|Gigabyte GeForce GTX 480 SOC GV-N480SO-15I|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Wednesday, 22 December 2010|
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Super Overclock Final Thoughts
Every technology reaches its zenith after it is already obsolete. A perfect example is LP record playback, AKA the "turntable", which now offers the highest quality playback of any consumer medium. Don't believe me? Find your local audio society, stop by one of their monthly meetings and prepare to be amazed, both at the cost and quality of the modern analog music source. As improbable as it may seem, the highest quality system of music reproduction available in the year 2010 was introduced commercially in 1889.
The King is Dead, Long Live the King. Just a few short months ago, the first Fermi cards launched onto a market that had been waiting with baited breath for the Wunder Chip. In many ways, the product that finally made it out of production trials was stunning in its overall concept and its scale. GPU computing had arrived in a huge way, and no one was sure what the full impact was going to be of the new micro architecture. In retrospect, it's now clear that NVIDIA saw a chance to completely own a very particular market that uses the massively parallel architecture of the modern GPU to solve math problems. It sounds simple, but the real-world implications are pretty wide ranging. Want to break 128-bit security codes? Want to break into your neighbor's Wi-Fi? It doesn't take days anymore to use brute-force hacking methods; the dirty deed can be done in 10 minutes if the password is 12 characters or less.
Of course the availability of all this parallel computing power doesn't have to be directed at nefarious schemes. There's weather modeling, medical imaging, genetic decoding, and all manner of scientific endeavors that have nothing to do with breaking into your bank account. But then there's nuclear blast simulation.... Oh, did I mention that China just built the world's fastest super-computer with multiple GPUs? It's just a coincidence that 99.999% of all video cards are built in China, right? My guess is that there are other countries doing it as well; it just hasn't shown up in Wiki Leaks yet. Oh well, our common curse is that we live in interesting times.
Back to what most of us are here for, PC gaming. Let's be honest; the GeForce GTX 480 is a big enough chip to satisfy almost every gaming application out there. If you really need more graphics horsepower, the GTX 580 probably isn't going to cut it. If one 480 can't do it, one 580 can't either; the only real answer is SLI. So let's dispense with the myth that this old warhorse is now suddenly useless. If the pricing drops enough, it will be the cheapest gateway to incredible SLI performance that will absolutely kill any gaming application. If the GeForce GTX 570 continues to undercut it in price, then it certainly makes sense to jump on the newest, fastest, coolest, radial fan rocket sled that is also selling for less. Unless of course, you want to overclock the thing until it begs for mercy, or you care about minimizing noise, or you just want to support a company that tried (and succeeded) to improve the breed with a more focused design approach. You get the picture....people buy last year's Audi instead of this year's VW all the time, for the same reason.