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

Which Card Is The Better Buy?

Time for a little performance index. We’re going to use 2560x1600 without anti-aliasing enabled here, since the Radeon HD 5870s specifically have issues in Crysis and Metro 2033 at that resolution. The following chart includes the scores for each card in our six tested games.

Now, the average frame rate across the six games at 2560x1600 without AA:

Next up, the cost for a pair of GeForce GTX 480s and Radeon HD 5870s. These were collected from Newegg on April 29th, 2010. Each GeForce GTX 480 was priced at $509, while each Radeon HD 5870 was priced at $399. So, we know the GeForce GTX 480s are expensive, but they’re also faster.

And our final piece of data: dollars per average frame per second. Because SLI is so much more effective than CrossFire, two GeForce GTX 480s in SLI end up costing less per FPS than a pair of Radeon HD 5870s in CrossFire, on average.

Now, this doesn’t tell the whole tale, of course. First, it only applies to dual-card configurations. It’s the impressive scaling of SLI that turns the tide. If you’re looking at one GeForce GTX 480 against a Radeon HD 5870, AMD delivers better value ($8.60/average FPS versus the GeForce GTX 480’s $10.18/average FPS).

Remember also that this represents a snapshot in time: the lowest prices on two cards, tested across six games, and indexed using one resolution. More performance data means more clarity, and there’s almost no limit to the depth you can go. Nevertheless, it’s fairly amazing that these multi-card configurations fall as close to each other as they do. That's why I've included these charts. The "value" comparison isn't the blowout I was expecting, dealing with $500+ cards.

When it comes to high-performance gaming, choosing between a pair of GeForce GTX 480s or Radeon HD 5870s might not be as easy as you previously thought, if you’re taking dollars over average performance into account.

  • anonymous x
    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.
    Reply
  • lashton
    and why not check it against the 5890, the 480GTX is nvidia fastest card, put it against ATI Fastest Card
    Reply
  • cangelini
    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.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    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!
    Reply
  • cruiseoveride
    Crappy ATi drivers.
    Reply
  • lunyone
    Did I miss something, but there is NO mention of the power consumption of the 3 x 480's??
    Reply
  • 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?
    Reply
  • cangelini
    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 :)
    Reply
  • SpadeM
    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.
    Reply
  • JeanLuc
    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.
    Reply