Summary

Our Score

6/10

Review Price £307.59

While architecturally it's difficult to compare Nvidia and ATI cards, there are a few clear feature differences. For a start, there's the lack of support for PhysX in ATI's cards. This is the physics simulation engine used on a number of modern games, with Mirror's Edge being a particularly well-known example. In the long run, there is likely to be a transition to using open standards for physics calculations, and certainly not every game uses the tech, but for the time being you do miss out on this feature.

Also, Nvidia supports 3D gaming on its cards, though frankly we don't see this as much of a value-add yet, especially as you need special high-speed monitors and the glasses to take advantage of it. Finally, the GTX 400 series are the first graphics cards able to apply antialiasing to foliage in Crysis. A minor point, perhaps, but if you want the best visual quality in that game, it's worth considering.

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So that's this card's features but of course the all important part is performance and here the Zotac GeForce GTX 480 holds up pretty well. Starting with our DirectX9 and DirectX10 games tests, it clearly takes a monumental leap forward in performance over its predecessor the GTX 285 and mostly beats the GTX 295. However, while it still holds a lead over ATI's HD 5870, it's not nearly as significant a one and the HD 5970 comfortably takes the overall crown.

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When it comes to DirectX 11 titles, the GTX 480 holds a strong lead over the HD 5870 in two out of the three tested titles but falls comfortably behind in Just Cause 2. Overall we expect the GTX 480 to come out on top on average against its single-chip counterparts as more DirectX 11 titles come out, though. However, when it comes to out and out performance the ATI HD 5970 is way ahead of all the other cards on test. Even considering our concerns mentioned earlier, it's hard to ignore just how fast this card is.

This ignores cost, though, which makes the HD 5970 look like a less attractive proposition. Purely on a value level it's not much worse than the GTX 480, but £550 is just an insane amount of money to spend on a single graphics card. Moreover, when the HD 5870 costs just £350, neither of these cards seems like good value. Indeed, that's the key point about the GTX 480: yes, it's the fastest single-chip card on the planet but it's not £100 faster than the HD 5870 and for most gamers with a single screen it's just overkill.

Verdict

The Zotac GeForce GTX 480 is the fastest single-chip graphics card on the planet; that much is clear. Arguably it also holds an advantage when it comes to features, thanks to PhysX support amongst other things. However, when it comes to value it simply doesn't deliver. Add in that it runs extremely hot and noisy and sucks up loads of power and we can think of few reasons to recommend it over the cheaper alternatives from ATI.

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Retset

May 4, 2010, 1:20 pm

Nice review but all as I suspected. The 5850 is still my next planned upgrade for if the 5770 ever falls short (which has not done yet).

b o d

May 4, 2010, 3:00 pm

"Also, Nvidia supports 3D gaming on its cards, though frankly we don't see this as much of a value-add yet, especially as you need special high-speed monitors and the glasses to take advantage of it."





Can you outline which game you have played in 3D recently to reach this conclusion? You can pick up a 3d monitor and glasses for £350. Having played games in 3D for around 8 months I believe it is the biggest advance in games development since the move from 2d to 3d game engines.

GUIGuy

May 4, 2010, 4:46 pm

I'm having difficulty understanding all the simplistic bad press, I also think most reviews are too gaming centric. That's fine from a gaming site... but TrustedReviews is not a gaming site!





That said I totally agree with those who've said if you want the best bang for your gaming buck then go with a few 5850's, there's really no competition.





So who spends 400-450 purely on a graphics card? You should review the card at least partially for it's other intended markets... CAD, Graphics, Rendering, Video, Software developers!





I'm a GUI developer. I code obviously and game... but I do some do GPU rendering and video editing too. GPU rendering's a 'feature' that's often ignored by reviews. General purpose GPU processing is Nvidia's trump card but too many reviews ignore it because you simply can not do it 'effectively' on ATI cards.


VRay, Mental Ray, Octane, and Arion all use CUDA. LUXRender and Furryball can run on ATI but they are biased renderers or worse. There's a reason the heavy weights are using CUDA... OpenCL is far behind, and will fall further behind because not enough developers use it.


I haven't done it yet but the Fermi card allow you to execute C++ natively.


I'll have fun with that!





Right now I have an EVGA GTX 480, and I'll probably buy another, possibly two.





These card are NOT loud or hot if 'properly' ventilated! If you're gona buy one you need a good case and PSU. Don't fool yourself.


