We've waited months for it and for that reason the rumor mill on a single graphics card has never been so great. We've heard everything from flat out lies to things that have come true. Today, however, everything you think you know about the GTX 400 series doesn't matter, because today you'll find out the truth!
While our GTX 480 might be running a little late, our GTX 470 arrived with bells on in the early hours of Monday the 22nd of March. Only hours afterwards, that one great parcel was followed by another carrying our new Gulftown CPU.
The next few days were going to be all about self control; holding myself back from testing the GTX 470 and instead building up a catalogue of video cards to compare it against.
With our CPU installed and clocked to 4.2GHz, it was time to test the HD 5970. Once completed, we moved down the ladder, HD 5870 and HD 5850. As for NVIDIA cards, the only one floating around these days was the GTX 285, so that got tested as well.
With days spent testing these current and older cards finally complete, it was time to slide the GTX 470 ever so gently into the testbed and hope that it powered up. All was well and the card fired up straight away. From there we had only one thing to do; benchmark that bad boy! - Let's quickly look at the card and get into the numbers that we want to know.
The CardThe Card
Being a reference model, it's extremely boring to look at without a sticker to be found. Instead you see nothing that you haven't already seen before; an all black cooler covers the card from top to bottom and left to right.
As for the fan, it's also nothing new. Sitting on the right side of the PCB, it pushes air straight over the GPU that sits in the middle of the card and straight out the back of the card via some vents you'll see in just a moment.
Coming as no surprise, the card carries with it two power connectors in the form of 6-Pin PCI-E connectors. There's no surprise with them sitting at the back of the card facing upwards.
Staying across the top but moving closer to the front, we have our two SLI connectors that give us the ability to run up to three cards together. While we won't be making use of them today, we intend to in the very near future.
Looking at the I/O department, we can see our standard two Dual-Link DVI connectors that we see on most cards these days. Also included is a mini-HDMI connector; we're not sure if companies will choose to include an adapter to full size HDMI, but hopefully they will.
Above this we've got our exhaust ports which of course let all the hot air escape from the GPU and straight out the back of the case.
Specifications and FeaturesSpecifications
The GTX 470 is of course the baby of the two new models due out from NVIDIA. Of course, we use the word 'baby' quite loosely. On the specifications front the model carries with it 448 CUDA cores, 56 Texture Units and 40 ROP Units. All these are done on a 40nm core which we figure has been the biggest issue for NVIDIA when it has come to the release of this card.
Below you can see a GPU-Z screen shot of the model. Having a look at it, we can see all the main MHz that we need to know about. The core comes in at 607MHz while the shader clock carries with it a 1215MHz clock.
As for the memory, we're seeing NVIDIA use GDDR5 for the first time on a high-end product; they're using a 320-bit memory bus which is the reason we have a slightly weird sounding 1280MB of total memory. This comes clocked in at 837MHz or 3348MHz QDR.
NVIDIA cards of course offer some great features which are lacking on ATI cards. To some people, however, these features simply don't matter. For gamers the big selling point is of course PhysX of which support is growing for on a regular basis; there's no denying that uptake isn't fantastic, though.
CUDA is another big selling point, but really only aimed at a certain crowd outside of gamers. There are a number of great applications that support the technology and it's extremely useful in some scenarios.
Also included is Ray Tracing and some new Anti-aliasing support. I highly recommend that if you want to learn some more about these technologies, you check out the article that was posted just before this; GTX 400 Series - What you need to know. It not only covers the features in some more detail while also looking at Surround Gaming, but also the specifications of both the GTX 470 and GTX 480 while at the same time looking at some of the topics that have ran rampant over the past six months.
Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage
We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Western Digital, Noctua and Thermaltake.
With the introduction of the new Intel i7-980X CPU and ASRock X58 Extreme3 motherboard, it was time to re-evaluate our video card benchmark line-up in what is essentially a bit of spring cleaning.
