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 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.
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.
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 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:
|Card setting||TEMP IDLE C||TEMP FULL C|
|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.
|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||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.