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

  • arjunp2085 - Friday, March 26, 2010 - link

    For dealing with suck fake geometry, Fermi has several new tricks.

    is that supposed to be such??

    850 Watts for SLI.. man Air Conditioning for my room does not consume that much electricity

    Might have to go for industrial connections to use such high Electricity consumptions lol

    Green Team NOT GREEN....
    Reply
  • Leyawiin - Friday, March 26, 2010 - link

    Guess I'll keep my GTX 260 for a year or so more and hope for better days. Reply
  • hangfirew8 - Friday, March 26, 2010 - link

    Launch FAIL.

    All this waiting and a paper launch. They couldn't even manage the 1/2 dozen cards per vendor at Newegg of some previous soft launches.

    All this waiting an a small incremental increase over existing card performance. High power draw and temps. High prices, at least they had the sense not to price it like the 8800Ultra-which was a game changer. It had a big leap in performance plus brought us a new DX level, DX10.

    I've been holding off buying until this launch, I really wanted nVidia to pull something off here. Oh, well.

    Reply
  • softdrinkviking - Friday, March 26, 2010 - link

    so by the time a "full" gf100 is available, how close will we be the the next gen AMD card?
    and how low will be the prices on the 58XX series be?

    this article never made an explicit buying recommendation, but how many people out there are still waiting to buy a gf100?
    6 months is a long time.
    after xmas and the post holiday season, anybody on the fence about it (i.e. not loyal nvidia fans) probably just went for amd card.
    so the question (for a majority of potential buyers?) isn't "which card do i buy?", it's "do i need/want to upgrade from my 58xx amd card to a gf100?"


    also, i'm curious to find out if fermi can be scaled down into a low profile card and offer superior performance in a form factor that relies so heavily on low temps and low power consumption.
    the htpc market is a big money maker, and a bad showing for nvidia there could really hurt them.
    maybe they won't even try?

    Reply
  • shin0bi272 - Friday, March 26, 2010 - link

    great review as usual here at Anandtech. I would have thought in your conclusions you would have mentioned that, in light of the rather lack luster 5% performance crown that they now hold, that it wasnt the best idea for them to disable 6% of their cores on the thing after all.

    Why make a 512 core gpu then disable 32 of them and end up with poorer performance when youre already 6 months behind the competition, sucking up more juice, have higher temps and fan noise, and a higher price tag? That's like making the bugatti veyron and then disabling 2 of its 16 cylinders!

    That will probably be what nvidia does when amd releases their super cypress to beat the 480. They'll release the 485 with all 512 cores and better i/o for the ram.
    Reply
  • blyndy - Saturday, March 27, 2010 - link

    "Fermi is arranged as 16 clusters of 32 shaders, and given that it is turning off 64 shaders, it looks like the minimum granularity it can fuse off is a single cluster of 32. This means it is having problems getting less than two unrecoverable errors per die, not a good sign."

    from: http://www.semiaccurate.com/2009/12/21/nvidia-cast...">http://www.semiaccurate.com/2009/12/21/nvidia-cast...
    Reply
  • shin0bi272 - Saturday, March 27, 2010 - link

    dont quote semi accurate to me. If you wanna call 1 in 100 claims being correct as Semi accurate then fine you can... me I call it a smear. Especially since the guy who wrote that article is a known liar and hack. If you google for gtx480 and click on the news results and click on semi accurate you will see its listed as satire. Reply
  • Jamahl - Friday, March 26, 2010 - link

    the same Ryan Smith who panned the 5830 for being a "paper launch" even though it was available one day later?

    What's wrong this time Ryan? Maybe there are so many bad things to say about Fermi, being "paper launched" was well down the pecking order of complaints?
    Reply
  • AnandThenMan - Friday, March 26, 2010 - link

    I was thinking the same thing. The 5830 got slammed for being a paper launch even though it wasn't, but Fermi gets a pass? Why? This isn't even a launch at all despite what Nvidia says. Actual cards will be available in what, 17 days? That's assuming the date doesn't change again. Reply
  • jeffrey - Saturday, March 27, 2010 - link

    I'll third that notion.

    Even though Ryan Smith mentioned that Fermi was paper launched today, the tone and way that the article read was much harsher on AMD/ATI. That is ridiculous considering that Ryan had to eat his own words with an "Update" on the 5830's availability.

    To be tougher on AMD/ATI, when they did in fact launch the 5830 that day and have hard-launched, to the best of their ability, the entire 5XX0 stack gives an impression of bias.

    A paper launch with availability at least two and a half weeks out for a product six months late is absurd!

    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now