The problem we had was that not much could go, but plenty could be added. Gone is World in Conflict which has become a bit long in the tooth these days. Staying for the moment is CINEBENCH R10 and Heaven V1; while R11.5 and V2 have been added respectively. For now, though, we'll be keeping the previous versions of the benchmark as they're quite different to the new ones.
Added? Well, heaps. As mentioned, R11.5 of CINEBENCH and V2 of Heaven Benchmark. Also, we've got Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. which you might have seen in our latest Catalyst articles with Dark Void also joining the party. Wireless Security Auditor has been added which is a program that finds passwords. For a full brief, check out page 15. Compatible with both NVIDIA and AMD cards, you'll see it in all our VGA benchmarks.
Also included is Badaboom. While seen in the past, it's now been upgraded to ripping a Blu-ray TV Episode and since we'll begin to see a chunk of NVIDIA cards come in, you'll no doubt see more of it.
Let's get started!
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here
3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.
3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.
In our first test we can see that the GTX 470 offers us a nice bump in performance when compared to the GTX 285. Compared to the HD 5850, we can see that performance between the two models is very similar.
Unigine Heaven BenchmarkUnigine Heaven Benchmark
Version and / or Patch Used: 1 and 2
Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com
Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/press-releases/091022-heaven_benchmark//
New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.
Note: If a card doesn't support DirectX 11 the benchmark will be left out, if it does it will be included along with the DirectX10 results.
Heaven has excellent support for Tessellation and this is a technology that NVIDIA has really pushed with the card. Looking at V1, we can see that the GTX 470 performs similar to the HD 5870 in this scenario.
V2 on the other hand which is more Tessellation hungry again shows the GTX 470 performing very strong with it well and truly being ahead of the HD 5870 in this case.
What's interesting is that if you compare the V1 and V2 numbers on each card, V2 performs worse on the ATI cards, where on the GTX 470 V2 performs better. With NVIDIA offering good Tessellation performance and V2 making better use of this, you can see it is able to perform better.
Benchmarks - CINEBENCHCINEBENCH
Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10 and Release 11.5
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net
CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.
MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).
CINEBENCH R10 has never been great for NVIDIA cards. Some say that it's because NVIDIA have limited the performance under these kinds of tests to make sure their Quadro based cards sell. Whatever reason it is, we still find the models fall behind.
R11.5 paints a different picture; the NVIDIA cards put out similar numbers with there being very little difference between the GTX 285 and GTX 470. The GTX 470 actually performs slightly behind in this case. Compared to the ATI offerings, though, under R11.5 we do see that the GTX 470 is able to pull out a win.
Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5Resident Evil 5
Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage: www.residentevil.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.residentevil.com/
Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.
With the synthetic stuff out of the way, it's time to get into real world games and the first is Resident Evil 5. At the 1680 x 1050 resolution the GTX 470 performs strong with it out performing even the HD 5870. As we climb the resolution table the results begin to change and while it stays ahead of the HD 5850, it does slip behind the HD 5870.
Benchmarks - BattleForgeBattleForge
Version and / or Patch Used: Auto Patched at Load
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.battleforge.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.battleforge.com/
The Gods have disappeared and the old sun has died, letting a vile twilight engulf the world of Nyn. In exchange for all treasures the mortals possessed, the evil giants agreed to forge a new sun and hurl it into the sky.
But the deal was betrayed, the treasure stolen and now the mortals flee the wrath of the giants. Under the light of a new sun the mortals stumble into a world changed and twisted by an age of twilight. The long journey home has become a conquest of survival.
Note: Supporting DirectX 11 we have seperated the graphs for NVIDIA and ATI cards. While the numbers between the two brands can be compared you have to make note that ATI based HD 5000 series cards are running DirectX 11.
The GTX 470 again manages to perform very strong at 1680 x 1050. While not beating out the HD 5870, it has a good jump on the HD 5850. As we climb up the resolution table again, we see the gap between the two models shrink with the HD 5850 pulling out the win at 2560 x 1600.
Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.
Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/UK/default.aspx
Product Homepage: http://www.hawxgame.com/
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X is an arcade-style flight simulator video game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and iPhone OS.
