Review: Viable alternative to HD 5870 cards
Today we’ll be talking about Point of View’s GTX 470, a card that by now certainly needs no introduction. Both the GTX 470 and GTX 480 are aimed at high end market and are the HD 5800 series’ direct competitors. Nvidia launched the GTX 470 and 480 more than a month ago, and the cards are based on the largest and fastest Fermi GPU.
We expected the GTX 480 to get the full version of the GF100 GPU but Nvidia thought differently and the GF100 ended up with one disabled Streaming Multiprocessor (SM). This means that out of 512 available stream processors (16 SM x 32 cores) or CUDA cores as Nvidia likes to call them, the GTX 480 lacks 32 to reach the full number. Going downstream to the GTX 470, this card has two disabled SMs and 448 stream processors in total. Naturally, this raises questions of what happened to the full version of GF100, but at this point we can only speculate.
The GF100 is a complex chip that’s made of four Graphics Processing Clusters, four Raster Engines, six memory controllers, six ROP clusters and, as we’ve said before, 16 SMs. We’re not sure of exactly which SMs are disabled on the GTX, but we do know that the GTX 470 also comes without one ROP cluster containing 8 ROPs. At the same time, this means that the GTX 470’s memory bus is 320 bit, rather than 384-bit like on the GTX 480, which comes with all available ROP clusters. Each individual ROP cluster is assigned with one 64-bit memory controller.
In order to make the performance difference evident, the usual practice is to lower operating clocks. This is the case with the GTX 470 where the GPU runs at 607MHz, compared to the GTX 480’s 701MHz. Stream processors on the GTX 400 cards run at 1401MHz and 1215MHz for the GTX 480 and GTX 470, respectively.
The memory on the GTX 470 runs at 837MHz (3348MHz effectively). Coupled with the 320-bit memory bus, the card’s bandwidth totals at 133.9 GB/s
Nvidia opted on using GDDR5 memory, but the company did run into some problems with the speed. We see that the memory is clocked lower than on AMD’s high-end cards, but AMD uses 256-bit memory bus. As a result, the HD 5870 scores 153.6 GB/s with GDDR5 memory clocked at 4800MHz, whereas the GTX 480 (384-bit memory bus) is capable of 177.4 GB/s despite featuring memory clocked at 3696MHz.
Point of View’s GTX 470 comes with 1280 MB of GDDR5 memory while the faster, GTX 480 packs 1536MB.
The GF100 is a fast and powerful graphics processor, but cooling it on GTX 400 cards has proven to be quite tricky. Nvidia uses dual-slot cooling on both cards and while it does get the job done, both cards get pretty loud. The GTX 480’s TDP stands at 250W and the GTX 470’s at 215W. Idle consumption for the GTX 480 and 470 is 47W and 33W, respectively.
Point of View GTX 470 is no different from the reference GTX 470, except for the stickers on the fan and the cooler. So, the card comes with reference dual slot cooling, which is a smaller version of the GTX 480’s cooler. To transfer the heat from the core to the heatsink, the cooler uses 5 heatpipes. The heatpipes are short and managed to fit beneath the plastic hood, so you won’t see them like on the GTX 480. The pictures below show the difference between the GTX 480 and GTX 470.
Point of View’s GTX 470 is 241mm long, which means it’s 26mm shorter than the GTX 480 and similar to the HD 5850.
A small 70mm fan is the same one used on the GTX 480. It’s a Delta fan rated at 1.8A. The fan, located at the far end of the graphics card, blows through the aluminum block and hot air leaves the case via the I/O panel’s outlets. In order to provide as much fresh air, the PCB features holes behind the fan. This trick was first done by Nvidia on its dual-GPU GTX 295 cards, and has now found it’s way to the GTX 400 cards.
The GTX 470's cooler is made of four parts. The fan and the plastic hood used to direct air are visible but the plastic hides the third and the fourth component – a large aluminum block and metal block.
Like on the GTX 480, our today’s card also features 5 heatpipes, but they’re much shorter and don’t exceed the GTX 470’s height. Since the heatpipes on this card are not visible, Nvidia decided not to “pimp” them the way they’ve done on the GTX 480.
The heatpipes are in direct contact with the GPU.
