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Gigabyte Geforce GTX 470 Super Overclock Review

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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When a new graphics card usually launches, we usually end up reviewing the reference version and according to out conversations with vendors, it’s usually this bone stock product that most people buy. On the other hand, overclocked and reengineered editions are great for marketing materials but their sales numbers are somewhat lackluster. This is probably because of their astronomically high prices and the fact that end users can just overclock the less expensive version to levels above that of most pre-overclocked cards.

For board partners a market that likes looking at custom, high performance cards but avoids buying them could spell disaster. However, there are always a few rogue buyers who are always on the lookout for something different and for them Gigabyte created the Super Overclock series.

Truth be told, our experience with the SoC cards has been a bit of a rollercoaster. Some like the GTX 275 SoC and GTX 260 SoC really did push things to the next level in terms of performance and ended up impressing us to no end. The HD 5870 version was extremely good as well but then along came the Gigabyte’s take on HD 5770. It was simply a card that wasn’t fit to wear the Super Overclock branding in any way, shape or form.

Now Gigabyte is going back to where their high end enthusiast series first started: on the NVIDIA side of the fence. The GTX 470 Super Overclock seems to have the perfect combination of features: high clock speeds, the ability to increase its clock speeds even further, a custom heatsink and a component selection that is drool worthy. To entice you even further, this card’s price has just recently been trimmed down to $349 – a minimal premium to pay for a card that brings so much to the table.

After our last outing with a Super Overclock branded product, we feel that Gigabyte has a lot of work to do in order to get this series back on track. Will the GTX 470 version bring back the shine to this once mighty series or will it be another disappointment? Let’s find out.

SUPER-OC-16.jpg
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
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Montreal
Gigabyte's GPU Gauntlet

Gigabyte's GPU Gauntlet


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In the enthusiast and extreme overclocking community, hand-picking components which ensure the best possible overclock and durability are regular occurrences. World record holding overclockers can go through dozens of processors before they find the one that suits their needs. Graphics card manufacturers do the same thing when it comes to picking GPUs for their highly overclocked cards since they have to ensure the chips they use will run the specified clock frequencies. The rejected chips are usually used for reference-clocked products.

Gigabyte has taken things to the next level by running the cores through what they call the GPU Gauntlet before they are deemed acceptable for their Super Overclock cards. Due to the clock speeds these chips have to maintain, the binning process is really meant to find the diamonds in the rough. Here is how Gigabyte explains the way their binning system works:

Only the strongest processors survive the GPU Gauntlet.

First, our database analysis system evaluates the GPU core engine, shader engine, and
memory. If a processor doesn’t meet the pre-defined standard, it will not qualify for the Super
Overclock Series.

Then, our proprietary testing toolkit allows us to inspect and select the GPUs with the highest frequency. This program operates for 30 minutes and provides important data on the maximum overclocking ability compared to a stock GPU. Once the Super OC point has been determined, our engineers will boost the frequency to offer the highest factory default clock setting in the market.

Next, each Super Overclock Series GPU faces the Graphics benchmarks, Furmark and 3Dmark Vantage, to measure performance and stability under an intense graphics load. A GPU that passes this stage will perform at a lower temperature and fan speed compared to a standard GPU. By choosing the cream of the crop, we ensure rich rendering of intricate 3D scenes and realistic physical effects (water, gas, steam, fire, etc) for a lifelike gaming adventure.

Lastly, we test the power switching and stability. The GPUs with the best power efficiency and lowest power consumption are qualified for the Super Overclock Series. And we understand that premium graphics cards should not sound like a cement truck rolling down the freeway, so a large cooling fan provides for a quiet computing environment.

So the question remains…will your graphics card make it through the Gauntlet?
 