The Silverstone Fortress FT02 is perfect for hot cards as the motherboard is rotated 90 degrees allowing hot air to rise... most tests show these cases perform better thermally than open test rigs while having good sound insulation. GPU rendering stresses the card far more than gaming... so I'm


pretty happy with heat, noise & power levels.


From the rendering forums I've read you get 100% scaling in GPU rendering too, so suddenly the GTX 480 is an absolute bargain (strange but true)


Why spend a 1000's on render slaves when you can buy extra GTX 480's that will destroy them in both processing power and power usage?


Yes a GTX 480 could be an environmentally friendly option (if used correctly)





I know I'm an edge case, but by reviewing GPU purely for gaming you're doing a disservice to your readers.


We'll see a lot more applications that are 'enhanced' by CUDA in the near future.


Video, 3D rendering, CAD and many scientific apps already are enhanced.





Yes Fermi cards are hot, noisy, expensive and not great value for gaming... but they are FAR more useful. So while I'd agree with your scoring from a gaming POV it's simply wrong from an overall view.

Peter

May 4, 2010, 5:11 pm

As part of your future tests could you please post the scores you get with the HQV benchmark v2.0 DVD / Bluray


So far no video card has produced full marks. Personally I am excited about the mid range offerings of the 4xx series.

Brian

May 4, 2010, 5:34 pm

I agree witht eh review, that 3d gaming is not really important at the moment, its gimmicky and not that great.

Digital Fury

May 4, 2010, 7:25 pm

@GUIGuy, the GTX 480 might be a more sophisticated product and great for CUDA work and with products like VRay, Mental Ray, Octane,... but lets face it, +99% of these cards will end-up in home PCs for gaming, not in pro 3D rendering rigs. For gaming at the moment, it seems more reasonable to buy a card from the red team.

Andrew Marshall

May 4, 2010, 8:45 pm

@GUIGuy CAD and VFX users are more likely to be using Quadro based systems due to the support options offered by workstation vendors. They also tend to use the systems as supplied rather than put together their own with ad-hoc components.





Rgeardless of NVIDIA's marketing, application acceleration via CUDA and the like is still a niche area. The vast, vast majority of users will see no benefit from it - so the gaming emphasis of this review is only sensible. Anyone seriously interested in CUDA development is likely to be a researcher with a bank of Tesla systems to play with.

Mike337

May 4, 2010, 11:06 pm

Im waiting for the dual-GPU version (the GTX 495?). Any news on when that will be available??

Runadumb

May 4, 2010, 11:49 pm

Ive been on the green team since the 7900GTO but they are doing nothing for me with this fermi effort. Im no fanboy, I go where the performance and cost hit that magical perfect point and all I can see is ATI. Granted I see no need to replace my 260GTX anytime soon but Nvidia certainly needs to shrink those babies down without losing much performance before I would even consider one.


Glad to see ATI strongly back in the game.

jingyeow

May 5, 2010, 2:01 am

I hate Nvidia for their closed stance with Physx, especially when it adds nothing of real value to the consumer. In Mirror's Edge it was accidentally turned on and made glass shattering look slightly nicer, but added nothing to gameplay. I don't think it can last for long, especially when Ati look to take back some of the GPU market from Nvidia and developers don't want to support something only 60% of their audience can use.





Ati simply have price/performance cornered at the moment. No thanks to competition to Nvidia. Prices have actually INCREASED for certain cards since Nvidia got in on the DX11 action. I bought my Ati 5770 VaporX for £132 in Feb despite some people on this forum telling me to wait. I'm glad I didn't because the price has gone up at least £10, and some are charging £160 for it.

Mombasa69

May 5, 2010, 2:37 pm

The top end cards from AMD and Nvidia certainly are impressive, lol but what retarded person would want to waste all that money??





Just stick with a card that's a year or 2 old, you wont really notice any difference and DX11 lol nothing even out that uses it.





DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY YOU NERDS LOL.

Castalan

May 6, 2010, 10:41 pm

The main problem with the internet is they let anyone use it - there should be some kind of test before you can get a connection - much like the driving test, only based around learning how to be respectful and civil to others.....

Xiphias

May 7, 2010, 4:44 am

@Mombasa69: This card is meant to be used at high resolutions, you'll most certainly see a difference at 3600x1920.

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