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Report: graphics cards and thermal characteristics
by Damien Triolet
Published on April 20, 2010

GeForce GTX 480 SLI
With the GeForce GTX 480 already pushing the temperature limits in our test system, the SLI configuration was obviously going to pose the odd problem. We did nevertheless want to run it through the same tests as the other solutions so as to be able to compare data and illustrate why you shouldn’t mount such a system! Note that the card underneath is not touching the casing – there’s a good centimetre gap, which is nevertheless relatively little given that the cooler is exposed.




Infrared thermography

System at idle.


System in load.


Graphics card at idle.


Graphics card in load.

At idle we’re faced with a similar situation as with the Radeon HD 4870 CrossFire system: relatively hot. In load temperatures explode and reach worrying levels.


Temperature and noise readings

The readings confirm the infrared thermography images: temperatures are up to dangerous levels. GPU temperatures easily go beyond the 105 °C safety limit and performances have almost been halved due, we presume, to the the GPU cutting its clocks from 700 MHz to 410 MHz. In spite of this, temperatures are still crazily high. Among the unfortunate record scores posted, the hard drive rises beyond 50 °C, the northbridge to 95 °C and the motherboard to 71 °C.

Of course the system also reaches record levels in terms of noise. Really too noisy in load and disturbing at idle.

Hopefully you’ve got it, investing in a GeForce GTX 480 SLI system requires very careful choices in terms of the casing and cooler, even perhaps watercooling. An extreme graphics configuration, then, only for the most advanced users who won’t be mounting their GeForce GTX 480 SLI in a standard system.

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