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Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 1.5 GB Review

I've got an OEM version of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 - without packaging or accessories. The new card won't look really new to anyone who is familiar with Nvidia's GeForce GTX 260 and 285 series products.

The five nickel-plated copper heat pipes sticking up from the GPU are the only thing that may catch your eye as unusual.

 

Otherwise, there is nothing extraordinary about the appearance of the reference GeForce GTX 480. The PCB is 267 millimeters long. It is shorter than the ATI Radeon HD 5870 and thus easier to install into system cases.

The graphics card has a version 2.0 PCI Express interface, two dual-link DVI-I connectors and one HDMI. There is a vent grid in the card's mounting bracket to exhaust the hot air out of the computer case.

 

There is a gap at the other butt-end of the card but it does not open a way for the air to get to the blower as might be expected. 6- and 8-pin power connectors can be seen on the PCB. There are also two MIO connectors for building SLI configurations with two or three GeForce GTX 480 cards. 

 

Take note that there is another vent grid near those connectors. Leaving the card through it, the hot air remains inside the system case. This is no good considering the high power consumption and, consequently, heat dissipation of the GeForce GTX 480 (up to 250 watts according to its specs). The engineers who developed this cooling system must have just had no choice.

The cooler's plastic casing is secured with locks that can be easily opened. 

 

The heatsink can also be removed easily so that we could take a closer look at the card's PCB. 

All of the graphics memory chips can be found on the face side of the PCB. The power section of the GeForce GTX 480 includes a 6-phase GPU voltage regulator based on a CHL8266 controller and a dual-phase regulator for the graphics memory. 

 

The GPU die incorporates a tremendous 3 billion transistors. It is covered by a heat-spreading cap with the chip's marking. 

Judging by that marking, this is a revision 3 chip (GF100-375-A3) manufactured on the 4th week of 2010. The GPU incorporates 480 universal shader processors, 60 texture-mapping units and 48 raster operators. The GPU's geometrical domain is clocked at 700 MHz whereas its shader domain is clocked 1401 MHz. The frequencies are dropped to 51 and 101 MHz, respectively, in 2D applications. The rest of the characteristics have been shown in the specifications table above. 

The reference Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 is equipped with 12 GDDR5 memory chips for a total of 1.5 gigabytes. They are all located on the face side of the PCB. These are Samsung's K4G10325FE-HC04 chips. 

The specifications suggest that these memory chips have an access time of 0.4 nanoseconds and a rated frequency of 5000 MHz. However, the memory frequency of the GeForce GTX 480 is only 3696 MHz, which leaves ample room for overclocking. To save power and dissipate less heat the card drops its memory frequency to 270 MHz in 2D applications. The graphics memory bus is 384 bits wide, providing an impressive peak bandwidth of 177.4 GBps. 

The latest version of the GPU-Z tool can tell everything about the GeForce GTX 480 with almost no errors.

 
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