GeForce GTX 480M: AVADirect’s W880CU Is Packing The Heat

With the launch of its GeForce GTX 480M, Nvidia’s Fermi architecture takes center stage in high-end gaming notebooks. But is the notoriously-hot GPU able to compete against AMD's Mobility Radeon HD 5870? AVADirect gives us the answer with its new W880CU...

Every so often, a new technology reaches the mobile market that brings shock and awe to high-end buyers. Recent advances, such as Intel’s Clarksfield-based Core i7 processors (last fall) and AMD’s Mobility Radeon HD 5870 (in the spring) have finally introduced mainstream performance computing power back to the world of notebooks. But weren’t those advances immediately preceded by a new Nvidia product?

As it turns out, the refresh cycle for notebook tech is far longer than that of desktops, and graphics have become one of the best examples of this disparity. While desktop gamers expect biannual updates and major architecture improvements every 18 months, notebook enthusiasts watched with chagrin as NVidia’s three-year old G92 architecture was continuously rehashed, relabeled, and revamped from the 8800-series all the way up to the so-called GeForce GTX 285M, last winter.

Widely panned for applying the model numbers of revolutionary desktop parts to evolutionary notebook products, Nvidia finally saw the writing on the wall: it was time to try something different. Welcome the truly new, DX11-compatible GeForce GTX 480M!

Based on its now well-known Fermi architecture, the GeForce GTX 480M eschews the furnace-like power consumption and heat production of its namesake part through several carefully-devised optimizations, one of which must surely be a reduction in voltage.

Yet, while a voltage cut would certainly require a corresponding reduction in clock rate compared to the desktop part, the place where Nvidia really needs its new GPU to shine is a market dominated by the formerly-mentioned GeForce GTX 285M and AMD Mobility Radeon HD 5870. AVADirect made that comparison possible by configuring its Clevo W880CU based notebook with internal components identical to those of its previously-reviewed W860CU.

AVADirect W880CU Component List
PlatformClevo W880CU Core i7 17.3" Barebone, Intel PM55 Express, MXM-III Discrete Graphics
CPUIntel Core i7-820QM Quad-Core 1.733 GHz, 2.5 GT/s QPI, 8 MB L3 Cache, 45 nm, 45 W, OEM
RAMKingston 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) PC3-10666 DDR3-1333 MHz SDRAM SO-DIMM, CL9, 1.5 V, Non-ECC
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 480M 2 GB GDDR5 Mobile Graphics Card
Display17.3" "Full HD" Glossy TFT, 1920x1080
Webcam2.0 Megapixel
AudioIntegrated HD Audio
SecurityBuilt-in Fingerprint Reader
Storage
Hard DriveCorsair 128GB Nova Series SSD, MLC, 270/195 MB/s, 2.5-Inch, SATA 3 Gb/s, Retail
Optical DriveMatshita UJ-240A Blu-ray Re-Writer
Media DriveMulti-Format Flash Media Interface
Networking
Wireless LANIntel Ultimate-N 6300, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n, 11/54/450 Mb/s, Internal Mini PCIe Card
Wireless PANCastleNet BTC04R Bluetooth Module
Gigabit NetworkBuilt-in 10/100/1000 Mb/s Ethernet
IEEE-1394Integrated IEEE-1394 FireWire 400 controller
TelephonyIntegrated 56K V90/92 Fax/Modem
Peripheral Interfaces
USB3 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0
Expansion Card1 x ExpressCard 54
HDD1 x eSATA 3Gb/s
AudioHeadphone, Microphone, Line-In, Digital Out Jacks
Video1x Dual-Link DVI-I w/VGA Adapter, 1x HDMI
Power & Weight
AC Adapter180W Power Brick, 100-240V AC to 19V DC
Battery11.1V 3800mAh (42.18Wh) Single
WeightNotebook 8.6lbs, AC Adapter 2.2lbs, Total 10.8 pounds
Software
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Edition, OEM
Accessories
 RJ11 Telephone Cord
 DVI-I to VGA Adapter Block
 Software/Documentation Binder
 Deluxe Nylon Notebook Bag
Service
BackupOEM System Recovery (secure HDD partition only)
WarrantyStandard 1-Year Warranty
Price3192.18
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53 comments
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    Top Comments
  • Tamz_msc
    Quote:
    ....all of these notebooks must be plugged into a power outlet before gaming commences.

    I think that sums it up.
    22
  • Lmeow
    Portable vasectomy!
    12
  • bin1127
    It plays Crysis!
    11
  • Other Comments
  • bin1127
    It plays Crysis!
    11
  • Tamz_msc
    Quote:
    ....all of these notebooks must be plugged into a power outlet before gaming commences.

    I think that sums it up.
    22
  • Lmeow
    Portable vasectomy!
    12
  • Tamz_msc
    LmeowPortable vasectomy!