The fundamental gameplay mechanics are similar to those of other console-based flight series. Players take on enemies with over 50 aircraft available. Each mission is at real world locations in environments created with commercial satellite data. A cockpit, first person, and third person view are selectable. The third person view gives the player an external view of both their plane and the target.
Set above the skies of a near-future world, increasingly dependent on private military companies with elite mercenaries who have a relaxed view on the law. As these non-governmental organizations gain power, global conflict erupts with one powerful PMC attacking the United States.
H.A.W.X. performance is almost identical to BattleForge. What we're seeing is that the model is performing strong at 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200, but as we climb to 2560 x 1600, even though it carries more memory than the HD 5850, it falls behind the model.
Benchmarks - Darkest of DaysDarkest of Days
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.darkestofdays.com/index.php
Product Homepage: http://www.darkestofdays.com/index.php
Darkest of Days takes the player through time into historic battles in an effort to save key individuals from certain death. The battles range from Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 to fighting in Pompeii as ash and fire rain down from an erupting Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Other locations include the battles of Antietam and Tannenberg, and a German World War II P.O.W. camp. There are different missions in every time period and the game takes about 4 hours to complete.
The game features over twenty weapons, both from the original time period as well as those brought back from the future. In addition, there are artillery weapons from different time periods to assist in battle.
Note: With the PhysX set to Medium or High Darkest of Days take advantage of the NVIDIA PhysX abilities. For that reason we will test ATI cards at the Low preset, NVIDIA based cards though will be tested at Low and High.
Since we don't have an option to turn PhysX off, we have separated our ATI and NVIDIA cards with two different graphs. In saying that, we'll still compare both.
First, against the GTX 285 we can see the GTX 470 completely smashes it. Against the ATI models we again see VERY strong performance. With PhysX turned on making the game look better, the GTX 470 is able to outperform even the HD 5970 at all resolutions.
Benchmarks - Far Cry 2Far Cry 2
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/
Buy It Here
The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.
The first thing we want to say is that it's great that the GTX 470 is able to offer us a minimum of over 30 FPS at all resolutions including 2560 x 1600. Against the HD 5850 we can see it's able to pull out a win at all resolutions in both the minimum and average department.
Again, though, we see as we climb the resolution table the gap between the HD 5850 and GTX 470 does shrink. In this case, though, the GTX 470 is able to hold out for the win.
As for the GTX 285 minimum, we ran the test multiple times after multiple reboots and the minimum would always come back to us between 7 and 8 FPS.
Benchmarks - Batman Arkham AsylumBatman Arkham Asylum
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/
Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.
Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.
Note: With support for PhysX NVIDIA based cards will be tested with the technology on and off, ATI cards will be tested with the technology off due to it not being supported on their cards.
Batman AA is a bit of a flagship game for NVIDIA; not only does it offer fantastic PhysX support, but also offers one of the best 3D Vision experiences we've had to date. In saying that, you would expect the model to perform well under the game. At 1680 x 1050 it's again able to pull out a higher minimum than the HD 5870; the average does sit back a bit, though.
Again, as we climb the resolution table the model begins to sit closer and closer to the HD 5850. Across the board, though, we see the performance is well above 30 FPS in the minimum department at all resolutions.
Turning on PhysX paints a bit of a different picture. With PhysX set to high we can see that both the GTX 285 and GTX 470 are able to get over a 30 FPS minimum at the lower resolution, but both struggle at the highest resolution.
The GTX 470 doesn't have the same trouble with its numbers at 1920 x 1200 and below looking a lot more impressive. Of course, you can drop the PhysX down a level and 2560 x 1600 won't be an issue, or you could add a separate NVIDIA card to take care of PhysX for you.
Benchmarks - Dark VoidDark Void
Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.airtightgames.com
Product Homepage: http://www.darkvoidgame.com/
The game's story takes place during World War II and centers around a cargo pilot named William Augustus Grey (voiced by Nolan North) who is teleported to another world while flying through the Bermuda Triangle. In this world, known as the 'Void', Will encounters an alien race as well as other humans, which are known as the Watchers and the Survivors respectively.
