NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470 Review

Author: Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig
Date: March 26, 2010
Product Name: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470
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We will be breaking our GTX 400 series articles into two separate reviews: the one you are reading right now will concentrate on the reasonably priced GTX 470 while the other will take an in-depth look at the flagship GTX 480. Click here to go to the GTX 480 review.

The birth of NVIDIAís Fermi architecture has been a difficult one and the folks in Santa Clara are the first to admit that. Sure, there were tantalizing bits and pieces shown at the GPU Technology Conference and later at CES but the rumour mill continued to spin and cast doubt upon everything from the chip design to the manufacturing hurdles. What it all boils down to is rather than push a product out the door that simply wasnít ready, NVIDIA has waited until they nailed down almost every aspect of the GF100 prior to releasing the final product. So, for better or worse the first day in the life of this new poster child starts today; the GTX 470 and GTX 480 are hoping to shake up the industry.

Now that the so-called GTX 400 series is seeing the light of day after so many months behind closed doors and literally iron-clad NDAs, everyone from board partners to consumers are finally breathing a deep sigh of relief. In a DX11 market that is currently dominated by ATIís HD 5000-series we have seen very little (if any) downwards movement in the prices of graphics cards over the last seven months. Rather, there have actually been price increases which were cleverly disguised as a way to even out production shortfalls so the media and consumers didnít classify them as simple cash grabs. With NVIDIA putting in a showing after all this time, consumers may finally be able to benefit from some competition.

At this point, the 480-core GTX 480 will assume the guise of a flagship product and take the lead against the current reigning single GPU champion: the HD 5870. With a price of nearly $500 USD, the high end market is where the GTX 480 will vie for dominance. On the flip side of the coin it seems like NVIDIA is also targeting the lucrative $300 to $400 market that was previously the unchallenged stomping ground for ATIís extremely popular HD 5850. As such, the GTX 470 will start at a competitive $349 USD which translates into a mere 10% price premium over ATIís current price / performance leader. From where we stand seeing pricing like this is very encouraging but it also opens up a huge $150 chasm between the two 400-series cards which will hopefully be bridged by overclocked GTX 470 products.

At this cardís heart beats a 40nm processor with 448 cores and a clock speed of 607Mhz which is paired up with 1.28GB of GDDR5 memory. As will be the usual situation with all GF100-based cards, power consumption and heat were two of the more pressing concerns when it came to designing the GTX 470. Even with such a low clock speed, the maximum board power for this card is in the 215W range. Considering the competing HD 5850 consumes 151W at full load, this could be a bitter pill to swallow for people who are looking to cut down their electricity bills.

According to NVIDIA, the GTX 470 is meant to offer the perfect combination of performance, price and features which will make it appealing to a wide range of potential buyers. Considering the supposed (weíll get to the facts later in the review) superior DX11 performance of the GF100-based cards, many people could be looking at this product as something which is more future-proof than the current ATI offerings.

We know you are excited to get on with this review but if there is anyone out there who wants additional background, we suggest you take a look at our dedicated GF100 article that covers everything from architecture scaling to compute performance. We will be using some of that articleís passages here but there is a ton of additional reading contained therein to satisfy anyone.


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