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Meet The GeForce GTX 480 And 470

GeForce GTX 480 And 470: From Fermi And GF100 To Actual Cards!
By , Fedy Abi-Chahla and Florian Charpentier

Although the GeForce GTX 480 and 470 center on the same graphics processor, as with AMD’s Radeon HD 5870 and 5850, they employ significantly different card designs.

GeForce GTX 480

The GeForce GTX 480 consists of a 10.5” PCB, making it half an inch shorter than the Radeon HD 5870. It requires one eight-pin and one six-pin connector to supplement the power drawn over PCI Express. Nvidia rates the board for a 250W TDP—significantly less than Radeon HD 5970, which itself barely ducks under the PCI-SIG’s 300W electromechanical ceiling—and recommends a 600W+ power supply.

But the story doesn’t end with board power. Though the GeForce GTX 480 would seem, on paper, less power hungry than AMD’s flagship, it’s clearly a challenge to keep cool. The card’s thermal solution is among the most aggressive I’ve seen from a reference design. A sink draws heat from the GPU surface and memory ICs. Five heatpipes conduct thermal energy away and into an array of aluminum fins (one is hidden in the picture), while a typical blower-type fan pushes air through the enclosed shroud and out the back of the card.

Most unique, perhaps, is that the surface of the card is actually part of the heatsink, above the fin array. Normally, this would be a part of the card you could grab onto when pulling it out of a system. But when I burnt my hand on it, I thought a temperature reading would be interesting. Turns out that, during normal game play (running Crysis, not something like FurMark), the exposed metal exceeds 71 degrees C (or about 160 degrees F). This will have some ramifications for running two cards in SLI, but we’ll get into that shortly.


GeForce GTX 480
GeForce GTX 470
Graphics Processing Clusters (GPCs)
4
4
Streaming Multiprocessors (SMs)
15
14
CUDA Cores
480
448
Texture Units
60
56
ROP Units
48
40
Graphics Clock
700 MHz
607 MHz
Shader Clock
1,401 MHz
1,215 MHz
Memory Clock (Data Rate)
924 MHz (3,696 MT/s)
837 MHz (3,348 MT/s)
Memory Capacity
1.5GB GDDR5
1.25GB GDDR5
Memory Interface
384-bit
320-bit
Memory Bandwidth
177.4 GB/s
133.9 GB/s
Fillrate
42.0 GTexels/s
34.0 GTexels/s
Manufacturing Process
40nm TSMC
40nm TSMC
Form Factor
Dual-slot
Dual-slot
Display Outputs
2 x DL-DVI, 1 x mini-HDMI
2 x DL-DVI, 1 x mini-HDMI


GeForce GTX 470

The GeForce GTX 470 sports a more elegant package. It’s 9.5” long—again, half an inch shorter than the competition, AMD’s Radeon HD 5850. Two six-pin connectors provide all of the auxiliary power needed to supplement the PCI Express interface, maxing out at up to 215W (a little less than 30W more than a Radeon HD 5870). Gone are the heatpipes and exposed surface sink. Instead, the dual-slot card is completely enclosed, pulling air from the blower toward the rear and pushing it out the I/O bracket.

This board’s idle and load temperatures aren’t as aggressive as the GTX 480, though both cards are able to withstand GPU thermal thresholds as high as 105 degrees C. It’s actually interesting to watch these cards’ thermal properties in real-time. As load is applied, temperatures increase to the peak levels you’ll see at the end of this piece (97 and 96 degrees for the GTX 480 and 470, respectively), at which point the fan kicks up a notch to bring temps down by four or five degrees. Most other high-end cards we’ve seen get hotter and hotter, but eventually taper off just under the thermal threshold in response to faster fan speeds.

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Top Comments
  • 45 Hide
    tipoo , March 26, 2010 10:39 PM
    Completely unimpressed. 6 months late. Too expensive. Power hog. Performance not particularly impressive. The Radeon 5k series has been delivering a near identical experience for 6 months now, at a lower price.
  • 45 Hide
    restatement3dofted , March 26, 2010 10:38 PM
    I have been waiting for this review since freaking January. Tom's Hardware, I love you.

    With official reviews available, the GTX 480 certainly doesn't seem like the rampaging ATI-killer they boasted it would be, especially six months after ATI started rolling out 5xxx cards. Now I suppose I'll just cross my fingers that this causes prices for the 5xxx cards to shift a bit (a guy can dream, can't he?), and wait to see what ATI rolls out next. Unless something drastic happens, I don't see myself choosing a GF100 card over an ATI alternative, at least not for this generation of GPUs.
  • 39 Hide
    jennyh , March 26, 2010 10:59 PM
    They held it back for 6 months, but it still can't play Crysis lol. :D 
Other Comments
  • 45 Hide
    restatement3dofted , March 26, 2010 10:38 PM
    I have been waiting for this review since freaking January. Tom's Hardware, I love you.