Will reluctantly joins the Survivors who are engaged in a feud with the alien race to satisfy his desire to return to Earth. While aiding the Survivors, Will discovers that the Void is a middle ground that connects both the Watchers homeworld and Earth. It also becomes apparent that the Watchers are supplying the Axis powers with various supplies for reasons unknown. With the help of Nikola Tesla, Will utilizes retrofited Watcher technology to combat the Watchers and eventually find a way to escape the Void.
We see strong performance out of all models here. At 2560 x 1600 we see that the GTX 470, GTX 285, HD 5850 and HD 5870 perform all quite close to each other. At the lower resolutions there's a bit more movement. Again, though, we see the GTX 470 pull out the win at 1680 x 1050 and then fall a little behind at the higher resolution.
With PhysX on we can see that the GTX 470 really smashes the GTX 285 here. We go from minimums of just over 30 FPS to over 50 FPS and at 2560 x 1600 the GTX 285 can't break the 30 FPS minimum while the GTX 470 is a good 4 FPS past it.
Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AFHigh Quality AA and AF
Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.
Far Cry 2
Turning on the AA, we can see that the GTX 470 manages to perform very strong with it being the only single GPU card being able to break the 30 FPS minimum barrier under Far Cry 2 with 8x AA. Apart from the dual GPU card from ATI, the GTX 470 is the only other card to come through that offers us playable frame rates under these settings.
Resident Evil 5
Again with the AA, we see some good numbers. Without a minimum we want to see around 60 FPS in the average department and you can see we're there. The extra 5 FPS over the HD 5850 equates to the card being almost 10% faster.
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.
H.A.W.X. doesn't seem so kind on the GTX 470 with the model falling behind the HD 5850 here. Apart from the HD 5970 getting over a 60 FPS average, we don't really have a playable setup on any of these other models.
Benchmarks - Elcomsoft Wireless Security AuditorElcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.51
Timedemo or Level Used: Sample File
Developer Homepage: http://www.elcomsoft.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.elcomsoft.com/ewsa.html
ElcomSoft has pioneered many software innovations that have made it easier to recover passwords protecting various types of resources. For the first time in the industry, the company's patent-pending GPU acceleration makes its way into Wi-Fi password recovery, reducing the time required to recover Wi-Fi passwords up to a hundred times.
Supporting up to four NVIDIA boards such as GeForce 8, 9, and 200, as well as ATI video cards such as RADEON HD 4000 Series and up, Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor allows building servers with supercomputer performance at a fraction of the price.
We spoke to the guys at Elcomsoft and support isn't officially there at the moment for the GTX 400 series. For that reason the number isn't as impressive as it could be. Compared to the GTX 285, though, which is supported, performance is already a lot stronger.
When proper support gets added we'll have updated results in our retail versions of the cards.
Benchmarks - BadaboomBadaboom
Version and / or Patch Used: Release 18.104.22.168
Developer Homepage: http://www.nvidia.com//
Product Homepage: http://www.badaboomit.com/
Badaboom eliminates the frustration of video conversion by providing users with speed, efficiency, quality, and a sleek interface. In a practice that used to take several hours, Badaboom converts feature-length movies in a matter of minutes while keeping the videos looking crisp and clear.
By harnessing the power of NVIDIA CUDA-enabled GPUs, Badaboom offloads the CPU to allow users to continue browsing the Internet or checking email without decreased system performance, making transcoding high-quality video fast, easy, and painless.
Note: With the requirement for a CUDA enabled graphics card to run Badaboom, this means that we can only use NVIDIA based cards for this test.
We convert an AVI version of The Lion King that comes in at 851MB to a 2500kbps 1.4GB MP4 for the iPhone. While we understand that the MP4 version of the file is bigger, we've chosen the maximum bit rate simply to put the most amount of pressure on the cards we test.
The GTX 470 is a clear improvement under Badaboom when it comes to ripping our 4GB file down to a more friendly 400MB MP4 version. We shave 3 minutes off the total time which equates to the card being 25% faster.
