Graphics Cards Guide

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470 (Reference Card) review

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470 - The Second Fermi Card

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Overall rating 7.5/10
High-end performance
Compact size
Not competitively priced
Suffers the same heat, noise and thermal problems as the GeForce GTX 480

A High-end 'Value' Proposition?

A High-end 'Value' Proposition?

It's been a six months wait, but Fermi is finally here. We've reviewed the GeForce GTX 480 and found that while it is astonishingly fast, it suffered from heat and power consumption issues. This view was echoed by many who have had chance to test the card too.

In football, they say the best strikers hunt in pairs; it's the same with graphics cards too. When NVIDIA launched their new GTX 400 series of cards, the line-up consisted of the GeForce GTX 480 and GTX 470. Being bigger and more powerful, the GeForce GTX 480 naturally hogged the limelight. So today we are going to take a look at its overshadowed sibling and see what it has to offer.

While the GeForce GTX 480 represents NVIDIA's flagship and the absolute pinnacle of graphics performance, the GeForce GTX 470 is a little humbler, positioned by NVIDIA as a slightly more affordable price/performance leader. To put it simply, it is an attempt to compel would-be Radeon HD 5870 and HD 5850 buyers to think twice.

To achieve that, NVIDIA is quick to associate the GeForce GTX 470 to the GeForce GTX 480 for they hope that some of the halo effect in regards to the GeForce GTX 480's blazing performance gets trickled down to the GeForce GTX 470, and in truth, the two SKUs do share much in common.

As a shrunken down GeForce GTX 480, the GeForce GTX 470 is mostly identical to its bigger sibling save for the reduced streaming multiprocessor (SM) count – while its big brother has 15, the GeForce GTX 470 has to make do with one less. Overall, this means it has 448 CUDA cores, 56 texture units, 40 raster operating units and a slightly narrower 320-bit wide memory interface (which also means a smaller frame buffer size too). It also gets lower clock speeds: 607MHz at the core, 1215MHz at the shaders and 3348MHz DDR for the memory. And as you can see from the graph below, this represents quite a big hit as far as paper specifications are concerned. Read on to see how this translates in our performance testing segment.

Here's how the GeForce GTX 470 measures against comparable SKUs.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470 and competitive SKUs compared

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470 1320MB GDDR5

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 1536MB GDDR5 ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB GDDR5 ATI Radeon HD 5850 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285 1GB GDDR3 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 295 1729MB GDDR3
Core Code  GF100 GF100 Cypress XT Cypress Pro GT200 GT200
Transistor Count  3200 million 3200 million 2150 million 2150 million 1400 million 2800 million
Manufacturing Process 40nm 40nm 40nm 40nm 55nm 55nm
Core Clock  607MHz 700MHz 850MHz 725MHz 648MHz 576MHz
Stream Processors  448 Stream Processors 480 Stream Processors 1600 Stream processing units 1440 Stream processing units 240 Stream Processors 480 Stream Processors
Stream Processor Clock  1215MHz 1401MHz 850MHz 725MHz 1476MHz 1242MHz
Texture Mapping Units (TMU) or Texture Filtering (TF) units  56 60 80 72 80 160
Raster Operator units (ROP)  40 48 32 32 32 56
Memory Clock  3348MHz GDDR3 3696MHz GDDR3 4800MHz GDDR5 4000MHz GDDR5 2484MHz GDDR3 1998MHz GDDR3
DDR Memory Bus  320-bit 384-bit 256-bit 256-bit 512-bit 448-bit
Memory Bandwidth  133.9GB/s 177.4GB/s 153.6GB/s 128GB/s 159.0GB/s 223.8GB/s
PCI Express Interface  PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16
Molex Power Connectors  2 x 6-pin 1 x 6-pin, 1 x 8-pin 2 x 6-pin 2 x 6-pin 2 x 6-pin 1 x 6-pin, 1 x 8-pin
Multi GPU Technology  SLI SLI CrossFireX CrossFireX SLI SLI
DVI Output Support  2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link
HDCP Output Support  Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Street Price  Launch Price: US$349 Launch Price: US$499 ~US$399 ~US$259 ~US$350 ~US$500