This video devours watts as greedily as it eats benchmarks
After a rocky development period and a delayed launch, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 480 GPU is finally entering that middle stage: Factory overclocked, not-quite-standard products are emerging, offering better performance, improved cooling, and the potential for even higher overclocks.
This new card doesn’t offer a fully redesigned cooler. EVGA altered the design of the back-plate, enlarging its vents to facilitate more efficient airflow. The back-plate also helps dissipate heat, though there is a small chance that you will encounter thermal issues with some case or motherboard designs.
EVGA's GeForce GTX 480 Superclocked+ is fast, but pricey.
The Superclocked+ pushes the core clock to 726MHz versus 700MHz stock, and memory to 950MHz memory as opposed to the reference design’s 926MHz. This translates to a shader clock frequency of 1,451MHz, which is just a bit higher than the standard 1,401MHz. The higher clock speeds give you more robust performance—and a higher price tag: The Superclocked+ can be found for around $520, while EVGA’s stock design costs less than $500.
Note that while you can find other 480 GTX cards built on the reference design for as low as $460, the extra cost does get you EVGA’s limited lifetime warranty (provided you register the product within 30 days of purchase). If you live with your products for a long time, the extra cost might be justified.
EVGA redesigned the back-plate to improve cooling and boost clock speeds.
Let’s get right down to brass tacks: you buy an overclocked card to run your games faster and to get that last bit of overhead so you can run cool new stuff, like DX11 features. So let’s compare the Superclocked+ to the Asus ENGTX480, which is a stock card. We’ll also compare it to one of the faster Radeon HD 5870 cards, the XFX Radeon HD 5870 XXX Edition.
The overclock doesn’t come cheap in terms of power consumption. The Superclocked+ pushes a whopping 401W at full throttle (that’s the full system power usage), as compared to the Radeon HD 5870 XXX Edition’s 290W. But that’s really the only place the Radeon wins: A one frame-per-second advantage Crysis is essentially a tie. While the card does suck watts from your power supply as if from a fire hose, the noise levels didn’t hit Dustbuster-like levels, probably due to the larger venting in the back panel.
Similarly, the Asus card, which is a stock card running at reference clocks “wins” a couple of benchmark rounds, but those are also essentially ties. Besides, those particular benchmarks are CPU bound at 1920x1200 with 4x AA enabled. So we’re finally hitting the point where a card with a single GPU is hitting the CPU wall with some recent generation titles.
What’s the bottom line? If you want the fastest single GPU card that doesn’t require special cooling (like EVGA’s water-block equipped Hydro Copper FTW GTX 480), then this is your card. It’s pricey and it’s fast and you know you crave it.
EVGA GeForce GTX 480 Superclocked+
Top-of-the-line performance; cooler design is less noisy.
Power hungry; expensive.
EVGA GTX 480 SC
Asus GTX 480
XFX Radeon HD 5870
Unigine Heaven 2.0 (fps)
Battle Forge (fps)
Dirt 2 (fps)
Far Cry 2 / Long (fps)
Far Cry 2 / Action (fps)
Tom Clancy's HAWX (fps)
Aliens Vs. Predator (DX11) (fps)
Just Cause 2 (fps)
STALKER: Call of Pripyat (fps)
Power Usage (watts at idle)
Power Usage (watts under load)
Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a 3.33GHz Core i7-975 Extreme Edition in an Asus P6X58D Premium motherboard with 6GB of DDR3/1333 and an 850TX Corsair PSU. The OS is 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate. All games are run at 1920x1200 with 4x AA.