NVIDIA Fermi - GTX 470 - GTX 480 - GTX 480 SLI Review

Fermi is finally here! We put the new GeForce GTX 470 and GeForce GTX 480 video cards through the paces in four of the latest and most demanding games recently released. We find time for GeForce GTX 480 SLI as well. We compare these to the Radeon 5850, Radeon 5870, and the Radeon 5970.

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DiRT 2

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DiRT 2, the first DX11 game title released is here. Check out our thorough Gameplay Performance and Image Quality evaluation for information about this new game. We are using the full version today, fully patched to the latest v1.1. Our run-through is detailed on page three of our Gameplay Performance and Image Quality evaluation. In order to benefit from DX11’s Tessellation you have to run with the "Ultra" settings.


NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 SLI vs. Radeon HD 5970

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DiRT 2 performed phenomenally on every video card tested here today; we can’t say that one video card disappointed us at all in this game. Like Bad Company 2, the highest possible in-game settings were playable, so we tried to crank up the AA plus Supersampling AA on alpha textures as high as possible for the best visuals, utilizing the special features of each video card.

We discovered a graphics bug with the GeForce GTX video cards in this game. It seems enabling 16X CSAA in the game does not work, NVIDIA is aware of the problem and claims an issue with the application to which they are working with the developers to fix. Therefore, the highest possible in-game setting we could utilize was 8X MSAA or 8X CSAA.

With that in mind, we found that with 8X CSAA enabled, we could then enable 8X Transparency Supersampling (the highest possible TR SSAA setting possible) in this game. This provided an incredible gameplay experience. Alternately, if you crave higher performance, you can downgrade to 4X Transparency Supersampling or turn it off all together and enable 8X MSAA. You’ll find the experience delivered is top notch.

The Radeon HD 5970 also delivered an exceptional experience, we were able to use 12X CFAA and Adaptive Supersampling AA. When we tried 24X CFAA the game was unplayable, seems that setting is just a bit too much for this game. At 12X CFAA and AD SSAA, the experience matches that of GTX 480 SLI.

(Update 03/30/10 - By Kyle Bennett - To be clear here we are addressing NVIDIA's concern that our readers are not able to understand the above chart or that we are "misleading" our readers. NVIDIA "wins" in DiRT 2 comparing GTX 480 SLI to 5970 providing better IQ at a playable framerate.)

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 vs. Radeon HD 5870

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The tables turn a bit when we move down to the single GPU video cards, and performance favors the Radeon HD 5870. With the Radeon HD 5870 we were able to use 8X MSAA plus Adaptive SSAA. The GeForce GTX 480 was playable with 4X AA with 2X TR SSAA enabled. However, if we disable TR SSAA altogether, then 8X MSAA becomes playable. The Radeon HD 5870 however is playable with 8X MSAA and its Supersampling option enabled. As to which one looks better at this resolution? Well, when you are driving as fast as you are, it is really hard to notice. Since we have 2X TR SSAA enabled on the GTX 480 as well, you can’t say it looks bad at all.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470 vs. Radeon HD 5850

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Things really equal out between the GeForce GTX 470 and Radeon HD 5850. We were able to play at 2560x1600 with 8X MSAA on both video cards, no fancy Supersampling AA at this resolution. In this "apples-to-apples" highest gameplay setting scenario, the Radeon HD 5850 is edging out with slightly faster framerates.