The heatsink with the heatpipes cools the GPU only, while the memory is cooled by the metal block which extends the entire length of the card and cools other hot components.
Nvidia’s Fermi GTX 400 series is in many respects the company’s first. Namely, this is the first time that the green team used GDDR5 memory on their high-end cards. The GTX 470 comes with 10 128MB GDDR5 memory chips (1280MB), whereas the GTX 480 comes with 12 memory chips (1536MB).
On their GTX 480, Nvidia uses 348-bit memory bus with memory clocked at 924MHz (3969MHz effectively), while the GTX 470 uses a 320-bit bus and memory at 837MHz (3348MHz effectively).
The GTX 470 comes with a 215W TDP and the card requires two 6-pin power connectors. In comparison, the GTX 480’s TDP is 250W and the card needs one 8-pin and one 6-pin connector. Recommended PSU for the GTX 480 is 600W whereas for GTX 470 Nvidia recommends a 550W PSU. Power connectors are located on the top of the card.
The I/O panel features two standard DVI outs and miniHDMI. We presume Nvidia opted on mini-HDMI to leave more space for ventilation, as the GPU can get pretty hot. The GTX 480 and GTX 470 feature the same I/O panel, as you can see from the picture.
It’s worth noting that the GF100 supports DisplayPort, but Nvidia opted on HDMI as it’s much more common. However, if partners deem it appropriate, they can easily add DisplayPort out on the GTX 400 cards’ I/O panel.
Nvidia included an HDMI sound device within the GPU, which means there’s no need to connect an external audio source to the graphics card when trying to bring both video and audio to your HD device via one cable only. In this respect, the GF100 features the same audio/video capabilities like the 40nm GT200 cards.
Motherboard: EVGA 3xSLI
CPU: Core i7 965 XE (3.6 GHz / 1.270 Volts, Intel EIST and Vdrop enabled)
Memory: 6GB Corsair Dominator 12800 7-7-7-24
Power Supply: CoolerMaster Ultimete 1100W
Case: Corsair Obsidian 800D
Fan Controler: Kaze Master Pro 5.25"
Operating System: Win7 64-bit
Vantage reports that GTX 480 is currently the fastest single-GPU card and it’s clearly faster than the GTX 470. The GTX 480’s advantage over the HD 5870 melts from 10.5% in Performance to 6.2% in High and ends up at about 3% in Vantage Extreme, but it still manages to beat the HD 5870 in every single test, albeit with a rather tight margin.
In Vantage tests, the GTX 480 constanlty beats the GTX 470. Performance test reports 24.7% better results, High settings report 26.6%, whereas Extreme settings result in a 27.2% advantage, naturally in favor of the GTX 480.
Comparing the GTX 470 to the HD 5870 shows that the latter card packs more punch in more demanding tests. The GTX 470 ends up 12.7% slower in Vantage Performance, 19.3% at High settings and 23.4% at Extreme settings.
In FarCry 2, Nvidia’s high-end GTX 400 series comes out on top and it’s even more evident when 8x antialiasing is turned on. FarCry2 results prove that by redesigning ROP subsystems in the GT100 chip, the company managed to improve compression and rendering efficiency as well as rendering smaller primitives that can’t be compressed. Throughput was also much improved compared to GT200 architecture, which resulted in overall better antialiasing performance and significantly smaller drops in performance when switching from 4xAA to 8xAA.
Radeon HD 5870 ends up about 50% slower than the GTX 480 in both tested resolutions with 8xAA. The difference ducks to 39% at 1920x1200 and 4xAA and to 33.6% at 2560x1600, which proves that Nvidia’s GF100 is more efficient with 8xAA. With antialiasing turned off at 2560x1600, the performance difference ends up at only 15.5%.
Point of View’s GTX 470 outpaces the HD 5870 in few occasions, and the highest gap Nvidia’s ace made was at 1920x1200 and 8xAA – 17%. By increasing resolution and turning on antialiasing, the GTX 470 loses the fight versus the HD 5870.
GTX 470 did manage to beat the HD 5870 by up to 17% in FarCry 2, but Crysis is another story. In this game, the HD 5870 beats the GTX 470 by 22-29%. Since the GTX 470 is slower than the GTX 480, and Crysis rates both GTX 480 and HD 5870 almost identically, it was clear that GTX 470 won’t come out on top.
