NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480: GF100 Has Landed

Article Index

Test System and Unigine Heaven

How We Configured Our Test Systems:  We tested the graphics cards in this article on a Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 motherboard powered by a Core i7 965 quad-core processor and 6GB of OCZ DDR3-1333 RAM. The first thing we did when configuring the test system was enter the system BIOS and set all values to their "optimized" or "high performance" default settings. Then we manually configured the memory timings and disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows 7 Ultimate x64 was installed. When the installation was complete we fully updated the OS and installed the latest hotfixes, along with the necessary drivers and applications.

HotHardware's Test Systems
Core i7 Powered

Hardware Used:
Core i7 965 (3.2GHz)

Gigabyte EX58-UD5
(X58 Express)

Radeon HD 5850
Radeon HD 5870 (2)
Radeon HD 5870 OC

Radeon HD 5970 (2)
GeForce GTX 285 (2)
GeForce GTX 295 (2)
GeForce GTX 480 (2)

6GB OCZ DDR3-1333
Western Digital Raptor 150GB
Integrated Audio
Integrated Network

Relevant Software:
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
DirectX Feb. 2010 Redist
ATI Catalyst v10.3a
NVIDIA GeForce Drivers v197.13 / 197.17

Benchmarks Used:

Unigine Heaven v2.0
3DMark Vantage v1.0.1
FarCry 2
Left 4 Dead 2*
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars v1.5*

* - Custom benchmark

Unigine Heaven v2.0 Benchmark
Synthetic DirectX 11 Gaming

Unigine Heaven

The Unigine Heaven Benchmark v2.0 is built around the Unigine game engine. Unigine is a cross-platform real-time 3D engine, with support for DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11 and OpenGL. The Heaven benchmark--when run in DX11 mode--also makes comprehensive use of tessellation technology and advanced SSAO (screen-space ambient occlusion), and it also features volumetric cumulonimbus clouds generated by a physically accurate algorithm and a dynamic sky with light scattering. Due to the fact that we tested Heaven in DX11 mode, no NVIDIA GT200 series cards are represented in the graph below.

In an effort to keep the graphs clean and easy to ready, we've separated the single-GPU and multi-GPU SLI / CrossFire results. Please take note of the separation as you flip through the next few pages.

As you can see, according to Unigine Heaven, the new GeForce GTX 480 outpaces all of the competition, even dual-GPU cards like the Radeon HD 5970. The geometry and tesselation processing capabilities of the GF100 GPU are exploited here, and as a result, it is able to pull ahead of every other card we tested.  The real question is, will tesselation engines continue to become more important in next generation game titles.  The short answer, is likely, "yes."  Though perhaps not demonstrated enough in current titles, this is a powerful new rendering technology.

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