GeForce GTX 470 & 480 review -
Setup | Noise | Power consumption | Heat levels
Installation of both products is really easy. Once the card is installed and seated into the PC we connect the 6-pin and 8-pin power connectors to the graphics card.
And yes... do make sure your power supply is compatible:
- GeForce GTX 470 needs two 6-pin PEG connectors
- GeForce GTX 480 needs one 6-pin PEG and one 8-pin PEG connector
Preferably the PEG headers come directly from the power supply and are not converted from the Molex peripheral connectors.
You can now turn on your PC, boot into Windows, install the latest NVIDIA Forceware driver and after a reboot all should be working. No further configuration is required or needed.
We'll now show you some tests we have done on overall power consumption of the PC. Looking at it from a performance versus wattage point of view, the power consumption is high, especially for the GTX 480.
The methodology is simple: We have a device constantly monitoring the power draw from the PC. After we have run all our tests and benchmarks we look at the recorded maximum peak; and that's the bulls-eye you need to observe as the power peak is extremely important. Bear in mind that you are not looking at the power consumption of the graphics card, but the consumption of the entire PC.
Our test system is a power hungry Core i7 965 / X58 based and overclocked to 3.75 GHz. Next to that we have energy saving functions disabled for this motherboard and processor (to ensure consistent benchmark results).
I'd say on average we are using roughly 50 to 100 Watts more than a standard PC due to higher CPU clock settings, water-cooling, additional cold cathode lights etc.
Keep that in mind. Our normal system power consumption is a little higher than your average system.
GeForce GTX 470
- System in IDLE = 205 Watts
- System with GPU in FULL Stress = 419 Watts
- Difference (GPU load) = 214Watt (TDP = 215W)
GeForce GTX 480
- System in IDLE = 209 Watts
- System with GPU in FULL Stress = 463 Watts
- Difference (GPU load) = 254 Watt (TDP = 250W)
As you can see, that's considered to be a somewhat high power draw for the GTX 480. Mind you that the System Wattage is drawn from the wall socket and is for the entire PC.
Recommended Power Supply
Here is Guru3D's power supply recommendation:
GeForce GTX 470
- On your average system the card requires you to have a 550 Watt power supply unit. We recommend at least 35 Amps in total available on the +12 volts rails (accumulated).
GeForce GTX 480
- On your average system the card requires you to have a 600 Watt power supply unit. We recommend at least 40 Amps in total available on the +12 volts rails (accumulated).
GeForce GTX 400 in SLI
- A second card requires you to add another 250 Watts. You need a 850+ Watt power supply unit if you use it in a high-end system (1 KiloWatt recommended). That power supply needs to have (in total accumulated) at least 55 to 60 Amps available on the +12 volt rails.
For each other card (3-way SLI) that you add, just add another 250 Watts and 20A on the 12V rails as a safety margin.
There are many good PSUs out there, please do have a look at our many PSU reviews as we have loads of recommended PSUs for you to check out in there. What would happen if your PSU can't cope with the load?:
- bad 3D performance
- crashing games
- spontaneous reset or imminent shutdown of the PC
- freezing during gameplay
- PSU overload can cause it to break down
The graphics card cooler performance examined
Let's have a look at the temperatures this custom cooler offers.
GeForce GTX 480
GeForce GTX 480 primary temperatures and clocks during stress
GeForce GTX 470
GeForce GTX 470 primary temperatures and clocks during stress
We now fire off a hefty shader application at the GPU and start monitoring temperature behavior as it would be when you are gaming intensely and continuously, we literally stress the GPUs 100% here as you can see in the graph.
We measured at a room temperature of 21 degrees Celsius. Now we report at two stages the GPU(s) in IDLE and under stress. Here's what we get returned:
|Card setting||TEMP IDLE C||TEMP FULL C|
|GeForce GTX 470||43||94|
|GeForce GTX 480||45||95|
As you can see we get really high temperatures returned for both cards. When the cards are clocked down we see a temperature of give or take 45 degrees C (113F). And when we completely stress out the GPU 100% for a while, temperatures rises towards roughly 95 degrees C (203 F). NVIDIA clearly set a new thermal threshold, and I can't say that I'm rather excited about these numbers.
Amazing to see by the way are the low frequency idle power states. The GPU, when picking its nose, clocks down to 51 MHz and the memory to 135 MHz (x4).