Batman Arkham Asylum
Batman Arkham Asylum is one of the games that features PhysX effects, but if you’re playing it on one of the Radeon cards, you’ll have to turn them off.
So far, we’ve shown you FarCry 2 results where the GTX 480 outran the HD 5870 with antialiasing turned on, as well as Crysis results where the GTX 480 scores almost identically to the HD 5870. Batman results show that HD 5870 doesn’t quite fare great with antialiasing, but it gets better without it.
At 1920x1200 and no antialiasing, the difference is only 4.7%, but the GTX 480 makes it much higher after we turned 4xAA on – it beats the HD 5870 by as much as 45.9%. The difference at 2560x1600 with no antialiasing is once again minimal; only 2.8%. However, after turning on 4xAA, the gap extends to 50%.
Switching from 1xAA to 4xAA causes a higher performance hit on the HD 5870 than on the GTX 400 cards. At 2560x1600 in FarCry 2, switching from 1xAA to 4xAA results in 19.7% slower GTX 480 performance. The same scenario, on the other hand, sees the HD 5870 performance drop by 38.4%. The same deal in Batman: Arkham Asylum sees the HD 5870 perform as much as 82.8% while the GTX 480 drops by 25.3%. The same scenario results in the GTX 470 running 21.3% slower in FarCry 2 and 27.5% in Batman, which is similar to the GTX 480.
Turning on 4xAA antialiasing at 1920x1200 results in the GTX 480 performing 23.1% slower. Performance drops by 26.3% when you turn on the 4xAA antialiasing at 1920x1200 resolution with the GTX 470. On the other hand, the performance of the HD 5870 drops by as much as 71.4% with same settings. These results clearly show that antialiasing causes higher drops in performance on AMD HD 5870 card.
Not much to complain about Radeon HD 5870’s performance in Batman as it scores almost 60fps at 2560x1600 and 4xAA. It’s a pity that PhysX is intended only for Geforce cards.
The GTX 470 ends up slower than the HD 5870 at resolutions with no antialiasing by 16.6% and 20.5%, respectively. Upon turning on 4xAA on, the situation changes in the GTX 470’s favor. It manages a nice comeback and beats the HD 5870 by 16.3% at 1920x1200 and 19% at 2560x1600.
At 1920x1200, the GTX 480’s PhysX capabilities are 26.6% better than the GTX 470’s. At 2560x1600, the GTX 480 outruns it’s little brother by 22.7%.
You might’ve noticed that playing FarCry2, Batman and Crysis at the highest tested resolution, 2560x1600 (and no AA), results in minimum difference between the HD 5870 and GTX 480. Gaming with antialiasing isn’t working in HD 5870’s favor as it ends up as much as 50% slower in FarCry2 and Batman. Crysis reported pretty even performance while HAWX manages to put a better face on the Radeon HD 5870.
At 1920x1200 and no AA, Gainward GTX 480 outscores the HD 5870 by 16.7% while turning on 4xAA results in 20.9% advantage. At 2560x1600, Gainward GTX 480 outruns the reference HD 5870 by 4% (no AA) and 12% (4xAA). These results show that antialiasing takes a higher performance toll on HD 5870s than on GTX 480 cards.
After turning on 4xAA at 1920x1200, we noticed that the GTX 480 performs 14.5% slower, whereas the HD 5870 takes an 18.7% hit. Increasing the resolution to 2560x1600 also takes its toll so turning on 4xAA on the GTX 480 results in 17.6% slower GTX 480 and 25.8% slower HD 5870 performance. Just for comparison, turning on antialiasing in FarCry2 and Batman at 2560x1600 results in the HD 5870 performing 38.4% and 82.8% slower performance, respectively. GTX 480’s performance toll is much lower – 19.7% in FarCry 2 and 25.3% in Batman.
The GTX 470 couldn’t defeat the HD 5870 as the latter card handles antialiasing much better than in FarCry2 and Batman. Both aforementioned games tend to prefer the GTX 470 when it comes to antialiasing. In HAWX, the GTX 470 lags behind the HD 5870 by 5.9% and 16.9% at 1900x1200 and 2560x1600, respectively. After turning antialiasing on, the differences duck to 3.4% and 11.9% respectively.
