Final Words

To wrap things up, let’s start with the obvious: NVIDIA has reclaimed their crown – they have the fastest single-GPU card. The GTX 480 is between 10 and 15% faster than the Radeon 5870 depending on the resolution, giving it a comfortable lead over AMD’s best single-GPU card.

With that said, we have to take pause for a wildcard: AMD’s 2GB Radeon 5870, which will be launching soon. We know the 1GB 5870 is RAM-limited at times, and while it’s unlikely more RAM on its own will be enough to make up the performance difference, we can’t fully rule that out until we have the benchmarks we need. If the GTX 480 doesn’t continue to end up being the fastest single-GPU card out there, we’ll be surprised.

The best news in this respect is that you’ll have time to soak in the information. With a retail date of April 12th, if AMD launches their card within the next couple of weeks you’ll have a chance to look at the performance of both cards and decide which to get without getting blindsided.

On a longer term note, we’re left wondering just how long NVIDIA can maintain this lead. If a 2GB Radeon isn’t enough to break the GTX 480, how about a higher clocked 5800 series part? AMD has had 6 months to refine and respin as necessary; with their partners already producing factory overclocked cards up to 900MHz, it’s too early to count AMD out if they really want to do some binning in order to come up with a faster Radeon 5800.

Meanwhile let’s talk about the other factors: price, power, and noise. At $500 the GTX 480 is the world’s fastest single-GPU card, but it’s not a value proposition. The price gap between it and the Radeon 5870 is well above the current performance gap, but this has always been true about the high-end. Bigger than price though is the tradeoff for going with the GTX 480 and its much bigger GPU – it’s hotter, it’s noisier, and it’s more power hungry, all for 10-15% more performance. If you need the fastest thing you can get then the choice is clear, otherwise you’ll have some thinking to decide what you want and what you’re willing to live with in return.

Moving on, we have the GTX 470 to discuss. It’s not NVIDIA’s headliner so it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. With a price right between the 5850 and 5870, it delivers performance right where you’d expect it to be. At 5-10% slower than the 5870 on average, it’s actually a straightforward value proposition: you get 90-95% of the performance for around 87% of the price. It’s not a huge bargain, but it’s competitively priced against the 5870. Against the 5850 this is less true where it’s a mere 2-8% faster, but this isn’t unusual for cards above $300 – the best values are rarely found there. The 5850 is the bargain hunter’s card, otherwise if you can spend more pick a price and you’ll find your card. Just keep in mind that the GTX 470 is still going to be louder/hotter than any 5800 series card, so there are tradeoffs to make, and we imagine most people would err towards the side of the cooler Radeon cards.

With that out of the way, let’s take a moment to discuss Fermi’s future prospects. Fermi’s compute-heavy and tessellation-heavy design continues to interest us but home users won’t find an advantage to that design today. This is a card that bets on the future and we don’t have our crystal ball. With some good consumer-oriented GPGPU programs and developers taking up variable tessellation NVIDIA could get a lot out of this card, or if that fails to happen they could get less than they hoped for. All we can do is sit and watch – it’s much too early to place our bets.

As for NVIDIA’s ecosystem, the situation hasn’t changed much from 2009. NVIDIA continues to offer interesting technologies like PhysX, 3D Vision, and CUDA’s wider GPGPU application library. But none of these are compelling enough on their own, they’re merely the icing on the cake. But if you’re already in NVIDIA’s ecosystem then the choice seems clear: NVIDIA has a DX11 card ready to go that lets you have your cake and eat it too.

Finally, as we asked in the title, was it worth the wait? No, probably not. A 15% faster single-GPU card is appreciated and we’re excited to see both AMD and NVIDIA once again on competitive footing with each other, but otherwise with much of Fermi’s enhanced abilities still untapped, we’re going to be waiting far longer for a proper resolution anyhow. For now we’re just happy to finally have Fermi, so that we can move on to the next step.

