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

Closing The Case On Noise

Surprise, surprise. Air doesn’t move around components in an open test bench the same way it does inside of a chassis architected for optimal circulation. In theory, most cases are designed to channel air in through the bottom front and out through top rear. Graphics cards sitting out and exposed don’t benefit from that sort of design consideration. Thus, Nvidia’s claim that its GeForce GTX 480 will operate cooler and more quietly in a case is entirely conceivable.

There are currently five cases on the company’s list of recommendations for optimal cooling (more will be added as they get certified, according to Nvidia):

  • Cooler Master’s HAF 932
  • Cooler Master’s CM 690
  • Cooler Master’s Stacker
  • SilverStone’s Raven RV02
  • Thermaltake’s Element V

Cooler Master was kind enough to send an HAF 932 over to serve as our test platform. The roomy enclosure accommodates an ATX motherboard with a power supply mounted underneath it. There’s tons of room for storage, and good cable management is relatively easy to achieve. Front-, side-, and top-mounted 230 mm fans move lots of air quietly, while a rear-mounted 140 mm cooler helps maintain the desired circulation.

Lo and behold, getting the GeForce GTX 480 into a well-ventilated chassis makes a difference. With a single card installed, the Nvidia and AMD boards are indistinguishable at idle and load. Adding a second card makes a more pronounced difference, and it’s important to note that the GeForce GTX 480s are separated by four slots on our MSI Eclipse Plus motherboard, while the Radeon HD 5870s are back-to-back, two slots apart. Nvidia’s getting an advantage here because none of our CrossFire bridges are long enough to span four cards, while several of our SLI connectors easily close the gap.

For the detail-oriented, all of our testing here was conducted at 1 m using an Extech 407768 sound level meter point at, in front of, and mid-way up the Cooler Master HAF 932 chassis. The meter was set to long sampling duration with a range of 30-80 dB, A-rating.

Using GPU-Z 0.4.2, we were able to measure the processor temps of the GeForce and Radeon cards (for two-card configs, we’re reporting the warmest temperature). Free-flowing case or not, the GeForce GTX 480s are still hot-running boards.

  • 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