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Report: Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 & 470
by Damien Triolet
Published on April 22, 2010

Energy consumption
We did of course use our new test protocol that allows us to measure the energy consumption of the graphics card alone. Note that in comparison to previous readings, the energy consumption of the Radeons has gone up in 3Dmark 06, presumably due to the new drivers that give higher performance for this bench.

The GeForce GTX 480 is far from impressive when it comes to power consumption at idle! It draws more power than the bi-GPU Radeon HD 5970. The same goes for video playback. The Radeon HD 5870 does much better here. NVIDIA has nevertheless reduced the clocks of its card quite drastically at idle, with the GPU down to 50 MHz and the memory at 67.5.

The GeForce GTX 470 also sees its clocks drop to 50/67.5 MHz and is much more economical, matching the GeForce GTX 285 at idle and the Radeon HD 5850 during video playback.

Announced by NVIDIA with a record TDP or 250W, the GeForce GTX 480 is easily the highest consumption mono-GPU card around. We even got readings higher than the official TDP. We questioned NVIDIA on this and they told us that the TDP given was the TDP observed during gaming and not the maximum consumption of the card, which is a strange definition of the TDP!

While the power consumption levels of the GeForce GTX 470 are more reasonable, they’re still very high. Depending on the load, they are below or above what we scored the GeForce GTX 285 at.

For information, in terms of the system as a whole, we got 173W at idle and 497W in load for the GeForce GTX 480 and 263W at idle and 784W in load for a pair in SLI.

We place the cards in an Antec Sonata 3 casing and measure noise levels at idle and in charge with the casing closed. The sonometer is placed 60 cm from the case.

At idle, the GeForce GTX 480 and 470 can be heard slightly. The levels aren’t a problem at all but they aren’t completely quiet either.

In load, we face a real hairdryer once again however! The GeForce GTX 480 is noisier then than recent bi-GPU cards and on a par with the Radeon HD 4870 X2.

As you can imagine, in an SLI configuration, things aren’t any better! At idle, a pairing already makes a good deal of noise. In load, the two GTX 480 fans run at maximum (92% seems to be the limit) and we scored them at a new record.

The GeForce GTX 470 is thankfully better in load but noticeably noisier than the Radeon HD 5870 and 5850 all the same, and at more or less the same level as the GeForce GTX 295.

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