Since this is the first time I have actually seen a GeForce GTX 480 production card in person I had to take it apart and see what parts are being used. Okay, I really wanted to just see the GF100 GPU core and see what brand GDDR5 memory ICs were being used, but since I had to take it all the way apart I might as well walk you through the whole process. The front of the GeForce GTX 480 graphics card consists of a glossy black plastic shroud, the five heatpipe cooler and large radiating surface and the squirrel-cage fan.
The first step in taking apart the GeForce GTX 480 is to remove the fan shroud, which is easy to do as it is a tooless process. I really like this design as you can easily clean out the fins of the heat sink without having to remove any screws! You can just squeeze the plastic around the clips and they release and you can use compressed air to blow the dust out of the fins. Notice that once the fan shroud is removed you can see how ginormous the metal plate is on the heat sink!
Next you can remove the four larger Philips head spring screws as they attach the heatsink to the video card. With the heatsink removed you can see the core for the very first time! The design of this cooler is great as once again you can change out the thermal paste in a matter of seconds.
NVIDIA wasn’t stingy on the thermal paste as they had plenty on the black nickle heatsink. Notice that the heat pipes are direct touch and the heatsink weighs in at 350g or just under 11oz. This is a very nice heatsink design and you can tell that this cooler design wasn’t cheap to manufacture.
Our cooler was dated March 11, 2010 and we received the video card on March 19th, 2010! You can see that NVIDIA got us these video cards pretty quick considering they were flown in from China, went through customs, delivered to NVIDIA and packed up and sent out to each review site. We were told roughly 150 cards were sampled for the launch reviews, so if you want to read performance reviews on NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 video cards you should have an issue finding one. We were told 29 sites in the US were sent cards and only six of those sites got two for SLI testing and that five got a GeForce GTX 470 for testing. Legit Reviews has just shy of one million monthly readers and qualified for just a single GeForce GTX 480 graphics card. Spread the word of this review to your friends and help LR get more traffic, so we can bring you reviews on better hardware!
The next step is removing all 15 of the small screws that hold on the
aluminum frame! Once all these screws are removed you can pull off the aluminum frame that helps cool the boards components and doubles as the fan mount. Notice the thermal pads on the frame to help cool down the voltage regulators and the GDDR5 memory ICs.
After the aluminum frame is removed you can take off the three Philips screws that hold the squirrel-cage fan down. Flipping it over we can see it is a model made by Delta Electronics. The fan has part number BFB0721HF on it and Delta has been known to produce quality cooling solutions that can move some air. This specific model is part of the BFB series and is 50mm across.
Now that the card if stripped down and pretty much bare we can take a look at the a good look at the heart of the GeForce GTX 480 and that would be the GF100 core shown above. The core is labeled as GF100-375-A3, which we are guessing would be an A3 stepping of the GF100 silicon. This GF100 GPU has 512 cores, but only 480 are enabled due to various reasons. We’ve heard rumors of heat issue, bad yields, and that NVIDIA or its board partners might be releasing ‘enthusiast’ boards with all the cores enabled down the road with even better improved cooling solutions.
Here is the picture that our readers always request to give you an idea of the core size next to something most people are familiar with.
Located around the GF100 GPU core are twelve Samsung GDDR5 memory chips for the cards memory. I wasn’t able to get a good picture of the etching, but the exact model number is “K4G10325FE-HC04“. That means these are 0.40ns parts that are speed rated at 5Gbps according to Samsung. It should also be pointed out that only solid-state capacitors are used on the GeForce GTX 480 video cards and you can see a few of them in the photo above.
Here you can see the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 graphics cards on top and the ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics card on the bottom to get an idea of how the cards look. As you can see both cards use 10.5″ Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) and have a layout that is shockingly similar if you ask me. You can tell these two companies have traded engineers over the years!