GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 480 SOC 1536 MB Video Card

The GTX 580 might be here, but companies have only just begun to really get stuck into the GTX 480. We check out the GIGABYTE Super Overclock version; a series we've grown to love.

Manufacturer: GIGABYTE
16 minutes & 9 seconds read time

Introduction, Card and Specifications


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You've got to feel a little bad for some of these NVIDIA partners; you have to wonder how much they knew about the GTX 580. We also wonder what's going to happen with the GTX 480. One would assume that it's going to hang around for a bit as companies like GIGABYTE has thrown a bit of R&D into the creation of the beast we're looking at today, but everything's a little up in the air at the moment.

GIGABYTE got us the GTX 480 SOC nice and quickly, so we don't have a full retail package today. Instead of checking out the box and what's inside it we'll instead be getting stuck straight into the card itself, which as we've already mentioned is the GTX 480 SOC.

If you're not too sure what the SOC series is, it's GIGABYTEs higher end Super Overclock Series which has been fairly impressive since the launch of the series. Concentrating on both high end models and really overclockable midrange ones likes the GTX 460, it's hit the market well and has been quite popular. Today we find out what the series can do for the GTX 480.

The Card

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The other day we had a look at the GIGABYTE HD 6850 which carried with it the Windforce cooler. Today the GTX 480 SOC we're looking at carries the same series cooler, but the upgraded Windforce 3x which carries with it as you can see, three fans instead of two.

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Unlike the MSI Lightning version we looked at recently there's no third power connector here. Instead we've just got the standard 8-Pin / 6-Pin ones. The card PCB is also not extra tall, so you shouldn't run into any problems when it comes to installing it into your PC. Across the top you'll also see we have the two SLI connectors in the event you want to put four of these bad boys together.

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Connectivity also doesn't hold any surprises with two Dual-Link DVI connectors and a single Mini HDMI. While we don't have the package on hand, going off the press documents that GIGABYTE sent it looks like a mini HDMI to HDMI cable is included along with the standard DVI to VGA connector.

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You may have noticed in the first picture a little button towards the bottom of the card. The GIGABYTE GTX 480 SOC sports a dual BIOS setup and instead of the normal BIOS / back up BIOS setup, we've instead we've got a standard BIOS and an extreme overclocking BIOS. The latter is designed for LN2 users and when the light is red it's in LN2 BIOS mode which helps avoid potential cold bug issues.

Outside of that stuff there are a few other cool things that make this a stand out GTX 480 including a 14 phase PWM design with 12 phases for the GPU and 2 for the memory; the standard has a 6 + 2 setup. There are areas on the card where the GPU Core, I/O, PCI-E and memory voltage can be read.


The SOC is all about the overclock and GIGABYTE hasn't skimped on them, We've got the core clock bumped from 700MHz to 821MHz, and this has pushed the Shader clock from 1400MHz to 1641MHz.

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The memory has also been clocked north moving from 3696MHz QDR to a more rounded 3800MHz QDR. We should really see some decent performance out of the model.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Mittoni, Noctua and Corsair.

We'll be checking the GIGABYTE GTX 480 SOC card out against a few other ones here today. Single card setups include the GTX 460 Black Edition from ECS and the HD 6870 Turbo from HIS.

Dual card setups include the HD 6850 in CrossFire and the GIGABYTE GTX 460 OC in SLI as well. It'll be interesting to see how the card performs against these overclocked setups today.

Let's get started!

3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage:
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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.

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The GTX 480 SOC from GIGABYTE performs strong under Vantage, but it doesn't quite have the grunt to beat the dual card setups we've got here.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 2
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

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.

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Heaven performance is again very strong and while we see it not beat out the dual card setups, it's very close, especially at 1680 x 1050.

Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5

Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

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.

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Looking at RE5 we see very good performance and you can see across the board it's very close. It's only at the highest resolution we see the HD 6850s perform slightly better.

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:
Product Homepage:

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.

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Across the board we see very strong performance and you can see that the GIGABYTE SOC is performing at a similar level to the overclocked 460s. The only time the card really falls behind is at the highest resolution; fortunately we're still pumping a very strong 100 FPS which is extremely playable.

Benchmarks - Mafia II

Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
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Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

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We see some strong performance at all resolutions again with that 60 FPS barrier we need being broken at all resolutions. At 1920 x 1200 and below we can see that performance on the GTX 480 is well ahead of the Crossfire setup; only at 2560 x 1600 do the numbers tighten up between the setups.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

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While AMD have indeed improved Tessellation performance, you can still see NVIDIA is very strong at it and the GTX 480 SOC from GIGABYTE performs very strong with it performing neck and neck with the SLI GTX 460 OC setup.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator

Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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We've got some good numbers at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050 with the GTX 480 SOC. You can see we're above 60 FPS in both resolutions and we're way ahead at the lower 1680 x 1050 resolution.

Benchmarks - Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Elezen (Male)
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Final Fantasy XIV, also known as Final Fantasy XIV Online, is the fourteenth installment in the Final Fantasy series. The game is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game and is developed and published by Square Enix. The game takes place in a land called Hydaelyn, mainly in a region named Eorzea, which will have a contemporaneously aesthetic blend of science fiction and classic fantasy elements.

The battle and job systems will be different from the one previously used in Final Fantasy XI, which utilized experience points and level-based progression. Final Fantasy XIV is being designed to utilize a skill-based progression[15] system similar to that of Final Fantasy II. Character races will resemble and allow players to create avatars similar to ones in Final Fantasy XI. Group play has been de-emphasized, and now solo and group play have been balanced. Weapon use will alter "character development".

Note: Final Fantasy XIV gives us a score and not a normal FPS rating, our understanding is that anything around 2000 points or above is considered playable.