SKYMTL

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Ultra Durable VGA Under the Microscope

Ultra Durable VGA Under the Microscope


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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

Gigabyte GTX 470 SoC Specifications


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Our main issue with some of the past SoC edition cards was their lack of truly high clock speeds but the GTX 470 version is different…somewhat. To kick things off, Gigabyte overclocked the core to truly impressive speeds considering most other GTX 470 cards from the likes of EVGA and Zotac struggle to reach anything above 660Mhz.

Core speeds are one thing but we expect Super Overclock cards to incorporate a memory overclock as well and that just wasn’t meant to be. Even a few megahertz thrown in as a bone to past tradition would have been great but here we see yet another of Gigabyte’s flagship products lacking anything resembling faster memory speeds. This is disappointing to say the least.


Packaging & Accessories


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Gigabyte’s GTX 470 SoC continues the design we have seen on past boxes of this series. One thing we have to compliment Gigabyte on is their ability to focus the information provided on features that will actually benefit consumers.

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The card is housed within a secondary black box with a copper colored badge. As usual, there is almost no risk of the card arriving damaged due to the excess amount of protection Gigabyte builds into all of their boxes.

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The accessory list is limited but the inclusion of a four foot HDMI cable is definitely welcome. Otherwise, there is a pair of Molex to 6-pin power adaptors as well as a DVI to VGA dongle included. The SoC tuner software meanwhile has been provided on a CD.
 

SKYMTL

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A Closer Look at the Gigabyte GTX 470 SoC

A Closer Look at the Gigabyte GTX 470 SoC


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The GTX 470 Super Overclock is as unique a card as we have seen in quite a while. As you will see, it is a completely custom design from the ground up and incorporates some of the best components possible.


What gives this card its distinct look is the massive Windforce 3x heatsink which covers nearly the whole card. At its heart is a large heatpipe-totting contact plate which covers the memory chips and GPU core along with a huge aluminum fin array. This is all topped by a trio of 80mm fans for optimal cooling performance.

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Regardless of its high clock speeds, Gigabyte’s GTX 470 SoC still uses a pair of 6-pin power connectors on its lengthened PCB. Closer to the back of the card we can see that the VRMs are covered by their own heatsink which is cleverly fastened down by a wire tension bar.

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The back of the Super Overclock’s PCB should tell you straight away that this is anything but your regular GTX 470. It incorporates a twelve phase power setup (ironically the bottom-side VRMs don’t sport a heatsink) along with a number of additional features.

There are also five black squares that look a lot like memory ICs but are actually Prodalizer film capacitors made by NEC’s subsidiary Tokin. This 4+1 setup (four capacitors for the core and one for the memory) is supposed to provide high switching frequency and current capacity with lower ESR which results in extremely clean power delivered to all of this card’s components. In addition, these “super capacitors” can also eliminate the high pitched “whine” that characterizes some high-end graphics cards.

GTX470-SOC-16.jpg
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At 10.5” long, Gigabyte’s GTX 470 Super Overclock surpasses the length of a reference card by about 1 1/2” which makes it the same length as a reference GTX 480.

GTX470-SOC-15.jpg

The backplate on this card sticks to the reference design with a pair of DVI connectors and a single HDMI output.

GTX470-SOC-18.jpg
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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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:

NVIDIA GTX 480 (Reference)
NVIDIA GTX 470 (Reference)
Sapphire HD 5870 1GB (Stock)
Sapphire HD 5850 1GB (Stock)
NVIDIA GTX 460 1GB (Reference)

Drivers:

ATI 10.9 WHQL
NVIDIA 260.63 Beta


Applications Used:

Aliens Versus Predator
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
DiRT 2
Far Cry 2
Just Cause 2
Metro 2033
StarCraft II


*Notes:

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT OUR BENCHMARKING PROCESS PLEASE SEE THIS ARTICLE

- 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
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
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.


1680 x 1050

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1920 x 1200

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2560 x 1600

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
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.


1680 x 1050

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1920 x 1200

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2560 x 1600

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
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.

1680 x 1050

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1920 x 1200

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2560 x 1600

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
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


1680 x 1050

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1920 x 1200

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2560 x 1600

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