The results of AMD's Radeon HD 5970 and Radeon HD 5870 cards are marked in red in the diagrams. The GeForce GTX 480 is Nvidia's traditional green. The GeForce GTX 295 and GTX 285 are teal. I did not benchmark the cards at overclocked frequencies as we are going to do this in a separate review.
Now, let's see what performance we can get from Nvidia's new card.
In the first semi-synthetic benchmark the GeForce GTX 480 is just a little faster than its main opponent Radeon HD 5870, both being ahead of the dual-processor GeForce GTX 295. The Radeon HD 5970 beats every other runner in the high quality mode at 2560x1600, leaving the GeForce GTX 480 far behind.
3DMark Vantage shows us a different picture at the Performance settings where the GeForce GTX 480 scores almost 2000 points more than the Radeon HD 5870. When the load is higher, these cards deliver similar performance.
Unigine Heaven Demo 2.0
The GeForce GTX 285 and GTX 295 do not support DirectX 11, so I compared them with the GeForce GTX 480 by testing all of them in DirectX 10 mode with disabled tessellation:
The GeForce GTX 480 is impressive in the Heaven demo, showing its very best to the potential buyer. The new card delivers superb performance, being far ahead of the two other top-end cards from Nvidia in the hardest test mode.
Now, let's see how good the GeForce GTX 480 is in DirectX 11 mode with turned-on tessellation (the results of the cards in DirectX 10 mode are formatted in italics).
As you can see, the GeForce GTX 480 easily competes with the dual-processor Radeon HD 5970 and leaves its market opponent Radeon HD 5870 far behind. If tessellation becomes a popular feature in games, the GeForce GTX 480 will be far more appealing than AMD's cards. But that's what's going to be (or not to be) in the near future. Let's return to the present and check the graphics cards out in today's games.