When Nvidia’s first Fermi-architecture GPUs launched, they received a hostile reception – they were hot, loud, power hungry and not fast enough for the price, so we couldn’t find much reason to opt for a GeForce GTX 470 or GTX 480 card. Half a year later, the situation has changed. Glowing reviews for ATI’s Radeon HD 5000-series have kept up both demand and prices, while the GTX 470 and GTX 480 have slipped in price.
In fact, slipped is an understatement: a bog-standard GTX 480 now costs £335 rather than £460, while a standard GTX 470 weighs in at £210. Even this overclocked and elaborately cooled Zotac GeForce GTX 470 Amp! Edition card costs less than £300, which should give a Radeon HD 5870 a tough time in our tests.
The Zotac GTX 470 Amp! Edition uses the same Zalman VF3000F cooler we saw in our Zotac GeForce GTX 480 Amp! Edition review and suffered the same issue with one of the fan’s blades clashing the metal shroud. This isn’t an issue with all the Zalman VF3000 coolers and cards, it just seems to be pot luck.
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However, the cooler definitely isn’t the sturdiest out there, as the long main heatsink is held above the PCB by the two 6mm-thick heatpipes alone – we barely had to use any pressure at all to force the long heatsink to bend and touch the main card. The card still looked striking with the shroud removed – it’s three slots thick and the usual 9.5in long, with two 6-pin PCI-E power inputs on the side of the PCB. The large main heatsink and the orange fans look good against the black memory heatsink and the black PCB.
Beneath the heatsink we saw the standard GTX 470 power circuitry, with four phases for the GPU and one for the memory/memory controller. However, the Zalman VF3000F cooler includes heatsinks for the memory and some of the VRMs, which should help overclocking and preserve the card’s longevity.
Zotac has applied a decent overclock to the card. The GPU core frequency has been increased from 607MHz to 656MHz, which means the stream processors have been overclocked from 1,215MHz to 1,313MHz. The 1,289MB of GDDR5 memory has also been overclocked from 837MHz (3.3GHz effective) to 851MHz (3.4GHz effective).
The memory overclock has increased the card’s memory bandwidth slightly from an already mighty 134GB/sec to 136GB/sec. To round off the list of premium perks that come with this card, it currently ships with a copy of Mafia II, which is a great game to show off the card’s PhysX performance.