Sunday, August 29, 2010
Palit GTX 470, A More Palatable Version Of This Card Than We've Seen Before
The GTX 470 seems to be the perfect card for many manufacturers: the TDP is within realistic limits for aftermarket cooling, the core is generally pliable enough to squeeze out a factory overclock, the PCB and power delivery system can be tweaked for a more cost-effective design and more importantly - there actually seems to be a decent volume of cores for them. This brings us to Palit's offering of the GTX 470, and while it has all the things listed above minus the factory overclock, it still has a lot of challenges to overcome.
Firstly and most importantly, Palit has custom designed the PCB and cooling system to great effect. Though the heatsink is a relatively standard affair (take a lump of copper, throw in a few heatpipes and whack some aluminium fins in there), its two fans do a much better job of cooling the card evenly along its length, and also keeping the power regulation under control. It looks visually interesting enough, but the performance of the cooler is great - idling at 40 degrees (Celsius) with an impressive load temp of 78 (cooling results will vary from case to case). That leaves Palit's design a whole ten degrees cooler at load than the reference cooler design, while generating similar noise levels.
This is made even more impressive by the specifications of the GF100 'Fermi' core Palit has chosen to run inside the card, boasting 448 CUDA cores and 1280MB of GDDR5 memory on a 320 bit bus. That particular core engenders a TDP rating of 215W, so Palit's cooler is very welcome here.
The enhanced cooling also lends a helping hand when it comes time to overclock, and unlike other GTX 470's, the Palit card went as high as 781MHz, a whopping 28 per cent (+173) overclock. We were also able to squeeze out a 5 per cent (+44) increase for the memory clock speed, nothing particularly breathtaking.
Performance in games was solid, pulling playable average frame rates (36fps) in Crysis and a flawless showing in grid (67fps). The GTX 470 should be more than capable at playing most games at decent settings for the foreseeable future. Uniengine shows good scores with tessellation-optimised architecture, though the gap between it and the 5850 closes when tessellation is disabled. 3DMark Vantage pulls a nice P17890 score, though this is inflated somewhat by PhysX.
Though performance at stock speeds is good, our overclock resulted in a big performance boost scoring a P21859 3DMark Vantage score, a 22 per cent increase (3969 points) at no cost other than the time taken to get the overclock stable. The fact the card is so good at overclocking is interesting; but even more so is why Palit didn't give it a factory overclock. A bit of a disappointment is the fact that the packaging boasts that a free game is included, but this was simply a copy of the free demo 'Supersonic Sled' available from Nvidia. Also a disappointing note is the fact that only two of the cards display ports can be used at the same time (due to Nvidia's chip design).
The card comes in at the reasonable price point of $350, while this is more than ATI's equivalent card the 5850, the GTX 470 supports CUDA but more importantly PhysX and performs much better under tessellation, key elements of future DirectX11 games. Ultimately Palit's card takes the disappointing reference GTX 470 and makes it a whole lot better. The bundle may be quite lacking but the price point is creeping closer to the 5850, the build is very solid with far better cooling than the reference design and huge potential for overclocking, and the big performance gains that come with it earn this card a HOT 8.8/10.