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Power And Battery Life

Mobility Radeon Vs. GeForce M: The CrossFire Advantage
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One of the big advantages Eurocom cites for the Mobility Radeon HD 5870 CrossFire configuration is its 55 W TDP per card, compared to 100 W TDP for a single GeForce GTX 480M. The idea is that you can get a performance gain greater than 10% from a power gain of less than 10%, while simultaneously improving thermal characteristics by spreading the heat across multiple die.

Yet we’re fairly certain that those TDP numbers are for the GPU, not the entire card, and that AMD and Nvidia use different methods to determine TDP. Rather than dwell on rated specs, a closer look at actual power consumption is needed.

The single GeForce GTX 480M configuration falls between the single- and dual-Mobility Radeon configurations in power consumption. That means the CrossFire configuration uses far more than 10% additional power compared to the single GTX 480M. That power is converted to heat, so Eurocom’s decision to forgo an SLI configuration appears wise.

The GeForce GTX 480M does have lower idle power, which makes it a slightly better choice for non-gaming on-the-go tasks like checking email.

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  • 23 Hide
    Anonymous , September 22, 2010 7:25 AM
    "...but notebook manufactures can fit two of AMD’s top modules in in the same space."

    This affirms it, Fermi is a FAT joke...
Other Comments
  • -4 Hide
    lashton , September 22, 2010 6:45 AM
    the fermio acrh. cant compete against ATI in the mobile market simply because of design implementations, its physically larger, its an OK review if the nVidia card was faster there would have been more review about it
  • 4 Hide
    lunyone , September 22, 2010 6:56 AM
    Shocker here! NOT! This wasn't anything new, but it's nice to see it all spelled out and on paper (benchmarks). Just think you can have a single 5870 (mobile) chip that produces about 90-95% of the 480 GPU for about 70% of the price?? I know where I'd put my $ if I had it to spend.
  • 2 Hide
    tony singh , September 22, 2010 7:09 AM
    The reason nvidia price is higher is because making geforces is more expensive than making radeons, nvidia needs more transistors to reach or beat amd level, hence we can say that hd 5xxx is considerably more efficient than gtx400.
  • 6 Hide
    Crashman , September 22, 2010 7:17 AM
    tony singhThe reason nvidia price is higher is because making geforces is more expensive than making radeons
    And we saw how that worked out in the auto industry for General Motors. A company must base its prices on worth, not cost.
  • 2 Hide
    dEAne , September 22, 2010 7:18 AM
    Nvidia is always an expensive video technology.
  • 23 Hide
    Anonymous , September 22, 2010 7:25 AM
    "...but notebook manufactures can fit two of AMD’s top modules in in the same space."

    This affirms it, Fermi is a FAT joke...
  • 0 Hide
    ggman , September 22, 2010 7:34 AM
    nice review, nothing shocking though we all know the GTX480M is a downclocked GTX465 and the HD5870M is an underclocked 5770. thumbs up for Ati but lets see how will the new Mobile GPUs from nvidia hold up :) 
  • 3 Hide
    alidan , September 22, 2010 8:29 AM
    CrashmanAnd we saw how that worked out in the auto industry for General Motors. A company must base its prices on worth, not cost.


    now correct me if im wrong, and i may as well be. but chips, as in the cpu, gpu, anything that takes massive r&d costs, cost almost noting to make, in the big picture.

    intel so long as they have the fastest processor with little to no competition, prices there products, that may cost in total materials and man hours, maybe 50$ at most, and sells them for 1000$ each to recup the plants cost to manufacture, and the r&d. and if any of the rummors during the femri are to be believed, they had ALLOT to recupe and they need to do it somewhere, with amd pricing lower than they do for close to if not better preforming cards (in the price range) desktop isn't making them there money back fast. so why not gaming laptop where you have less of a choice what goes in.

    thats just my opinion though
  • 1 Hide
    liquidsnake718 , September 22, 2010 8:49 AM
    Yes, some more face time for te 5850!

    It just shows the true manufactoring win that AMD/ATi has accomplished in the past year with such a cool and low power GPU in the cypress and the rest of the radeon 5xxx class. With low heat and TDP requirments, AMD can also take the crown for mobile gaming. Im sure this also helps a tad in the battery life, however we have yet to see crazy gaming laptops hit the 2plus hour mark for movies and games. This is a shame because the first one that can lastat least 3 hours on its highest settings will be a true winner for those looking to spend a wad of cash on a mobile system that can rival midstream desktops.

    I cant help but laugh as my system is now a "mid-level" system and is comparable lthough not better than a laptop!

    Keep these reviews going as they are interesting hen comparing two products in different categories. Maybe we can also see those 12inch ion netbooks vs low end gaming laptops.

    guess crossfire on mobile platforms
  • 3 Hide
    doron , September 22, 2010 8:56 AM
    Always a pleasure to read your reviews Thomas :) 
  • 3 Hide
    Crashman , September 22, 2010 10:59 AM
    alidannow correct me if im wrong, and i may as well be. but chips, as in the cpu, gpu, anything that takes massive r&d costs, cost almost noting to make, in the big picture.intel so long as they have the fastest processor with little to no competition, prices there products, that may cost in total materials and man hours, maybe 50$ at most, and sells them for 1000$ each to recup the plants cost to manufacture, and the r&d. and if any of the rummors during the femri are to be believed, they had ALLOT to recupe and they need to do it somewhere, with amd pricing lower than they do for close to if not better preforming cards (in the price range) desktop isn't making them there money back fast. so why not gaming laptop where you have less of a choice what goes in. thats just my opinion though


    The production cost is usually small compared to the engineering cost, but in the case of the GF100 it's not so clear. The GF100 GPU is fairly large, wafers are fairly expensive, and I don't think Nvidia's yields are all that high on GF100 parts. They could probably make a more powerful mobile GPU at lower cost using the GF104.

