or two ago, gamers would probably have eagerly bought them. Now, there's less reason to compromise as prices on Ampere cards continue to fall. NVIDIA has since moved on to the new Ada Lovelace-based RTX 40-series, which are not cheap, and might melt your power cable.