    LOL +1
    -1
  • xyzionz
    Quite a surprise on the power consumption...
    4
  • sprunth
    That's a crazy heat pipe setup...

    Agree on the naming thing on the last page, that would be helpful.
    3
  • Maziar
    Great review.
    Before its launch,it was rumored that it will have a much higher power consumption than 5870M, but now it seems they are close
    0
  • Anonymous
    "Notice that the component on the left uses both fans and has two-thirds the total number of heat pipes" Ummmmm if I'm looking at the picture correctly the GPU and the majority of the heat pipes are on the Right, you may want to retype that.
    -1
  • Anonymous
    are there no temperatures for gpu in article or i missed it?
    8
  • Plyro109
    The funny thing is, AMD actually DID use the naming scheme you like in their LAST generation of mobile GPU's. The Mobility 4850 matched the standard 4850's number of stream processors, albeit with lower clock speeds. Same with the Mobility 4870 and Mobility 4870x2.

    They changed it in response to Nvidia's naming scheme, which is a shame. I liked the matching of desktop/laptop performance to names, too. :/
    2
  • Crashman
    MaziarGreat review.Before its launch,it was rumored that it will have a much higher power consumption than 5870M, but now it seems they are close
    The difference of around 50W under full load is a big deal! Fortunately, you only SEE that difference under full GPU load.
    shuffman37"Notice that the component on the left uses both fans and has two-thirds the total number of heat pipes" Ummmmm if I'm looking at the picture correctly the GPU and the majority of the heat pipes are on the Right, you may want to retype that.
    Excellent observation, thanks! I was flipping it back over in my mind, since it's upside down, but that doesn't work for describing photos!
    zbckhfkhkaare there no temperatures for gpu in article or i missed it?
    FurMark reports GPU temperatures in the mid 70's, but I'm not certain how accurate that reading is so the information wasn't included.
    Plyro109The funny thing is, AMD actually DID use the naming scheme you like in their LAST generation of mobile GPU's. The Mobility 4850 matched the standard 4850's number of stream processors, albeit with lower clock speeds. Same with the Mobility 4870 and Mobility 4870x2.They changed it in response to Nvidia's naming scheme, which is a shame. I liked the matching of desktop/laptop performance to names, too.
    Yes, I've never been one to make a big deal of underclocking, but when NVidia named its G92 as a GTX 280M, I reached my personal limit.
    11
  • lapoki
    With that kind of money i can get both, a good gaming desktop and a decent gaming laptop (with 5870M). Oh well...
    But its nice to see nVidia catching up to ATI... Let the price wars begin so i canget my second 5850 ;-)
    1
  • dragonsqrrl
    MaziarGreat review.Before its launch,it was rumored that it will have a much higher power consumption than 5870M, but now it seems they are close

    Many people were praising the Mobility Radeon HD5870 for its relatively low power consumption, especially in comparison to the spec sheet for the GTX480M, which described Nvidia's latest high end mobile part as having a TDP of 100W. In fact according to the spec sheets the Mobility HD5870 uses significantly less power then even the GTX285M at full load, 50W in comparison to 75W. However, it quickly became apparent that something wasn't adding up.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/avadirect-clevo-w860cu-mobility-radeon-hd-5870,2615-11.html

    What many of the people who were bashing the TDP's of the GTX285M and GTX480M didn't understand was that ATI and Nvidia calculate TDP differently. ATI only figures in the power draw of the GPU itself, while Nvidia measures the entire board including memory. So direct comparisons based solely on the numbers provided by the spec sheets won't accurately represent real-world differences in power consumption. In many cases the actual power draw of these mobile parts is much closer then the official spec sheets would have you believe.
    0
  • Christopher1
    How hot does this thing run? Manufacturers need to stop focusing on 'faster, faster' and more on 'cooler, cooler' now
    2
  • wintermint
    No.. the chip itself IS the heat :O!
    -2
  • shehab
    Price is being overlooked here.
    GTX 285M is 75$ more than Mobility 5870 so I believe I can buy 2 5870 for the price of one 480M.
    1
  • jrharbort
    I've been waiting to use this for some time now...

    http://i49.tinypic.com/59x5xv.jpg

    Article pretty much proves my point.
    4
  • vaskodogama
    great catching up nV! but I like desktop computers more for performance!
    1
  • falchard
    lol at the price. I don't think anyone is going to pay twice as much for a laptop that has a 10% performance advantage. Also I don't think AVADirect is going to show us the laptop symbolic of the GTX480M. Their HD5870 Mobility model is not that good compared to ASUS, ACERs, and MSI's models. It will probably be from these three that will make a sellable laptop using the GTX480M.
    -1
  • nforce4max
    Grillforce GTX480m = Portable heat generator.
    11