After seeing plenty of topics in various tech forums regarding the decision between the GTX480 or the HD5870, we figured it was time to chime in on the debate. With support from ASUS allowing us to review these two cards, the ENGTX480 and EAH5870, we have all of the information we need for this stand alone head-to-head. We hope that after seeing the comparisons we can help put to rest some of the debates and provide a clear cut answer to “which is the best for my money?”.
This will be a straight comparison between these two above cards. It is unbiased with no agenda or “BS” whatsoever! There are people out there who believe that some sites get paid off by big companies to present their product in a good light, well not us. We will bring you honest results which we stand behind and would not be ashamed to show anyone at anytime. You will be able to find correct figures for the system and settings we used. All systems will be a little different, so keep this in mind. Don’t go off on a tangent because a game is a few FPS different than yours.
*Red = ATI, Green =Nvidia*
Bad Company 2:
World in Conflict:
Unigine – Heaven v2.1
Unigine – Tropics v1.3
Unigine – Sanctuary v2.3
*All tests ran at the applications highest allowable detailed settings*
Temperatures were pretty even until we moved into the overclocked settings. Running at stock speeds, the two cards run at about the same temperature, with Nvidia taking the slight lead in load temperature. However, the 5870 does have a commanding lead in the idle/web surfing tasks with a 14-16C difference. I think this probably comes as a shock to most people, seeing everyone talks about how hot the Nvidia cards are in every aspect. The GTX480 was very respectable at stock speeds, but where the 5870 shines is in the overclocking. You can run this card fully overclocked and not turn your room into a sauna, the same cannot be said for the 480, with it hitting 99-100C during testing!
Notice in the test below that this is total system 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 and we feel this gives the most reliable readings on GPU load and on how much wattage the cards put out without stressing other components in the system too much. (Total consumption measured at outlet.)
As you can see from the chart above, the 5870 wins the power consumption tests hands down. With the 5870 overclocked, it is still under max load wattage of the stock GTX480. With the 480 overclocked, it raises some eyebrows with the amount of watts that the card eats up. This could be a problem for someone who is not expecting that much load and does not have an adequate power supply. Just be aware of this before buying.
We would have to say this is pretty much a tie between the two cards. They are both quiet during basic use, and then, they both get extremely annoying once the fan kicks in and you hit a higher percentage of fan use. So knowing how both fans sound, we could not give the edge to either of the cards. You could always water cool both cards and then you would no longer have to worry!
As you saw from all of the gaming and synthetic benchmark tests we ran on the two cards, the GTX480 seemed to be in the lead for the majority of them. We thought the HD5870 would put up more of a fight than it did and we were wrong! The 5870 got “beaten up” for the most part and we almost felt bad. It was like putting a college freshman up against a well-seasoned senior in football. With that said, though, the 5870 is still an fantastic card. Yes, it did get beat, but if you look at the numbers it was cranking out, they were still very impressive, and it will easily run any game on the market without a problem. For the most part, the 480 will be able to boast of a few extra FPS while running the same games. We are guessing that the extra boost in performance is why the GTX480 costs $499, while the HD5870 is a little cheaper at $429 (these are MSRP prices of course).
There were a few bright spots for the HD5870, such as when we ran the power consumption and temperature tests. The 5870 was definitely the big winner in both of these tests. The idle power consumption of the overclocked GTX480 is actually superior to the overclocked 5870. This was a big surprise to us once we saw the final numbers on power usage. Just keep in mind how much power the GTX480 uses while overclocked under load as this could cause a potential system failure if your PSU is not up to snuff. Temperatures were also a big plus for the 5870. The stock idle temperatures were very low, but where it really shines is once we overclocked it. The max temperature we saw was only 84C, however, when we overclocked the GTX480 we saw a massive jump in temperatures with a max temperature of 100C! That is just a bit too high for us to feel comfortable while gaming for extended periods of time.
Overall, both cards were extremely impressive! You cannot go wrong with either choice, however, there are a few give-and-takes with both cards when considering the temperatures, power consumption, and price versus the game performance. It may also depend on how you feel about the cards and your brand loyalty, which personally we feel shouldn’t come in to play, but some can be more passionate in this regard. We can safely say that both cards will have no problem playing any game on the market. We are hoping this review will help you in your decision on which card or brand may be best for you. The results above were 100% legitimate and without biased opinions or personal agendas presented in the article. Take it for what it is; the truth between the two graphics cards.