The great people at ASUS have just sent us Nvidia’s latest. The ASUS ENGTX 480 is what we have in our hands today! With so much hype prior to launch and a few uncertainties floating around at the time of release, we will soon be able to provide more insight into what this card is capable of. A lot of people have been claiming that the GTX 480 will burn a house down with it’s heat output. Well, hopefully not for our sake, and we will be testing temperatures to give you some solid numbers. There is even more banter going around regarding the performance of this card. Can it keep up with other comparable cards? This review should give you a firm answer on whether or not this card can hold it’s own in today’s market. With that all said, let’s get down to the review.
ASUS SmartDoctor is included as one of the utilities on your ASUS driver CD. Once installed and running, you will be greeted with the above screen. This is where you can tweak the voltage on the card. You will also be able to change your core speed and memory from this area as well. Our one complaint with the software is the GUI. It looks so 90′s compared to other software on the market that does the same thing. We think the GUI could use a nice revamping to give it a better and more up to date look.
In the ‘Settings’ area of SmartDoctor you can see two different sections. The Fan Control section is very easy to customize and will let you set how fast your want your fan running at certain specific temperatures. This is a very simple way to tweak the fan settings to get the most out of your card. The other screenshot (right) let’s you put alarm settings on your video card’s temperatures. This may help keep your mind at ease during long gaming sessions.
Overclocking the ASUS GTX480 was actually very simple. After a few minutes of tinkering with the card, we finally got our max overclock of 852MHz core and 3696MHz memory (stock) with 1.138v. We are pretty sure the card has a lot more to give. However, without being able to get the temperatures under control on air, we could not go any further. With a 859MHz core clock we saw artifacts and reached a whopping 102C. If we were able to put the card under water, we are pretty sure we could squeeze a little more out of it. One thing we did notice, in the picture (below), every time we tried to overclock the memory, even the slightest bit, we would get this error. With this error message, it made the memory impossible to push any further than it already was. This is a little disappointing, but what can you do?
Battlefield – Bad Company 2:
World In Conflict:
We will let our charts do most of the talking, however we would like to point out one thing from the charts above. As you can see in the Bad Company 2 comparison, it increased minimum FPS from as little as 4 to as high as 21 FPS. These are huge gains, we feel, as minimum FPS is where you will see all of your lag and stuttering. If these numbers are high, like they are in Bad Company 2, it will severely limit the lag/stuttering in your game play which will make your gaming a much more enjoyable experience.
Unigine – Heaven V2.1
Unigine – Tropics V1.3
Unigine – Sanctuary V2.3
*All tests ran at the applications highest allowable detailed settings*
Alien Breed – Evolution
Battlefield – Bad Company 2
Call of Juarez:
Company of Heroes:
Warhammer 40K – Dawn of War II:
Devil May Cry 4:
Far Cry 2:
Final Fantasy XIV:
Tom Clancy’s – Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter:
Just Cause 2:
Mass Effect 2:
Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 2:
Operation Flashpoint 2 – Dragon Rising:
Street Fight IV:
Team Fortress 2:
Wings of Prey:
World In Conflict:
The testing conditions were as follows.
With the charts above, you should notice two things right away. The temperatures from the tech station to the computer case were almost exactly the same. Once extra volts are applied to achieve a higher overclock, the card starts producing unbearable heat. It heated up our lab noticeably in about 15 minutes of just running the overclocked tests that you saw above. With the card reaching 99-100C fully overclocked, it can be safely said that it is the hottest card we have ever tested! Playing a game with this card is not too bad, however if you play games for extended periods of time while overclocked, it will most likely become unbearably hot in the room. Trust us! We would highly recommend water cooling or other high-end aftermarket cooling for this card if you plan to overclock it. With that said, as long as you run it at stock settings, the card seems to keep the temperature at a very respectable level.
Notice in the test below that this is total power consumption. We tried our best to push the load as much as possible on the video card and nothing else. We ran FurMark at the highest settings our system would allow. We feel FurMark gives the most reliable readings on GPU load and on how much wattage it puts out without stressing other components in the system too much. (Total consumption measured at outlet.)
With the tests above, you can see just how much wattage you can expect to use during gaming/benchmarking. This should assist you with your PSU shopping and the uncertainties that it always brings. You can now refer to the chart above and make a better decision on how many watts your PSU needs to be able to deliver. The chart will also give you an idea of what to expect from the much loved energy bill you get every month. As you may have noticed with stock settings, the load is not too high at 442w. The shocker here is what we ran into when we had the card fully overclocked and fully loaded. This beast eats through 682w of raw power! You should have seen our jaws drop when we saw it hit 682w! Such a leap in power consumption was not expected, but that appears to be the nature of the Fermi architecture.
One of the main areas in which high performance GPU’s have issues is the noise created from the fans trying to keep the GPU cool. Once again, this is sadly the case for the GTX 480. However, a bright spot in this negative aspect is that the fan does not create a high pitch squeal/scream like some of the other cards we have tested. Though it is loud and rather obnoxious when it hits high speeds. We will stick with our opinion, previously stated in other reviews, that a single fan cannot adequately cool a monster card like the GTX 480, nor will it ever be quiet at high speeds. Multi-fan solutions seem to be the best way to go from what we have seen/tested. We will say that the fan does a great job of cooling and keeping the noise level under control the majority of the time and especially when at stock speeds. A gaming session, unfortunately, will bring out the sometimes obnoxious noise that the single fan creates. You can get around this to a certain extent by running the card at stock settings.
Overall, the ASUS ENGTX 480 did an amazing job! It took everything we threw at it, chewed it up and gave us an outstanding performance in the games that we tested it with. We are keen on minimum FPS, as we feel this is one of the most important parts of gaming. The GTX 480 kept the minimum FPS levels at a very respectable and playable level in all of the games tested. This is a big plus because while others may be hitting a lag spike here and there, you are not! We figured there might be a game or two that would give this card some problems, but frankly we were wrong. Even when we tested every game under maximum allowable settings, the GTX 480 kept on kickin’!
We will have to dock the card some points however, for the extreme fan noise and high temperatures. The fan noise is not too bad and as we said earlier, you can tweak the settings and run the card at stock speeds which should be perfectly fine in regards to the noise levels. We just cannot say the same if you begin to overclock the card, and you will definitely need a water cooling setup to keep your sanity. Really though, the major concern we have with the card is the outrageous overclocked temperatures (100C… really?). These cards have not been on the market long enough to find out just how such heat will effect the card over the long term. So, if they can handle the heat and last for years and years, then more power to them, but only time will tell on that. We would also like to point out that when the card runs at stock settings, we have no gripe with the temperatures and this is how the consumer should look at the card.
Having said all this, we would not hesitate to recommend this beast to our friends. The voltage tweak is a great tool and comes in very handy to get the most out of this card that you can. The temperature issues when overclocking can be easily solved by using aftermarket cooling, which most enthusiasts purchasing this card will want to do anyway. The performance of the ASUS ENGTX480 is impressive! It can take on any game on the market and asks for more! This is huge for us because there are some amazing games out there now and after this year’s E3, we know they are many many more to come. This is one card you can’t go wrong with from a performance standpoint.
The ASUS GeForce ENGTX480 receives the TechREACTION.net Gold Silicon Award!
Thank you to ASUS for the review sample! You can find this card at most any online retailer, including NewEgg!