Three Factory-Overclocked, High-End Graphics Cards

Test System Setup, Benchmarks, And 3DMark

We are testing all of the cards against reference models to quantify the benefit of spending extra on these factory-overclocked offerings. We have a GeForce GTX 480 on hand, but are simulating a reference Radeon HD 5870 by using a PowerColor Radeon HD 5870 LCS, based on a Radeon HD 5870 PCB. We also swapped the PowerColor Radeon HD 5870 LCS’ water block with a reference Radeon HD 5870 cooler.

These cards are overkill for resolutions of 1680x1050 and below, so we'll stick with 1920x1080 and 2560x1600. We're making a conscious effort to supply relevant benchmark results here, so we won't opt for high levels of anti-aliasing (AA) unless the frame rates allow for it. Our goal is to get average frame rates close to 60 FPS and minimum frame rates above 30 frames per second.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Graphic Test System
CPUIntel Core i7-920 (Nehalem), 2.67 GHz, QPI-4200, 8 MB L3 Cache, Overclocked to 3.06 GHz @ 153 MHz BCLK
MotherboardASRock X58 SuperComputer, Intel X58, BIOS P1.90
NetworkingOnboard Realtek Gigabit LAN controller
MemoryKingston PC3-10700, 3 x 1024 MB, DDR3-1225, CL 9-9-9-22-1T
GraphicsReference Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 1536 MB GDDR5Zotac GeForce GTX 480 AMP! Edition 1536 MB GDDR5PowerColor Radeon HD 5870 LCS 1 GB GDDR5Gigabyte GV-R587SO-1GD Radeon HD 5870 1 GB GDDR5HIS HD 5870 iCooler V Turbo X 1 GB GDDR5
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar WD50 00AAJS-00YFA, 500 GB, 7200 RPM, 8 MB cache, SATA 3.0Gb/s
PowerThermaltake Toughpower 1200 W1200 W, ATX 12 V 2.2, EPS 12 V 2.91
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectX versionDirectX 11
Graphics DriversATI Catalyst 10.5, Nvidia GeForce Driver 197.45
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Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 32-bit executable, Benchmark Tool, High Settings, No AA, No AF
Far Cry 2DirectX 10, in-game benchmark, Ultra-High Settings, 8x AA, No AF
Aliens vs PredatorDirectX 11 Default Benchmark, no AA, No AF
World In Conflict: Soviet AssaultDirectX 10, Timedemo, Very High Details, 4x AA/4x AF
DiRT 2DirectX 11, Timedemo, Ultra Details, 8x AA/4x AF
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.01, Total System score

3DMark is most useful when comparing Radeons to Radeons and GeForces to GeForces because the benchmark definitely favors certain drivers and architectures. This chart shows us some interesting info as far as how the overclocked cards compare to their reference models, but don't assume the performance in games will reflect the Radeon vs. GeForce results.

  • 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 ? :)
  • ^^^^^
    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