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Written by Olin Coles   
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
Zotac GeForce GTX-480 Fermi Video Card
Features and Specifications
NVIDIA GF100 GPU Fermi Architecture
Closer Look: Zotac GeForce GTX480
Video Card Testing Methodology
3DMark Vantage GPU Tests
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
BattleForge Performance
Crysis Warhead Tests
Far Cry 2 Benchmark
Resident Evil 5 Tests
Metro 2033 DX11 Performance
Unigine Heaven Benchmark
NVIDIA APEX PhysX Enhancements
NVIDIA 3D-Vision Effects
GeForce GTX480 Temperatures
VGA Power Consumption
Editors Opinion: Fermi GF100
ZOTAC GTX-480 Conclusion

ZOTAC GTX-480 Conclusion

Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating for the sample received which may differ from retail versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.

Our performance rating considers how effective the Zotac GeForce GTX-480 DirectX-11 video card performs against competing products from both ATI and NVIDIA. While it's not easy to nail-down exact ratios because of driver and game optimizations, the Zotac GeForce GTX-480 consistently outperformed the ATI Radeon HD5870 and establishes itself as the most powerful single-unit graphics card available. Tested on the unbiased 3dMark Vantage DX10 benchmark, GeForce GTX480 improves upon the GTX285 by nearly 61% at 1920x1200, and outperforms the Radeon HD5870 by 10%. When BattleForge calls high-strain SSAO into action, NVIDIA's GTX480 demonstrates how well Fermi is suited for DX11... improving upon the GeForce GTX285 by nearly 249% while trumping ATI's best single-GPU Radeon HD5870 by 61%. The GeForce GTX480 also proved itself a worthy adversary for the dual-GPU ATI Radeon HD5970; beating it in our Resident Evil 5, Far Cry 2, and BattleForge tests. At the end of our test gauntlet, the general feeling was that the GeForce GTX-480 is positioned directly between the Radeon HD5870 and HD5970; in both performance and price.

Zotac_GeForce_GTX-480_ZT-40101-10P_Splash.jpg

In regard to product appearance, The Zotac GeForce GTX-480, model ZT-40101-10P, is little more than a company decal's difference from the NVIDIA engineering samples sent to media. There's no doubting that NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 480 will be referred to as the 'toughest' video card they've produced... exposed heatsink and heat-pipes certainly stand out like exposed exhaust tips do for hot rods. Zotac hasn't done much to differentiate their product from the many other Add-In Card (AIC) partners, so the native looks will have to carry this card past others.

Riding the bleeding edge of technology, NVIDIA has built their GeForce GTX 480 with solid construction. I'm always concerned for exposed electronics, so it surprises me that they didn't utilize a metal back-plate to work as a heatsink and protect PCB components. The top-side of the graphics card features a in-laid heatsink and four exposed heat-pipe rods with another tucked inside the shroud; all of which get extremely hot to the touch. The Fermi GF100 GPU has been moved forward toward the exhaust vents, but only by one inch when compared to the GTX 285. This subtle change allows memory and power components to receive optimal cooling first.

While most enthusiast consumers buy a discrete graphics card for the sole purpose of PC video games, there's a very small niche who depend on the extra features beyond video fast frame rates. NVIDIA is the market leader in GPGPU functionality, and it's no surprise to see CPU-level technology available in their GPU products. Fermi GF100 is also the first GPU to ever support Error Correcting Code (ECC), a feature that benefits both personal and professional users. Proprietary technologies such as NVIDIA Parallel DataCache and NVIDIA GigaThread Engine further add value to GPGPU functionality. Additionally, applications such as Adobe Photoshop can take advantage of GPGPU processing power.

