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EVGA GeForce GTX 470 Superclocked+ Review

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Metro 2033 (DX11)

Metro 2033 (DX11)


There has been a lot of buzz about Metro 2033 which has mostly centered on its amazing graphics coupled with absolutely brutal framerates on even the best GPUs on the market. For this test we use a walkthrough and combat scene from The Bridge level which starts at the beginning of the level and lasts for about 5 minutes of walking, running and combat. Famerates are measured with FRAPS and Advanced PhysX is turned off.


1680 x 1050

EVGA-GTX470-SC-64.jpg


1920 x 1200

EVGA-GTX470-SC-65.jpg


2560 x 1600

EVGA-GTX470-SC-66.jpg
 

SKYMTL

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Unigine: Heaven v2.0 (DX11)

Unigine: Heaven v2.0 (DX11)


Unigine’s Heaven benchmark is currently the de-facto standard when it comes to simple, straightforward DX11 performance estimates. While it is considered a synthetic benchmark by many, it is important to remember that no less than four games based on this engine will be released within the next year or so. In this test we will be using a standard benchmark run with and without tessellation enabled at three resolutions,


1680 x 1050

EVGA-GTX470-SC-70.jpg


EVGA-GTX470-SC-71.jpg


1920 x 1200

EVGA-GTX470-SC-72.jpg


EVGA-GTX470-SC-73.jpg


2560 x 1600

EVGA-GTX470-SC-74.jpg


EVGA-GTX470-SC-75.jpg
 

SKYMTL

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12,840
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8x MSAA Testing (BF: BC2 / DiRT 2)

8x MSAA Testing (BF: BC2 / DiRT 2)


In this section we take a number of games we have tested previously in this review and bring things to the next level by pushing the in-game MSAA up to 8x. All other methodologies remain the same.

BattleField: Bad Company 2 (DX11)
Note that 8x MSAA is enabled via the game’s config file for the NVIDIA cards since it is not a selectable option within the game menu

EVGA-GTX470-SC-42.jpg


DIRT 2 (DX11)

EVGA-GTX470-SC-49.jpg
 

SKYMTL

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8x MSAA Testing (Far Cry 2 / Just Cause 2)

8x MSAA Testing (Far Cry 2 / Just Cause 2)


In this section we take a number of games we have tested previously in this review and bring things to the next level by pushing the in-game MSAA up to 8x. All other methodologies remain the same.

Far Cry 2 (DX10)

EVGA-GTX470-SC-56.jpg


Just Cause 2 (DX10)

EVGA-GTX470-SC-63.jpg
 

SKYMTL

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Core Temperature & Acoustics / Power Consumption

Core Temperature & Acoustics


For all basic temperature testing, the cards were placed on an open test bench with a single 120mm 1200RPM fan placed ~8” away from the heatsink. The ambient temperature was kept at a constant 22°C (+/- 0.5°C). If the ambient temperatures rose above 23°C at any time throughout the test, all benchmarking was stopped. For this test we use the 3DMark Batch Size test at it highest triangle count with 4xAA and 16xAF enabled and looped it for one hour to determine the peak load temperature as measured by GPU-Z.

For Idle tests, we let the system idle at the Vista desktop for 15 minutes and recorded the peak temperature.

We have now also added an in-case test within a Gigabyte Aurora EATX PC case. The side panel remains closed while the HDD bay has been modified to incorporate a single 120mm Noctua NF-S12B FLEX 1200RPM fan.


EVGA-GTX470-SC-69.jpg

These results are most certainly eye-opening when it comes to the temperature reduction seen with just a few simple modifications to the reference design. First of all, we have come to the realization that testing with an open test bench old tells half the story, especially when it comes to the GTX 400-series.

To us, EVGA has more than accomplished what they set out to do with this card and while the temperature changes don’t quite hit that claimed 7 degree mark, they are pretty darn close. These aren’t the most optimal conditions since the Gigabyte Aurora isn’t exactly what we would call a modern case but in the coming weeks we intend to redo all of our GPU temperature testing in a more suitable enclosure.

As with all GTX 470 cards we have looked at so far, this one doesn’t make itself heard over the noise of standard case fans.


System Power Consumption


For this test we hooked up our power supply to a UPM power meter that will log the power consumption of the whole system twice every second. In order to stress the GPU as much as possible we once again use the Batch Render test in 3DMark06 and let it run for 30 minutes to determine the peak power consumption while letting the card sit at a stable Windows desktop for 30 minutes to determine the peak idle power consumption. We have also included several other tests as well.

