NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480M, Fastest Notebook GPU Yet

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Lately, it seems like Desktop Replacement notebooks don't get any respect, at least in our humble opinion.  The trend for thin and light mobile computing is massive these days, with good reason. However, there is a market and usage model for these beefier, significantly more robust machines the deliver the multimedia horsepower, gaming prowess and a general computing experience usually found in a desktop, but in a form factor that can easily be moved from room to room and a variety of environments. Take the use case of a Home Theater PC, for example.  Instead of an emaciated media streamer, current generation Desktop Replacement notebooks can connect to a stereo media receiver or HDTV over HDMI and offer a ton more gaming and HD video performance.  Drop in a USB wireless keyboard/mouse and media center remote and you're set.  And that's not to mention the wireless HDMI technologies coming to market in the very near future that will enable coffee table control from across the room.  You get the idea.  There's a market niche' for the Desktop Replacement notebook, one that most power users can appreciate, but the thin-is-in crowd isn't exactly buzzing about.

It's a similar scenario to what can be observed in the flagship graphics card market segment, where performance bars are set high along with pricing, but the vast majority of sales volume shakes out to more mid-range product offerings. NVIDIA is a market juggernaut in this high-end arena and when it comes to notebook GPUs, the company religiously fires a cadence of mobile graphics product to follow-up their desktop counterpart releases. 

In March of this year, NVIDIA launched their GeForce GTX 480, aka Fermi desktop graphics card and though this new killer GPU is both big and hot, there was little question it offered record-breaking performance.  Almost shockingly, only a calendar quarter later, they're now ready with that card's notebook-targeted variant, the GeForce GTX 480M.  We have one of the very first notebooks to hit the market in-house with the new GeForce GTX 480M under its hood.  Fittingly, NVIDIA turned to Clevo to ODM a machine that would house their new mobile gaming frame-rate crusher and it took residence in the Clevo D900F quite comfortably. 


    GeForce GTX 480M Urban Assault Vehicle - Clevo's 17.1" D900 Gaming Notebook

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480M Notebook Graphics Processor
Specifications & Features
     GPU Engine Specs:
CUDA Cores 352
Gigaflops 598
Graphics Clock (MHz) 425 MHz
Texture Fill Rate (billion/sec) 18.7 
Thermal Design Power
100 Watts TDP
     Memory Specs:
Memory Clock (MHz) 600MHz (2400MHz Data Rate)
Memory Interface Width 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec) 76.8
     Feature Support:
NVIDIA SLI®-ready 2-Way
NVIDIA 3D Vision Ready Yes
NVIDIA PureVideo® Technology HD
NVIDIA PhysX™-ready Yes
NVIDIA CUDA™ Technology Yes
Microsoft DirectX 11
OpenGL 3.2 
Bus Support PCI-E 2.0 
Certified for Windows 7 Yes
     Display Support:
Maximum Digital Resolution 2560x1600 
Maximum VGA Resolution 2048x1536 
 

As is the case with ATI's Mobility Radeon HD 5870, the GeForce GTX 480M is much more akin to NVIDIA's mid-range desktop GPU, rather than the 480-CUDA core equipped GeForce GTX 480 desktop chip.  In fact, if you look closely at the specs, you'll note that the GeForce GTX 480M is in reality a clocked-down version of the GeForce GTX 465.  Whereas the GeForce GTX 465's core speed is 607MHz, the GTX 480M's core speed is 425MHz, though both chips employ 352 CUDA cores.  The GeForce GTX 480M's memory interface speed (data rate) has also been scaled down a bit from 3206MHz on the desktop GeForce GTX 465 chip, to 2400MHz for the notebook-ready GeForce GTX 480M. 

The net result is a notebook GPU solution that is currently unmatched in terms of high level specifications versus competitive notebook graphics chips, but also draws a lot less power than the nearest desktop equivalent chip in NVIDIA's line-up.  TDP for the GTX 480M is 100 Watts, versus the faster clocked desktop version GeForce GTX 465 at 200 Watts.  In comparison, AMD's Mobility Radeon HD 5870 has a 50 Watt TDP and offers a higher texel fill rate (28 Gtexels/sec versus 18.7 for the GTX 380M) but less memory bandwidth (64GB/sec versus 76.8GB/sec for the GTX 480M).  But enough with the speeds and feeds, let's give you a closer look at the goods.