Dirt 2 is one of the newer games that utilize certain parts of DirectX 11. At 1920x1200, the GTX 480 beats the HD 5870 by about 20%. This difference melts to about 7% at 2560x1600, with and without AA. Point of View GTX 470 fares well versus the HD 5870 at 1920x1200, but as soon as we hit 2560x1600, the HD 5870 proves that it’s faster. At 1920x1200 and 2560x1600 (no AA), the GTX 470 is slower by 1.6% and 15.9%, respectively. After turning antialiasing on, the difference melts to 3.4% and 16.7%, respectively.
Metro 2033 is post-apocalyptic game developed by 4A Game and implements a number of advanced DX11 features with the latest generation of DX11 graphics cards. GTX 480 takes the cake in this test, but the differences aren’t very high. At 1680x1050 and 1920x1200, the GTX 480 beats the HD 5870 and GTX 470 by about 18% and 28%, respectively.
Nvidia made the GTX 480 with serious tessellation potential in mind, and the results confirm that. The level of tessellation can be regulated in Heaven engine and we see that the difference between the GTX 480 and HD 5870 rises after setting the tessellation level at Extreme. It’s well worth noting that GTX 480 manages a playable framerate at 1920x1200 with maximum tessellation.
At Extreme tessellation settings, Point of View’s GTX 470 outpaces the HD 5870 by about 27%. The GTX 470 scores 710 on the test while the HD 5870 scores 557.
Point of View GTX 470 runs at 607/1215/837 MHz for the GPU/Shaders/Memory – meaning we’re talking about reference clocks. Nvidia strapped the GTX 470 with a dual-slot cooler, but the card easily hits 90° in 3D. The cooler is similar to the one used on the GTX 480, and it uses the same Delta 1.8A fan.
The cooler is capable of keeping temperatures in check, but it does get pretty loud when the GPU heats-up. Still, it’s quieter than the one on the GTX 480. At reference clocks, maximum GPU temperatures didn’t exceed 93°C and the fan spun at 3400 RPM. In idle mode, Point of View’s GTX 470 ran pretty quiet.
Overclocking always requires some kind of sacrifice – thermals, noise or both. In this case, we had to push the fan to maximum RPM, but the fan was unbearably loud. We didn’t meddle with voltages but managed to push the GPU from reference 607MHz to 700MHz. Truth be told, we expected more. We managed to hit 740MHz for the GPU, but the card didn’t run stable in all the tests. Overclocking the memory on GTX 400 cards is a bit tough, and we only managed to reach 880MHz (3520MHz, reference is 837MHz). Overclocking brought 13% better results in FarCry2.
Point of View’s GTX 470 is without a doubt an excellent graphics card and it will set you back about €325. This is the first “more affordable” Nvidia’s DirectX 11 gaming card. Point of View GTX 470 runs at reference clocks and comes with reference cooling which is quiet in desktop operation, but can get loud during gaming.
AMD’s HD 5870 on the other hand is priced some €20 higher, and while our testing does prove it’s slightly faster, the GTX 470 often stages a comeback and wins. Basically it is often all down to particular titles and user preferences. This has been especially true in antialiasing tests, but it does fare well in DirectX 11 performance tests as well. If you like PhysX, CUDA or 3DVision, then GTX 470 might be what you’re looking for.
Consumption is not much higher than on AMD’s HD 5870, but note that GTX 470 runs hotter. As far as noise goes, both cards have a tendency to be quiet in idle and get a bit loud in 3D. The GTX 480, on the other hand, is much louder. Oddly enough, HD 5870 prices have increased over the past couple of weeks, thanks to the weak euro. Meanwhile prices of Nvidia's recently introduced DirectX 11 cards have dropped and they are now widely available.
Choosing between the two is not as straightforward as it used to be. They are very closely matched both in terms of performance and price, so you won't go wrong with either of them. The HD 5870 is somewhat cooler and needs less juice, while the GTX 470 supports several interesting technology and it is a bit more future proof, hence we'll give it a slight advantage over the good old HD 5870.
You can find the card listed here.