Nvidia bends the definition of honesty in GTX480 benches

Same old same old, but this time much hotter!

Nvidia world iconNVIDIA HAS SOME interesting numbers in its GTX480 presentations, but just like the Heaven benchmark numbers, they don’t seem to reflect reality. This latest ‘accident’ in an official presentation centers around Dirt2.

When SemiAccurate put up the first set of GTX480 benchmark numbers a month or so ago, people laughed at our claims of a small margin over a 5870 while losing badly to a 5970. The fanbois were almost apoplectic over our claims of 70C idle temps and far hotter in gaming. People with fragile egos, especially those tacked to dreams of enthusiast hardware just hate having their bubbles burst.

Then came the Nvidia benchmark snippets. First was Heaven, or the parts of it, strangely only the parts where Nvidia did well. From there, bits and pieces trickled out, all cherry picked. One that was featured in official Nvidia presentations was Dirt2, the ‘ATI centric’ benchmark. For some odd reason, Nvidia’s GTX480 won handily, it won by so much that something seemed very odd.

Dirt2 demo scores

GTX480 running Dirt2 demo

As it turns out, the numbers were indeed too good to be true. If you run the Dirt2 demo, the GTX470 and GTX480 drop back to DX9 mode, as you can see it in the picture above. Since they are doing far less work, frame rates go up. Running the DX11 code path drop frames by around 25 to 40 percent for the same work. In the game itself, DX11 works just fine on the GTX480, so it is likely that the demo lacked the correct profile for the then unreleased and 6 months out GTX4x0s.

For some odd reason, that point wasn’t mentioned in the Nvidia slides SemiAccurate saw. Sources deep inside Santa Clara have told SemiAccurate that this wasn’t due to the TWIMTBP budget cuts, it is probably just the old ‘Nvidia honesty‘ coming forward once again. For some reason, the real numbers that compare DX11 to DX11 versions didn’t make their press presentations even though the game had been out for months by then. Funny that.

For those unwilling to take such things as hard facts into account in order to protect their egos, we submit the above screenshot of the Dirt2 demo, running on a GTX480. The card is running at the official 1848 MHz (3696MHz effective) memory clock and the shaders are at the stock 1401MHz ‘hot clock’.

Please note, in this case ‘hot’ is more literal than figurative, the GPU here is running at 87C, far hotter than any card that expects to have a realistic life span should be at. Unconfirmed reports from China have the card hitting 98C on furmark. Don’t expect these ‘puppies‘ to have a long life, even in dog years.

In the end, the card is too hot, too slow, and unmanufacturable. We told you so. Pop goes the ego.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate