Ouch! My fingers hurt from typing. Hey, you know what, I definitely like both the GeForce GTX 470 and 480. Performance wise things are looking very solid, even with early Beta drivers. Would this series have been released six months ago, everybody would have been hysterical with raving reviews. But yeah... there of course was this company called ATI who definitely got their stuff right at first try and ran away like a dog with a nice fresh meaty bone to chew on. The bar was set pretty high by ATI alright.
Admittedly while very strong, both the GeForce GTX 470 and 480 are not a slam dunk homerun compared to the fastest ATI 5800 series single GPU solutions. The reference Radeon HD 5870 keeps up with the GTX 480 pretty well on many occasions and a stinging fact is that its price is gradually dropping towards 429 USD, coming down from 469 USD (which is an interesting fact all by itself as it was launched at 399 USD). ATI reaps mucho benefits from the release of their Catalyst 10.3 driver (used in this review). The new driver brings significant performance boosts throughout the Radeon HD 5800 and 5900 series. Performance was enhanced in a lot of game titles. Would ATI not have released Catalyst 10.3 on time, then this review would have looked different. You'll probably notice a review or two out on the web using older drivers.
The fun thing is, in a couple of months the same thing will happen for NVIDIA with new drivers, 10% here, 7% there .. hey, that's how it works.
Even so, when we tally up the results out of all titles tested, the GeForce GTX 480 wins nearly everywhere except in Anno 1404 and ironically 3DMark Vantage. There are scenarios where the GTX 480 is very close to the 5870, but there are also scenarios where the GTX 480 completely and utterly kicks the Radeon HD 5870 in the proverbial nuts. What surprised me was the fact that say from 1280x1024 up-to 1920x1200 NVIDIA seems stronger than the competition. And at 2560x1600 things tend to equalize a much more.
When we focus solely on the GTX 480 now for a minute, substandard and topic of discussion obviously has to be the TDP -- the card when stressed will utilize nearly 250 Watts and that certainly is pretty steep power consumption, especially compared to ATI's Radeon 5870 with a TDP of only 188W. You are going to need a decently ventilated PC as the heat the GeForce GTX 480 produces is plentiful. Make no mistake, the card will get hot, very hot. So that's definitely something you need to keep in the back of your head.
In the end though, the GeForce GTX 480 is a graphics card that kicks ass, it is without doubt the fastest single GPU based graphics card on the block. The performance is grand and impressive and well, it's just a sick card to play all modern games with at any resolution or image quality preference.
The GeForce GTX 470 then -- obviously this card is lined up against ATI's Radeon HD 5850. It can compete with it quite well. Price wise it's definitely the more interesting of the two cards tested today. We expect that, once volume availability kicks in, this card will drop to roughly 300 USD. Performance wise we are looking at a product that positions itself smack down in the middle ATI's Radeon HD 5850 performance level and as such it's a really nice card to own. TDP wise at 215W we feel that power consumption is reasonable, and much like the GTX 480, we do also need to state that the heat output of the card currently is high but though not as high as the GTX 480. In fact we have a gut feeling that NVIDIA we reprogram the FAN RPM delta real soon, forcing the fan speed RPM at 70% which was not even every noisy, pushed the temperatures back to 80 Degrees C real quickly. Gaming wise the performance is obviously grand and the image quality it outputs is really high ranking as well. Money versus performance wise I'd say the GTX 470 is the winner of the two really.
As this article has shown, the newer software titles will benefit greatly from the new NVIDIA GeForce series 400 graphics cards. Metro 2033 is just stunning to play and when you look at the Just Cause 2 benchmarks all you can do is sit there, watch, with your mouth open. Stunning to look at and the performance is just brilliant combined with massive image quality settings. Consoles .. eat your heart out !
So there you have it you guys, temperatures at and TDP definitely can be considered trivial, but for most of you guys that is a non-issue, you are certainly looking at the fastest GPUs on the block in their respective category. Additional benefits for NVIDIA cards are of course PhysX which definitely is gaining more ground since the last year. It's a nice feature to have, sure... CUDA, we haven't talked about it much just yet. But obviously the GF100 GPUs are fully CUDA ready, in fact the architecture was designed with CUDA in mind. On the compute side of things we know one thing for sure, the GF100 should be impressive.
DX11 performance -- what we noticed in our test sessions is that the GeForce GTX 470 and 480 hold their ground really well in DX11 applications. Tessellation performance is downright terrific, the choice of putting a HW tesselator in each SM (shader cluster) definitely seems to be the right call to make architecture wise.
Alright, let me wrap up this conclusion. When we look purely at the image quality and brute game performance, that's where the GTX 470 ($349) and 480 ($499) shine, they are imposing, impressive and most definitely cards that will deliver a massive amount of performance. Brute force is what you'll receive with these products. We had a blast for sure testing them and drivers wise just did not run into any issues. Price vs performance wise we feel the GTX 480 is priced a notch too high though. And with a 150 USD difference that makes the winner of them both the GTX 470. The generic consensus has to be that the GeForce GTX 480 is definitely faster than the currently leading single GPU flagship from team red, the Radeon HD 5870. As such the GeForce GTX is more than convincing enough and makes a very strong impression. NVIDIA regains the performance crown and is back in the saddle like a cowboy after a harsh shootout, riding its horse into the sunset. Never ever has the graphics card arena been this close when it comes to sheer competition, and you know what ... we just love it.
Now bring on the board partner boards and let's get some more reviews out there. By next week you should see some decent availability in e-tail. And well .. perhaps May 2010 already for the first mid-range class series 400 products ?
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