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Written by Bruce Normann   
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 480 SOC GV-N480SO-15I
Closer Look: Gigabyte GTX 480 SOC
Gigabyte GV-N480SO-15I Detailed Features
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 GPU Features
Gigabyte GTX 480 SOC Features
Video Card Testing Methodology
DX10: 3DMark Vantage
DX10: Crysis
DX10: Just Cause 2
DX9 SSAO: Mafia II
DX11: Aliens vs. Predator
DX11: Battlefield: Bad Company 2
DX11: DiRT-2 Demo
DX11: H.A.W.X. 2
DX11: Lost Planet 2
DX11: METRO 2033
DX11: Unigine Heaven 2.1
Gigabyte GTX 480 SOC Temperatures
VGA Power Consumption
Super Overclock Final Thoughts
Gigabyte GTX 480 SOC Conclusion

Gigabyte GTX 480 SOC Temperatures

It's hard to know exactly when the first video card got overclocked, and by whom. What we do know is that it's hard to imagine a computer enthusiast or gamer today that doesn't overclock their hardware. Of course, not every video card has the head room. Some products run so hot that they can't suffer any higher temperatures than they generate straight from the factory. This is why we measure the operating temperature of the video card products we test.

To begin testing, I use GPU-Z to measure the temperature at idle as reported by the GPU. Next I use FurMark 1.8.2 to generate maximum thermal load and record GPU temperatures at high-power 3D mode. The ambient room temperature remained stable at 24C throughout testing. I have a ton of airflow into the video card section of my benchmarking case, with a 200mm side fan blowing directly inward, so that helps alleviate any high ambient temps.

The Gigabyte GTX 480 SOC video card recorded 38C in idle mode, and increased to 77C after 30 minutes of stability testing in full 3D mode, at 1920x1200 resolution, and the maximum MSAA setting of 8X. With the fan set on Automatic, the speed rose to 57% under full load. The idle fan speed is a relatively high 48%, which is fine because the three fans are pretty much inaudible at that setting. I then did a run with manual fan control and 100% fan speed. I was rewarded by a modest increase in fan noise and a reduced load temperature of 71C.

Load

Fan Speed

GPU Temperature

Idle

48% - AUTO (2475 RPM)

38C

Furmark

57% - AUTO (2880 RPM)

77C

Furmark

100% - Manual (4075 RPM)

71C

77C may seem like a not very good result for temperature stress testing, but in comparison to a stock GTX 480 it's darn good. The first batch of GTX 480 cards got up to 93C when Benchmark Reviews tested them, and a later model from ASUS hit 82 under load with an ambient of 20C. I've become used to seeing video card manufacturers keeping the fan speeds low, especially with radial blower wheels, but Gigabyte takes advantage of their Windforce 3X fan design to keep the idle speeds up. Unless you've got the luxury, and the maniacal streak needed, to play video games 24 hours a day, your graphics card spends a lot of time idling while you're at work. With this card, the fan controller keeps the idle speed up to 48% and your card stays cool during the off-hours. There is definitely some thermal benefit to running the fan harder, as you can see from the 100% fan results above, and the increase in noise is not too bad at full tilt. Most users will not have to make custom software profiles to optimize the fan speeds on this non-reference design.

Gigabyte_GTX_480_SOC_Video_Card_furmark_temp.jpg

Load temps got up to a maximum of 73C when running continuous gaming benchmarks, with automatic fan speeds ramping up to 51% with the most challenging titles. This is fairly close to stress-test-maximums, so despite all the industry protests about using an extreme tool like FurMark for stress testing, it's doing a good job of emulating a real-world graphics load, IMHO. That temperature is higher than I like to see, but the chip can obviously take it.

FurMark is an OpenGL benchmark that heavily stresses and overheats the graphics card with fur rendering. The benchmark offers several options allowing the user to tweak the rendering: fullscreen / windowed mode, MSAA selection, window size, duration. The benchmark also includes a GPU Burner mode (stability test). FurMark requires an OpenGL 2.0 compliant graphics card with lot of GPU power!

MSI_R6870_Video_Card_Furmark_Start_Screen

FurMark does do two things extremely well: drive the thermal output of any graphics processor higher than any other application or video game, and it does so with consistency every time. While FurMark is not a true benchmark tool for comparing different video cards, it still works well to compare one product against itself using different drivers or clock speeds, or testing the stability of a GPU, as it raises the temperatures higher than any program. But in the end, it's a rather limited tool.

In our next section, we discuss electrical power consumption and learn how well (or poorly) each video card will impact your utility bill...



 

Comments 

 
# geckoTony Hagger 2010-12-27 03:22
All of the 400 seeries cards have major problems with crashing Pc's think before you buy I have just wasted £128 quid on one.
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# RE: geckoServando Silva 2010-12-27 17:22
Really? I have tried several GTX400 GPUs and none of them has crashed my PC. You probably have another other problems.
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# OK,......RealNeil 2010-12-27 09:58
"The GTX 570 does it all for less"
Enough Said,...............
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# RE: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 480 SOC GV-N480SO-15IGeorgeMMM 2010-12-27 22:53
I think it would be better to had the MSIGTX 460 Tallon Attack instead of the MSI GTX460 Cyclone
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# RE: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 480 SOC GV-N480SO-15ITony Hagger 2010-12-29 00:46
Servando Silva Well just on and look up the Nvidia forums and you will see how many people are having problems with the 400 series cards.

I now have an ATI card in and all is fine.

And why would you be trying several 400 cards surley one is enough.
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# RE: RE: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 480 SOC GV-N480SO-15IOlin Coles 2011-01-01 09:59
Tony: there are many thousands of NVIDIA GeForce 400-series video card owners, and some of them will have problems. Even I've had problems. But more often than not, it isn't the video card, it's the software/driver.

Keep your comments on-topic with this article, so they can be published.
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