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Gigabyte GeForce GTX 470 OC Edition Review

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few months, you should have some knowledge that NVIDIA finally released their GTX 400-series lineup in order to compete against a surging ATI. If you remember our original reviews of each card, there was a serious sense of anticipation about what the future would bring for the Fermi architecture. You’ll also recall that while it was quite obvious that the GTX 480 was simply the fastest single GPU card available, we were most impressed by the GTX 470. The reasoning behind this was that card’s ability to strike a balance with its price, performance and power consumption that in our opinion made it more appealing than the no-hold-barred GTX 480.

Since those first reviews were published, several of NVIDIA’s board partners have tried their hand at improving upon the reference design with some interesting results. Most recently we reviewed the EVGA GTX 470 Superclocked+ which incorporated a unique cooling design that not only lowered temperatures but also retained the reference heatsink so as not to substantially increase its price. Gigabyte will soon be bringing over the Super Overclock namesake into the GTX 400-series world which should hopefully bring about some impressive performance increases. Until that series is brought over, Gigabyte is looking to whet people’s appetites with a lineup of moderately overclocked cards beginning with the card being featured in this review: the GTX 470 OC Edition.

Much like EVGA’s own Superclocked card, Gigabyte’s OC Edition doesn’t feature any massive clock speed increases but rather it is being released as a value-added proposition of those of you who simply don’t want a stock card. Naturally, this bump in performance goes hand in hand with a corresponding increase in price but this doesn’t seemed to have happened with this particular card. From the first day the GTX 470 was released, Gigabyte’s pricing has been extremely aggressive. So even though the OC Edition does retail for about $15 more than Gigabyte’s reference version, this still puts it in-line with the prices most other AIBs are asking for their stock-clocked cards.

While Gigabyte may not have a lengthy warranty like EVGA, their 3 years of coverage is still more than adequate for the vast majority of consumers out there. As such, the proposition of owning even a slightly overclocked card from a reputable manufacturer for the price of most other reference versions should appeal to most people out there. So, let’s check on how this card does and see if there are any issues which may stop it from becoming an instant classic.

 
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SKYMTL

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Ultra Durable VGA Under the Microscope

Ultra Durable VGA Under the Microscope



Gigabyte’s Ultra Durable VGA has been used for quite a while now and it involves a number of high-quality component choices which are made to increase efficiency, decrease temperatures and even have a positive effect on the overclocking potential of a GPU. Having a Gigabyte UDV card means that you are guaranteed the best possible component choices rather than bargain-basement components that some manufacturers use to cut costs.

(From Gigabyte)

2 oz Copper PCB

2 oz copper PCB board doubles the copper inner layer of PCB board and provides unrivaled performance compared with traditional 1 oz PCB board.


Tier 1 Samsung and Hynix Memory

Ultra Durable VGA promises 1st tier Samsung/Hynix memory built with 100% fully testing.


Japanese Solid Capacity

Solid capacitors contain a solid organic polymer, while electrolytic capacitors use a common liquid electrolyte. Our cards use Japanese solid capacitors made by leading Japanese manufactures and offer better electronic conductivity for unrivaled performance.


Ferrite Core (Met ) Chokes

Ferrite core chokes are comprised of a compound of iron-oxide whose properties hold energymuch longer than common iron-core chokes at high frequency. They are able to store energy longer and prevent rapid energy loss at high frequency.


Low RDS (on) MOSFET

Lower RDS (on) MOSFETs are specially designed to produce lower switching resistance for faster electric current charging and discharging.
 

SKYMTL

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Specifications / Packaging & Accessories

Specifications



Back in the introduction we warned you about not expecting too much when it came to clock speeds with this card and you can see why. Gigabyte chose to stick to the reference memory clock speeds for some reason and instead only increased the core clocks by a small amount. When we say small, we mean small: all of a 23Mhz bump. This won’t make a lick of difference when it comes to actual gameplay but there may be some visual increases when it comes to actual charts. To be honest with you, this was actually a bit of a disappointment considering that EVGA was able to increase the clock speeds of both the memory and the engine on their Superclocked+ card.


Packaging & Accessories



Unlike most other board partners, Gigabyte uses what we would call an “upright” box which is actually quite large. In this case the packaging also makes special mention of Gigabyte’s Ultra Durable VGA as well as the North and Central America 3-year warranty which this card comes with. There is also mention of the actual clock speeds which is definitely a departure from what we are used to seeing.


As with all of the other Gigabyte graphics cards we have looked at recently, the GTX 470 OC comes with more than sufficient protection for the card while the accessories are pushed off to the side in their own separate compartment.


These days graphics cards don’t usually come with a massive number of extra games or crazy additions like the used to as companies are trying to trim down their bottom lines. However, in addition to the usual documentation, Molex to 6-pin connectors and VGA to VGA adaptors, it is good to see Gigabyte including a robust four foot mini HDMI to HDMI adaptor. We should also mention that the additional CD is packed with extras like NVIDIA’s Design Garage and Supersonic Sled apps. Give them a try and you won’t be disappointed.
 
