Zotac GeForce GTX 480

Graphics cards 1021 Page 9 of 23 Published by


Setup | Noise | Power consumption | Heat levels


Hardware installation

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.

GeForce GTX series 400


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.


Energy consumption

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 higher than your average system.

GeForce GTX 480

  • System in IDLE = 203 Watts
  • System with GPU in FULL Stress = 448 Watts
  • Difference (GPU load) = 245 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.


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.

GeForce GTX 480

  • On your average system the card requires you to have a 600 Watt power supply unit.

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).

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 480Zotac GeForce GTX 480
GeForce GTX 480 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:

GeForce GTX 480 reference 45 95
GeForce GTX 480 ZOTAC 36 88

Now the final GTX 480 boards have gotten a new tweaked BIOS and that definitely shows. The product now runs at 88 Degrees C maximum (roughly) and the IDLE temperature went down as well.

Graphics card (reference) Load TEMP C
GeForce GT 240 512MB 47
Radeon HD 5570 1024MB 60
HIS 5850 iCooler Turbo 61
GBT R5870 SOC 68
Radeon HD 5670 512MB 70
GeForce GTS 250 1GB 72
Radeon HD 5750 1024MB 73
Radeon HD 5870 1024MB 75
Radeon HD 5850 1024MB 77
Radeon HD 5830 1024MB 78
GeForce GTX 275 896MB 82
Radeon HD 5970 2048MB 83
GeForce GTX 285  83
GeForce GTX 260 SP216 84
GeForce GTX 480 ZOTAC 88
GeForce GTX 470 94
GeForce GTX 480 reference 95

It still remains to be amongst the hottest cards on the globe though.


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.


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 46
GeForce GTX 480 Zotac 39 46

The Zotac is as loud as the GTX 480 reference card 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.

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.

Share this content
Twitter Facebook Reddit WhatsApp Email Print