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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470 Review

Author: Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig
Date: March 26, 2010
Product Name: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470
 
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Conclusion


Remember, if you are interested in our GTX 480 review, click here.

While the GTX 400 series is obviously built for high end computing and graphics capabilities, both of the cards seem to come from opposite sides of the tracks. As we saw in its review, the GTX 480 is a product which is geared towards enthusiasts with a price to match but it sucks power, has some nagging performance issues at high resolution and produces a ton of heat. Its overall performance was at times significantly higher than the competing HD 5870 but in the end fell short in the price / performance race like so many other $450+ cards usually do. The GTX 470 on the other hand has been introduced for just that reason: to appeal to buyers looking for the best possible performance for their hard earned dollars.

Historically, the high end cards usually steal the spotlight during any launch but the $300 to $400 price range is what really interests the vast majority of consumers. Up until today ATIís HD 5850 sat within this bracket and many people (us included) believe that it is one of the best cards currently on the market when it comes to the price you pay versus the framerates it can achieve. Targeting this cardís ~$325 price and the high-end performance it can achieve isnít easy, but thatís exactly what NVIDIA set out to do with the GTX 470. Did they achieve their goal? You betcha.


From a purely framerate perspective, NVIDIAís svelte little card is simply a resounding success when compared to the HD 5850. Much like the GTX 480, the GTX 470 really stretches its legs when AA is enabled and other IQ settings are turned up in which case is outstrips the competition by a good margin. To make matters even better, the minimum framerates show it pulling even further ahead. Most people looking at this card will likely be using a 27Ē or smaller monitor sporting a resolution of around 1920 x 1200 and it is exactly within that range where the GTX 470 is able to put down some of its most convincing wins. Its performance in DX11 games in particular was impressive and if those results are in any way representative of what we can expect in the future, this $349 card may lead a very long life indeed.

Granted, GTX 470 doesnít win in every scenario and its record isnít quite spotless as there are a few areas where its performance takes a nosedive. Much like its bigger brother, it does tend to falter a bit at 2560 x 1600 resolution but if NVIDIA can be believed, we should see that situation rectified relatively soon. There is also the small matter of power consumption since while the GTX 470 is able to win from a monetary standpoint, it has trouble making ends meet when it comes to performance per watt. We know most people looking at a $350 card likely wonít care about power consumption all that much but a 64W delta between it and the HD 5850 translates into a gap of 30%. No matter which way you look at things, thatís significant.

NVIDIA decided to go an interesting route with the GTX 470ís heat signature. Instead of implementing an overly aggressive fan speed profile or an expensive, exotic heatsink like the one on the GTX 480 they erred on the side of acoustics and overall cost. The heat produced at idle is well within the norms but things start to look a bit dicey as load increases and the heatsink struggles to cope with the coreís thermal load. Nonetheless, the fan is blissfully quiet to the point where we doubt it would bother you when enclosed in a case. Make no mistake about it, 92įC is hot but the GF100 core was designed with these thermals in mind so there should be absolutely no worry about its longevity.

One thing that does raise our eyebrows is NVIDIAís choice to go with such low clock speeds for the GTX 470. They probably did went direction so it didnít get completely bitch-slapped by the HD 5850 when it came to efficiency but it has acted like a double-edged sword in many ways. However, like so many others weíre torn between efficiency and performance. When it comes to power consumption a maximum of 215W to 230W isnít extreme for a card in the $300 - $400 price range but a bump in clock speeds would have gone a long way in stretching its lead over the HD 5850. In this case it just feels like caution about overall power consumption won out over performance and the GTX 470 was hobbled for the purposes of its image rather than practicality. The overclocking results we were able to achieve seem to back this theory up as well.

With an SRP of $349 backed up by some great performance increases over the HD 5850, we believe the GTX 470 has set itself up to be the new price / performance leader in the current market. Yes, there are a few wrinkles in the fabric of perfection (power consumption and heat) and ATI may still cut their prices but it is a relief to finally see some competition in this price bracket in particular. Weíre actually more excited about the GTX 470 than the GTX 480 simply because NVIDIA did something not many thought they could achieve: beat ATI in the all-important performance per dollar category.


 
 
 

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