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

Power Consumption

Of course, we all know that there’s a lot more to this story than price and performance. Power is a third critical consideration here.

In my initial review, The GeForce GTX 480 and Radeon HD 5870 weren’t too far apart at idle. The delta under load was quite a bit larger—but that was using FurMark.

We know for a fact (because AMD has told us) that the 5000-series cards are protected from extraneous thermal load by two features: a thermal protection mechanism that throttles clock speed beyond a set ASIC temp, and a regulator feedback signal also able to reduce clocks in response to a potentially damaging situation.

Thus, I swapped off of FurMark for this little update and went back to 3DMark’s Perlin noise test. It’s not as demanding, but it does present a fairly consistent, er, bad-case scenario. The result isn’t as extreme as the review; Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 480 uses about 64W more than the Radeon HD 5870 under load.

Adding a second card to the equation increases system power use by 337W (well over the rated board power for a single GTX 480, mind you) at load. Meanwhile, a second Radeon HD 5870 adds 162W. That's a more difficult figure to swallow (in fact, it's hard to explain, since the GTX 480 is supposed to be 250W board).

  • 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??
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  • 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