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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470 1,280MB review. Fermi done right?

by Tarinder Sandhu on 29 March 2010, 20:28

Tags: GeForce GTX 470 1,280MB, NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA)

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Tessellate me, baby

Hardware-based tessellation is a cornerstone of DX11. The ability to efficiently generate massive geometry and then to apply what's known as a displacement map to it makes it an alluring technique for adding complexity and detail to a scene without a huge computational cost.

Unigine's Heaven 2.0 benchmark tests the ability of DX11 GPUs to provide varying levels of tessellation and extra in-benchmark detail.

Here's the standard benchmark run at 1,920x1,200 with 4x AA and 16x AF. No tessellation is activated.

No tessellation

The scene looks good enough, right, but it could do with some extra tessellation-generated detail, so here's the same benchmark with tessellation switched to moderate.

Moderate tessellation

We see a lot more geometry being used. The flagstones have depth and the steps on the right-hand side are well-defined.

Normal tessellation
The above shot shows tessellation set to 'normal'. We can't see too much of a difference between moderate and normal, can you?

Extreme tessellation

The Extreme settings provides greater tessellation at a distance. See how the orange roof has greater detail?

We ran four DX11 cards through the tessellation test at each setting.


GeForce GTX 470 performs just shy of Radeon HD 5870 (both models) when no tessellation is activated. GTX 480 is 19.8 per cent faster.

The difference between no tessellation and moderate tessellation is clear from the screenshots. GeForce GTX 470 nips ahead of the two Radeon HD 5870s. We expect a moderate level to be used in most DX11 games.

Spice it up and the GTX 470 begins to pull ahead, helped on by its GPU-distributed PolyMorph geometry setup.

Even more so as the tessellation is turned up to extreme. GeForce GTX 4x0 are tessellation monsters, but the Radeons do a decent-enough job with moderate settings.