Power Consumption and SLI Performance
I said at the beginning of this article that the GF100 GPUs were going to be big, hot and consume a lot of power.  I did not expect the GTX 480 to be as dominant in the single GPU benchmarks as it was, but let’s see if it comes at a significant price.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 and GTX 470 Review - GF100 and Fermi tackle gaming - Graphics Cards  1

First, the good news: idle power consumption is pretty good and the GTX 480 uses just a bit more than the HD 5970.  Now for the not so great news: the GTX 480 uses 137 additional watts compared to the AMD single-GPU Radeon HD 5870 card.  That is an increase of 44% of TOTAL SYSTEM POWER not just GPU power.  Consider the HD 5870 was rated at 188w and the GTX 480 was rated at 250w (a difference of only 62w) something doesn’t add up. 

Also note that the single GPU GTX 480 uses about 45 watts more power than AMD dual-GPU Radeon HD 5970 under a full load!  Obviously, in most cases, the HD 5970 was outperforming the GTX 480 in terms of real-world game play so it is clear that while NVIDIA’s GF100 design is fast, it is far from efficient. 

Even though the GF100 is built on the 40nm process technology and the GTX 295 (itself a dual-GPU graphics card) uses a pair of 55nm GPUs, the GTX 480 still manages to draw more power than it…

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The story for the GTX 470 is better, but not much.  It uses about 78 watts of additional power under a full load compared to the HD 5870 and nearly 30 watts more than the GTX 285 from the previous generation. 

Quick SLI Performance Check

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a pair of boards for a short period of time but was only able to run 3DMark Vantage on the machine.

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Trust me, I realize this doesn’t mean much, but seeing scaling percentages of 85% and 90% going from a single GF100 to a pair of them is a good sign for those users that want the best performance possible for their gaming rig.  We’ll have more benchmarks coming up very soon!

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 and GTX 470 Review - GF100 and Fermi tackle gaming - Graphics Cards  4

One final note: I left the power meter running during our SLI testing and I did see the GTX 480s in SLI spike to as high as 730 watts.  That is an increase of 282 watts over the single GPU results above…  Ouch.

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