Temperature, Power, & Noise: Hot and Loud, but Not in the Good Way
POST A COMMENT

197 Comments

View All Comments

  • LuxZg - Tuesday, March 30, 2010 - link

    Like I've said before - if you want FASTEST (and that's usually what you want if you have money to throw away), you'll be buying HD5970. Or you'll be buying HD5970+water cooling as well.. Reply
  • ViRGE - Saturday, March 27, 2010 - link

    I'm not sure where you're getting that the HD5970 is a $600 card. In the US at least, that's a $700 card (or more) everywhere. Reply
  • wicko - Sunday, March 28, 2010 - link

    Honestly I don't even know if it should be mentioned at all even if it is 600, because there is almost no stock anywhere. Reply
  • LuxZg - Tuesday, March 30, 2010 - link

    Oh, don't make me laugh, please! :D In that case this review shouldn't be up at all, or it should be called "PREview".. or have you actually seen any stock of GTX470/480 arround? Reply
  • LuxZg - Sunday, March 28, 2010 - link

    It's AMD's & nVidia's recommended prices, and you can see them all in Anandtech's own articles:
    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3783">http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3783 (nvidia prices)
    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3746">http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3746 (ATI single-gpu cards)
    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3679">http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3679 (ATI single/dual GPU cards)

    It is not my fault that your US shops bumped up the price in the complete absence of competition in the high end market. But US is not only market in the world either.

    You want to compare with real world prices? Here, prices from Croatia, Europe..

    HD5970 - 4290kn = 591€ (recommended is 599$, which is usually 599€ in EU)
    GTX480 - not listed, recommended is 499$/€
    HD5870 - 2530kn = 348€ (recommended is 399$/399€ in EU)
    GTX470 - not listed, recommended is 349$/€
    HD5850 - 1867kn = 257€ (recommended is 299$/299€ in EU)

    So let's say that European prices for GTX will be a bit lower than recommended ones, GTX480 would still be ~120-130€ pricier than HD5870, and HD5970 would be same ~120-130€ more expensive than GTX480.
    As for the lower priced nVidia card, it's again firmly in the middle between HD5850 & HD5870.

    Point is that there's no clear price comparision at the moment, and article's conclusion should be clear on that.
    Person that wants the FASTEST CARD will stretch for another 100$/€ to buy HD5970. Especially since this means lower noise, lower consumption, and lower heat. This all combined means you can save a few $/€ on PSU, case, cooling, and earplugs, throwing HD5970 in the arm reach of the GTX480 (price-wise) while allowing for better speeds.

    As for GTX470, again, lower consumption/heat/noise with ATI cards which means less expenses for PSU/cooling, and saving money on electrical bills. For me, well worth the 50€/$ difference in price, in fact, I'd rather spend 50$/€ more to buy HD5870 which is faster, less noisy, doesn't require me to buy new PSU (I own HD4890, which was overclocked for a while, so HD5870 would work fine just as well), and will save me 50W per hour of any game I play.. which will all make it CHEAPER than GTX470 in the long run.

    So let's talk again - why isn't conclusion made a bit more straightforward for end users, and why is HD5890 completely gone from the conclusion??
    Reply
  • Saiko Kila - Sunday, March 28, 2010 - link

    These MSRPs are not entirely, I mean historically correct... The first MSRP (list price) for HD 5850 was $259, and that was price you had to pay when buying on sites like newegg (there were some rebates, and some differences depending on manufacturer, but still you had to have a very potent hunting sense to get a card of any manufacturer, I got lucky twice). Shortly after launch (about one month, it was October) the MSRP (set by AMD) hiked to $279 and problems with supply not only continued but even worsened. Now, since November 2009, it's $299. HD 5870 followed generally similar path, though HD 5850 hiked more, which is no wonder. Note that this is for reference design only, some manufacturers had higher MSRPs, after all AMD or nvidia sell only chips and not gaming cards.

    If you believe anandtech, here you've got a link, the day the cards were announced:
    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3643">http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3643

    The whole pricing things with HD 5xxx series is quite unusual (though not unexpected) since normally you'd anticipate the street price to be quite lower than MSRP, and then to drop even further, and you would be right. I remember buying EVGA GTX260 just after its launch and the price was good $20 lower than suggested price. That's why we need more competition, and for now the outlook isn't very bright, with nvidia not quite delivering...


