Three Factory-Overclocked, High-End Graphics Cards

Power, Temperature, And Noise Benchmarks

The performance numbers are interesting, but they only tell half of the story. Let's see how these cards compare when it comes to power usage, GPU temperature, and noise generation. First, power usage:

The GeForce GTX 480 is notorious for being power-hungry and the Zotac AMP! edition card is no exception, adding 30 W to the reference card's load numbers. Idle power usage is similar, however.

The factory-overclocked Radeon HD 5870 cards are showing a higher idle-power usage. The HIS card, in particular, which is unable to set clocks down to 157/300 MHz, is the biggest violator here. It compensates with load numbers closer to the reference card than Gigabyte's overclocked model. The Gigabyte Super Clocked model ups the load power ante by 30 W or so over the other Radeon contenders.

The Gigabyte cooling solution really shines in comparison to the other options when it comes to keeping GPU temperatures low. The Zotac AMP! edition card also makes good use of Zalman's VF3000 cooler to bring the GeForce GTX 480 temperatures to a reasonable level. Strangely, the iCooler V on the HIS card doesn't seem to be performing any better than the stock cooling solution, and actually delivers a the opposite effect, especially at idle.  

We can see why the GeForce GTX 480 reference cooler has a bad reputation for being loud under load (although its idle noise is very acceptable). All of the other coolers do a similar job of keeping the noise down under load. The HIS iCooler V claims a lead in this respect.  

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    Top Comments
  • ohim
    Did your lights flickered when you powered up that GTX480 ? :)
  • knutjb
    Good to see sensible conclusions, bang for the buck.

    Amazing how well the ATI cards are doing given their time on the market.
  • Jax69
    i am amazed by ati cards after one year on the market is still strong as hell. very good amd
  • Other Comments
  • knutjb
    Good to see sensible conclusions, bang for the buck.

    Amazing how well the ATI cards are doing given their time on the market.
  • Jax69
    i am amazed by ati cards after one year on the market is still strong as hell. very good amd
  • jonsy2k
    I'm not liking the trend of these cards consuming more and more pci slots to be honest.
  • lashton
    lol GTX 480 aginst the 5870
  • carlhenry
    GTX 480 is looking very good and sexy
  • ohim
    Did your lights flickered when you powered up that GTX480 ? :)
  • Anonymous
    liked the flickered thing.
  • h83
    So, the conclusion is that the only good point about those factory overclocked cards are their coolers...
  • Tamz_msc
    Aliens vs. Predator favors the Radeons, just like Crysis favors the GeForce cards. However, the playing field remains very close

    The graphs tell otherwise.
  • The Lady Slayer
    It's a shame the Big Green has paid off so many game developers that we'll never see a 'true' comparison between ATI & nVidia
  • LaloFG
    In my previous card (HIS 4870 with a default zalman heatsink and an HIS fan) the fan failed, not so much a problem, I replaced with a better one, and that was better because while the heatsink is better (zalman one) the fan is crap (thin and very sensitive).

    The HIS card in the article, the heatsink it is not superior to the references one, and if the fans are the same type than before, well...

    I Like the gigabyte one, that heatpipes shines and offers superior cooling (ignore the inferior performance gain due to overclock).

    The GTX 480 ... well, I don´t like physX.
  • juliom
    Far Cry 2 is so Nvidia biased, why the hell do you use it to compare the cards? If that test disappeared the huge advantage in the conclusion graphic would get much smaller.
  • tony singh
    Why far cry 2 , crysis & dirt 2 chosen again & again knowing that nvidia performs better in these?? To show 480 much master than than 5870 ? Want an answer.
  • vaughn2k
    ohimDid your lights flickered when you powered up that GTX480 ?

    Did not notice, because they were busy with the benchmark...

    ... but their neighbor does...
  • kikireeki
    from the articleAt 100% fan speed, the card is noisier than a stock Radeon HD 5870. but it manages to keep the GPU cool, with temperatures under 70 degrees Fahrenheit at full load.

    wow This fan must be blowing liquid-nitrogen!
  • chunkymonster
    Not as big of a gain with the factory oc'd 5870 cards over the 5870 reference design, certainly not enough to justify the additional cost, IMO.

    No surprise that the 480 performs better than the 5870 overall, this is something that ATI stated would happen when they announced they would use dual gpu cards to compete with the high end nVidia single gpu cards.

    Again with the Crysis and Far Cry benches...sheesh!
  • halls
    Just a heads up: on the second page, you mention that the fan keeps the card at under 70 degrees Fahrenheit on full load. I don't believe you!
  • rrobstur
    these cards are both bad-ass. you cant expect a year old card to compete with that gtx 480. thumbs ups nvidia but watch out ati next gen is inbound
  • ares1214
    Next gen ATI isnt changing much, so i doubt performance will be massively increased. Maybe 15-30%, but nothing like the 4xxx series to the 5xxx series. However, their arch. change comes with 7xxx, and my money is, by the time Nvidia finishes the 4xx series, 6xxx will be out. By the time Nvidia releases 5xx (depending on if they go fast or go good), 7xxx will only be around the bend. 7xxx however is scheduled for around Q3-Q4 2011, so they have some time.
  • coolvoodoo
    I like the ATI vs Nvidia wars because that is what drives progress, but it seems that some people want any benchmarks where the Nvidia card is faster to be removed. What would that prove? It is funny that the commenters above seem to think that when ATI performs better, it is because of the card, and when Nvidia performs better it is because they "paid off Tom's". That just seems like fanboys spouting off. I admit that I still like to see how any graphics card performs in Crysis because:
    1. It still taxes even the mightiest of cards.
    2. Every comparison for the past few years has used it, thus giving me an idea how my current card performs against the new cards.
    3. Someday I want to own a graphics card that can beat it down.
    4. I actually still play Crysis (and Far Cry 2).