Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 Review: Fermi Arrives

By on March 26, 2010, 6:51 PM
Two years later, Nvidia is finally ready to unveil a new piece of graphics silicon aimed at consumers and the enthusiast crowd based on its latest Fermi architecture. The GeForce GTX 280 was the company's last big launch that comprised of innovative technology, at the time rewriting the record books as the fastest single-GPU graphics card. Besides the dual-GPU GeForce GTX 295 that went on sale months later, anything after the GTX 280 has been a rehash of the same GT200b graphics core.


The company battled it out against the ATI Radeon HD 4800 series for a while, but long story short, last September ATI was already shipping brand new parts that were faster and more efficient, while Nvidia wasn't giving out any specific details on Fermi. These new Radeons became the first products to steal the performance crown away from Nvidia in a long time, and they did so in a very convincing fashion.

Nvidia's new Fermi architecture is debuting with the GeForce GTX 480 and GeForce GTX 470 graphics cards. Designed to be the next evolution in GPU computing, we are excited to see what these new boards are capable of, and whether or not they'll be able to bring Nvidia back into the spotlight.

Read the complete review.




User Comments: 107

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Regenweald said:

Something that hot should not be in my machine, killing my other parts slowly. Also, what kind of lifespan can you expect from it? Your conclusion is pretty kind. Seems to me that the higher price plus the ridiculous power consumption and heat generated, all for a meager 16% performance increase overall makes for a pretty horrible purchase. This is a *computer component* we are talking about, as tech gets better, should we not see better performance and *less* heat ? Like what Intel and AMD are doing? So heavy gamers have melted cables and random shutdowns due to heat to look forward too?

matchu said:

I am a little disappointed =S as I was expecting a lot out of this card.

I suppose one could always pay off the price of the video card by saving on their heating/gas bill....

princeton princeton said:

Hold it. Nvidia hasn't released drivers for the GTX 400 cards and the drivers used are not officially compatible. That could definitely mess with scores. I for one say this should be redone when Nvidia ACTUALLY makes drivers for it.

PaulWuzHere PaulWuzHere said:

Doesn't sound like a very good deal at all to me. High Price + High Power + High Temps + Small gains = AMD/ATI.

This reminds me a lot of the FX 5800 Ultra, anyone else remember the "dustbuster"?

Regenweald said:

princeton said:

Hold it. Nvidia hasn't released drivers for the GTX 400 cards and the drivers used are not officially compatible. That could definitely mess with scores. I for one say this should be redone when nvidia ACTUALLY makes drivers for it.

They had 6 extra months to get the drivers right. How much more time do they need ? Redone drivers of not, this baby will still do 85+ degrees under load. Unacceptable.

zillion said:

Well it is a fast card, but there are a lot of buts....

Sounds like the roles been shifted, we all remember the 3000 and 4000 series from ATI, they were hotter, more power hungry and a little louder then the Nvidia, and now the roles have been reversed.

And if the MSRP og 499$ is right, I think the bang for the buck is on ATI tbh.

Honestly i think Nvidia is putting a tester out, and checking forums to see if ppl will actually pay the 499$ and if all goes against it, they might lower it to a more reasonable level (just speculating)

But I do sit back with a slight feeling of disapointment tbh, but lets see what MSRP will be and also if the drivers should offer any gains when it becomes available in stores.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Nice review, I guess nvidia can claim back its single GPU performance crown, but only just... it didn't even beat a 6 month old card in some tests. Still, 60fps in Crysis @ full HD is nice to see.

The power consumption and temps are insane - it uses more power than a 5970 and I would not happy seeing my GPU idling at 65C either.

Pricing wise, here in the UK the GTX 470 is selling for £300, the same price as a 5870, while the GTX 480 is selling for £450, which is a 50% premium and only £50 less than the 5970. I don't know if these are a reflection of prices elsewhere in the world but at those pricing points nvidia is in a bit of trouble. Would be interesting to see how the GTX 470 and mid-range cards perform though.

