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ASUS ENGTX480-2D1-1536 Geforce GTX 480 Videocard Review
ASUS ENGTX480-2D1-1536 Geforce GTX 480 Videocard Review - PCSTATS
NVIDIA does stress that the Geforce GTX 480 is more than just a gaming card however. It's the first videocard to use NVIDIA's Fermi architecture, which is a radical departure from the design of previous Geforce videocards.
 79% Rating:   
Filed under: Video Cards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: ASUS Jun 09 2010   J. Apong  
Home > Reviews > Video Cards > ASUS ENGTX480-2D1-1536

It's not easy building a flagship GPU architecture from scratch. Just ask NVIDIA.

The Geforce GTX 480 was supposed to be a videocard with competitive features like DX11 and multi-monitor display output, while being able to beat its rivals in benchmarks. It was supposed to maintain acceptable heat, power draw and noise levels, and of course all of this was to be accomplished while factoring in cost. It's a balance that ASUS' Geforce GTX 480-based ENGTX480-2D1-1536 just can't manage.

As PCSTATS has seen in its recent head-to-head review, the Geforce GTX videocard manages to achieve excellent, but comparable performance in benchmarks against the Radeon HD 5870 graphics card, which is no small feat. NVIDIA had to do a lot of digging in order to come up with a suitable rival for ATI's latest flagship videocard... in fact nVidia was some six months behind ATI in coming up with a DirectX 11 GPU. Must have been all that 3D Vision stuff clogging up the works in Santa Clara.

I imagine that NVIDIA's mentality was that showing up half a year late with a slower videocard was out of the question. The Geforce GTX 480 and the GF100 GPU it's built with just fall short of a clear victory over the performance offered by a Radeon HD 5870-series, at the latter's 188W TDP. NVIDIA raised the clockspeeds of its GF100 "Fermi" GPU and in the process increased overall TDP to a finger-burning 250 Watts, resulting in comparable performance but also a videocard that's louder, draws more power and generates more heat than is ideal.

As you might have guessed, building a flagship videocard based on a new architecture is expensive. The ASUS ENGTX480-2D1-1536's videocard comes in a dual-slot wide PCI Express 2.0 x16 format and retails for around $535 CDN ($510 USD, £350 GBP) . At these price levels we're very certainly in the relm of flagship enthusiast gaming cards. Not exactly surprising, but it should be noted that $500 USD will also get you the heavily customized and overclocked Gigabyte GVR587SO-1GD graphics card. Vanilla Radeon HD 5870 videocards can be found at certain online stores for as low as $390 too.

ASUS ENGTX480-2D1-1536 Videocard

Driver CD, Utility CD, molex-to-PCI Express converter, DVI-to-VGA and DVI-to-HDMI converters.

Graphics Processor: Geforce GTX 480 (701 MHz)
Memory Capacity: 1.5GB GDDR5 (3696 MHz)
Card Format: PCI Express x16 2.0, two slots wide.
Outputs: DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI-D
Videocard Class: Enthusiast

NVIDIA do stress that the Geforce GTX 480 is more than just a gaming card. And it is.

The Geforce GTX480 is the first videocard built around NVIDIA's Complete Unified Device Architecture (CUDA) architecture - code named 'Fermi'. It's a radical departure from the design of previous Geforce videocards because it enables General Purpose Graphics Processing Unit computing (GPGPU). A GPGPU will never be a replacement for a discreet CPU, but it does allow the videocard to take over processing in some applications that are especially suited to the massively parallel nature of a GPU, such as HD video transcoding and large image manipulation.

