TechSpot: Inno3D GeForce GTX 480 iChill Review - Water-Cooled Fermi

Inno3D offers an impressive range of graphics cards based solely on Nvidia GPUs and that's the reason we haven't seen a lot of action from them in recent months. With the delay of the GeForce GTX 400 series, Nvidia’s exclusive board partners were left hanging for a while there. Although older GeForce models were still pretty competitive, ATI successive launches kept pushing the efficiency and price envelope release after release.

Either way, if that was reason enough to have manufacturers looking into custom board designs and cooling offerings out of the box, then you won't hear us complaining. Besides your run of the mill reference-based boards, Inno3D produced a number of impressive GeForce GTX 200-based products, such as their GTX Accelero line and the flagship of them all, the GTX 295 Black Series that added a large water-cooling block for heavy overclocking.

Since then we haven't seen any similar products added to Inno3D's elite “Black Series,” until now. Without a doubt a perfect candidate for the water treatment, today we present to you the Inno3D GTX 480 iChill Black Series. You assumed correctly, water-cooling is the key component here and it could make all the difference.

Read: Inno3D GTX 480 iChill Review: Water-Cooled Fermi

These articles are brought to you in partnership with TechSpot.

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My only question: how much power does this thing consume? Video cards seem to be only concerned about being more powerful with no concern for efficency or lower energy use, unlike say CPUs.

Angel Blue01 said,
My only question: how much power does this thing consume? Video cards seem to be only concerned about being more powerful with no concern for efficency or lower energy use, unlike say CPUs.

video cards are just reaching the ceiling of the atx spec. the 5970 for instance had to be downclocked to fit within spec. CPUs have been limited on desktops by the ATX spec since at least the previous generation. it's only in laptops that people really care about power efficiency due to wanting to increase or maintain battery life expectancy.

for an ultra high end desktop with 4 480s running at load 24/7 it would cost between $30 and $60 a year in electricity.

if you don't believe me do the research on the power draw, and energy prices then do the math yourself.

I'm still disappointed with the 400 series from Nvidia.
When they were taking too long to release the new generation I thought they will make something close to what the 8000 series did but the thermal performance and power draw is too much.

No matter if the 400 cards perform a little better than ATI's counterpart, I would go for a 5870 right now.

I've been holding up on upgrading my aging but still capable 8800GTS 320mb but if nothing more surfaces, I would go for one 5870 definitively.

ajua said,
I'm still disappointed with the 400 series from Nvidia.
When they were taking too long to release the new generation I thought they will make something close to what the 8000 series did but the thermal performance and power draw is too much.

No matter if the 400 cards perform a little better than ATI's counterpart, I would go for a 5870 right now.

I've been holding up on upgrading my aging but still capable 8800GTS 320mb but if nothing more surfaces, I would go for one 5870 definitively.

i wouldn't expect another g80 miracle to happen in our lifetime.

treemonster said,

i wouldn't expect another g80 miracle to happen in our lifetime.

If you honestly think that, then you obviously haven't been following hardware for a long time.

I can think of two GPU releases, one from both manufacturers that have been very popular, namely the Radeon 9800 and the Geforce 6800.

Athernar said,

If you honestly think that, then you obviously haven't been following hardware for a long time.

I can think of two GPU releases, one from both manufacturers that have been very popular, namely the Radeon 9800 and the Geforce 6800.

neither really compare to the g80, which was several factors more powerful than the previous generation and anything the competition had for like a year and half.

people were expecting the 400 series to be like the g80 due to marketing hype by nvidia. imho don't buy into the hype and wait to make an informed decision before making up your mind before buying a product.

me myself before buying a 480 read every review, read reviews of the competition, read reviews of the 5000 series refreshes which featured the 400 series in comparison charts etc. as well as reading customer reviews on places like newegg. in retrospect i feel i made the right choice, though i won't feel as if it was money sell spent for sure for another 2-3 years when and if it's still going strong and playing new games at high settings like my 8800 gts 512 right up until i upgraded.

treemonster said,
neither really compare to the g80, which was several factors more powerful than the previous generation and anything the competition had for like a year and half.

