The Zotac GeForce GTX 480 is based on Nvidia's latest uber-graphics card design, the GTX 480. This card uses the Nvidia GF100 chip, which is the single fastest graphics chip on the planet and packs in all the latest features. With cards based on it demanding over £450, though, can it possibly be worth investing in? Let's find out.
Key among the GTX 480's features is support for DirectX 11 gaming. This means all the latest and greatest features of the latest and greatest games will be available to you. In particular, the main highlights are tessellation, DirectCompute, and Multi-threaded rendering. We won't cover these features in detail in this review but if you'd like to learn more about these features and other aspects of what DirectX 11 brings to the table, we suggest you check out our review of the GTX 470 (a card based on the same technology but that runs slower).
Also in that review we take a look at the inner workings of the Fermi architecture upon which GF100 is based. So again, if you want to learn the nitty gritty on how these cards work we suggest you go there. For this article we're going to stick to finding out what this card can do and whether it's worth investing in.
Weighing in at 913g and with a length of 268mm, this is one big and bulky card, not that such a thing is exactly a surprise – its direct competitors also tip the scales at nearly one kilo. However, because it is so long, it overhangs the edge of a standard ATX motherboard and as such you'll need to check carefully whether it'll fit in your case, as many are only built to exactly accommodate ATX size boards.
As well as being bulky, this card runs seriously hot. We're used to high-end graphics cards being pretty toasty, but the heatpipes and heatsink of this card are scalding hot. It's for this reason Nvidia has exposed the top of the heatsink, where normally this would be covered by the plastic shroud that covers the rest of the card: this card is supposed to be installed in a case with additional fans that should blow over the top of the heatsink for the best cooling and reliability.