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Graphics Processor Details

GeForce GTX 480M: AVADirect’s W880CU Is Packing The Heat

Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 480M is based on the same Fermi architecture as its high-flying GeForce GTX 480 desktop card, so that our previous analysis allows us to focus on the things that make this mobile version different from its desktop counterpart.

Desktop vs. Mobile GeForce Graphics
 Desktop GeForce GTX 480Desktop GeForce
GTX 465
GeForce GTX 480M
Transistors3 billion3 billion3 billion
Engine Clock700 MHz607 MHz425 MHz
Texture Units604444
ROP Units403232
Compute Performance1345 GFLOPS855 GFLOPS598 GFLOPS
DRAM TypeGDDR5-3696GDDR5-3206GDDR5-2400
DRAM Interface384-bits256-bits256-bits
Memory Bandwidth177.4 GB/s102.6 GB/s76.8 GB/s
TDP250 W200 W100 W

Whoops! It appears that the GeForce GTX 480M is equivalent to a power-optimized, underclocked GeForce GTX 465 with 2 GB of slower RAM! And yet, Nvidia isn’t the only company doing this with its notebook parts, as the chart from our previous Mobility Radeon HD 5870 test clearly proves.

Desktop vs. Mobility Radeon Graphics
 Desktop Radeon
HD 5870
Desktop Radeon
HD 5770
Mobility Radeon
HD 5870
Transistors2.15 billion1.04 billion1.04 billion
Engine Clock850 MHz850 MHz700 MHz
Shader (ALUs)1600800800
Texture Units804040
Z/Stencil Units1286464
Compute Performance2.72 TFLOPS1.36 TFLOPS1.12 TFLOPS
DRAM TypeGDDR5-4800GDDR5-4800GDDR5-4000
DRAM Interface256-bits128-bits128-bits
Memory Bandwidth153.6 GB/s76.8 GB/s64.0 GB/s
TDP188 W108 W50 W

The GeForce GTX 480M is a low-power version of the GeForce GTX 465, just as the Mobility HD 5870 is a low-power version of the Radeon HD 5770. Nvidia’s relabeling of a mid-priced desktop component as a high-end mobile part is thus a perfect match to what its competitor is doing, and light-years ahead of its previous naming scheme.

If you're here reading this story, you'll know exactly what to expect from the mobile flagships from AMD and Nvidia. It's the folks who don't do their homework before buying we're most worried about. Calling these modules GeForce GTX 480 and Radeon HD 5870 simply sends the wrong message. With that said, we've agreed to disagree with both companies' marketing departments. They think they're simply suggesting each card is best-in-class, as on the desktop. We think they're establishing certain performance expectations that'll fall far short of the desktop.

Moving forward, we'll put aside AMD's higher computational performance numbers and power savings from the above charts, since these two completely-different architectures are rated using dissimilar methodology by their manufacturers. Instead, we'll rely on benchmark data and power measurements. The proof in the pudding is, after all, in the eating.

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