Originally Posted by Rollo
One thing is for sure- the 5870 does run cooler than the 480 when both have reference cooling.
I would note though:
A. In an enthusiast case like the HAF932 I'm running, reference cooling on a 480 is fine when using a custom fan profile. The noise won't make your dog jump out the window, and the heat will be leaving the case with good airflow.
B. I looked at newegg, and they sell six 480s with non reference cooling, all of which run cooler and quieter than the reference model. So 480 buyers do have a choice in the matter.
Even then STALKER SHOC with complete mod and Metro 2033 could still get my card running louder than I liked.