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SKYMTL

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A Closer Look at the Gigabyte GTX 470 OC

A Closer Look at the Gigabyte GTX 470 OC



Gigabyte has certainly gone for a unique look with this card even though its overall design sticks strictly to that of the reference card. It retains a full length heatsink along with a standard push / pull fan setup and a length of about 9 ½”.


While most of NVIDIA’s board partners use slightly muted designs for their heatsink shroud stickers, Gigabyte decided to go out on a limb and design something which would catch the eye without being overly tacky. Whether or not they succeeded at this goal really depends on personal preference but personally, I love the design even though it is a bit on the loud side of things.

Like all GTX 470 cards, Gigabyte’s OC version comes with a pair of 6-pin power connectors as well as a double headed SLI interface which allows for up to three of these cards to be used in an SLI configuration.


Upon first glance there may not be much different about the PCB layout of Gigabyte’s OC Edition but after a closer inspection it seems like they beefed up at least a few components. Unfortunately, due to time constraints we weren’t able to remove the full heatsink but the underside of the PCB shows us a number of resistors that have been upgraded from 470 e97 to 470 G90 units. This could lead to anything from increased overclocking potential to a more stable power delivery subsystem.


Finally, the back of our Gigabyte card has all of the usual connectors associated with the reference design. That means we are looking at a pair of DVI outputs as well as a single mini HDMI connector.
 
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SKYMTL

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Test System & Setup

Test System & Setup

Processor: Intel Core i7 920(ES) @ 4.0Ghz (Turbo Mode Enabled)
Memory: Corsair 3x2GB Dominator DDR3 1600Mhz
Motherboard: Gigabyte EX58-UD5
Cooling: CoolIT Boreas mTEC + Scythe Fan Controller (Off for Power Consuption tests)
Disk Drive: Pioneer DVD Writer
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB
Power Supply: Corsair HX1000W
Monitor: Samsung 305T 30” widescreen LCD
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate N x64 SP1


Graphics Cards:

Gigabyte GTX 470 OC
ASUS GTX 465 1GB (Reference)
NVIDIA GTX 470 (Reference)
Sapphire HD 5870 1GB (stock)
Sapphire HD 5850 1GB (stock)
XFX HD 5830 1GB (stock)


Drivers:

ATI 10.5 WHQL
NVIDIA 257.21 WHQL


Applications Used:

Aliens Versus Predator
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
DiRT 2
Far Cry 2
Just Cause 2
Metro 2033
Unigine: Heaven

*Notes:

- All games tested have been patched to their latest version

- The OS has had all the latest hotfixes and updates installed

- All scores you see are the averages after 3 benchmark runs

All game-specific methodologies are explained above the graphs for each game

All IQ settings were adjusted in-game
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Messages
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Aliens Versus Predator (DX11)

Aliens Versus Predator (DX11)


When benchmarking Aliens Versus Predator, we played through the whole game in order to find a section which represents a “worst case” scenario. We finally decided to include “The Refinery” level which includes a large open space and several visual features that really tax a GPU. For this run-through, we start from within the first tunnel, make our way over the bridge on the right (blowing up several propane tanks in the process), head back over the bridge and finally climb the tower until the first run-in with an Alien. In total, the time spent is about four minutes per run. Framerates are recorded with FRAPS.


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SKYMTL

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BattleField: Bad Company 2 (DX11)

BattleField: Bad Company 2 (DX11)


To benchmark BF: BC2 we used a five minute stretch of gameplay starting from the second checkpoint (after the helicopter takes off) of the second single player mission up until your battle with the tank commences. Framerates are recorded with FRAPS.


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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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DiRT 2 (DX11)

DiRT 2 (DX11)


Being one of the newest games on the market, DiRT 2 cuts an imposing figure in terms of image quality and effects fidelity. We find that to benchmark this game the in-game tool is by far the best option. However, due to small variances from one race to another, three benchmark runs are done instead of the normal two. It should also be mentioned that the demo version of the game was NOT used since after careful testing, the performance of the demo is not representative of the final product. DX11 was forced through the game’s config file. In addition, you will see that these scores do not line up with our older benchmarks at all. This is due to the fact that a patch was recently rolled out for the game which included performance optimizations in addition to new graphics options.

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SKYMTL

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Far Cry 2 (DX10)

Far Cry 2 (DX10)



Even though Far Cry 2 has its own built-in benchmarking tool with some flythroughs and “action scenes”, we decided to record our own timedemo consisting of about 5 minutes of game time. It involves everything from run-and-gun fights to fire effects. The built-in benchmarking too was then set up to replay the timedemo and record framerates


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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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13,264
Location
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Just Cause 2 (DX10)

Just Cause 2 (DX10)


Just Cause 2 has quickly become known as one of the best-looking games on the market and while it doesn’t include DX11 support, it uses the full stable of DX10 features to deliver a truly awe-inspiring visual experience. For this benchmark we used the car chase scene directly following the Casino Assault level. This scene includes perfectly scripted events, some of the most GPU-strenuous effects and lasts a little less than four minutes. We chose to not use the in-game benchmarking tool due to its inaccuracy when it comes to depicting actual gameplay performance.


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