ASUS GeForce GTX 480
For reference cards such as this ASUS GTX 480, there aren’t many distinguishing factors in terms of hardware, except for one: this card comes with the voltage tweaking ability through Smart Doctor. That may or may not be of primary concern to you, but many enthusiasts have been known to flash their cards to an ASUS BIOS in an attempt to take advantage of the voltage tweak feature, if that’s any indication how important it is to some people. Beyond this feature, this ASUS card is identical to competitors’ cards in just about every other sense, although there may be some very minor differentiation in terms of pricing (a few bucks), or else bundle or warranty.
In terms of performance, the ASUS GTX 480 is undoubtedly the fastest single GPU card on the market; Nvidia has indeed recaptured the performance crown from ATI. The GTX 480 performs approximately 15% better than the Radeon 5870 on average, depending on the particular game, resolution, and image quality. That is a respectable result but not nearly as groundbreaking as we had hoped from Nvidia’s new architecture, especially considering the extensive delays in coming to market. This top performance does come with a few notable downsides, however, as the GTX 480 runs awfully hot, loud, and power-hungry. We’re not entirely convinced that consumers will buy blindly into the top framerates of Nvidia’s "we’re the fastest" mentality these days, when there is a compelling alternative that runs cooler, quieter, and more power-frugal in the ATI Radeon 5870.
The ASUS GTX 480 carries a price tag of $500 USD, and sits directly in the thick of things with the other Nvidia partners. Good luck trying to find one though, as most major onilne retailers we checked are out of stock. We expect the card to hit the shelves in the near future as stock works its way into the retail channels, but your patience may be tested in the meantime. As far as competitive pricing goes, unless some other board partner is offering a $50 game in their bundle, it is difficult to ignore the bonus voltage tweaking feature here that ASUS has included that the others don’t offer. On the ATI side of the equation, the Radeon 5870 is clearly the intended competition, but it is priced up to almost $100 lower, which is frankly a significant difference to consider when deciding upon a flagship graphics card for your hotrod gaming rig.
The ASUS GeForce GTX 480 displays some very impressive performance horsepower, and particularly with the ability to overclock well beyond stock speeds with the voltage tweaking ability offered through Smart Doctor. The GTX 480 unequivocally sits atop the performance charts as the fastest single-GPU card on the market, of that there is no doubt. But the performance isn’t a game-changer like Nvidia’s G80 heyday where the 8000 series cards utterly dominated ATI for a very long period of time. The performance gap here is far more modest, and there are some drawbacks that give pause: heat, noise, and power consumption.
The ASUS GTX 480 is just enough of a giant killer to reign king of the hill for now, and while it may please the Nvidia faithful, it does so with some considerable counterpoints that may not affect consumer choices as Nvidia has hoped. However, we know that board partners such as ASUS are known for their non-reference, custom designs, so while this reference card isn’t the juggernaut we had hoped, we are eagerly awaiting what hopefully may come out of the ASUS camp in the not-too-distant future.
ASUS GeForce GTX 480