GeForce GTX 480 And 470: From Fermi And GF100 To Actual Cards!

Meet The GeForce GTX 480 And 470

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.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 GeForce GTX 480GeForce GTX 470
Graphics Processing Clusters (GPCs)44
Streaming Multiprocessors (SMs)1514
CUDA Cores480448
Texture Units6056
ROP Units4840
Graphics Clock700 MHz607 MHz
Shader Clock1,401 MHz1,215 MHz
Memory Clock (Data Rate)924 MHz (3,696 MT/s)837 MHz (3,348 MT/s)
Memory Capacity1.5GB GDDR51.25GB GDDR5
Memory Interface384-bit320-bit
Memory Bandwidth177.4 GB/s133.9 GB/s
Fillrate42.0 GTexels/s34.0 GTexels/s
Manufacturing Process40nm TSMC40nm TSMC
Form FactorDual-slotDual-slot
Display Outputs2 x DL-DVI, 1 x mini-HDMI2 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.

Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • restatement3dofted
    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.
  • tipoo
    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.
  • tpi2007
    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...
  • not at all impressed
  • Godhatesusall
    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
  • Pei-chen
    Wow, it seems Nvidia actually went ahead and designed a DX11 card and found out how difficult it is to design. ATI/AMD just slapped a DX11 sticker on their DX10 card and sells it as DX11. In half a year HD 5000 will be so outdated that all it can play is DX10 games.
  • outlw6669
    Kinda impressed :/

    The minimum frame rates are quite nice at least...
    Lets talk again when a version with the full 512 SP is released.
  • djtronika
  • The way we're meant to be dismayed, gg infirmi
  • randomizer
    I'll keep my GTX275.