The GeForce GTX 480 Update: 3-Way SLI, 3D Vision, And Noise

Where Are You, Fermi?

Before we dive too deeply into the testing, I’m going to start with what’s missing more than a month after the GeForce GTX 480 launched and more than two weeks after it was first supposed to be available in quantities of tens of thousands: ample supply. I don’t sign myself for email notifications every time an online vendor gets a shipment, but I do check newegg.com and zipzoomfly.com on an almost-daily basis. Call it a bad habit that formed when AMD struggled with its Radeon HD 4770 and then Radeon HD 5870.

On one of the two sites, catching a GeForce GTX 480 in stock is like spying Big Foot arm-wrestling with the Chupacabra—but at least they’re being kept close to the $499 MSRP Nvidia set forth last month. The other site does seem to hold onto cards a little longer—but it’s no surprise, considering they’re selling at a $50 to $100 premium.

So, where are the tens of thousands of cards? That’s hard to say. One board vendor told us it shipped a few hundred at launch. Another happily let us know that it recently moved another shipment of “80 or 90.”

The bottom line is that enthusiasts eager to get their hands on GF100-based cards today have two options: scramble for near-MSRP pricing or pay a premium for a better shot at securing product. Keep this in mind as the story progresses—our value calculations are based on the lowest prices of a card we found in stock at Newegg.

...as of 4/30/10...as of 4/30/10

Update: I'll update this once, since it's fruitless to try to track availability in real-time. Just prior to publishing, Newegg has three different vedors' cards in stock, all between $499 and $509. Zipzoomfly has one card available priced at $579.

Waiting For 3D Vision Surround

One of Nvidia’s most compelling advantages in the battle against AMD’s Radeon HD 5800-series is GeForce 3D Vision. With Eyefinity getting so much positive attention, Nvidia came up with GeForce 3D Vision Surround as a way to deliver stereoscopic game play while burning pixels across two graphics cards.

The allure to those who’ve already seen 3D Vision on a single 120 Hz panel is an even more immersive experience (providing you have the cash for a pair of cards, a trio of monitors, and the 3D Vision Kit).

But while we were first told to expect 3D Vision Surround shortly after launch via a new driver, it’s simply not yet ready. We don’t have an ETA, so anyone who was lucky enough to track down a pair of GeForce GTX 480s hoping to experience 3D Vision Surround right out of the gate will have to wait a little while longer.

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  • Did I miss something, but there is NO mention of the power consumption of the 3 x 480's??
    27
  • lashtonand why not check it against the 5890, the 480GTX is nvidia fastest card, put it against ATI Fastest Card


    A pair of 5870s is actually going to be faster. Should I swing a second 5970, though, I do think a pair of 5970s vs. the three GTX 480s would be a good comparison!
    23
  • simple_inhibitioni wonder if nvidia strong armed toms into agreeing not to show tri-sli power consumption in exchange for the third card (of the available "tens of thousands" /endsarcasm)


    Once again, it's like, mentioned in the story :-P
    19
  • Other Comments
  • Why don't you overclock that cpu higher? Only 3.3 Ghz? The 3rd GTX 480 looks like it's being bottlenecked. You can see the scaling is excellent at high resolutions with AA (from 1 to 2 to 3 cards), but at lower resolutions without AA there's no gain.
    11
  • and why not check it against the 5890, the 480GTX is nvidia fastest card, put it against ATI Fastest Card
    -10
  • There's a good chance that more CPU would def. help at the lower resolutions--one of the reasons I chose 2560 for the comparisons at the end ;-) For one reason or another, wasn't having much luck getting the retail i7-930/Eclipse Plus combo to overclock very well.
    3
  • lashtonand why not check it against the 5890, the 480GTX is nvidia fastest card, put it against ATI Fastest Card


    A pair of 5870s is actually going to be faster. Should I swing a second 5970, though, I do think a pair of 5970s vs. the three GTX 480s would be a good comparison!
    23
  • Crappy ATi drivers.
    -11
  • Did I miss something, but there is NO mention of the power consumption of the 3 x 480's??
    27
  • I have no clue where you people are getting this "5890" Statement from... They have the 5870, and then the next step up is the 5970... Is that what you're trying to say?
    3
  • stuk1intI have no clue where you people are getting this "5890" Statement from... They have the 5870, and then the next step up is the 5970... Is that what you're trying to say?


