The fairest comparison for the Gigabyte Super Overclock HD 5870 isn't really a GTX 480, but rather Asus' Republic of Gamers Matrix HD 5870.
It shows up both the Gigabyte's strengths and weaknesses well.
For example, out of the box, the Gigabyte card is quicker, uses less power and only requires two six pin molex connectors, rather than eight pin ones.
There's better overclocking software on the Asus card, but Gigabyte's OC Guru application has some neat tricks when it comes to enhanced power saving modes that might suit the ecologically minded.
Where Asus' Matrix HD 5870 card succeeds, though, is those expanded power connectors and the fine tuning of memory its software allows gives it much more stability under higher overclocks than even the Gigabyte card ships with.
Plus, there's an extra gigabyte of RAM on the ASUS card for handling large, multi-monitor resolutions.
The Super Overclock HD 5870, on the other hand, doesn't have much to give before it locks up randomly. And the heatsink fan is noisier too.
The problem is that neither card, as they stand, are good value for money. The performance increase over a stock HD5870 isn't really worth it, and Zotac's GeForce GTX 470 AMP! is their equal in framerate tests but considerably cheaper at the store.
And if we really can't stop you spending over £400 on a graphics card, then the GeForce GTX480 really does come into play. You'd have be committed to the AMD cause to choose this over one of them.
The copper heatsink which rises out of the the Super Overclock Edition HD5870 gives the card an art deco air of polished metal and piping.
It looks great and provides enough cooling for Gigabyte to make the card the fastest HD5870 out of the factory.
The truth is, though, that the extra clockspeed doesn't provide that much of a boost compared to a 'normal' card with boring coolers and default speed steppings.
It's a likeable card, but there's no compelling reason to choose this over an equally priced GTX480 or a much cheaper stock HD5870.
Absolutely not a card for everyone, but if you want to tweak it, there's none better.