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PAX: What Gamers Think of Nvidia's GTX 480

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 126 comments

The press conference is over and the reviews are up; the GTX 480 and 470 from Nvidia are officially official, and only two weeks away from store shelves. Amid all the pomp and circumstance, what do gamers actually think of the new Nvidia cards?

There is a lot of positive energy on the PAX East show floor regarding the new Nvidia hardware. “It’s good to finally see Nvidia with a new series of video cards. It’s been too long, but I think it’s been worth the wait," said one bystander at the Nvidia booth (he did not want to give me his name). "I haven't had a chance to sit down at look at reviews," said John S, while playing the StarCraft II beta at the Nvidia booth, "but if the rocket sled demo is any indication, Nvidia has some impressive hardware on their hands."

Brandon, a passer-by at the Alienware booth emphatically stated "I can't wait to grab a GTX 480, or even a dual-GPU version when it comes out. AMD is going DOWN!"

Sure, new hardware is always exciting, but there's a flip-side to every coin. "I don't claim loyalty to AMD or Nvidia, but why would I pay $500 for a GTX 480 when a 5870 from AMD is $100 less for only a minor dip in performance?" said Mike G., also at the Nvidia booth. Another negative reaction came from Brian R, near the Rockstar Games booth. "I bought my 5870 about a month ago, and after seeing what Nvidia is bringing to market in a few weeks, I think I made the right choice."

And of course, to keep things even, admitted AMD fanboy Kelby said, "AMD took the price-performance crown with the 4000 series, and after looking at the reviews online, things won't be any different with the 5000 series. Plus, why get a GTX 480 when the 5970 uses roughly the same amount of power but offers much better performance?"

My two cents: competition is great, if not an absolute necessity, so Nvidia finally showing up to the DX11 party can only be good for PC enthusiasts. After witnessing the press conference here at PAX East and reading Chris Angelini's review, it looks like AMD does indeed have the performance per dollar edge for now (full disclosure: I am using a 4870 X2 right now, but I claim no loyalty to either company). However, some of what Nvidia is showing off is pretty cool, like the new raytracing demos. I'll leave it to the commenters to battle over which is better.

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  • 44 Hide
    znegval , March 28, 2010 2:21 AM
    I'm sorry but I'm not a "performance at any cost" guy. The power requirements for Fermi are absolutely ridiculous considering it doesn't deliver any significant improvement over the competing product (at least not as significant as it should). In my opinion, quality isn't measured by raw performance and I belive 5870 is a better quality product than the 480.

    By the way, "I can't wait to grab a GTX 480, or even a dual-GPU version when it comes out". Good luck with that.
  • 28 Hide
    shadow187 , March 28, 2010 2:39 AM
    Well if the GTX480 uses over 250Watts, there won't be a dual version of that.
    If the GTX470 uses over 215Watts, there won't be a dual version of that.
    What're we left with? The unknown. GTX460? GTX450? Or will nVidia be the first to break the 300W PCI-E sig spec? Will the GTX490 (512Shader version) compete with the HD5890? Will there be an HD5930 or an HD5950?

    Stay tuned!
  • 24 Hide
    Marco925 , March 28, 2010 2:24 AM
    I think they completely dropped the ball on this one.
Other Comments
    Display all 126 comments.
  • 44 Hide
    znegval , March 28, 2010 2:21 AM
    I'm sorry but I'm not a "performance at any cost" guy. The power requirements for Fermi are absolutely ridiculous considering it doesn't deliver any significant improvement over the competing product (at least not as significant as it should). In my opinion, quality isn't measured by raw performance and I belive 5870 is a better quality product than the 480.

    By the way, "I can't wait to grab a GTX 480, or even a dual-GPU version when it comes out". Good luck with that.
  • 24 Hide
    Marco925 , March 28, 2010 2:24 AM
    I think they completely dropped the ball on this one.
  • 22 Hide
    TemjinGold , March 28, 2010 2:27 AM
    znegvalI'm sorry but I'm not a "performance at any cost" guy. The power requirements for Fermi are absolutely ridiculous considering it doesn't deliver any significant improvement over the competing product (at least not as significant as it should). In my opinion, quality isn't measured by raw performance and I belive 5870 is a better quality product than the 480.By the way, "I can't wait to grab a GTX 480, or even a dual-GPU version when it comes out". Good luck with that.


    I can't wait to grab a GTX 480 myself... when a dual-GPU version comes out... ;) 
  • 22 Hide
    matchboxmatt , March 28, 2010 2:32 AM
    Outside of that tessellation demo, Fermi has kind of been disappointing, especially considering how late they are to the DX11 party. I was really hoping for a heavy hitter that would drive ATI's 5xxx series prices down, but it looks like things are gonna be staying the same.
  • 19 Hide
    eodeo , March 28, 2010 2:36 AM
    Both ati and nvidia have 3 gaming monitor options, while nvidia requires 2 cards and another month to get the drivers ready. (dont forget you actually need 3 monitors for this to make any sense)

    nvidia cards are not better for 3d gaming, but they are impressive nonetheless. The thing they are indisputably better is for CUDA, and thats not a negligible thing for me. I'm having hard time deciding should i trade my 4850 for 5850 or gtx 470. 5850 would be a clear winner if it could run CUDA apps, like vReveal and upcoming Mercury player for Adobe Premier cs5...

    Since games run the same on both and I can live without CUDA support for at least another year, the only thing that will sway me in either direction right now is what card runs Quicksilver, the newest renderer for 3ds Max, better. Autodesk won't come forward with the results on which is faster, since they are partnered with both ATi/nVidia, so I would love it if Tom's did a review of this.

