Excellent performance at a price that won't punish your wallet
GPUs that cost $500 are all well and good, but the sweet spot for high-end graphics cards is in the $350–$400 range. That’s still a good chunk of change, but it can get you a card with close to 90 percent of the performance of high-end cards.
That’s certainly true of EVGA’s GTX 470 SC. Built on a cut-down version of Nvidia’s high-end, DirectX 11 GPU, this card posted eyebrow-raising benchmarks, pretty much putting it into a class of its own.
EVGA’s super-clocked GTX 470 GPU ships with 448 shader processors, running at 625MHz, with a shader clock of 1,280MHz. That’s a 3 percent faster core clock and 2.5 percent faster memory frequencies than the stock GTX 470. (The GTX 480 uses 480 shader processors at 700MHz). The 320-bit-wide memory interface pumps data to 1,280MB of GDDR5 running at 850MHz (3,400MHz effective.) Of course, the card supports the usual set of Nvidia features, including hardware SLI, PhysX acceleration, and 3D Vision Surround video.
Meet the new king: EVGA's GTX 470 SC rules the price-to-performance kingdom with an iron fist.
The card is shorter than the GeForce GTX 480 at just 9.5 inches long. Unlike its big brother, this card needs only a pair of 6-pin PCI Express graphics power connectors, rather than an 8-pin and a 6-pin. Monitor interfaces include two dual-link DVI ports and a mini-HDMI port. EVGA includes a mini-HDMI-to-HDMI cable adapter in the box.
We were happily surprised by the performance. The GTX 470 SC crushed the Asus Radeon HD 5850 and even outpaced the slightly pricier Radeon HD 5870 in a few benchmarks. So while EVGA’s card costs more than GTX 470 cards running at stock speeds, the pricing is in line with the overall performance.
Overall, we feel that the GTX 470 SC and the Radeon HD 5870 are tied but the GTX 470 has the edge in more forward-looking titles. Most Radeon HD 5870 cards also come in at or above $400 while the majority of GTX 470 cards are around $350.
It’s worth noting that at 1920x1200, quite a few games seem to be CPU-bound on the GTX 470 without AA enabled. So we really recommend pumping up the eye candy. If you’ve got a 30-inch display, you might have to dial down AA a bit to keep frame rates high.
What about noise and heat? The fan does spin up to high volumes when the card is under load, but it’s only a little noisier than the Radeon HD 5850. EVGA’s card burns a lot more power at full throttle, though; our system posted 353 watts under load, while the HD 5850 system posted a scant 261W. Now, a 100W power difference while actually gaming won’t set your electricity bill on fire, but you’ll pay a little more over the long term.
EVGA offers a limited lifetime warranty on the 470 GTX SC card, if you register the card upon purchase. So in addition to overclocking the card for you, the company is backing it up with a warranty.
So, it’s official: We’re crowning a new king of the high midrange. Performance is exceptional, and while the price is on the high side of affordability, you do get a lot of bang for your buck.
EVGA GTX 470 SC
Superb performance for the price; card will fit in most cases; EVGA warranty.
Costs more than the competition; power-hogging; noisy.
EVGA GeForce GTX 470
Asus Radeon HD 5850
Diamond Radeon HD 5870
Unigine Heaven 2.0 (fps)
Battle Forge / AA on (fps)
Dirt 2 (fps)
Far Cry 2 / Long (fps)
Far Cry 2 / Action (fps)
Tom Clancy's HAWX (fps)
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat (fps)
Best scores are bolded. Our zero point uses a Core i7-975 Extreme Edition, an Asus P6X58D Premium, 6GB of DDR3/1333, 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate, and a Corsair TX850 PSU. All games tested at 1920x1200 with 4x AA.