This Fermi lite uses reference clocks, but it's no reference card
Sharp-eyed Maximum PC readers who care about performance will no doubt notice that Gigabyte’s GV-N470UD-13I GTX 470 runs at stock reference speeds but achieves almost identical benchmark scores to last month’s kick-ass overclocked EVGA GTX 470. Blame it on new drivers versus old.
To be fair, the N470UD-13I isn’t exactly a stock card. While the card ships at reference clock speeds for core, shader, and memory, Gigabyte builds the board using its Ultra Durable manufacturing methods, which includes two-ounces-of-copper PCB technology, Japanese solid capacitors, high-end Samsung or Hynix GDDR5 memory, and low RDS(on) MOSFETs, which are designed to minimize switching resistance for faster capacitor charging and discharging. The PCB itself is blue, unlike many reference GTX 470 cards.
Gigabyte builds robust components into its take on Nvidia’s GTX 470.
In theory, more robust components should make for an overclockable card. But we tested the N470UD-13I at the rated (reference) clocks, because that’s the way the card ships. We used Nvidia’s Release 256 drivers, which dropped just as we were launching into our testing. These drivers offer some performance enhancements, but also add Blu-ray 3D support, new setup controls for multi-GPU, and OpenGL 4.0 support.
Gigabyte’s GTX 470 hammered the Radeon HD 5850, while trading wins with the reference-clocked HIS Radeon HD 5870. At its roughly $360 price point, this particular GTX 470 is priced well against the competition, as most Radeon HD 5850s still cost a little more than $300, while the HD 5870s go for close to $400.
Gigabyte also includes Nvidia’s Supersonic Sled and Design Garage demos. Unlike past Nvidia demos, these are highly interactive. Launching the Supersonic Sled in high-arc trajectories is entertaining in its own right.
Included in the box are the usual set of accessories—power adapter cable, DVI-to-VGA adapter, and SLI connector. Gigabyte also tosses in a 1.5 meter Mini-HDMI-to-HDMI cable (not just an adapter.) That’s handy for connecting to HDMI-equipped monitors.
As with other Fermi products, the Gigabyte card does draw more power at full throttle than its competition. At idle, our test system drew 142 watts, dead even with the same system running a Radeon HD 5850. At full throttle (defined as the Unigine Heaven 2.0 demo running at 2560x1600 with 4x AA), the system pulled down 324W with the GTX 470, compared to the 261W drawn by the HD 5850.
Overall, Gigabyte’s GV-N470UD-13I delivers solid performance at a decent price. While we wish it drew less power, we’re compelled to point out that the overall difference in power cost over a year is only a few dollars at worst. Given Gigabyte’s more robust manufacturing techniques, you can probably expect decent overclockability or a reasonably long life span from this version of Fermi lite.
Gigabyte GV-N470UD-13I GTX 470
Excellent performance; reasonable price; card will fit in most cases; Mini-HDMI adapter cable.
Draws a lot of power; noisy at full throttle; costs more than a Radeon HD 5850.
Gigabyte GV-N470UD-13I GTX 470
Asus Radeon HD 5850
HIS 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)
DX11 Aliens vs. Predator (fps)
Just Cause 2 Concrete Jungle (fps)
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat (fps)
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 Ultimate. All games are run at 1920x1200 with 4x AA.