Temperature and Sound TestsTemperature Tests
With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).
There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.
Rumors have been running rampant that the GTX 400 series is going to run hot and our digital thermometer doesn't lie. You can see that the card runs significantly warmer than any other single GPU offering and even runs hotter than the hotter running core on the HD 5970.
Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.
After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).
The high heat level isn't because the fan is spinning quietly either. At between 55dB to 65dB you can't tell a whole lot of difference between a card. When you get into the 70dB zone, though, you can clearly hear it over other things like ambient noise.
Power Consumption TestsPower Consumption Tests
Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).
There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.
The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.
So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.
Rumors that the card sucks down the power weren't a lie either. At idle the card draws more power than any other model here and at load it's only slightly behind the dual GPU HD 5970.
In saying that, though, any good quality power supply would run the model with no dramas. A HX 620 from Corsair would be a great option or any other branded power supply over 600 Watt. You have to remember that we also do run only the basics when it comes to our test system.
Total Performance Rating (TPR)Total Performance Rating
The TPR graph is a combination of all our benchmarks in which NVIDIA and ATI are on an even playing field. This includes benchmarks where PhysX can be forced off like Dark Void and Batman: Arkham Asylum, but not Darkest of Days.
The TPR number is a combination of:
3DMark Vantage, Heaven Benchmark V2, CINEBENCH R11.5, Resident Evil 5, BattleForge, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., Far Cry 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum (PhysX Off), Dark Void (PhysX Off) and our three High Quality tests which include Far Cry 2, Resident Evil 5 and Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.
All of the benchmark results achieved are then combined into a single number. As this graph will grow over time and cards won't be re-tested, next to each model you'll find the driver version that was used when the card was benchmarked.
In our first TPR graph you can see that with the GTX 470 combined to the other cards here that we looked at, it sits just above the HD 5850. I think the main reason for this is that it performs very well at 1680 x 1050 with it at times beating even the HD 5870.
The card is more expensive, though, so we would expect it to perform better. These graphs also don't include benchmarks where PhsyX can't be turned off, giving no one an unfair advantage. These numbers are about as even as we could get.
Total Value Rating (TVR)Total Value Rating
The TVR graph is the TPR score divided by the price of the video card. The price of the video card is based on the list price of the model on Newegg.com. In the event the card isn't listed, it will be based on the U.S. $ MSRP given to us by the manufacturer.
In the event we can't source a price from either, the product will not receive a TVR rating. As with our TPR graph, the amount of video cards on the list will grow over time and the price of the model won't change from what it was when first reviewed. For this reason the U.S. $ price that the card is based off will be included next to the name of the model.
In the event you want to find the TVR rating yourself based on the current price, all you have to do is simply divide the TPR number by the list price.
TVR numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number; 100.3 will be 100; 100.8 will be 101 and 100.5 will be rounded down to 100.
With the TPR score divided by the price of the product we can see that it does offer better value than something like a HD 5870 or HD 5970. With the GTX 470 scoring an even 100, though, you can see that from a pure value point of view the HD 5850 is exactly 11% better.
What's worth remembering, though, is that this doesn't put into account features like CUDA, PhysX and Ray Tracing to name just a few of NVIDIAs exclusive technologies. Only you can put the worth of those features on a product and for that reason you may find that the GTX 470 is a better valued product than a HD 5850 because it doesn't have CUDA.
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts
Let's have a look at the elephant in the room first. The heat and noise from the card is extremely unattractive and while the heat doesn't personally bother me, the noise level would. Inside a case, though, with some good ventilation and tucked away a little bit, it won't be as big a problem, but there's no denying that the card is loud.
On the power front it's a bit of a mixed bag. Yes the number here is also big, and for some it may be too much. Others with good quality power supplies aren't going to find an issue with it, though. It would've been nice if it didn't draw as much power as the HD 5970, but I think for most it won't be a huge deal breaker.