Guest said:

-------- spelling mistake ----------------

It's fair to say that the GTX 480 is considerably worse AMD's product in terms of efficiency.

nvidia not AMD <-------

myrmidonks myrmidonks said:

I'm sorry nvidia, but I am very disappointed. If you are going to try to release a card between the 5870 and 5970 in terms of performance, you must make sure the power consumption and temperature is scaled as well. This is not a card that someone can just put into their computer without upgrades to other components as well (e.g. PSU). I mean a required 600 watt PSU? That is ridiculous for a single GPU card, even one as powerful as this. Maybe the GTX 470 will fare better...

Tizzlejack Tizzlejack said:

Well, 6 months ago I would have bought this card to get me through the winter without turning my heater on. This is disappointing. I like components that have a good power consumption to performance ratio so this isn't very exciting.

zillion said:

And if the MSRP og 499$ is right, i think the bang for the buck is on ATI tbh.

Honestly i think Nvidia is putting a tester out, and checking forums to see if ppl will actually pay the 499$ and if all goes against it, they might lower it to a more reasonable level (just speculating)

If this is just a tester, they better make a quick move because there's a lot of anxious people out there like me that have been waiting for nvidia to release these cards. With the prices on ATI already dropping, they're running out of time.

zillion said:

Yeah i know Tizzlejack, im not trying to defend Nvidia, just looking at the bright side of life :P

And finally they got rid of that insanely stoopid little Spdif cable u had to run from the mobo to the old 200 series for sound in the hdmi, been mocking quite some friends running gtx295 with a 1$ cable tied to it.

UT66 said:

It's over guys, with competition like this ATI is never going to lower those prices

IvanAwfulitch IvanAwfulitch said:

This doesn't deserve to be called a FERMI card. The FERMI cards were being touted as revolutionary, super powered graphics processing cards capable of so much more than this. The 480 looks like a slightly revamped 295. All it got was a couple of performance tweaks, a name 200 points better, and a new heatsink that barely does anything according to the test runs. Severe disappointment is being had. I don't care if the drivers aren't fully matured or not. A further software tweak isn't going to do much to improve the framerate. It might add a couple here and there, but nothing significant...unless I'm an ignoramus and there's something I don't know.

If NVIDIA is going to hype up a card series like that, they better deliver. The card is good, yes. But I call BS on their advertising. SHENANIGANS I SAY!

jznomoney said:

Looks like they are diggin themselves a ditch.

klepto12 klepto12, TechSpot Paladin, said:

All i can say is that Nvidia is a little late since ATI will be releasing a revamp of there cards very soon so even if nvidia gets better drivers it is futile since ati has better pricing and a lot less power draw. i am kinda mad that nvidia took all this time for a 16% increase over the 5870 in most games with a 20% increase in price.

mystic420 said:

I will always stick by Nvidia!!! I have 3 BFG GTX275 OC's in my system in SLI. Best gaming investment I ever made! I think and hope, with heat output like this some manufacturer will liquid cool them. That's my next upgrade, liquid cooling, besides I'll get 3 PCI slots back by converting my GPU's to liquid cooling and remove the heat totally from the case. With liquid cooling those temps would be no problem... As for power, well US gamers want all the POWER we can use!!! AR AR AR!!! Also give them a year and see where this card is at then. As far as we all know this could be only the tip of the proverbial ICEBERG!!!

Guest said:

Sounds to me like some of you need to get a better PSU and more efficient internal fans/coolers!! Stop buying the cheap crap!! LMAO!! This card rocks!!! Long live Fermi ! :-D

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Well, at least the performance was better than many were expecting... And this was without official drivers that will theoretically get that FERMI architecture up and dancing. Still, I can't help cringing at the power/heat specs, Seems like they keep getting hotter while ATi keeps getting more efficient... Not a trend I like to see.

Now, I know that for a while there was talk of nVidia dropping chipset production, but is that still the case? Would love to see a motherboard with integrated GPU based on this architecture, just to see what it could do as a dedicated PhysX processor

HaMsTeYr HaMsTeYr said:

I don't think its the right idea for us to make the adjustments to suit the thermally crap GTX 480... Honestly i think nVidia could've done much better with this. Semi disappointed at the power pull and the heat...

As technology gets better, things are supposed to get smaller and release less heat... nVidia seems to not get that idea... And what happenned to the days of single slot coolers...

