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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 Review

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Come One Come All: Products from Board Partners

Come One Come All: Products from Board Partners



ASUS



EVGA



Gigabyte



MSI



Zotac

 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
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Messages
12,861
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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:

GTX 480
GTX 470
ATI HD 5970 2GB (Stock)
Sapphire HD 5870 1GB (Stock)
Sapphire HD 5850 1GB (Stock)
EVGA GTX 285 (Stock)
GTX 275 896MB (Stock)
GTX 295 (Stock)


Drivers:

ATI 10.3a Preview + 10.3 Profile 1.0
NVIDIA 197.17 Beta


Applications Used:

Aliens Versus Predator
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
DiRT 2
Dragon Age: Origins
Far Cry 2
Left 4 Dead 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 2 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.


1680 x 1050





1920 x 1200





2560 x 1600





Things really start out on an interesting note for the GTX 480 in this game since it struggles a bit with AA disabled but when we bump up the image quality with 4xAA, it simply destroys the HD 5870 and even comes close to the HD 5970 in some cases. While performance without AA may be on the low side, the real story here is the minimum framerates at every IQ setting and here the GTX 480 can claim absolute dominance.

The GTX 400 series has one issue with this game however which should be fixed by the time the release driver is available to the public. When using one of the new NVIDIA cards, the DX11 rendering mode makes the game excessively dark which makes playing it possible but not easy. As you can see, the HD 5970 also failed the first two tests due to massive rendering issues that rendered the game all but unplayable.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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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.


1680 x 1050





1920 x 1200





2560 x 1600




Once again we see the GTX 480 staying ahead of the HD 5870, particularly when AA is enabled but it still can’t compete with the raw power of the $700 HD 5970. Interestingly enough, we see that the GTX 480 and HD 5870 are neck and neck at 2560 x 1600 while NVIDIA clearly wins in the minimum framerate department yet again.

According to our conversations with NVIDIA, their current beta driver (and the one which will be launched with the card) exhibits an issue in this game (and DiRT 2) where framerates take a massive plunge at 2560 x 1600 resolution. They expect a fix to be forthcoming sometime in the weeks following launch.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Messages
12,861
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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.

1680 x 1050





1920 x 1200





2560 x 1600





Performance like this in what is an ATI DX11 launch title is simply stunning. Unfortunately for the GTX 480 though we see the gap between it and the HD 5870 narrows quite a bit when resolution increases.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Dragon Age: Origins (DX9)

Dragon Age: Origins (DX9)


To benchmark Dragon Age, we used a simple walkthrough coupled with a short combat sequence. The benchmark run begins with a walk through one of the most demanding scenes we have come across in the game so far: the walk over the bridge and through Ostagar. This is followed by a combat sequence outside of the fortress itself. In total the runthrough takes about 6 minutes.

1680 x 1050





1920 x 1200





2560 x 1600





Dragon Age really isn’t a particularly hard game on graphics cards but the GTX 480 nonetheless manages to stay ahead of the HD 5870 most of the time. There are a few instances however where the less expensive ATI card is able to eke out a win.
 

SKYMTL

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Far Cry 2 (DX9)

Far Cry 2 (DX9)



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





1920 x 1200





2560 x 1600





Truth be told, many people have incorrectly stated that Far Cry 2 has been an NVIDIA-optimized game, but ATI has drastically improved performance in this game through several driver revisions. Nevertheless, the GTX 480 makes the single GPU ATI cards look like last-generation models by posting some seriously impressive numbers. It just can’t come close to the HD 5970, and actually loses to the GTX 295 in some cases.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Messages
12,861
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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


1680 x 1050





1920 x 1200





2560 x 1600





Remember earlier this year when we used simulated numbers in our GF100 article to predict that there was a 25% difference between the GTX 480 and HD 5870 at 1920 x 1200 resolution in Far Cry 2? Guess what folks, we were right. We also showed a 27% difference at 2560 x 1600 and we were within a mere 6% of the actual gap. Considering the difference between NVIDIA’s test system and ours, in addition to the driver advances made and the fact that we are using a custom timedemo, we feel vindicated.

As for actual performance, there really isn’t much competition here from the HD 5870, while the GTX 480 occasionally flirts with the HD 5970.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
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Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Left 4 Dead 2 (DX9)

Left 4 Dead 2 (DX9)


For benching Left 4 Dead 2, we used a pre-recorded 6 minute timedemo taken on the hectic Atrium level. Framerates were captured with FRAPS.


1680 x 1050





1920 x 1200





2560 x 1600





The GTX 480’s performance in Left 4 Dead is impressive to say the least in most tests but there is yet again an odd drop-off in average framerates at 2560 x 1600. Luckily, even though its average high resolution scores are within 10% of the HD 5870, it’s minimum framerates are about 25% better.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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Messages
12,861
Location
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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



1920 x 1200



2560 x 1600


There is no doubt that even though ATI’s HD 5870 gets some decent performance, it is no match for the GTX 480. What surprised us is actually the fairly good scaling of the HD 5970 even though it failed to complete our 2560 x 1600 test.
 
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