Please note that after extensive testing, we have found that simply plugging in a power meter to a wall outlet or UPS will NOT give you accurate power consumption numbers due to slight changes in the input voltage. Thus we use a Tripp-Lite 1800W line conditioner between the 120V outlet and the power meter.

EVGA-GTX470-SC-67.jpg

Power consumption is exactly what we expected: high. NVIDIA’s Fermi architecture isn’t exactly what we would call efficient but this card’s performance does tend to make up for its consumption numbers.
 

SKYMTL

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EVGA Precision & OC Scanner

EVGA Precision & OC Scanner


*Note that the following screens show the GTX 465 version of Precision and the OCScanner but the GTX 470 versions are identical.

EVGA-GTX465-17.jpg

Along with MSI’s Afterburner software, EVGA’s Precision is known as one of the most versatile and user friendly programs around when it comes to overclocking NVIDIA cards. Not only does it allow for real-time monitoring of clock speeds, temperatures, fan speed and other parameters but it also offers robust clock speed adjustments.

EVGA-GTX465-16.jpg

The EVGA OC Scanner meanwhile is currently only available to those of you who own EVGA GTX 400-series products but the functionality it offers is currently unparalleled. Included is a benchmarking and stress testing utility with artifact scanning capability in order for you to test the stability of any overclock done in Precision. It also allows for unlocking of the GTX 400-series’ power consumption characteristics so the card can draw more power than the usual limiters will allow it to. This could in effect push overclocks to stratospheric levels if the right cooling and power supply is used.
 

SKYMTL

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Overclocking Results

Overclocking Results



Using the two tools we described above in addition to our usual stability checks, both the core and the memory of the EVGA GTX 470 Superclock were pushed as far as the default voltage would allow.

Final Clock Speeds

Graphics Clock: 733Mhz
Processor Clock: 1466Mhz
Memory Clock: 4020Mhz (QDR)

Our sample of EVGA’s GTX 470 Superclocked+ proved itself to be one hell of an overclocker. We were able to push the core past the 1450Mhz mark that couldn’t be passed by either of our reference samples and the memory topped out at an impressive (for a GTX 400-series card) 4.02Ghz QDR. The resulting performance jump is nothing short of astounding:

EVGA-GTX470-SC-76.jpg
 

SKYMTL

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Conclusion

Conclusion


There is no hiding from the fact that NVIDIA’s GTX 400 series is extremely controversial in several circles of this industry but we think that as the market has settled down, these cards are making a name for themselves in several sectors. Yes, we all know there is no way a card based on the current Fermi architecture can hope to compete with its ATI competitors from a performance per watt angle. However, depending on the games you play the difference between red and green can become marginal at best from a perspective of efficiency versus framerates. Yet here we are yet again wading into a topic that has already been beaten like a dead mule.

NVIDIA’s board partners need to be applauded for striving to make the best out of a situation that is less than optimal. The economy is still very much in the shitter and games supporting the DX11 API are few and far between so moving a $360 graphics card like the GTX 470 isn’t an easy proposition. Nonetheless, cards like EVGA’s GTX 470 Superclocked+ have burst onto the scene and are sure to convince even some of the most die-hard holdouts that now may just be a perfect time to upgrade.

For the time being clock speeds on the GTX 400 series cards will likely stay relatively low because of the torrents of heat produced by the GF100 core when it is overclocked. This will lead to very small performance increases across the board and to be honest with you, most users will never see or feel a difference between a reference GTX 470 and the Superclocked+ version we reviewed here today. The real selling point of this card is its ability to effectively lower core temperatures without making any needless changes to what is already an extremely capable heatsink design. With the simple addition of an aluminum backplate and high airflow bracket we saw what amounted to a significant drop in temperatures. We know some of you will be more than happy to scoff at a mere six degree difference but in terms of overall cooling performance, this is a significant step forward.

EVGA’s Superclocked+ won’t win any awards for value or for overall performance when compared to the reference GTX 470. However, in our opinion it takes one hell of an innovative approach to improve certain characteristics that were lacking on the reference design. Couple this with a mere $10 price premium over a standard Superclocked Edition card and EVGA is definitely singing a tune we can dance to.


Pros:

- Very good performance
- Absolutely excellent cooling with relatively minor modifications
- Relatively quiet
- Lifetime Warranty
- $10 price premium over “standard” Superclocked Edition


Cons:

- Power consumption
- Minor clock speed increase does not improve game playability



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