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Zotac GeForce GTX 480 - Noise Level & Physical Features

By Edward Chester



Our Score:


Another result of all that heat is the fan has to work very hard to expel all that hot air, and a hard-working fan means a noisy fan. When not being taxed, the card ticks over at an acceptable 41dB (noise level tested from 30cm away). At full pelt, however, the card blasts out a very noticeable 64dB.

One thing to note here is when we test noise levels we do so with a normal PC setup (minus a case) that's isolated from external noise by a padded box. Now, inevitably, being shut in a box makes temperatures rise quickly so for our test procedure we leave the box open, until the card has reached a steady operating temperature, then quickly close it and take a noise measurement.

This normally leaves us a decent window of time (a minute or so) before temperatures and thus fan speed start to ramp up significantly. However, with this card although the fan speed was lower before enclosing it, it ramped up so quickly (within a matter of seconds) that we felt this was a fair indicator of expected noise levels. If you do have a particularly well ventilated case it might run a bit quieter, but considering the extra ventilation you'll need the overall noise of your PC will probably still be significant.

Another thing to consider with regards installing this card is its power requirements. It requires both a six-pin and an eight-pin PCI-E auxiliary power connection, the connectors for which run along the top edge. Most decent modern power supplies rated to above 400W should have these connections, but it's worth double checking yours before you buy.

If money really is no object for you then you can run two or even three of these cards together in an SLI configuration for the ultimate in performance. The connectors for doing so are incorporated into the top edge of the PCB as per usual. You don't, however, get any connector ribbons in the box: these should be provided with compatible motherboards.

What you do get in the box is a clear if slightly dated installation manual (seriously, windows XP screenshots?!), a driver CD, and some Nvidia tech demos that show off various DirectX 11 features and the potential of CUDA (Nvidia's general-computing-on-a-graphics-card platform), which is used to accelerate many tasks like video playback and pdf reading. Also present are two power cables, one for converting two Molex connectors to a six-pin PCI-E connector, and one for converting two six-pin PCI-E connectors to one eight-pin connector. Finishing things off are adapters for DVI-to-VGA and mini-HDMI-to-HDMI.


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.


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.


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.


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.


May 4, 2010, 11:06 pm

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


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.


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.


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.



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.....


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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