I beg to differ, the 9800 presided over a time where nVidia didn't even have a viable DX9 GPU, an entire generation that was fatally flawed due to nVidia's own arrogance. The 6800s changed things up significantly, giving nVidia back the crown and an advantage over the competing x800 due to SM3.0 support.

The 8-series might seem to be special, but that's largely down to the fact they released G92 with the same name. Not to say they weren't good cards, but in the grand scheme they're not anything particularly special.

It's still kinda funny, imo, not taking any sides here, but the GTX 480 was suppose to be way more faster than it turned out (from having to cut the number of shaders etc). Now it's pretty much on par with the 5870, and as far as I know the ATi cards pretty much win when it comes to price/performance.

GP007 said,
It's still kinda funny, imo, not taking any sides here, but the GTX 480 was suppose to be way more faster than it turned out (from having to cut the number of shaders etc). Now it's pretty much on par with the 5870, and as far as I know the ATi cards pretty much win when it comes to price/performance.

if you're talking price/performance ratio, you need to buy a 5830, which is the only one from either brand that wins in that area.
but good luck actually finding one in stores! they're rarer than 5970s.

Are there that many people out there water cooling that would pay the hundreds of dollars for this card? Doesn't ATI still have a better alternative for a cheaper price, without water cooling?

Tarrant64 said,
Are there that many people out there water cooling that would pay the hundreds of dollars for this card? Doesn't ATI still have a better alternative for a cheaper price, without water cooling?
better for cheaper no. ati's only better offering than the 480 is the 5970 which costs $200 more in stores and much more from ebay(which is the only place you'll find one these days) and it still gets lower minimum frames than the 480. the 470 beats the 5870 in minimum frames for about $50-$70 cheaper. and if you saw better due to heat noise and powerdraw, well you aren't a gamer that's in the market for one of these badboys, and are probably buying low end GPUs with passive cooling anyway.
as for watercooling,well WC is super expensive for a quality setup, so if you have th emoney for WC you probably can afford one or two of these cards.

treemonster said,
better for cheaper no. ati's only better offering than the 480 is the 5970 which costs $200 more in stores and much more from ebay(which is the only place you'll find one these days) and it still gets lower minimum frames than the 480. the 470 beats the 5870 in minimum frames for about $50-$70 cheaper. and if you saw better due to heat noise and powerdraw, well you aren't a gamer that's in the market for one of these badboys, and are probably buying low end GPUs with passive cooling anyway.
as for watercooling,well WC is super expensive for a quality setup, so if you have th emoney for WC you probably can afford one or two of these cards.

Due to many companies optimizing their engines to take advantage of Nvidia specifically, so framerates are generally better in specific games, thus game benchmarking alone is not the best way to score a card, if you're looking for the most accurate measurement of a cards power, you need to be looking towards a Futuremark benchmark.
The 480 barely beats the 5870 in most circumstances, with nominal increases. The 5970 is a dual GPU so in certain games, it's going to get the same framerate as that of the 5870. Nvidia's 495 will also be a dual GPU, and will be plagued with unsupport and suffer from the same problem.

Recon415 said,

Due to many companies optimizing their engines to take advantage of Nvidia specifically, so framerates are generally better in specific games, thus game benchmarking alone is not the best way to score a card, if you're looking for the most accurate measurement of a cards power, you need to be looking towards a Futuremark benchmark.
The 480 barely beats the 5870 in most circumstances, with nominal increases. The 5970 is a dual GPU so in certain games, it's going to get the same framerate as that of the 5870. Nvidia's 495 will also be a dual GPU, and will be plagued with unsupport and suffer from the same problem.