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Great review Marco hopefully we will see a 460 derivative that will hit the "sweet spot" with regard to performance and heat. Good to see Nvidia back anyhow.

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This design is getting so long in the tooth - Clevo needs to get some new material already!!

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O my! No way!


We've got a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480M paired with a desktop i7-940 with 130W TDP and $600 pricetag quad core CPU outperforming an HD 5870 with the slowest mobile i7-720QM with 45W TDP in the G73. That's fairly impressive. Also, look at the vast array of games tested! And all with nVidia's PhysX. The GTX480M has shown its true muscles by beating out its 6 month old rival in such a fair and unbiased test. This is a major breakthrough in GPU technology. I hope we see more like this soon.

 

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FYI, in the TDP required for this one 100W card, you could have fit two HD5870s in Crossfire which would totally demolish this thing. And still cost less. This is $1000? The 5870s are ~400 apiece.


I wonder how much Nvidia paid for this review.

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Hey Silvery, I don't appreciate your accusations here at all, though you're entitled to your opinion. The Core i7 720 in the G73 has a turbo mode speed of 2.8GHz and all of the game tests we performed are highly GPU limited, so CPU bandwidth isn't going to matter much, if at all. We stated that clearly as well. Finally, the only game test that used NVIDIA PhysX at all was 3DMark Vantage and we noted that clearly too.

We also boldly and clearly called NVIDIA out for it's 100 Watt TDP and the fact that two 5870s (which are 50 Watt TDP actually, you're wrong there) could be utilized in the same thermal envelope.

Do your homework and actually READ the article before casting wild accusations.

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I'm sorry but I have to agree with silvery_wing here, this review is really really awful.  If were to play along with your logic, 1920x1080 is still too low of a resolution to bottleneck the GPU.  Why did you even include the lower resolution tests, which are heavily biased towards CPU?  You should have used an external monitor for higher resolutions to minimize the CPU differences.  

And that is besides the point.  The whole concept of this review is flawed to begin with.  The Asus G73 and Clevo machines are two entirely different machines.  Isn't the whole point of the scientific method to test only one variable?  

One enterprising user from notebookreview modded a Mobility 5870 and put it in his Clevo D900F.   According to his numbers, the Mobility 5870 scored 9277 in 3dmark vantage, while the Geforce GTX 480M scored 9277 according to notebookcheck.net.  Granted the modding process is not for the faint of the heart but this doesn't excuse you from posting this disingenuous review. 

I got my numbers from the following links:

http://forum.notebookreview.com/sager-clevo/491999-first-benchmarks-d900f-running-mobility-radeon-5870-a.html

http://www.notebookcheck.com/Test-NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-480M-Fermi-im-Clevo-D901F.32155.0.html

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On a side note (because rants like this always have a way of getting my goat), I just re-tested the Clevo machine with Turbo Mode AND hyperthreading disabled on the CPU. I tested HAWX (the least disparity in test results) and Far Cry 2 (the widest spread in test results), neither of which employ PhysX of course, and my results didn't change even a single FPS. I literally got the same score, with in tenths of a FPS. See, in high-end graphics testing, at a certain system performance threshold, a few extra CPU clock cycles mean nothing or damn near nothing.

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I love you Dave Big Smile

Also Nice review. That is some heck of a lot of power draw. Less than an hour on a 12 watt battery. But hey if you are in a college dorm or something and want a desktop replacement then I see nothing wrong with this. Just don't expect it to be something that it's not. Which is a laptop you bring everywhere with you. I was not expecting Nvidia to bring the 400 cards to laptops for a while at least.

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As much performance as that thing has, I don't think I could buy one for myself.  Seriously, 100watt TDP in a laptop?! Gives whole new meaning to 'Hot Hardware'.  How hot/loud was it Dave?

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Yeah, that gaming laptop with gtx 480M looks really nice! But can't release potential performance!

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