Performance is really interesting. At 1680 x 1050 the card flies along with it at times beating out the HD 5870. As we move up the resolution table the picture changes. Even though the card carries with it more memory, we often saw that the performance between the GTX 470 and HD 5850 became quite close at 1920 x 1200 and the HD 5850 often being able to overtake the GTX 470 at 2560 x 1600.
While sometimes this wouldn't matter, both cards offer playable frame rates at this resolution and it does seem that more often than not, at 2560 x 1600 the lower MB and cheaper HD 5850 is able to pull out the win.
What's particularly interesting is when you go to the AA tests. Under Far Cry 2 the GTX 470 blitzes the competition with it being the only card beside the dual GPU HD 5970 to break the 30 FPS minimum with 8x AA on. The strong performance is again seen under Resident Evil 5 with the card leaning closer to the HD 5870 than the HD 5850. H.A.W.X. on the other hand sees the model fall a bit behind the pack. Compared to the GTX 285, though, performance is almost double.
You of course then look at PhysX. Under Darkest of Days the card kills everything. Let's be honest, though, it's Darkest of Days; it's hardly a contender for Game of the Year. Of course, under Batman we can see we've got no issues playing the game with PhsyX at high detail at 1920 x 1200 and below, something ATI can't do due to the lack of PhysX support. If you're big on your single player gaming and you love all the eye candy then PhysX may be more important to you than others. It's something that really has to be weighed up when it comes to purchasing your next video card.
It's very hard to give the card a rating and for that reason I'm not going to at the moment. When we've looked at the GTX 480, though, and get some retail samples in, we'll have a better picture of the model. What I will do today is just quickly cover the areas that we do cover in our rating system.
Performance - A mixed bag; we see the GTX 470 performs very strong at 1680 x 1050 and even strong when AA is turned on under certain games. Now, if you're on a 30" monitor offering 2560 x 1600 you might find the HD 5850 a better option with it performing slightly better quite often and being cheaper. On the other hand, if you prefer the lower resolution and AA you will probably find the GTX 470 a better option, albeit a more expensive one. Don't forget as well that there's PhysX as well which for some people is a great little feature and performance under PhsyX is strong with gaming at all resolutions being possible for the most part. You may just need to drop down from High to Low in some situations. 1680 x 1050 gamers would probably give the card a 90% - 93%; people that love PhysX and 1920 x 1200 and below with AA / AF 93% - 96%. As for 2560 x 1600 gamers, probably closer to the 85% mark again.
Quality - There's nothing wrong with the reference cooler and it's what you're probably going to see for the coming months from most companies. If we scored it we would easily have it sitting in the 85% mark because there's room for companies to add some upgraded cooling options.
General Features - A real mixed bag; if you're a gamer who loves to play MP games, stuff like PhysX and CUDA won't do nothing for you. In a situation like that the card would probably be around the 85% mark. On the other hand, folding@home users, movie rippers who use BADABOOM and anyone else who makes use of stuff like CUDA or loves PhysX would probably see a rating of closer to 95% - 97%.
Bundle, Packaging and Availability - All something that can't really be discussed on a reference version with the first two not being available and the latter not really being known for a week or two.
Value for Money - Something that is going to entirely depend on how you use the card. If you're in the group that would rate performance in the 90%+ section and features in the 95%+, then the card carries with it value. If you're in the other section you're not going to find as much value from the product.
The bottom line is we know what the fanbois are going to say.
ATI Fanbois - The card runs too hot, draws too much power and is too loud while offering performance better than the HD 5850 sometimes, while at the same time being more expensive.
NVIDIA Fanbois - AA performance is strong, 1680 x 1050 performance is able to beat even the HD 5970 at times and 1920 x 1200 sees the card ahead of the HD 5850 in most situations. Don't even get me started on the fact that we also have cool features like CUDA, PhysX, Ray Tracing, 3D Vision and more.
That rational people will look at the performance numbers, though; they'll figure out how they're going to game and if they'll make use of NVIDIA specific technologies. These are the people who will ultimately win out because they'll buy the best product for them and not let fanboism blind them.
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