No need to upgrade if you already have the Radeon HD 5870.
Our NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 sample got a bit delayed in reaching us. We figured that almost everyone interested in this card has probably read everything about it- such as its new architecture and its heat/noise levels. Thus what we decided to do was take the card head-to-head with the ATI Radeon HD 5870 as many of you already have a card based on ATI’s fastest GPU, and give you an idea on whether you should think about “upgrading” or not. We’ve thrown in a bit of overclocking as well, as many of the new Radeon HD 5870 cards come overclocked out of the box.
Just to give you a rough summary, the table below outlines the two cards we’re about to put head to head.
||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480
||ATI RADEON HD 5870
As a testbed, we used the fastest CPU- the Intel 980X with 6 cores and 12 threads and we overclocked in to 4.2GHz just to make sure that the CPU is not the cause of any bottlenecks. All tests were done on an Apple 30″ LCD with 2560×1600 resolution. The default speed for the two cards are mentioned above and for overclocking, the GeForce GTX 480 went up to 850MHz on the Core and 2000MHz on Memory while the Radeon HD 5870 went up to 1000MHz Core and 1300MHz on the memory.
The following graph shows the different games we tested with these two cards and their scores in stock and overclocked modes.
As you can see from the graph above that with stock speed, the GeForce GTX 480 comes out on top in almost every game except for Just Cause 2. Although the card scores higher and, percentage wise, it might show a big lead, there isn’t THAT big of a lead when you look at the actual frame rates. Metro 2033 is as unplayable at 8FPS as it is at 13fps while L4D2 and Dirt 2 are equally playable with both cards. We do see the GTX480 showing better results that the Radeon HD 5870 when overclocked though.
So in summary, if you have already have a 5870, we don’t really think you will see much of a difference moving to the GeForce GTX 480. Yes, it is the fastest in most games but not to the extend that deserves swapping your already high-end card for- especially since it costs about AED 2,000 (US$500+). As our reader PKite points out, a wiser decision would be to spend a bit less and get an additional 5870 card for getting much higher performance at a lower cost.