Mobile Gaming Showdown

So we know that as far as 3DMark is concerned, NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 480M is the fastest mobile GPU available. But how does it fare in actual gaming situations?

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Crysis: Warhead

DiRT 2

Far Cry 2

Left 4 Dead 2

Mass Effect 2

Metro 2033

Stalker: Call of Pripyat

Well, we keep saying it's the fastest mobile GPU available, and that's probably because it's the fastest mobile GPU available. How much faster? That's kind of a problem.

While the 480M takes the lead in most of the games we tested—it downright tears past the competition in Far Cry 2 and DiRT 2—in Mass Effect 2 and Left 4 Dead 2 it was actually unable to best the Mobility Radeon HD 5870. It's only when 4xAA is applied at 1080p that the 480M is able to eke out a win against the 5870 in those titles (we only showed the 4xAA results for the 480M, but you can see the other results in our W860CU review), but the margin of victory is a small one. Of course, Mass Effect 2 doesn't need ultra high frame rates and Left 4 Dead 2 (like all Source engine games) has favored ATI hardware.

Ultimately, that seems to be the pattern here. The wins the 480M produces are oftentimes with the 5870 nipping at its heels; even compared to the 14-in-dog-years GTX 285M it only offers a moderate improvement in gaming performance. What we essentially have are baby steps between top-end GPUs, particularly when we're running DX10 games running at reasonable settings. DX11 titles may be more favorable; DiRT 2 gives the 480M a 25% lead while STALKER is a dead heat; early indication are that Metro 2033 also favors NVIDIA, though we lack 5870 hardware to run those tests. You can see that DX11 mode is punishing in Metro, regardless. Our look at the desktop GTX 480 suggests that NVIDIA has more potent tesselation hardware. Will it ultimately matter, or will game developers target a lower class of hardware to appeal to a wider installation base? We'll have to wait for more DX11 titles to come out before we can say for certain.

NVIDIA provided additional results in their reviewers' guide, which show the 480M leading the 5870 by closer to 30% on average. However, some of those are synthetic tests and often the scores aren't high enough to qualify as playable (i.e. Unigine at High with Normal tesselation scored 23.1 FPS compared to 17.3 on the 5870). Obviously, the benefit of the GTX 480M varies by game and by settings within that game. At a minimum, we feel games need to run at 30FPS to qualify as handling a resolution/setting combination effectively, and in many such situations the 480M only represents a moderate improvement over the previous 285M and the competing 5870. Is it faster? Yes. Is it a revolution? Unless the future DX11 games change things, we'd say no.

Synthetic Benchmarks Application Performance and Battery Life
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  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    Every time someone charges me with an Nvidia bias, an angel gets its wings.

    When I write I have to try and remove my own personal biases from the material, so the fact that my printed bias swings in the exact opposite direction as my personal one (all of my machines with dedicated GPUs are running Radeons), I feel like I've achieved something.
    Reply
  • GamerDave20 - Thursday, July 08, 2010 - link

    Yes, I own one. It plays Fallout 3 at four to five FPS at 1280 x 800 and has developed 28 vertical lines on the screen. But, my XPS Gen 2 is still my front line pc for a few reasons:
    1) it's paid off,
    2) it runs XP satisfactorily for general computing,
    3) although it was "flashy" back in it's day, it is not nearly as terrible looking as most "gaming" laptops these days,
    4) and, it HAS ports on the back!
    With that said, this base chassis has to be one of the best looking laptops on the market.
    It is just difficult to justify if you are also considering a desktop PC.

    How about a give-away with one of these as the prize!

    Ha ha, and thanks for the article Anandtech and Dustin.

    Dave (GamerDave20)
    Reply
  • iwod - Sunday, July 11, 2010 - link

    The Rumors suggest GF104 would actually have the same Core as the current 465 without the wasted transistor. I am wondering if those wasted transistors will leak power as well?

    If so, then with the better yield and leakage improvement from GF104, we could expect an even more powerful GTX480M, or a lower power version of GTX480M with smaller die, less heat, less power, same performance.

    Until then, i am waiting for a better power management, tweaked version of Fermi with 28nm LP die shrink on laptop/ Notebook.
    Reply
  • VIDYA - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    bull shit man they are selling dinosaurs at the age of aliens......kind of funny, that a few stupids will still buy them for the ad and all....... for a laptop that performs lower than a desktop and cant play when its unplugged :) Reply
  • VIDYA - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    GF104 is the new born baby BTW....this one is lean mean overclocker too! Reply
  • maarek999 - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    You can definitely use different Nvidia cards accelerated on Premiere cs5. There is a very simple hack for it:

    http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?t=209116

    Works on the GTX470 and GTX480 so should also work with the mobile versions. Makes A WORLD of difference and a huge boost to users of Premiere. Especially when dealing with RED material or Canons DSLR-line.
    Reply

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