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Nvidia Geforce GTX 400 Series Round-up

We have waited a long, long time, but it is FINALLY here. Nvidia’s much anticipated and much-delayed Geforce GTX 470/480 cards finally have official reviews and details unveiled. Note that this is a paper launch with no availability.

More details next page.

First off – the good news. Did we mention it is finally here? Yes, it is here, and it is the fastest single GPU card out there today without any doubt. GF100’s Compute abilities are simply sensational, offering a several times improvement over the GTX 285 in many cases. In OpenCL applications, it leaves the HD 5870 far behind. It is a similar situation as far as Tessellation is concerned, with the GTX 480 destroying the HD 5870 in the Unigine Heaven benchmark. Beyond that it is the regular Nvidia benefits of CUDA, PhysX, 3D Vision, etc.

The Nvidia Geforce GTX 480 does make a strong case for itself – but not without severe drawbacks.

Let us step back for a second. The Geforce GTX 480’s was originally designed to be a competitor to the ATI Radeon HD 5970 at the top of the pile – with similar power consumption characteristics. It is somewhat of a failure to be competing with the HD 5870, which is a whole class lower, even after 6 months. Let us not forget the GTX 480’s die is 60% larger, and costs several times more to manufacture. The GTX 480 is clearly faster, but not that much faster.

On average, the GTX 480 is about 10-15% faster than the HD 5870. Some websites report upto 20%, some as little as 5%. But the average is around 10-15%. There are situations where the GTX 480 trounces the HD 5870, while the HD 5870 sneaks past the GTX 480 in some. A curious observation is the Dirt 2 benchmark. For whatever reason, the GTX 480 doubles back to DX9 mode for the timedemo. For this reason, this is one of the benchmarks where the GTX 480 significantly outperforms the HD 5870, which is doing far more work in DX11. Some reviewers have realized this and done both tests on DX9, but the GTX 480 still comes out on top. However, HardOCP employ a real world playthrough in DX11, and in DX11 mode, the tables are reversed, with the HD 5870 coming out on top of the GTX 480 (and the HD 5850 vs. the GTX 470). With one of the big victories turning into a defeat, the GTX 480’s actual lead is on average about 10%.

As for the GTX 470, the lead over HD 5850 is reported anywhere between being negligible to 10+% – let us take an average of 5-10%.

Factor in the prices ($350), and the GTX 470 makes very little sense, even we get to GF100’s main shortcomings. The GTX 480, priced at $500, commands a premium over the $400 HD 5870. That is a full 25% for a modest 10% performance. It might not offer the same price-performance value, but it does hold the single GPU crown, and as we know, in general, price-performance ratio diminishes as performance increases. Based on performance and features alone, we believe the GTX 480 might just make sense at $500. It is worth mentioning that the GTX 480 is handily trounced by the HD 5970 in most situations. The HD 5970 was released at $599, but a more realistic price today is $650-700.

Severe Issues next page.

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