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Zotac GeForce GTX 480 - Video Outputs & Internal Features

By Edward Chester



Our Score:


As will have been suggested by that last sentence, video outputs consist of a mini-HDMI and two dual-link DVI-I. The latter can be converted to VGA, HDMI, or DisplayPort with appropriate adapters. The mini-HDMI port can be used to pull the audio signal from your PCs sound card and pass it out to a TV or monitor with speakers giving you a neat single cable solution. However, unlike ATI, you can't do the same with the DVI ports and the latest lossless compressed audio formats (DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD, as used on Blu-rays) aren't supported, though arguably these are very niche formats.

Also, though Nvidia makes a big deal about the GTX 400 series being able to do surround- and 3D surround-gaming with three monitors, one card can only support two monitors at once. You will in fact need two cards in SLI if you want surround gaming. ATI's HD 5000 series, on the other hand, can output to three monitors from a single card.

The only things that mark this card out as being built by Zotac are the various stickers applied to the fan shroud – the card hasn't been overclocked or tweaked in any other way from the reference Nvidia design. Like most of the other board partners, Zotac will be releasing an overclocked version shortly, though.

Looking at the raw numbers of these cards, there's little to be concluded when comparing ATI to Nvidia as the two companies use such differing architectures. However, we can at least compare cards within the two companies.

Most notable is the GTX 480 has twice the number of Stream Processors (or CUDA cores as Nvidia now calls them) as its predecessor the GTX 285. Combined with an increase in ROPs and clock speed it's fair to expect the GTX 480 to be considerably faster than the GTX 285. You may notice that the memory interface has dropped in width from 512 bits wide to just 384. This won't, however, result in a drop in performance as the GTX 480 uses much faster GDDR5 memory.

The GTX 295 and HD 5970 both use two graphics chips on a single card to bolster their performance, which explains the enormous raw numbers we see in the table above. This solution can have great benefits for performance if the card works correctly but it's much more prone to compatibility issues, and these cards can sometimes perform worse than single chip equivalents. As such we're always wary of recommending these dual-chip cards.


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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