i'll take actual game benches over synthetic benches. btw those synthetic benches favoured nvidia in previous generations and ll the ati fanboys cried foul. that being said the 400 series does very well in them vs the 5000 series.
as for speculation of the 495, nvidia historically has better support sooner for their cards vs ati. the 5000 suffered from crap drivers for 6 months until the 10.3 drivers which not only fixed most of the problems with the 5000 series on teh software end but actually gave an increase in performance for many games. that being said, the 5970 is still only supported through beta drivers.
the fact of the matter is, for minimum frame rates, the 400 series beats even the 5970 , even in games which take advantage of crossfire. that is where you really see the 400 series shine imho, although yes, the 400 series is about 20% faster in most games vs their 5000 series counterparts, and in many cases the 480 flirts with the 5970 for max frames, keeping in mind the 480 is a single gpu card and the 5970 is a dual gpu card.
in teh wild people who have owned both ati and nvidia cards from this generation report higher image quality and higher playability with the 400 series.
as well, in synthetic benches 3 480s beats 2 5970s- that's 3 GPUs vs 4, and without a six month advantage in driver maturity.

treemonster said,
as for speculation of the 495, nvidia historically has better support sooner for their cards vs ati. the 5000 suffered from crap drivers for 6 months until the 10.3 drivers which not only fixed most of the problems with the 5000 series on teh software end but actually gave an increase in performance for many games. that being said, the 5970 is still only supported through beta drivers.

Wrong.

I have been using ATi drivers since 9.12 when I moved from an 8800GTS 512 to a 5850, ATi's drivers beat nVidia's hands down, not a single "Display driver stopped responding" since I switched.

I don't own a 5970, but I'm pretty damn sure it's had non-beta driver support for some time now. A quick glance at the driver release notes reveals this.

Considering the above lapses, I can't help but dismiss the rest of your post as unsourced, misinformed trash.

Athernar said,

Wrong.

I have been using ATi drivers since 9.12 when I moved from an 8800GTS 512 to a 5850, ATi's drivers beat nVidia's hands down, not a single "Display driver stopped responding" since I switched.

I don't own a 5970, but I'm pretty damn sure it's had non-beta driver support for some time now. A quick glance at the driver release notes reveals this.

Considering the above lapses, I can't help but dismiss the rest of your post as unsourced, misinformed trash.


it doesn't take long looking around the net, especially ati boards to back up my claims.

http://www.google.ca/search?q=5970+driver&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

i think the fact that if i google nvidia "cardname" drivers the first thing that comes up is the page to select and download drivers from teh nvidia site, where as googling ati "cardname" drivers brings up pages and pages of people having issue after issue and not being sure wether or not it's the card or the driver.
fact is, it's well known that 10.3 is the first good driver for ati 5000 cards. if you didn't have problems before then you got lucky.

treemonster said,
<snip>

I think you may want to look at the facts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlEA8E9NomM
Crysis is a known nvidia-biased engine. The 5870 not only equals, but excels. They're both very close, but ATi currently has the lead, and google some benchmarks on tomshardware or something and you'll see that the 480 doesn't come close to the 5970.
You are something called a fanboy. No offense, but you bend the truth. The 480 "flirts" with the 5970, but it is in no way its equal. I will also admit to being ATi biased, but I generally go with what's best.
And a correction to my previous comment: When I said "unsupport", I meant from games supporting crossfire/SLI, not drivers. ATi's drivers are superb, in my opinion, and are a far cry from Nvidia's 90 mb bloating package. Nvidia used to be all well in the past, but they're losing their advantages one by one. Pretty soon, games will start optimizing for ATi.

treemonster said,
it doesn't take long looking around the net, especially ati boards to back up my claims.

Lucky? No. I just use proper practises for installing drivers.

Do you want me to dredge up the material showing the majority of all driver failiures reported for Vista were cause by nVidia? Or maybe bring up "nvlddmkm stopped responding", something that's still going on to this day?

Athernar said,

Lucky? No. I just use proper practises for installing drivers.