NVIDIA has another line of "Fermi"-based videocards under the "Tesla" brand name, which are used for exotic scientific computing applications like weather prediction and protein string analysis which are beyond the scope of this review.

nVidia GeForce GPU Breakdown
Geforce 8800 GTX Geforce 9800 GTX Geforce GTX 280 Geforce GTX 480
GPU Code Name: G80 G92 GT200 GF100 "Fermi"
GPU Process: 90nm 65nm 65nm 40nm
GPU Transistors: 754 Million 754 Million 1.4 Billion 3 Billion
TDP: 176W 168W 236W 250W
GPU Core Clock Speed: 575MHz 675Mhz 602MHz 700Mhz
Memory Speed: 900MHz
(1800MHz GDDR3)
(2200MHz GDDR3)
(2214MHz GDDR3)
(3696MHz GDDR5)
Memory Capacity: 512MB 512MB 1GB
Memory Bus Width:




Shader Processors: 128 128 240 480
Texture units: 32 64 80 60
Raster Operators: 24 16 32 48

Don't let all this focus on productivity give you the wrong idea about the ASUS ENGTX480-2D1-1536 videocard however, it is first and foremost a graphics videocard for extreme and enthusiast gamers.

nVidia's GF100 "Fermi" architecture continues in the tradition of adding more shader cores, texture units and increasing memory bandwidth for 3D graphics and gaming applications. With 480 shader processors, 60 texture units and 48 raster operators, the Geforce GTX 480 is NVIDIA's most powerful graphics card to date. It's very fast, no matter how much hand wringing goes on about the heat output.

The ASUS ENGTX480-2D1-1536 videocard stays pretty close to NVIDIA's reference design, with a 700MHz core clock speed, 1.5GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 924MHz (quad-pumped to an effective 3696MHz) and a 384-bit wide memory bus. Here's what the little beastie looks like under all that heatsink - a very large GPU surrounded by twelve BGA DRAM memory chips.

NVIDIA's Geforce 400-series of videocards all have full support for Mirosoft's DirectX 11 graphics standards. They support hardware rendering techniques like Tessellation, can take advantage of compute shaders for calculating AI and Physics, and have a more versatile rendering pipeline.

DirectX 11 videocards also have native Shader Model 5.0 support, and are backwards compatible with any DirectX 10.1 applications. The ASUS ENGTX480-2D1-1536 videocard supports NVIDIA's stereoscopic 3DVision technology, meaning it can be hooked up in 3-way SLI mode for parallel GPU rendering, and can do hardware accelerated PhysX force and material simulation technology.

Video outputs: One mini-HDMI and two DVI.

NVIDIA has finally introduced an on-board audio processor with its Geforce 400-series of videocards, which means no more having to run an S/PDIF audio input from your sound card or motherboard header in order to get sound over HDMI. Aside from the mini-HDMI 1.3 output there are also a pair of DVI ports on the ENGTX480-2D1-1536 which support display resolutions up to 2560x1600 pixels.

Flagship videocards are typically a bit bigger and bulkier than mainstream and mid-range videocards, and the ASUS ENGTX480-2D1-1536 is no exception.

Measuring 10.5" long and two expansion slots wide, the ASUS ENGTX480-2D1-1536 is big videocard. Let's strip off the heatsink and go in for a closer look at the GTX480 next...

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Contents of Article: ASUS ENGTX480-2D1-1536
 Pg 1.  — ASUS ENGTX480-2D1-1536 Geforce GTX 480 Videocard Review
 Pg 2.  nVidia GTX480 Exposed
 Pg 3.  nVidia GTX480 Fermi Overclocking
 Pg 4.  Videocard Power Consumption
 Pg 5.  Videocard Benchmarks: 3DMark06
 Pg 6.  DX10 Videocard Benchmarks: 3DMark Vantage
 Pg 7.  Videocard Benchmarks: FEAR
 Pg 8.  DX10 Videocard Benchmarks: Crysis
 Pg 9.  DX10 Videocard Benchmarks: Call of Juarez
 Pg 10.  DX10 Videocard Benchmarks: Lost Planet
 Pg 11.  DX11/DX10 Videocard Benchmarks: STALKER, Heaven 2
 Pg 12.  AA/AF Videocard Benchmarks: Crysis
 Pg 13.  GPGPU Videocard Benchmarks: Sandra 2009
 Pg 14.  NVIDIA's latest... too little, too late?

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