I'd hate to pass up PhysX but... at this rate ATi has my sale if i decide to get an upgrade.

klepto12 klepto12, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I will always stick by Nvidia!!! I have 3 BFG GTX275 OC's in my system in SLI. Best gaming investment I ever made! I think and hope, with heat output like this some manufacture will liquid cool them. That's my next upgrade, liquid cooling, besides I'll get 3 PCI slots back by converting my GPU's to liquid cooling and remove the heat totally from the case. With liquid cooling those temps would be no problem... As for power, well US gamers want all the POWER we can use!!! AR AR AR!!! Also give them a year and see where this card is at then. As far as we all know this could be only the tip of the proverbial ICEBERG!!!

just my opinion but if i were u i would wait until the next nvidia cards come out to upgrade i mean u already have an amazing setup that no game can conquer i mean 3 gtx 275 is just plain sick why would u need anything better?

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

It seems like they just set the bar so unbelievably high and couldn't live up to it. The GTX 480 is powerful but like pointed out its 6 months late, almost $100 more, power hungry & ridiculously hot. Just sad you guys couldn't get a GTX 270 as that card seems to be better off, being around the price range of the 5850 but performing ~10-15% faster. Sadly though it's also a power hog and runs hot. Hopefully this will get the 5850 to finally drop below $300 again closer to its original MSRP of $259, maybe even drop the 5830 too. I'm curious to see what Nvidia has in stores for the mainstream target with the 450, 440 & 430 in a couple of months.

On a side note lol at wearing gloves =P because those idle temperatures are CRAZY, from the multiple reviews I've read this evening yours is by far the highest @ 65 degrees.

dikbozo said:

mystic420 said:

I will always stick by Nvidia!!! I have 3 BFG GTX275 OC's in my system in SLI. Best gaming investment I ever made! I think and hope, with heat output like this some manufacturer will liquid cool them. That's my next upgrade, liquid cooling, besides I'll get 3 PCI slots back by converting my GPU's to liquid cooling and remove the heat totally from the case. With liquid cooling those temps would be no problem... As for power, well US gamers want all the POWER we can use!!! AR AR AR!!! Also give them a year and see where this card is at then. As far as we all know this could be only the tip of the proverbial ICEBERG!!!

I guess you own your own power utility or else you live at home with mom and dad. That is an absurd waste of electricity considering the frame rate return. It seems to me that your system will suffer from thermal breakdown due to the extreme heat and airflow levels that will going through your box. Liquid would be a better solution to this. Do you have a window available to hang those radiators out of?

Perhaps a better idea would be to check the power bill and see how much juice is being used. A Kill-A-Watt unit between your box and the power mains would be a nice wake up call. Bigger, faster, more power isn't a very good solution to anything except towing. A more appropriate examination of your usage would be in line here.

I can't ever imagine using one of these Fermi cards. Big hot chip using too much electricity to little advantage. I didn't get a Radeon 3850 either. From what I have read about using multiple video cards for gaming it seems to be a 'hotrod' type thing, your neighbor builds one so you have to build a bigger one. Nobody uses them for more than going to the corner store.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I've read reviews here and at Anandtech, and I think the 480 is not totally disappointing, and NVIDIA fans should be reasonably happy. The 480 is the fastest single chip card in most benchmarks, the clear winner for dual card, and from what I've seen at Anandtech gets better minimum fps scores than the 5870 by a good margin. I also imagine that there's more room for optimisation in the drivers, because it's a newer card, so there's a chance the gap will grow with time.

I still think that anyone who wanted a new card last year and waited for Fermi made a mistake, but competition is always good, and I do think this will help ATI's prices drop.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I have briefly read the review, and I think at current price / power / performance ratios, I wouldn't touch Fermi based offerings at all.

For some odd reason, the situation seems bit like Intel in the olden days of P4; more speed and more heat and more power usage is just not the way to go. Yes GTX 480 performs better than ATI offerings, but not convincingly enough in most situations, and if nVidia can get some more juice out of these with more optimized drivers, all ATI would have to do is reduce prices and may be jack up the speeds a bit and that should give nVidia good run for its money. On the price front, I think nVidia's manufacturing issues/cost will hamper its ability to wage price wars with much aggression.

