Gigabyte GTX480 Review

Modern games demand more and more system requirements. In order to play a game at its highest graphic settings, you must have a strong CPU, a decent amount of RAM and of course a fast GPU, which is the most important part for 3D processing.  Today we are reviewing Gigabyte’s high-end model, the Gigabyte GTX480.


Gigabyte was founded in 1986 and their headquarters are located in Taiwan. Their product range includes mainly motherboards, network solutions, video cards and computer peripherals.

Let’s take a look at the cards specs and features, which has the codename GV-N480D5-15I-B :

Series:  GeForce 400 Series
Chipset:   GeForce GTX 480
Core Clock:   700 MHz
Shader Clock:  1401 MHz
Memory Clock:   3696 MHz
Memory Type:   1536MB GDDR5
Memory interface: 384-bit
CUDA™ Cores:    480
DirectX:   11
D-sub:   Yes (By Adapter)
DVI:  Yes
TV-OUT:   No
Cooling:  Active (with fan) (dual-slot)
Other hardware features : 8-channel Digital Surround Sound (LPCM), NVIDIA® Lumenex™ Engine, Quantum Effects™ Technology
Software Features:
 nView® Multi-Display, NVIDIA® PureVideo™ HD Technology, NVIDIA® CUDA™ technology, NVIDIA® PhysX® technology, OpenGL® 3.2, NVIDIA® 3D Vision™ Surround technology

 

 

A closer look


The Gigabyte GTX480 comes in a big, shiny box, on which the card’s main features are illustrated.

At the back of the box we find a detailed presentation of the card’s specifications and characteristics. Also, the card’s architecture is explained.

Inside the box we find 2 CD’s containing Gigabyte’s software, the user’s manual, one HDMI to mini HDMI cable and, of course, the actual card itself.

The VGA itself is a quite big. At the front we notice the big heatsink and the Gigabyte logo. Above, we get an idea of how the card looks like from the back side.

From the connectivity aspect, the Gigabyte GTX480 offers 2 HDMI and one mini HDMI connector.

 

Test Setup and Procedures

This was the machine on which we tested the card:

Processor: Intel Core i7 920
Motherboard: Asus P6X85D
RAM: 6 GB Mushkin 6-7-6-18
VGA: Various
HDD: Velocity Raptor 150GB
PSU: Nexus 1000W
Case: Thermaltake Armor VA8003BWS
Operating System: Windows 7 64-bit

We tested the Gigabyte GTX480 against the NVidia GTX480 reference card, the ASUS GTX470 which of course is a mid-end card, and the ASUS RAdeon 5870, which is the main rival for the GTX480.

The benchmarks we ran include:

 

  • Farcry
  • Metro 2033
  • Mafia II
  • Battlefield II
  • Temperature Test
  • Power Consumption Test
  • Overclock Ability

 

Farcry – Metro 2033 Benchmark Results

For the first test, we ran Farcry at Ultra High detail DX10 mode, at a 1920×1200 resolution with 4 x AA.


As we see, the Gigabyte GTX480, and even the ASUS GTX470 outperform the 5870. Performance was the same between Gigabyte and  the reference card from NVidia.

Next, we ran Metro 2033, which is a very demanding game, at max settings with 16x AF, at a 1680 x 1050 resolution.


We notice that the GTX480 makes the demanding Metro 2033 playable in a high resolution, with the two other models falling behind significantly.

 

Mafia II , Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Heaven 2.1 Benchmark Results

Afterwards, we tested the cards’ performance in Mafia II, at extreme quality settings with no PhysX.


Here the 5870 comes close in performance compared to the GTX480. Of course, the mid-range GTX470 is 14 frames behind its faster brother.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is also a demanding game to run in high resolution.


The AMD card also comes near the NVidia’s in terms of performance.

Finally we tested the cards using Heaven 2.1. From Heaven’s official site description:
Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced Unigine™ engine from Unigine Corp. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. Interactive mode provides emerging experience of exploring the intricate world of steampunk. 
So this benchmark stresses the GPU much and useful ponts regarding performance are made.


In Heaven 2.1, the Gigabyte GTX480 clearly shows its superiority, being the faster of the test VGA’s.

From all these tests, we understand that the GTX480 is a solid performer and will not let you down, running modern games in decent resolution and settings.

 

Temperature, Power Consumption and Overclocking Ability

OK, the GTX480 is a solid performer, but let’s take a look at the heat the card produces.

When the system was idle, we measured a 46 degrees celsius temperature, which is logical. But when the system was in full load, we noticed that the temperature almost doubled, reaching 90 degrees celsius which is too hot. Maybe power users have to consider buying an aftermarket cooler for this card.

We also wanted to take a look at the power consumption of the Gigabyte GTX480.

Power consumption is very high at full load, reaching 315 watts.

Below you can see what we achieved while trying to overclock the GTX480 using the stock cooling system:

 

We managed to hit 795Mhz at the GPU clock. More overclock and we had heat problems under full load.

 

Verdict

During our tests we found that the Gigabyte GTX480 is a solid performer. Generally speaking, it will play all modern games at high resolutions and max quality with no problems.
However, the card ran too hot under fuill system load and also was hungry in terms of power. 
In Europe it costs around 400 euros, which is a bit high amount for the casual gamer but logical for power users who have high-end systems.

Pros

(+) Solid Performance, average 15-18% more than main rival AMD 5870

Cons

(-) Too hot under full system load
(-) Power hungry
(-) Price (for some)

 

Thus, we give the Gigabyte GTX480 a rating of 8.5/10 and our Performance Award.

 

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