    With official reviews available, the GTX 480 certainly doesn't seem like the rampaging ATI-killer they boasted it would be, especially six months after ATI started rolling out 5xxx cards. Now I suppose I'll just cross my fingers that this causes prices for the 5xxx cards to shift a bit (a guy can dream, can't he?), and wait to see what ATI rolls out next. Unless something drastic happens, I don't see myself choosing a GF100 card over an ATI alternative, at least not for this generation of GPUs.
  • 45 Hide
    tipoo , March 26, 2010 10:39 PM
    Completely unimpressed. 6 months late. Too expensive. Power hog. Performance not particularly impressive. The Radeon 5k series has been delivering a near identical experience for 6 months now, at a lower price.
  • 33 Hide
    tpi2007 , March 26, 2010 10:39 PM
    hmmm.. so this is a paper launch... six months after and they do a paper launch on a friday evening, after the stock exchange has closed.. smart move by Nvidia, that way people will cool off during the weekend, but I think their stocks won't perform that brilliantly on monday...
  • 28 Hide
    Anonymous , March 26, 2010 10:40 PM
    not at all impressed
  • 34 Hide
    Godhatesusall , March 26, 2010 10:41 PM
    high power consumption, high prices along with a (small, all things considered) performance edge over ATI is all there is. Are 100$ more for a gtx 480 really worth 5-10% increase in performance?

    Though the big downside of fermi are temps. 97 is a very large(and totally unacceptable) temperature level. IMO fermi cards will start dying from thermal death some months from now.

    I just wanted competition,so that prices would be lower and we(the consumers) could get more bang for our buck. Surely fermi doesnt help alot in that direction(a modest 30$ cut for 5870 and 5850 from ATI and fermi wont stand a chance). It seems AMD/ATI clearly won this round
  • 26 Hide
    outlw6669 , March 26, 2010 10:43 PM
    Kinda impressed :/ 

    The minimum frame rates are quite nice at least...
    Lets talk again when a version with the full 512 SP is released.
  • 13 Hide
    djtronika , March 26, 2010 10:45 PM
    yawn
  • 22 Hide
    Anonymous , March 26, 2010 10:48 PM
    The way we're meant to be dismayed, gg infirmi
  • 23 Hide
    randomizer , March 26, 2010 10:49 PM
    I'll keep my GTX275.
  • 26 Hide
    Anonymous , March 26, 2010 10:57 PM
    Traditionally I have been a big nVidia loyalist. Why? Because I think they have better drivers. This however makes me question whether I will stick with them this time around. Its a huge letdown. The performance is not anywhere close to good enough. At this late point in the game ATi likely has something newer than the 5000 series close to launch. It will make people physically sick that they spent the big bucks on these nVidia cards if in 3 months or so there are faster cards from ATi.
  • 39 Hide
    jennyh , March 26, 2010 10:59 PM
    They held it back for 6 months, but it still can't play Crysis lol. :D 
  • 34 Hide
    Derbixrace , March 26, 2010 11:00 PM
    im glad i bought the 5850, im not even a little impressed :/  ati won this round.
  • 24 Hide
    Anonymous , March 26, 2010 11:03 PM
    So... We better start talking about Fermi 2...
  • 27 Hide
    Honis , March 26, 2010 11:03 PM
    I think I'll stick with my 4870s...
  • 3 Hide
    eodeo , March 26, 2010 11:04 PM
    gotta love the competition. prices will surely go down and costumer will only benefit. sad that it took nvidia 6 months to get here though..
  • 26 Hide
    tpi2007 , March 26, 2010 11:04 PM
    GTX 480: 10%-15% more performance than a 5870 for a power consumption akin to a 5970, at much higher temperatures, and for 100$ more. More than likely available in limited quantities in two weeks (let's see about that). I have a word for this: faillure.

    Oh, it seems that ATI already has a preview of Catalyst 10.3a, which add another few frames to the already very respcatable 10.3.

    I admit Tom's want to be polite, although I do have to say, from the reviews I've read so far, you seem to be the most objctive, so you deserve congratulations for that, but anyway, to me, it simply is not worth the money. Efficiency is not just a fashion word, it has real world implications, and Nvidia has a lot of homework to do on redesigning their chip.
  • 25 Hide
    rage machine , March 26, 2010 11:05 PM
    I am so disappointed. I have been using Nvidia since the 6000 series and, unfortunately for them, i will be purchasing an ATI card next. I have a GTX280 and there is really no performance gain big enough to justify the cost, power, and heat levels of the card. I have really gained some newfound respect for ATI though, I look forward to purchasing a card from them. I also believe that eyefinity is going to be the way to go.
  • 25 Hide
    brett1042002 , March 26, 2010 11:06 PM
    Too little, too late.
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