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Gigabyte Geforce GTX 470 Super Overclock Review

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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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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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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13,264
Location
Montreal
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 3 minutes of walking, running and combat. Famerates are measured with FRAPS and Advanced PhysX is turned off.


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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
StarCraft II (DX9)

StarCraft II (DX9)


In order to test StarCraft II performance we recorded a typical multiplayer battle on the Agria Valley map and used it as a replay in order to ensure every run was identical to one another. We used the last 3 minutes of the replay which includes the final assault on the enemy base. MSAA was applied in the NVIDIA and ATI control panels for certain tests.


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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
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



DIRT 2 (DX11)

 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
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)



Just Cause 2 (DX10)

 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
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13,264
Location
Montreal
Temperature & Acoustics / Power Consumption

Core Temperature & Acoustics


For all 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.



Keeping the GF100’s temperatures under check is one hell of a task but it seems like Gigabyte’s custom heatsink is more than ready for the job. Granted, 78 degrees isn’t exactly what we could call “cool” but it is definitely an improvement over the stock heatsink.

Another step forward in comparison to the stock heatsink is the Super Overclock’s noise profile. One would expect that the trio of 80mm fans would need to literally scream in order to sufficiently cool the fin array but that doesn’t happen. Due to the surface area of the heatsink, all of the core’s heat is well distributed across a fairly large area which means the fans don’t need to work all that hard. The result is an amazingly quiet experience.


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.


Before this review, we had done some in-house testing of the GTX 470 under different temperatures since it was reported that heat buildup had a massive impact upon power consumption of the GF100 architecture. Well, it looks like these reports were spot on since the Super Overclock was able to post lower than reference power consumption numbers even though its core was substantially overclocked. Naturally, some of this difference may be due to component selection on Gigabyte’s part but the effect is profound to say the least.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Gigabyte's OC Guru / Overclocking Results

Gigabyte’s OC Guru



The fact that we despise Gigabyte’s OC Guru software is a subject that has been kicked longer than a dead horse. It sports an interface which is unintuitive, a quirkiness that is frustration inducing and a busy layout that makes MSI’s excellent Afterburner software look like a minimalist’s wet dream.

In this case, Gigabyte took it to the next level since some of the functions don’t even work with the GTX 470 SoC. Things like Current Information and Total Power Saving are there in all their “glory” but fail to register anything. The Green Power option in the custom profile also results in a dead end since enabling it just causes the card to run at default values.

Luckily, voltages can be increased and this DOES have an impact upon overclocking so we can chalk up at least one win for the OC Guru’s team.


Overclocking Results


Using the OC Guru utility in addition to our usual stability checks, both the core and memory of the GTX 470 SoC were pushed as far as we dared. The default voltage was increased to the maximum values allowable under the software.


Final Clock Speeds

Graphics Clock: 831Mhz
Processor Clock: 1662Mhz
Memory Clock: 4140Mhz (QDR)


 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


Our opinion of Gigabyte’s past Super Overclock products has run the gamut from absolute love to questioning the apparent degeneration of the brand. While the latest versions of the SoC (namely the HD 5770) haven’t shown much promise, moving the brand back to NVIDIA-branded products is an absolute success in our books.

The GTX 470 Super Overclock brings a substantial performance increase to the table which perfectly bridges the sometimes substantial gap between a reference GTX 470 and the class leading GTX 480. Amazingly, this was achieved without a memory overclock which leads us to believe that the GF100 core is anything but bandwidth starved. Would higher memory speeds have led to substantially higher performance? From our overclocking tests, it seems so and which leads us to question Gigabyte’s decision to keep to the reference clock speed here.

Looking past the reference memory output, the GTX 470 SoC simply demolished a standard GTX 470 in every other aspect. The heat output of the GF100 was kept in check by the almost-silent heatsink but we are still a bit concerned about all of that heat sticking around the interior of one’s case. The low core temperatures also resulted in a shocking power consumption reduction.

There are however some wrinkles in the almost-perfect fabric of this card. It comes with a software suite no enthusiast in their right mind would even bother using, yet it does offer a good amount of tweaking ability if you ever find out how navigation works. The custom and heavily upgraded components also come with an increase in length that may end up being an issue for some with smaller cases.

In our opinion, Gigabyte hit the nail on the head with their GTX 470 Super Overclock. Everything from performance to noise production to power consumption to price exceeds every expectation. Is it worth the $50 price premium over a standard GTX 470? Absolutely.


Pros:

- Excellent performance
- High price / performance value
- Runs much quieter than the reference card
- Low temperatures = lower than expected power consumption
- Wide availability
- Overclocking monster


Cons:

- Confusing & frustrating OC Guru makes a comeback
- Very long card


 
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