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Nvidia GTX 480 3-Way SLI Tested Against Radeons

By - Source: Tom's Hardware UK | B 17 comments

Fight!

Hardware.Info managed to snag not one, but three Nvidia GTX 480 cards and mashed them together (translated) in a 3-way SLI shootout against three ATI Radeon HD 5870 in triple-CrossFire. A dual-CrossFire 5970 was thrown in for good measure too.

For a large number of tests, even the dual-CrossFire 5970 configuration held its own, as well as the triple-CrossFire. As of this writing, GTX 480's are available in very low quantities and many gamers will find it difficult to snag one until Nvidia ramps up production.

After looking through the benchmarks, it's still very clear that the best bang for the buck title remains squarely in ATI's corner of the ring. While both ATI and Nvidia count on high yields to bring prices down, it's still unclear when consumers can see the results.

Hardware.Info ran its test with Intel's latest Core i7 980X 6-core processor. What they found was that ATI's triple-CrossFire scales far better than Nvidia's solution. According to the tests, adding a fourth GTX 480 will only give gamers roughly a 12.7% performance increase, which doesn't justify the cost as well as increased power consumption.

In fact, during load, the triple-CrossFire 5870 setup was running at 641 watts while the GTX 480 setup was consuming a whopping 937 watts--just shy of one kilowatt.

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  • 3 Hide
    marney_5 , 20 April 2010 20:03
    Come on! lets have a bit more info!!!
  • 4 Hide
    mi1ez , 20 April 2010 20:07
    I'm amazed you can even run a triple SLI system with the GTX480! How does the plastic on the middle card not melt?!
  • 1 Hide
    Herr_Koos , 20 April 2010 20:54
    mi1ezI'm amazed you can even run a triple SLI system with the GTX480! How does the plastic on the middle card not melt?!

    It's actually a rare duranium-base alloy they borrowed from the Star Trek set... ;-)
  • 3 Hide
    evolvedpc , 20 April 2010 21:15
    I interpret the hardware.info results a little differently. If you look closely, the benchmarks the nVidia card doesn't do so well are those where the cards are not really being pushed. Like DiRT 2, where the frame rates are are up over 100fps for any multi-card setup. In the titles where the res/detail is maxed out and the cards are pushed to the edge of playability, like CoP at 2560x1600, the nVidia does better at both outright fps and also scaleability. e.g. in Metro 2033, the dual SLI setup puts nVidia well ahead of dual 5870 and even pips the dual 5970 (which is a more expensive setup).

    So, for my money, I don't care if my dual 480's are getting me 153fps in HAWX instead of 193fps I'd get from 2 radeons. I'm laughing there anyway! What I do care about is that I'm getting 40/53fps in CoP, rather than 35/46fps. Or 46/61fps in Metro 2033, rather than 34/51fps. (Forget the 5970 for that last - it's nowhere.)

    Basically, the GTX480 makes those higher resolutions and details on those really power-hungry titles 20-30% more playable than the equivalent Radeon setup. You can play the rest with anything half-decent. If you're not chasing those, why bother to spend your money on all those GPU's anyway?
  • 1 Hide
    evolvedpc , 20 April 2010 21:23
    evolvedpcWhat I do care about is that I'm getting 40/53fps in CoP, rather than 35/46fps. Or 46/61fps in Metro 2033, rather than 34/51fps.


    Sorry, might not have been clear there. x/yfps is showing rates for 2-GPU/3-GPU setups, respectively. So, by 35/46fps I meant 35fps for 2-way CrossfireX and 46fps for 3-way CrossfireX.
  • 1 Hide
    evolvedpc , 20 April 2010 21:24
    mi1ezI'm amazed you can even run a triple SLI system with the GTX480! How does the plastic on the middle card not melt?!


    Bet they didn't run their rig for very long!
  • 1 Hide
    yaamann , 20 April 2010 21:33
    Herr_KoosIt's actually a rare duranium-base alloy they borrowed from the Star Trek set... ;-)


    this aint a gaming rig, this is latest cooking stew for households
  • 0 Hide
    wild9 , 20 April 2010 21:54
    I bet that's some GPGPU beast.
  • 0 Hide
    guanyu210379 , 20 April 2010 22:09
    "In fact, during load, the triple-CrossFire 5870 setup was running at 641 watts while the GTX 480 setup was consuming a whopping 937 watts--just shy of one kilowatt."

    How about the performance? Come on, more details!
  • 0 Hide
    evolvedpc , 20 April 2010 22:09
    evolvedpcBet they didn't run their rig for very long!


    Surprisingly, a quick read of the temp section of the article shows:

    Quote:
    We expected that the temperature of the middle card would greatly increase because they "locked" is, but in practice it falls. The card was not warmer than 96 degrees, slightly more than a single GTX 480. Note that we have the tests performed in open space using a Cooler Master Test Bench. In a sealed enclosure temperatures will naturally be higher.


    (Excuse the google translation from the dutch.)

    Perhaps the GTX 480 isn't as volcanic as feared?
  • 0 Hide
    flaminggerbil , 20 April 2010 22:12
    I really cant see how those 3 480's could stay stable like that, even with the opening at the back, surely after a few minutes they'd warm each other up to boiling point (litterally).
  • 1 Hide
    marney_5 , 20 April 2010 22:24
    Anybody own a nuclea power plant??
  • 0 Hide
    evolvedpc , 20 April 2010 22:28
    Quote:
    According to the tests, adding a fourth GTX 480 will only give gamers roughly a 12.7% performance increase, which doesn't justify the cost as well as increased power consumption.


    Actually, the referenced article doesn't mention a 4th card anywhere, while a 3rd card adds around 27%. Where did this 12% 4-way SLI scaling figure of Tuan's come from?
  • 0 Hide
    tstebbens , 21 April 2010 00:52
    evolvedpcSurprisingly, a quick read of the temp section of the article shows:( Excuse the google translation from the dutch.)Perhaps the GTX 480 isn't as volcanic as feared?


    98 degrees??? I do hope that's in degrees F! I start thinking about opening the window if my 5870 gets to 65C!

    "In fact, during load, the triple-CrossFire 5870 setup was running at 641 watts while the GTX 480 setup was consuming a whopping 937 watts--just shy of one kilowatt."


    Wow! I bought a 1.2kW PSU for when I had a triple 9800GX2 SLI setup. They chucked out some heat too, but never got anywhere near 98C.
  • 0 Hide
    Lewis57 , 21 April 2010 01:07
    LOL 98'c! I bet thats idling too lol.

    Can you triple xfire a 5970? I've never looked into xfire so if thats a dull question be forgiving.
  • 1 Hide
    evolvedpc , 21 April 2010 01:34
    Lewis57LOL 98'c! I bet thats idling too lol.Can you triple xfire a 5970? I've never looked into xfire so if thats a dull question be forgiving.


    CorssfireX only works up to 4 GPU's. 3 5970's would be 6 GPU's, so that wouldn't work.
  • 0 Hide
    mynameisspoon , 21 April 2010 05:58
    Quote:
    Wow! I bought a 1.2kW PSU for when I had a triple 9800GX2 SLI setup. They chucked out some heat too, but never got anywhere near 98C.


    @tstebbens

    The 9800GX2 was a duel chip card hence you could only run them in Quad-SLI meaning two cards not three!