    I'm going to take a wild guess that the 480M costs around $100 more to make than the Mobility 5870, since it has both a more-expensive GPU and higher memory density. It also performs better. The problem is, it doesn't perform 100% better yet is priced over 100% higher, a fact that should make it hard to sell once people read reviews like this one.
  • 1 Hide
    theholylancer , September 22, 2010 12:56 PM
    TheCapuletThen why the hell did you comment, dipshit?As far as the article, we all knew this was coming. But what is Nvidia thinking, pricing their mobile chips so far ahead of the AMD chips? There's almost no noticeable difference between a single 480m and M-5870, yet even with Xfire chips, the ATI is still $200 lower? Nvidia has really stepped up to the plate in the desktop market, to compete with AMD. But they're so far out of touch here, you have to wonder who in their right mind is holding the wheel here.

    you know you get ribbons for commenting here at toms right? that kind of crap encourages achievements whores to do things like this.

    on the note of the laptop, I have to ask if they can utilize the whole desktop CF deal to turn OFF one of the two CF cards when on battery without rebooting (the desktop 5000 cards can idle with just one card enabled, and the second card kicks in when needed) or are they gimped driver wise again?

    also does the lappy's bios allows things like vt-x and what ever else extensions intel put in there on the cpu, i know at least my acer burned me and i can't do 64 bit os virtualization because of it.
  • -2 Hide
    alidan , September 22, 2010 1:02 PM
    CrashmanThe production cost is usually small compared to the engineering cost, but in the case of the GF100 it's not so clear. The GF100 GPU is fairly large, wafers are fairly expensive, and I don't think Nvidia's yields are all that high on GF100 parts. They could probably make a more powerful mobile GPU at lower cost using the GF104.I'm going to take a wild guess that the 480M costs around $100 more to make than the Mobility 5870, since it has both a more-expensive GPU and higher memory density. It also performs better. The problem is, it doesn't perform 100% better yet is priced over 100% higher, a fact that should make it hard to sell once people read reviews like this one.


    someone correct me here, but a wafer costs 50000 to produce beginning to end.

    i dont know the size of it, but i believe if they cut cuda cores, the size of the chip is now lesser too.

    im not looking hard, but i cant find the transistor count on wiki, so i cant see how much lesser the chip is, or if its just clocked lower for heat and power preservation
  • 0 Hide
    tu_illegalamigo , September 22, 2010 1:26 PM
    Generally speaking, i`m not surprised that a decent crossfire setup beats a crippled first run Fermi. I`m in agreement with those who think a newer iteration of Fermi would give Nvidia better performance, but this generation, the 5xxx series has been wiping the floor with Nvidia, they`re behind and trying to catch up. As for the laptop itself, that is way too much for me to want to use, it`s barely what i`d call mobile. I`d rather carry my Matx and an LCD in my lanparty backpack. (which even then I dont want to do.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , September 22, 2010 1:26 PM
    alidansomeone correct me here, but a wafer costs 50000 to produce beginning to end. i dont know the size of it, but i believe if they cut cuda cores, the size of the chip is now lesser too. im not looking hard, but i cant find the transistor count on wiki, so i cant see how much lesser the chip is, or if its just clocked lower for heat and power preservation
    No, they're not cutting the chip, it's a full GTX 480 GPU with many of the circuits disabled but still present.
  • 0 Hide
    jdn , September 22, 2010 1:26 PM
    Now lets see how well XFire stands up to 480M SLI. It wouldn't really be a fair fight, either in terms of power consumption, or price. But it's always fun to see the extremes of performance.
    And yes, you can do SLI 480M (and a 6 core cpu while you are at it... :) )
    http://rjtech.com/shop/index.php?dispatch=products.view&product_id=30010
  • 2 Hide
    coldmast , September 22, 2010 1:33 PM
    So mobility HD 5870 xfire = 5850 Desktop. Good to know.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , September 22, 2010 1:39 PM
    jdnNow lets see how well XFire stands up to 480M SLI. It wouldn't really be a fair fight, either in terms of power consumption, or price. But it's always fun to see the extremes of performance. And yes, you can do SLI 480M (and a 6 core cpu while you are at it... )http://rjtech.com/shop/index.php?d [...] t_id=30010

    Yeh, you can SLI two 480M, but not in this chassis. You need a thicker chassis, and then take away drive bays to make room for larger coolers.
  • 0 Hide
    ray-ng , September 22, 2010 1:55 PM
    Having 480Ms in SLI seems a little too much imo. I mean, the sheer amount of space and cooling needed for 2 of them doesn't allow for much space for additional components... Right? Well, I already know the whole thing with the need for a larger chassis and all, but seriously, how much larger do laptops/desktop replacements need to be?
  • -4 Hide
    hixbot , September 22, 2010 2:06 PM
    This would be cool if microstuttering wasn't an issue anymore but it still is.
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