Over the past several days we have updated the video card BIOS of our NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 reference graphics card to the latest mass production release candidate that will be used on the GeForce GTX 480 graphics cards when they come out in just a couple weeks. The latest version we were told should adjust the fan profiles to increase the fan speed so when using multiple monitors you won’t be idling at 90C like we found when using two monitors.
The engineers at NVIDIA were kind enough to let us try the latest vBIOS build and the BIOS upgrade process was quick and easy just like last weeks update that we tried, but did not reduce the temperatures.
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 Reference Video Card BIOS Revisions:
We were also made aware that the random crashes and high temperatures that some reviewers were seeing was due to GPU-Z. NVIDIA informed Legit Reviews that upon low-level examination of the GPU-Z application, that they have determined that it is not using their NVAPI for all temperature/fan control calls, but is instead banging registers directly. This is interfering with NVIDIA’s fan control algorithm and causing video cards to crash when GPU-Z is run in the background. NVIDIA has asked GPU-Z to use NVAPI to avoid these conflicts. We got a new build from GPU-Z’s author and sure enough all the crashing we had went away. The new version of GPU-Z is due out anytime now to the public and does all accesses for board/temp info through NVAPI, so it doesn’t clash with NVIDIA driver. This should resolve the mis-programming of fans, but even with the new GPU-Z our card would still get up to 85-90C at an idle with two monitors. Let’s take a quick look to see if the lastest BIOS build from NVIDIA fixed our heat issues as the new vBIOS includes some new fan profiles.
With one monitor installed the GeForce GTX 480 would idle at 50C on the new BIOS. This is a 7C drop from the very first time we ran the idle test and is thanks to the corrected version of GPU-Z and BIOS improvements.
With the old vBIOS installed and the latest ‘fixed’ version of GPU-Z running we were hitting 84C at an idle with two monitors installed. This is a little lower than what we saw originally, but the ambient room temperature was different and we have the test system in a different spot in the room. when we tried it out today. Notice that the fan speed is at 45% for this test using vBIOS 70.00.18.00.01 on the GTX 480 video card.
After flashing our GeForce GTX 480 with vBIOS 70.00.19.00.02 we noted that the temperature dropped down 10C thanks to the fan speed profiles being changed. Here we see how a fan speed increase from 45% (1700 RPM) to 50% (2000 RPM) can have a dramatic impact on temperatures with a little additional fan noise. Our fan noise was measured on an open test bench and the exact settings can be seen here.
|GTX 480 1 LCD||GTX 480 2 LCD||GTX 480 2 LCD|
|Fan Noise||52 dB||52 dB||54 dB|
The main issue that we had with the GeForce GTX 480 in our initial review were the high temperatures and we were shocked to see dozens of review sites give the GeForce GTX 480 video card an award when the reviews went up on March 26th, 2010. When we tried to use the GeForce GTX 480 on a multi-monitor setup we knew that 90C at an idle was not right and we called it out. Even though some at NVIDIA might not have liked our review it was the truth! We knew something wasn’t right and over the past two weeks we have worked with NVIDIA and made sure our concerns were heard and that something was being done about it. From the looks of things the latest version of GPU-Z and the latest BIOS update make running a dual monitor setup possible without cooking your system internals. When the retail boards come to market next week it will be great to do a review on production samples as our biggest gripe on the GeForce GTX 480 video card appears to have been sorted out!