    To me a heavy 3d user, Quicksilver is the single most important piece of software coming out this year. iray would likely take the crown if 3ds max was supporting it in the upcoming release.
  • 28 Hide
    shadow187 , March 28, 2010 2:39 AM
    Well if the GTX480 uses over 250Watts, there won't be a dual version of that.
    If the GTX470 uses over 215Watts, there won't be a dual version of that.
    What're we left with? The unknown. GTX460? GTX450? Or will nVidia be the first to break the 300W PCI-E sig spec? Will the GTX490 (512Shader version) compete with the HD5890? Will there be an HD5930 or an HD5950?

    Stay tuned!
  • 3 Hide
    JackNaylorPE , March 28, 2010 2:41 AM
    Everyone's focusing on the flagship 480 but the 470 looks like the big noise from this release....the price performance comment above does not appear based upon anyone looking at the benchies as the 470 wins on a $ per frame analysis almost entirely across the board and the headroom provided means it should be pushed by overclockers well beyond it's released values.

    http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-reviews/30321-nvidia-geforce-gtx-470-review-32.html
  • 6 Hide
    smartkid95 , March 28, 2010 2:54 AM
    Uhh... well I can't call this one really the dx11 performance makes Nvidia quite alluring right now the heat issue is scaring me away and nvidia says power consumption doesn't matter is bull dookie MORE POWER = MORE MONEY + BIGGER COSTLY PSU. I think ati dx11 performance is pitiful for the main selling point of the card give it more than 20s fps really? In all seriousness a 5970 looks rather attractive after seeing some benchmarks.
  • 8 Hide
    RogueKitsune , March 28, 2010 3:35 AM
    I agree with JackNaylorPE. Yes the GTX 480 is a BEAST of a card, but I don't see how nVidia can justify the power consumption on that thing. The GTX 470 competes perfectly with the 5870 in my opinion. However, it is too bad that AMD doesn't see nVidia as a threat right now because i wanted to see a price drop so i could pick up a 5870 on the cheap :p 
  • 8 Hide
    Burodsx , March 28, 2010 4:20 AM
    The people asked probably don't know about the temperature, noise, and power requirements... Hell if you let me play a game using a 480 without knowing those 3 factors I too would be on the Nvidia bandwagon.
  • -5 Hide
    shin0bi272 , March 28, 2010 4:34 AM
    znegvalI'm sorry but I'm not a "performance at any cost" guy. The power requirements for Fermi are absolutely ridiculous considering it doesn't deliver any significant improvement over the competing product (at least not as significant as it should). In my opinion, quality isn't measured by raw performance and I belive 5870 is a better quality product than the 480.By the way, "I can't wait to grab a GTX 480, or even a dual-GPU version when it comes out". Good luck with that.


    The power requirements are the same for the 295 and the recommended psu according to nvidia's site is 600w. But I do agree that the requirements are quite steep for a dx11 enabled 295 on 1 gpu. Quality is measured in several ways, one of them being performance. others are price, availability, production numbers, durability, and ease of use. I think I remember someone saying in one of the many articles RE: the launch of the 480 that a dual gpu version would come by combining 2 (possibly lower clocked) 470's.

    ronch79but I'd rather plug in an ATI/AMD video card on my AMD chipset-based motherboard. It just feels like the right thing to do. Same way I wouldn't feel like putting in an ATI/AMD video card if I had an Nvidia chipset-based board.


    The word youre looking for is interoperability. Try asking the older system builders what happened when you put an ATI card in a socket A amd mobo. Here's a hint you couldnt boot it at all... after post you get a black screen ... cant even get to a prompt to boot from CD to install windows. Nvidia never had that problem IIRC.
  • 23 Hide
    Anonymous , March 28, 2010 4:43 AM
    The thing is that the 480 is performance-wise between the 5870 and 5970 and priced accordingly. What would really make the 480 pay off for early adopters would be devs picking up on massive amounts of tessellation, where the ATI cards fall flat. The 470 is definitely more bang per buck, but doesn't have the same performance as the 480 in GPU-intense situations.

    Personally, I'm going to be picking up a 480. The slight boost over the 5870 is really just a bonus IMO. The real reason I've been bearing towards nVidia for the most part is the extra features: CUDA, better compute architecture, PhysX (however rare, can't stand having options I can't enable), 32xAA with little performance impact is pretty sweet too.

    And about the heat/power "issues": if you are even considering a 5870 or GTX 480, you're likely to have above a 600W PSU. They're enthusiast level cards for a reason, don't expect them to sip gas. It's not like running either of them will suddenly add 40 bucks to your bill. And as for the heat, the 295 got roughly that hot, and I've seen friends with 4870x2s that have had 90C and up under load. High performing parts get hot, what a shocker.

    The only real issues here, in my opinion, is whether or not the slight performance increase and other features are worth the ~$80 more for the 480. For many, there are other things they could spend the $80 on that are needed more. Personally, I'll spend it on the 480, simply because with an nVidia chipset mobo, I'd not be able to do Crossfire with an ATI card whenever I wanted to, which sucks. I'm also kind of intrigued with the numbers in SLI scaling that the 480's been getting. Once I up my PSU from a 850W to a 1.2KW, and move on to the i7 or next gen CPU, I might pick up a second one.

    Both companies have good products though. I see this as only being good for gamers, as each company will keep trying to push out higher and higher performing parts, giving us better and better hardware to play with. Whether you're green or red, PC gaming is far from dead!
  • -9 Hide
    kelemvor4 , March 28, 2010 4:43 AM
    Quote:
    Try asking the older system builders what happened when you put an ATI card in a socket A amd mobo. Here's a hint you couldnt boot it at all... after post you get a black screen ... cant even get to a prompt to boot from CD to install windows. Nvidia never had that problem IIRC.

    Interoperability and backwards compatibility have always been problems for ATI. You can't teach an old dog new tricks, I guess.
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