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

Test Hardware And Software

Test Hardware
ProcessorIntel Core i7-930 (Bloomfield) 2.8 GHz, 4.8 GT/s, 8MB L3 Cache, power-saving settings enabled.Overclocked to 3.33 GHz (21 x 160 MHz), Turbo Boost enabled
MotherboardMSI Eclipse Plus (LGA 1366) X58/ICH10, BIOS 1.0
MemoryCrucial Ballistix Tracer (3 x 2GB) DDR3-1333 7-7-7-24
Hard DriveIntel SSDSA2MH160G2C1 160GB SATA 3 Gb/s
Graphics CardsMSI N480GTX-M2D15 GeForce GTX 480 1.5GB (1x, 2x, 3x)
ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB (1x, 2x)
Power SupplyEnermax MODU87+ 800W
CPU CoolerIntel DBX-B Thermal Solution
System Software And Drivers
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
DirectXDirectX 11
Platform DriverIntel INF Chipset Update Utility 9.1.1.1019
Graphics DriverNvidia GeForce 197.41
AMD Catalyst 10.4

As mentioned, both Cooler Master and MSI helped us out by sending the "approved" chassis, a motherboard capable of enabling twin x16 slots, and a third GeForce GTX 480 for our testing. I also wanted to single out Enermax's MODU87+ power supply here, though.

I knew this 800W 80 PLUS Gold unit would be fine for a pair of GeForce GTX 480s, but I was unsure if it'd handle a trio. Despite power numbers that crested 900W from the wall, it did its job well, and never exhibited stability issues, even in the packed HAF 932 enclosure.

Games
CrysisVery High Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, 4xAA / No AF, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 1900x1200 / 2560x1600, DirectX 10, Patch 1.2.1, 64-bit executable
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of PripyatExtreme Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, 4xAA / No AF, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, DX11 Rendering, Tessellation Enabled, HDAO, Benchmark Tool
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2Ultra High Settings, No AA / No AF, 4xAA / No AF, 1680x1050 / 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, Second Sun, 45 second sequence, FRAPS
DiRT 2Ultra High Settings, No AA / No AF, 4xAA / No AF, 1680x1050 / 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, Custom Tom's Hardware benchmark script, DirectX 11 Rendering
Metro 2033High Quality Settings, AAA / No AF, 4x MSAA / No AF, vsync off, PhysX off, 1680x1050 / 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, Chapter 1: Chase, 150 second sequence, FRAPS, DirectX 11 (Tess. and DoF Filter Enabled).
Just Cause 2Highest Quality Settings, No AA / 16xAF, 4xAA / 16xAF, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, Desert Sunrise benchmark, Steam Version, Nvidia cards: Bokeh filter and GPU Water enabled
  • 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