Application Performance and Battery Life

Just to be completely safe, we did run an additional three tests to see how the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480M might affect system performance outside of gaming. The usual suspects were run: Futuremark's Peacekeeper, Cinebench R10, and our x264 video encoding test.

Internet Performance

3D Rendering—CINEBENCH R10

3D Rendering—CINEBENCH R10

Video Encoding—x264

Video Encoding—x264

In each situation, the W880CU with its Intel Core i7-820QM falls in line with the previously tested W860CU systems.

We recently had a discussion in our forums that ultimately degenerated a bit into the old NVIDIA vs. ATI war: is NVIDIA hardware a superior option if you'll be using Adobe software? Adobe and NVIDIA both proudly tout increased GPU reliance in Creative Suite 5, culminating in what Adobe calls its "Mercury Playback Engine" in Premiere Pro CS5, a playback system supposedly accelerated by CUDA.

I personally use Premiere Pro and After Effects CS5 for video work on my own desktop, equipped with an ATI Radeon HD 5870, and in none of the CS5 applications have I ever felt like I was missing any secret sauce. It's important to note that features aren't going to be disabled if you aren't running NVIDIA kit, but we figured we'd give the GTX 480M a chance to prove itself in Premiere Pro CS5.

That didn't happen. Presently the 480M isn't supported in CS5; in fact the only NVIDIA hardware supported by the Mercury Playback Engine are the GeForce GTX 285 and several of NVIDIA's expensive workstation-class cards. NVIDIA informs us that other GPUs like the 480M are not supported at launch but Adobe is planning on increasing the number of supported GPUs in the near future. How long that will take is difficult to say (Flash 10.1 took over six months to go from Beta to final release), but at some point in the future Adobe should patch in support for additional NVIDIA hardware. For now, that means we can't make a convincing case for the GTX 480M against the competition if you're going to be using Adobe CS5 software.

If you were looking for a healthy benefit to the 480M, though, you can check out how well it sips power at idle.

Battery Life—Idle

Battery Life—Internet

Battery Life—x264 720p

Relative Battery Life

It's true the 3-cell battery in most of these Clevo notebooks is essentially a UPS system, but the ability of NVIDIA's chips to power down so much at idle (ignoring the clear benefits of Optimus in other notebooks) is nonetheless appreciated. The more power a chip draws, the more heat it's liable to produce, and thus the harder the cooling system of the notebook is going to have to work. While you would almost never take this monster off its leash, at least the GTX 480M is pulling its weight by not chugging power from the anemic battery. It essentially matches the ASUS G73Jh in power requirements when unplugged, albeit with a battery that's half the capacity.

Do note that as with other Clevo notebooks, the W880CU will kick the GPU into "limp mode" on battery power, regardless of settings, so you're not going to be playing 3D games at high detail on battery power (for 20 minutes) even if you want to.

Mobile Gaming Showdown GTX 480M: Fast but Mixed Feelings
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  • my_body_is_ready - Thursday, July 8, 2010 - link

    Any news on what ASUS will be doing with this chip? I hear they are refreshing their G series and adding 3D Vision
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, July 8, 2010 - link

    If ASUS doesn't someone else will. I suspect we'll see that sort of notebook come fall.
  • drfelip - Thursday, July 8, 2010 - link

    IIRC the Asus G73JW is going to sport a GTX 480M, but probably a downclocked one...
  • LtGoonRush - Thursday, July 8, 2010 - link

    Given the very tiny lead of the GTX 480M, I'm very much looking forward to the next enthusiast mobile graphics products from AMD. Given that the Mobility 5870 has a 50TDP and is essentially a desktop R5770, they may be able to cram an underclocked desktop R5870 into a 100W TDP like the GTX 480M, maybe call it the Mobility 5970? Ah well, it will be exciting to see what the Mobility 6870 brings to the table, I'm assuming we'll see a Southern Islands-derived mobile GPU lineup.
  • blyndy - Thursday, July 8, 2010 - link

    Isn't ATI supposed to release some new mobile parts about now?
  • james.jwb - Thursday, July 8, 2010 - link

    Sorry to bring this up here, but the front page carousel is killing the front page performance. I've heard lot's mention this over time, and it's now started happening to me. I think some random update, possibly to Flash or Firefox has caused this for me.

    Is this problem being acknowledge or ignored? I kinda expect more form a site like this, with this much traffic.

    Using Firefox.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, July 8, 2010 - link

    If you're not at native size (i.e. no magnification), performance is okay. I'm on a quad-core 3.2GHz Kentsfield system, and the main page is fine normally but if I magnify suddenly it's super slow. Like, peg a core of my CPU at 100% for a couple seconds slow. If you were on a slower system, I imagine it would be terrible.

    FWIW, I believe we're talking about killing the carousel. I thought it sounded like a good idea in the design phase, but in practice I don't like it that much.
  • tommy2q - Thursday, July 8, 2010 - link

    the carousel is a cpu hog and makes the front page harder/slower to browse for information because it takes up way too much space...
  • B3an - Thursday, July 8, 2010 - link

    It would be better to keep it, but make it Flash. For any sort of animations Flash runs much better with less CPU usage - if done right.

    I make stuff like this all the time, you're looking at around 2 - 4% CPU usage with Flash on a average quadcore. Even an Atom CPU would easily cope.

    But Anand seems to be a big crApple supporter, so i cant see that happening.
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, July 8, 2010 - link

    I just tried on my work computer (3GHz Q6600) and I get processor usage spiking to about 28% spread across 2-3 cores when the carousel shifts. Using the keyboard buttons to magnify doesn't change the processor usage any.

    I never look at it though, without any defined beginning and end I find myself having to watch the whole thing to see what might be new, it is far easier to just look at the static listing.

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