Anyway, as many pointed out earlier competition is great for us ....... I've choosen ATI 1st time ever for my desktop PC (beside I am just a casual gamer at most); and I am happy with my choice, as I think Fermi based mid-range solutions would offer similar sort of performance at much greater overall TCO.

megrawab said:

Why is it Fermi... Is it being compared to an ant?....

Guest said:

One thought:

A HA HA HA HA HA

Years of untrust , PR ... , bribery, false advertising and lying is all payinb back now , nvidia has been officially defeated , i ****ing love to write these words on a sunny morning.

I do know what's the idea behing , I do not need the top card and the top fps , that 10% that costed like 100$ more , I know both sides well , now we can all laugh back to those who were like nvidia's slaves. And the last one laughs the most :D

It's not about fanboys here but I must mention it , fanboys are just noobs knowing one part of the story and only the false "good" side of it. Fanboys can be for everything , but there are definitely more of them at Nvidia , where the false advertising and corruption makes 50% of sales.

T77 T77 said:

this card wasn't worth the wait. 65C at idle is too much! other cards were ranging around 40C-50C at idle.performance too wasn't great,but that would probably be sorted out by the new drivers,but i don't think there is going to be any improvement in power consumption and those temperatures.

for the first time i think amd is the way to go.

with this card people would have to bear the additional cost of a PSU and a separate cooling solution.

Guest said:

I just love seeing Nvidia fail.

Ever since they sold me their faulty 8800, I've always bought Radeon cards.

I bet these cards will have a lifespan of 1 year max. I mean, 100C temperature and 500W under full load!

Guest said:

Well all i can say is ''very dissapointing''. I have been an nvidia fan since i built my first pc and i have always stayed with them. Looking at their latest release my heart sinks, the king of graphics is most defenitly dead, Long live the new king AMD/ATI.

To buy a card with a price/power comp/temps like this is quite frankly loony!! How the hell do nvidia expect us to even consider putting a card like that in our machines in times like these, especially when there is an ATI card performing at about 10% worse the is 20% cheaper and that is without the electricity bill savings added on. I know with nvidia tessellation this card will go from strength to strength but thats only if games support it and i am sure ATI will release their own version. Just one comment- imagine running 2 of these? you would need a 1kw of power!

I suppose i better get out there and start looking for my first AMD/ATI crossfire motherboard.

Sorry nvidia but today you have lost a very loyal fan and you have dissopinted me greatly with your compete lack of thinking and considiration gone into developing this late underpowered gpu. Rant over ;)

Puiu Puiu said:

I don't want something that forces me to buy a big power supply and an really good cooling system.

timeless52 said:

Wow!!!!!! It's the fastest single GPU card on the planet. And it's a toaster oven and space heater too.

I wonder if it will qualify for exemptions under the forthcoming "cap and trade" regulations.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

LOL! that was disappointing, I do believe the archutecture of this card is impressive but the power consumption is too much and the heat is boil water Level. if they could come up with a heat sink that came out the computer and could put a kettle on then it becomes more useful.

I'm still going to wait as my monitor is only capable of 1440x900 so my GTX 260 does this fine.

Nvidia, I have been a loyal fan since the 7600GT but today. you have dissapointed me greatly.

Unless you bring out an updated version taking less power then I will not buy one. as simple as that.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

On the upside of things.

Lets try to stay positive here people.

well at least it gets hot enough to fix itself!

[link]

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I suppose these cards would be workable with a watercooling set up to bring the temperatures down, but you still can't excuse the power draw. Its just like sticking a big V8 in a car. You get a lot of horsepower, but you get bad gas mileage.

But as other posters said, I wonder what the longevity of these cards is going to be. To further draw the analogy, its like a turbocharger on a big engine, you get good performance but shorter life.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Not quite the ATI giant-killer people were hoping for. Fortunately I'm not doing my next GPU upgrade until next spring and who knows what kind of driver/hardware tweaking both ATI and nVidia will have accomplished by then. BUT...it's a pretty safe bet that the dust will have settled and there will be an obvious choice for me.

Thanks for the review! Yours is the first I've seen on these new cards....

tc17 said:

I'm guessing Nvidia has this card heavily overclocked also. I also would bet it has no ability to overclock anymore with those kind of temperatures.