    Bleh, it's late and it has been a long weekend. Edited :)
    8
  • Quad fire with 5850 would have been nice (thinking back to a builder marathon with quad fire) to see if ati's quad cards made any improovement over last years ones. Also i agree with lunyone, I for one would have been interested to see the numbers on load for the 3 nvidia cards with the 800W gold power supply (and maybe a comment from you cris about what power supply u think is best for the job. Either go lower wattage but a high efficiency psu or higher wattage but lower efficiency)

    Anyways, it was a informative article, looking forward to a full 512 sp card from nvidia and the second revision to the fermi core.
    4
  • stuk1intI have no clue where you people are getting this "5890" Statement from... They have the 5870, and then the next step up is the 5970... Is that what you're trying to say?


    The only place where the "5890" exists is in ATI's folder under 'What to do if Fermi is good".

    And yes where is the tri-sli power consumption numbers, there's no mention of it's omittance in the analysis.
    4
  • JeanLucThe only place where the "5890" exists is in ATI's folder under 'What to do if Fermi is good".And yes where is the tri-sli power consumption numbers, there's no mention of it's omittance in the analysis.


    Actually, addressed in a couple of different places ;-) As mentioned in the test setup section, the 3-way SLI numbers crested 900W under load. But because this was above the Enermax unit's max. continuous power rating, this almost certainly isn't a very efficient measurement. Not that it matters--the noise of three cards was so loud that it's simply not a realistic combination using the Eclipse Plus board.
    4
  • Who wants to pay $10 for 1 fps?

    I'm going to stick with my old 9600 SLI config that I spent $100 dollars on a few years back.
    15
  • lashtonand why not check it against the 5890, the 480GTX is nvidia fastest card, put it against ATI Fastest Card


    dummy...the 5970 is a dual gpu card, that's why it was not compared. as far as since gpu cards go nvidia is the fastest one out ther.
    -8
  • i wonder if nvidia strong armed toms into agreeing not to show tri-sli power consumption in exchange for the third card (of the available "tens of thousands" /endsarcasm)
    -5
  • lunyoneDid I miss something, but there is NO mention of the power consumption of the 3 x 480's??

    He wasn't able to upload the results before the power outage caused by the setup.
    15
  • simple_inhibitioni wonder if nvidia strong armed toms into agreeing not to show tri-sli power consumption in exchange for the third card (of the available "tens of thousands" /endsarcasm)


    Once again, it's like, mentioned in the story :-P
    19
  • What couldn't get your hands on a 3rd HD5870? Also ATI makes Crossfire bridges long enough. I got 2 with my MSI K9A2 Platinum, and another one with my MSI HD5870.

    I do wonder about how the results are presented. Its obviously given in a method that favors nVidia. The only results chosen to be highlighted are the only results that show AMD in a poor position. I think to present these findings to consumers is rather misleading and more information should be furnished so consumers can make a proper decision on a product.

    Right now the most common resolution is 1680x1050. 1920x1200 is becoming more popular as well. At these resolutions even considering a single GTX480 as having a performance advantage is questionable compared to an HD5870. The HD5870 also scales better in those scenario. Yet the basis of your conclusion of consistent SLI scaling comes from the least favorable scenario for the HD5870 on resolutions that are uncommon. I don't think its a mystery why a lower memory card would perform worse doing a post processing effect at a large resolution. However, there is more to a graphics card then memory and its evident the difference in architecture choices at common resolutions.
    -6
  • always great articles from u chris, hoping u might take on the 5970 and 2x5970 soon.
    8
  • So, I'm wondering how much of overclocking potential these GTX 480 cards have. Yep, they are running hot as it is. But, what if you throw liquid cooling on that 2X SLI setup to keep the temps at 35C highest. How far would they go then?
    3
  • For those who are brave enough to peak at the power consumption of 3 480s running at the same time:...

    http://www.guru3d.com/article/geforce-gtx-480-3way-sli-review/26

    P.S. this isn´t for the ones with a weak heart...
    6