Noise Levels coming from the graphics card
When graphics cards produce a lot of heat, usually that heat needs to be transported away from the hot core as fast as possible. Often you'll see massive active fan solutions that can indeed get rid of the heat, yet all the fans these days make the PC a noisy son of a gun. I'm doing a little try out today with noise monitoring, so basically the test we do is extremely subjective. We bought a certified dBA meter and will start measuring how many dBA originate from the PC. Why is this subjective you ask? Well, there is always noise in the background, from the streets, from the HD, PSU fan etc etc, so this is by a mile or two not a precise measurement. You could only achieve objective measurement in a sound test chamber.
The human hearing system has different sensitivities at different frequencies. This means that the perception of noise is not at all equal at every frequency. Noise with significant measured levels (in dB) at high or low frequencies will not be as annoying as it would be when its energy is concentrated in the middle frequencies. In other words, the measured noise levels in dB will not reflect the actual human perception of the loudness of the noise. That's why we measure the dBA level. A specific circuit is added to the sound level meter to correct its reading in regard to this concept. This reading is the noise level in dBA. The letter A is added to indicate the correction that was made in the measurement. Frequencies below 1kHz and above 6kHz are attenuated, whereas frequencies between 1kHz and 6kHz are amplified by the A weighting.
|TYPICAL SOUND LEVELS|
|Jet takeoff (200 feet)||120 dBA|
|Construction Site||110 dBA||Intolerable|
|Shout (5 feet)||100 dBA|
|Heavy truck (50 feet)||90 dBA||Very noisy|
|Urban street||80 dBA|
|Automobile interior||70 dBA||Noisy|
|Normal conversation (3 feet)||60 dBA|
|Office, classroom||50 dBA||Moderate|
|Living room||40 dBA|
|Bedroom at night||30 dBA||Quiet|
|Broadcast studio||20 dBA|
|Rustling leaves||10 dBA||Barely audible|
The idle noise levels coming from the card are fine really, in idle you will not hear the card as we measured 39~40 dBA, which is below the threshold of noise from the PC itself.
|Card setting||dBA IDLE||dBA FULL LOAD|
|GeForce GTX 470||39||42|
|GeForce GTX 480||39||45|
For both cards you can expect roughly similar noise levels with the GTX 480 being a notch louder when it's stressed. Once the GPU starts to heat up the fan RPM will go up real fast and the card does become audible. We measure roughly 43 dBA for the GTX 470 and 45 DBa with heavy GPU stress. Not at all annoying, but you can hear the airflow.
For both coolers we can say that we like that this cooler dumps its heat outside the system, this way not only will other components be prevented from warming up, the cooler will use fresh cold air for its cooling.
One warning, the GTX 480's heapipe based heatsink is exposed on the top side, touching that card during or shortly after gaming is dangerous, as it heats up real bad.
GeForce GTX 480 noise levels debunked
Ever since the release today of the GeForce GTX 400 series there has been much discussion regarding the noise levels the cards make under load. Especially the GTX 480 is topic of much discussion. Some sites show numbers up in the 60 to 70 DBa, which honestly just isn't right.
What happens is that people measure differently and often subjectively. If you place a DBa gun a CM away from the graphics card ventilator then sure, you record really high noise levels. But if you play games, do you place your ear directly on the air exhaust ? Of course not, that just does not make sense to us.
We measure real-life conditions. That means we take a distance of 75cm from the PC and place a DBa gun pointed at the PC. We assume your PC chassis is closed and not open, so is ours. Now to proof to you that the GTX 480 is noisy, but definitely not what some media make it claim to be I made two video's of the GTX 480 in idle and under heavy stress with Furmark.
The end result is A PC creating roughly as much noise as say a GeForce GTX 295. And again, we are not disputing that this isn't noisy, contrary .. it is noisy alright. But to say it's at a the level of 60~70 DBa makes no sense.
Have a look and listen to the videos.
Above video shows the GeForce GTX 480 in IDLE = ~ 37 DBa.
Above video shows the GeForce GTX 480 heavily stressed with Furmark = ~ 45 DBa
And that my friends is how we measure. We are not saying that other websites are wrong in their measurements, no Sir. We measure in a real-life situation, and that's roughly the distance where your ears are positioned.
There is one more note I like to make, some sites made videos of the noise levels as well, and it is banging noisy. Just like our video, a video camera will always compensate and increase microphone levels when needed. Making that recording sound out of proportion.
Add to that this, if the only sound recorded is the noise of the PC, at what volume should you play it back to be able to have that volume level representative of what the noise levels really are ?
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