One person mentioned Nvidia has no drivers out for it. Well then, how do you think they tested the card with no drivers? It wouldn't even run on the computer with no drivers for a new card.

ATI for a long time has been ahead of Nvidia when it comes to using newer technology. And seeing that Nvidia is having problems producing their cards, you can expect jacked up prices far worse than ATI cards (but thats not a surprise, they have always been that way).

MattyS said:

Nvidia have really failed this time round.

tc17 said:

red1776 said:

Lets try to stay positive here people.

well at least it gets hot enough to fix itself!

[link]

[image link]

¼ of a hotdog ¼ of a hotdog said:

I hope they are still considered close enough to cause a price war. If they aren't I guess I will be stuck with a lower mid end card or upper low end card... I blame Elvis Presley!!!

Guest said:

Still waiting for 2nd generation DX11 cards... (sigh)

Quoting Wikipedia:

"Enrico Fermi (29/09/1901 - 28/11/1954) was an Italian physicist, particularly remembered for his work on the development of the first nuclear reactor..."

Does this answer your question? :D

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Well based on the power/temperature analysis, we can probably call them mini reactors?

mrtraver said:

Not that I could ever afford to spend more that $250 on a GPU, but I am a little underwhelmed by this. I'm curious to see how the upper mainstream cards fare. I've always used Nvidia cards, back to my GeForce 2 MX!

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

One thought:

A HA HA HA HA HA

Years of untrust , PR ... , bribery, false advertising and lying is all payinb back now , nvidia has been officially defeated , i ****ing love to write these words on a sunny morning.

I do know what's the idea behing , I do not need the top card and the top fps , that 10% that costed like 100$ more , I know both sides well , now we can all laugh back to those who were like nvidia's slaves. And the last one laughs the most

It's not about fanboys here but I must mention it , fanboys are just noobs knowing one part of the story and only the false "good" side of it. Fanboys can be for everything , but there are definitely more of them at Nvidia , where the false advertising and corruption makes 50% of sales.

While AMD has such sterling flagbearers, I think it's safe to assume that Intel and nVidia (and probably Matrox and VIA for that matter) will always have a following.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

Pretty impressive results, but wow I though my original 4850 ran hot.

EXCellR8 EXCellR8, The Conservative, said:

i will be sticking with the 5870 as my next video card... GTX480 is beast but not worth the extra $$

Guest said:

Good, I'm sticking with the 5850 for my next upgrade.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@Jos

Having gone through these comments; and your review, wouldn't it be good idea to add a TCO component to your reviews? Especially to high end/upper mainstream stuff you test, I mean you guys already do all the hard work to generate such data, you just need to massage it to get the information for a specific period of time. I guess, would add an interesting dimension to the debate as well.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

"Enrico Fermi (29/09/1901 - 28/11/1954) was an Italian physicist, particularly remembered for his work on the development of the first nuclear reactor..."

Great quote, Guest. Made my day.

BTW, people, I'm sure that once the graphics card makers start giving us some custom coolers things will be better on the heat front. Maybe even a little better on the power front, but I don't think they can do a lot there.

eurodj said:

MY 5850 Xfire i got n preorder for 269 each XFX card is not impressed!!!From my standpoint!!!I have faster,leaner,nore efficient setup for say 50 bucks more.I know due to the current price of the 5850 it might not be a good point but im so glad i took the risk and preordered these. I upgraded from a gtx260 core 216 sli, but before that i had been ATI since the first radeon!!

Guest said:

wait, that is all correct except one thing, it is a half year late, remember? but it doesn't matter if it is, remember, the games for DX11 hasn't come out yet, so I don't see the reactions of people saying that it is very bad for them to be late, if the supposed games came out. I do agree though, is why it isn't faster than the HD5870 since they took long to do it, but then again don't expect what you expect, that is not a healthy thing, at least on competetion. But I think I know the reason why it isn't faster than it is supposed to be, the cores is 480 of course thats one, the other is they put raytracing, and other nonsense for it that people don't need right now at least games. Now if at least 15 games supporting the card came out, I'd definately agree that people waited for nothing, but of course there are different people, and I think they can afford that card anyways. Just wish nvidia started on it since day 1, since it doesn't look like they did.

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