GeForce GTX 480M: AVADirect’s W880CU Is Packing The Heat

Out With The Old, In With The New

Every so often, a new technology reaches the mobile market that brings shock and awe to high-end buyers. Recent advances, such as Intel’s Clarksfield-based Core i7 processors (last fall) and AMD’s Mobility Radeon HD 5870 (in the spring) have finally introduced mainstream performance computing power back to the world of notebooks. But weren’t those advances immediately preceded by a new Nvidia product?

As it turns out, the refresh cycle for notebook tech is far longer than that of desktops, and graphics have become one of the best examples of this disparity. While desktop gamers expect biannual updates and major architecture improvements every 18 months, notebook enthusiasts watched with chagrin as NVidia’s three-year old G92 architecture was continuously rehashed, relabeled, and revamped from the 8800-series all the way up to the so-called GeForce GTX 285M, last winter.

Widely panned for applying the model numbers of revolutionary desktop parts to evolutionary notebook products, Nvidia finally saw the writing on the wall: it was time to try something different. Welcome the truly new, DX11-compatible GeForce GTX 480M!

Based on its now well-known Fermi architecture, the GeForce GTX 480M eschews the furnace-like power consumption and heat production of its namesake part through several carefully-devised optimizations, one of which must surely be a reduction in voltage.

Yet, while a voltage cut would certainly require a corresponding reduction in clock rate compared to the desktop part, the place where Nvidia really needs its new GPU to shine is a market dominated by the formerly-mentioned GeForce GTX 285M and AMD Mobility Radeon HD 5870. AVADirect made that comparison possible by configuring its Clevo W880CU based notebook with internal components identical to those of its previously-reviewed W860CU.

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AVADirect W880CU Component List
PlatformClevo W880CU Core i7 17.3" Barebone, Intel PM55 Express, MXM-III Discrete Graphics
CPUIntel Core i7-820QM Quad-Core 1.733 GHz, 2.5 GT/s QPI, 8 MB L3 Cache, 45 nm, 45 W, OEM
RAMKingston 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) PC3-10666 DDR3-1333 MHz SDRAM SO-DIMM, CL9, 1.5 V, Non-ECC
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 480M 2 GB GDDR5 Mobile Graphics Card
Display17.3" "Full HD" Glossy TFT, 1920x1080
Webcam2.0 Megapixel
AudioIntegrated HD Audio
SecurityBuilt-in Fingerprint Reader
Hard DriveCorsair 128GB Nova Series SSD, MLC, 270/195 MB/s, 2.5-Inch, SATA 3 Gb/s, Retail
Optical DriveMatshita UJ-240A Blu-ray Re-Writer
Media DriveMulti-Format Flash Media Interface
Wireless LANIntel Ultimate-N 6300, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n, 11/54/450 Mb/s, Internal Mini PCIe Card
Wireless PANCastleNet BTC04R Bluetooth Module
Gigabit NetworkBuilt-in 10/100/1000 Mb/s Ethernet
IEEE-1394Integrated IEEE-1394 FireWire 400 controller
TelephonyIntegrated 56K V90/92 Fax/Modem
Peripheral Interfaces
USB3 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0
Expansion Card1 x ExpressCard 54
HDD1 x eSATA 3Gb/s
AudioHeadphone, Microphone, Line-In, Digital Out Jacks
Video1x Dual-Link DVI-I w/VGA Adapter, 1x HDMI
Power & Weight
AC Adapter180W Power Brick, 100-240V AC to 19V DC
Battery11.1V 3800mAh (42.18Wh) Single
WeightNotebook 8.6lbs, AC Adapter 2.2lbs, Total 10.8 pounds
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Edition, OEM
Row 31 - Cell 0 RJ11 Telephone Cord
Row 32 - Cell 0 DVI-I to VGA Adapter Block
Row 33 - Cell 0 Software/Documentation Binder
Row 34 - Cell 0 Deluxe Nylon Notebook Bag
BackupOEM System Recovery (secure HDD partition only)
WarrantyStandard 1-Year Warranty
Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • bin1127
    It plays Crysis!
  • Tamz_msc
    ....all of these notebooks must be plugged into a power outlet before gaming commences.
    I think that sums it up.
  • Lmeow
    Portable vasectomy!
  • Tamz_msc
    LmeowPortable vasectomy!LOL +1
  • xyzionz
    Quite a surprise on the power consumption...
  • sprunth
    That's a crazy heat pipe setup...

    Agree on the naming thing on the last page, that would be helpful.
  • Maziar
    Great review.
    Before its launch,it was rumored that it will have a much higher power consumption than 5870M, but now it seems they are close
  • "Notice that the component on the left uses both fans and has two-thirds the total number of heat pipes" Ummmmm if I'm looking at the picture correctly the GPU and the majority of the heat pipes are on the Right, you may want to retype that.
  • are there no temperatures for gpu in article or i missed it?
  • Plyro109
    The funny thing is, AMD actually DID use the naming scheme you like in their LAST generation of mobile GPU's. The Mobility 4850 matched the standard 4850's number of stream processors, albeit with lower clock speeds. Same with the Mobility 4870 and Mobility 4870x2.

    They changed it in response to Nvidia's naming scheme, which is a shame. I liked the matching of desktop/laptop performance to names, too. :/