    And these European prices - most if not all European countries have a heavy tax (VAT), this tax is always included and you have to pay it, there are other taxes too. In the US the sales tax is not included in the street price, and usually you can evade it after all (harder for Californians). Europeans usually get higher prices. Comparing US prices is thereby better, particularly in us dollars (most electronics deliveries are calculated in dollars in Europe). So the prices in the rest of the world were also boosted, even in Europe, despite weak dollar and other factors :)

    One note - HD5xxx cards are really very big and most of them have very unfriendly location of power sockets, so you'd expect to pay more for a proper, huge case. Also note that if you have a 600 W PSU or so you'd be smarter to keep it and not upgrade, unless REALLY necessary. The lower load means lower efficiency, especially when plugged to 115V/60Hz grid. So if you have a bigger PSU you pay more for electricity. And it seems that more gamers are concerned with that bill than in any time before... You couldn't blame them for that and it's sad in its own way.
    Reply
  • LuxZg - Tuesday, March 30, 2010 - link

    Well, current MSRP is like I wrote it above. If there is no competition and/or demand is very high, prices always tend to go up. We're just lucky it's not happening often because in IT competition is usually very good.

    As for European prices, what do taxes have to do with it? We've got 23% taxes here, but it's included in all prices, so if nVidia goes up 23% so do AMD cards as well. If I'm looking at prices in the same country (and city, and sometimes store as well), and if nVidia is 300$ and ATI is 100 and 500, than I just can't compare them and say "hey, nVidia is faster than this 100$ ATI card, I?ll buy that"... no, you can't compare like that. Only thing you can do in that case is say something like "OK, so I have 300$ and fastest I can afford is nVidia" .. or "I want fastest there is, and I don't mind the cost" and you'll take HD5970 than. Or you can't afford any of those. So again, I don't get why cards in this review are so rigidly compared one to another as if they have exact same price (or +/- 10$ difference). And at one hand they compare MORE expensive nVidia card to QUITE CHEAPER AMD card, but won't compare that same nVidia card to a more expensive AMD card.. WHY?

    And AMD cards are no bigger than nVidia ones, and last time I've checked bigger case is way way cheaper than a new PSU. And I'm running my computer on, get this, 450W PSU, so I'm not wasting any excessive power on inefficiences on low loads ;) And since this PSU keeps overclocked HD4890, it should work just fine with non-overclocked HD5870. While I'm pretty sure that GTX470 would already mean a new PSU, new PSU that costs ~100$/80€ .. So I'd pay more $ in total, and get a slower card.

    Again, I'm not getting why there's such a rigid idea of GTX470=HD5850 & GTX480=HD5870 ..
    Reply
  • LuxZg - Saturday, March 27, 2010 - link

    Just re-read the conclusion.. something lacks in this sentence:
    "If you need the fastest thing you can get then the choice is clear, .."
    Shouldn't it finish with "... choice is clear, HD5970..." ? That's what I'm saying, HD5970 wasn't mentioned in the entire conclusion. Past are the days of "single-GPU crown" .. That's just for nVidia to feel better. ATI Doesn't want "single GPU crown", they want the fastest graphics CARD. And they have it.. Serious lack in this article, serious.. And again, there is exact same amount of money dividing GTX480 and HD5870, as is between GTX480 and HD5970..
    Reply
  • blindbox - Saturday, March 27, 2010 - link

    I know this is going to take quite a bit of work, but can't you colour up the main cards and its competition in this review? By main cards, I mean GTX 470, 480 and 5850 and 5870. It's giving me a hard time to make comparison. I'm sure you guys did this before.. I think.

    It's funny how you guys only coloured the 480.

    PS: I'm sorry for the spam, my comments are not appearing, and I'm sorry for replying to this guy when it is completely off topic, lol.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, March 27, 2010 - link

    Yes, it did take a bit of work, but I did it for Ryan. The HD 5870/5970 results are in orange and the 5850 is in red. It makes more of a difference on crowded graphs, but it should help pick out the new parts and their competition. I'm guessing Ryan did it to save time, because frankly the graphing engine is a pain in the butt. Thankfully, the new engine should be up and running in the near future. :-) Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now