Reading through the comments of the original launch article, value means something different to everyone. Some readers take heat and power into consideration, while others are concerned with FPS performance. With regard to value, there are several ways to look at the GeForce GTX-480 and compare it to the closest rivals: either the $390 ATI Radeon HD 5870 or the $700 Radeon HD 5970. In terms of product price to FPS performance, the GeForce GTX-480 actually does a much better job of maintaining a balance than a product like the Radeon HD 5970. Here's a breakdown of the average USD cost per FPS recorded for nine of the tests conducted in this article:

  • Radeon HD 5850: $11.40 per FPS
  • GeForce GTX 470: $11.42 per FPS
  • Radeon HD 5870: $11.65 per FPS
  • GeForce GTX 480: $12.54 per FPS
  • Radeon HD 5970: $14.03 per FPS
  • The Zotac GeForce GTX-480 model ZT-40101-10P sells at NewEgg for $509.99 as of mid-May 2010. If you're not ready for the worlds fastest GPU, the Zotac GeForce GTX-470 sells for $349.99. Although both ZOTAC models include a Limited Lifetime Warranty (if registered within 30-days of purchase), neither of these products include a full-version PC video game, or offer competitive buyer upgrade incentives.

    The NVIDIA GeForce GTX-480 engineering samples sent to media outlets for evaluation were not quite market-ready, as we've learned. After weeks of testing the retail Zotac GeForce GTX-480 the differences are clearly evident, but the bad press has already done its damage. Consumers can expect three things to be different with their retail versions of the GTX-480: slightly lower power consumption, which leads to lower heat output and a quiet fan. For me, heat output and fan noise are my biggest concerns, and now they're on par with ATIs competing graphics solutions.

    NVIDIA's GF100 Fermi GPU delivers more than just a giant boost to video frame rates over their previous generation, it also delivers GPGPU functionality that is usable in- and outside of video games. NVIDIA accomplished one of their primary goals, as performance increases over the GeForce GTX 285 were dramatic and often added nearly 300% improvement. Comparing only video game frame-rate performance between the GTX480 and Radeon HD5870 will still put the 480-core GF100 GPU decisively ahead of the competition by significant margin in DX10 tests, and give it a tremendous lead in DX11 applications.

    As expected, the Zotac GeForce GTX-480 dominated the Radeon HD 5870, but it also performed better than ATI's dual-GPU Radeon HD 5970 in BattleForge, Far Cry 2, and Resident Evil 5. Even in games like Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Crysis, the difference between the $500 GeForce GTX-480 and the $700 ATI Radeon HD 5970 was very small and usually within 10%. There are also added PhysX and DirectX-11 enhancements to help tip the cup well into NVIDIA's favor in terms of user-experience. If you're after the best blend of price and performance in DirectX-11 video games, especially demanding games such as Metro 2033, then the Zotac GTX-480 is a winner. If budget is a serious concern, the GTX-470 wins our approval for best all-around bang-for-the-buck.

    Pros:Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award

    + Fastest single-unit DX11 graphics accelerator available
    + Excellent price-to-performance cost ratio
    + GF100 Introduces Error Correcting Code (ECC)
    + Outstanding performance for ultra high-end games
    + Fan exhausts all heated air outside of case
    + Includes native HDMI audio/video output
    + Adds 32x CSAA post-processing detail
    + Supports triple-SLI functionality
    + Limited Lifetime Warranty

    Cons:

    - Consumes 48W at idle and 355W under full load
    - Very expensive premium-level product
    - Lacks free DX11 PC video game bundle

    Ratings:

    • Performance: 10.0
    • Appearance: 9.25
    • Construction: 9.75
    • Functionality: 9.75
    • Value: 6.25

    Final Score: 9.0 out of 10.

    Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

    Benchmark Reviews encourages you to leave comments (below), or ask questions and join the discussion in our Forum.


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    Comments 

     
    # Other TestsFederico La Morgia 2010-05-13 22:57
    3 x 480 ?
    tests in OC ?
    Report Comment
     
     
    # Next Zotac 480 coming soonWW_Dagger 2010-05-26 16:44
    I've set my heart on the recently announced Zotac FTX 480 AMP. This takes the cake! Faster yet quieter, and looks just awesome.
    Report Comment
     
     
    # RE: Next Zotac 480 coming soonFederico La Morgia 2010-05-26 22:09
    Point my heart, I would like a Fermi limited to 480 SP, but having the full 512-SP.
    Not only!, I wish to put in dual-GPU as my current GTX 295 and directly to the liquid cooled heat sink with copper entirely!
    Report Comment
     
     
    # HD5870Ansuex 2010-09-10 00:32
    Is it just me? or is the 5870 losing less fps when resolution is turned higer compared to the GTX480 or?
    Report Comment
     

    Comments have been disabled by the administrator.

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