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The Final Fantasy benchmark doesn't make use of Crossfire due to the fact it runs in Window mode. Here we really see strong performance from the NVIDIA offerings and especially the GTX 480 SOC from GIGABYTE at the higher resolution.

Benchmarks - Street Fighter IV

Street Fighter IV

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage:
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While Street Fighter IV features models and backgrounds rendered in 3D, the gameplay remains on a traditional 2D plane, with the camera having freedom to move in 3D at certain times during fights, for dramatic effect. Producer Yoshinori Ono has stated that he wanted to keep the game closer to Street Fighter II. A new system called "Focus Attacks" ("Saving Attack" for the Japanese version) has been introduced, as well as Ultra moves. The traditional six-button control scheme returns, with new features and special moves integrated into the input system, mixing classic gameplay with additional innovations.

All the characters and environments in Street Fighter IV are rendered as 3D models with polygons, similar to the Street Fighter EX sub-series Capcom produced with Arika. However, there are a couple of key differences. Art director and character designer Daigo Ikeno, who previously worked on Street Fighter III 3rd Strike, opted for non-photorealistic rendering to give them a hand-drawn look, with visual effects accented in calligraphic strokes, ink smudges and ink sprays during the fights.

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We see big numbers across the board from all the setups here and the GTX 480 SOC is no different.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
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.

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Looking at Far Cry 2 performance we've got minimums well above the 30 FPS which is what we need. While the GTX 480 SOC sits a little back when compared to some of the other cards we're looking at, it's playable at all resolutions which is the most important thing.

Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman Arkham Asylum

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

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.

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Like Far Cry 2 we've got playable numbers across the board. Unlike Far Cry 2, though, the GTX 480 takes the lead at all resolutions, especially in the important minimum area.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High 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.

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AA performance from NVIDIA is very strong across the board; we've got playable numbers in everything except Aliens vs Predator which has proven to be a very intensive game.

Benchmarks - PhysX Tests

PhysX Tests

Here we're able to find out when PhysX is turned on in games that support it what kind of frame rates we're able to get. We always set PhysX to the highest possible in game settings while also keeping detail at its highest.

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With PhysX on we really begin to stress the cards here. Under Mafia II the only card that's able to break the 60 FPS barrier is the GTX 480 SOC at 1680 x 1050 which is very impressive. Batman AA numbers are a bit more positive with the 30 FPS minimum being broken at all resolutions with the GTX 480 SOC from GIGABYTE being the only card to do it.

Temperature Test

Temperature Tests

The temperature of the core is pulled from MSI Afterburner with the max reading used after a completed run off 3DMark Vantage and the Performance preset.

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The GTX 480 does continue to be one of the hotter cards around, but the Windforce cooler from GIGABYTE does a good job of helping drop it down the board a little.

Sound Test

Sound Tests

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).

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The Windforce cooler is one of the noisier coolers when it gets under load. Fortunately it's very quiet when idle. At least it's only noisy when you throw some headphones on or pump up the sound for your game, which will ultimately help drown out that fan noise.

Power 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 SSD hard drive is used with a single CD ROM and minimal 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.

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Power draw on the model isn't bad, nowhere near the level the MSI Lightning is and a bit lower in both load and idle when compared to the Galaxy version. GIGABYTE promised us less power draw, and that's clearly true.

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.

The TPR number is a combination of:

3DMark Vantage, Heaven Benchmark V2, Resident Evil 5, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., Mafia 2 (PhysX Off), Lost Planet 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Final Fantasy XIV, Street Fighter IV, Far Cry 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum (PhysX Off) and our four High Quality tests which include Mafia 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Street Fighter IV and Far Cry 2.

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.

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It's no surprise that the GIGABYTE GTX 480 SOC sits up towards the top. The card continues to be very fast and performs exceptionally well against the competition.

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 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.

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Considering it's an SOC model, GIGABYTE has become quite aggressive with the price tag and we think the main reason for that is the release of the GTX 580.

Final Thoughts

You might wonder why it's taken GIGABYTE so long to bring the GTX 480 SOC to the market. The reason is that for GIGABYTE it wasn't about just adding an overclock to the card and releasing it with a new cooler. Instead they go to the drawing board and work out how they can make the card better in terms of what features can they add, and don't just attack the performance side of things, but also areas like power draw and noise.

The GTX 480 SOC from GIGABYTE is a beast of a card and the only thing meaner than the performance is the price tag. While some people aren't going to have an issue paying this kind of money, we're not sure how it's going to go now that the GTX 580 is being shown to us, although we're still yet to see that card personally.

GIGABYTE has put a lot of R & D into this product and you can tell. That of course means a higher price tag, but we have to wonder if it has been priced out of the market like possibly the MSI Lightning version because of the GTX 580. Until we know what stock is really like for the new model, we won't know for sure.

GIGABYTE has thrown a really great version of the card at us, though, and the cooler while being a bit loud when it gets into the swing of things is still a very strong performer. We just can't help but feel uncertainty in the air because of NVIDIAs decision to release another new model that carries with it a new series number.

It comes as no surprise that the card carries with it a higher price tag than the standard GTX 480, but it seems clear at $469 the card isn't too bad a buy if you're happy to take it over the more expensive GTX 580 which is at least $100 more expensive. Considering performance is said to be about 15% better when compared to a stock model and the price is more than 20% higher than this overclocked GIGABYTE offering, you can imagine that the card won't have any serious issue selling.

What we do know, though, is that the GTX 580 isn't going to carry the extra feature set that we're seeing on this SOC model; voltage readings, quick switch BIOS and a 14 phase PWM power setup just to name a few. If the GTX 480s life is short lived, let's hope that GIGABYTE can attack the GTX 580 quickly with a similar kind of feature set.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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