Do you want me to dredge up the material showing the majority of all driver failiures reported for Vista were cause by nVidia? Or maybe bring up "nvlddmkm stopped responding", something that's still going on to this day?


that's not dirver failure, even though it comes up on teh screen as teh driver stopped working. it's actually a feature of windows called TDR, which prevents total BSOD/system lock up when an instability in the system is detected. it has nothing to do with nvidia drivers except that it shows up as this message which would make you believe it had something to do with nvidia drivers when it doesn't. the only reason it shows up more for nvida drivers than ati drivers is that nvidia has more market share than ati in the graphics card market.
http://forums.nvidia.com/index.php?showtopic=31913

treemonster said,

that's not dirver failure, even though it comes up on teh screen as teh driver stopped working. it's actually a feature of windows called TDR, which prevents total BSOD/system lock up when an instability in the system is detected. it has nothing to do with nvidia drivers except that it shows up as this message which would make you believe it had something to do with nvidia drivers when it doesn't. the only reason it shows up more for nvida drivers than ati drivers is that nvidia has more market share than ati in the graphics card market.
http://forums.nvidia.com/index.php?showtopic=31913

Semantics, if something in the design of the driver is causing the OS to forcibly recover it, then that's a failiure, pure and simple. And what does ATi's market share have to do with the issues being much more common in occurance with nVidia software?

Beastage said,
Sadly, with the GTX480 immense heat and noise issues, water cooling is the only solution.
lol what? heat of the 400 series is not out of line with previous generations. and you aren't going to hear a 480 over your case fans unless you crank it up to 100% fan speed. in fact my 480 is both cooler and quieter than my 8800 GTS 512, and certainly much, much quieter and cooler than my bro's 4870. both of these alleged issues have been way over emphasized.

treemonster said,
lol what? heat of the 400 series is not out of line with previous generations. and you aren't going to hear a 480 over your case fans unless you crank it up to 100% fan speed. in fact my 480 is both cooler and quieter than my 8800 GTS 512, and certainly much, much quieter and cooler than my bro's 4870. both of these alleged issues have been way over emphasized.
I do not wish to sound rude, but you sound like an nVidia fanboy. All benchmarks I have seen of the 470 and 480 put it at much higher heat generation, power consumption and even louder cooling solutions than the 5870 and even the 5970. So comparing current gen to current gen, the only way a 480 runs cooler than a 5870 is if the 480 is running water cooling and the 5870 is not.

On top of that, the 480 is only 20% at best better than the 5870, and it cannot even touch the 5970, and no, the 470 more closely compares to the 5850, not the 5870.

treemonster said,
lol what? heat of the 400 series is not out of line with previous generations. and you aren't going to hear a 480 over your case fans unless you crank it up to 100% fan speed. in fact my 480 is both cooler and quieter than my 8800 GTS 512, and certainly much, much quieter and cooler than my bro's 4870. both of these alleged issues have been way over emphasized.

http://www.geeks3d.com/2009061...-design-power-tdp-database/

71 vs 250 TDP. Heck of claim..

[WC 280 here]

Edited by dangel, May 21 2010, 2:40pm :

Nagisan said,
I do not wish to sound rude, but you sound like an nVidia fanboy. All benchmarks I have seen of the 470 and 480 put it at much higher heat generation, power consumption and even louder cooling solutions than the 5870 and even the 5970. So comparing current gen to current gen, the only way a 480 runs cooler than a 5870 is if the 480 is running water cooling and the 5870 is not.

On top of that, the 480 is only 20% at best better than the 5870, and it cannot even touch the 5970, and no, the 470 more closely compares to the 5850, not the 5870.


look closer at the minimum frame rates in those reviews. also look at reports from the wilf of people who have owned both the 5870 or 5970 and a 400 series card.

also please compare the 400 series to previous generation of video cards from both brands.

the 5000 series is abnormally cool, quiet, and low power draw for any brand, but especially ati. it will be interesting to see if ati can deliver these things in the next generation of cards with an increase in performance.

in any case, get a 5870 or 5970 and a 480 and crank up the fan to 100% and see how they compare for noise and and decibels. reviewers didn't even bother to do this, but they did do tests that made the 480 look louder and noisier than it really is, as well as being surprised at this fact as if they've never reviewed high end graphics card from either brand in previous generations.

or let me put it this way. i can crank my 480 up to 100% fan speed, then play youtube video from a review of the 480 noise, and i'll hear the youtube video over my irl 480 easily without changing the volume on my terrible speakers.