ASUS GTX580 1.5GB Review

👤by Sahil Mannick Comments 📅03-01-11

Evaluating Nvidiaís GTX580 is fairly straightforward. Itís without a doubt the best single GPU graphics card available on the market. The only real competition would be from AMD HD5970, which unfortunately we didnít have on test. However, given that the HD5970 is a dual GPU solution and relies on CrossFire, it is much harder to judge scaling. Hemlock has also been superseded by Cayman and the soon to be released Antilles dual GPU solution which should provide better competition for Nvidiaís GTX580. Regardless of what is to come, Nvidia have nailed the design of the GF110 core, delivering much better performance through its fully unlocked 512 CUDA cores and tolerance for higher frequencies. More importantly, they have addressed the shortcomings that marked Fermiís initial downfall; its power consumption, temperatures and consequently the noise levels. The GTX580 has been tweaked on a GPU level to reduce power consumption and coupled with an improved vapour chamber cooling system to lower temperatures and noise levels. The result is a board that consumes less power than its predecessor and AMDís new Cayman based HD6970.

Earlier on, we theorised that the GTX580 should hold a 17% performance advantage over the GF100 based GTX480 thanks to its altered architecture and higher clock speed. It turns out that in real world gaming performance, the difference between the two cards is an average of 16%. In their overclocked states, the GTX480 managed to close the gap slightly to 13.5%. In terms of pricing, the GTX480 has reached the end of its life but is still available for under £300. At over £400, the GTX580 is significantly more expensive, by too great a margin to warrant the performance increase. Of course, the added benefit of lower temperatures and power consumption is very appealing but it appears that Nvidia have found no real need to price it competitively.

The closest single GPU graphics card from AMD to compete with Nvidiaís high end cards is the newly released HD6970. In our last review, we found the difference between the AMD card and the GTX480 to be very marginal favouring Nvidia overall, so itís not surprising that their GTX580 is the superior card here. It leads by approximately 19% at stock speeds and by a further 6% when overclocking is taken into account. As with the previous conclusion, price is the key differentiator here. The GTX580 is priced way beyond the AMD card for potential buyers to have a tough choice picking one of the two. For the best absolute performance regardless of price, the GTX580 is clearly in a league of its own. The HD6970 on the other hand, targets a slightly different market at under £300.

But is the GTX580 the ultimate choice for sheer performance? The answer isnít as simple. SLI and CrossFire has become very popular over the last few generations of cards and scaling has never been as good as it is now, making dual configured mid-range cards a viable alternative to high end single GPU boards. In our test, we only included the HD6870+HD6850 results and the two in CrossFire was a mere 2% behind the GTX580. Together the two cards will cost under £350, still significantly less than a GTX580. And with the revelation that AMDís HD6950s can unlock to fully fledged HD6970s, having two in CrossFire would provide significantly better performance for the same price as the GTX580.

ASUS once again have done their card justice by bundling their voltage tweaking SmartDoctor software and applying a 10MHz overclock on the core. However, it follows the same reference design as other boards which users will also be able to tweak the voltages on using MSIís Afterburner application. The main appeal of the ASUS card is its 3 years warranty and excellent customer support. The downside is its price premium and availability. Looking around, the cheapest I could find it was for £418 although more reputable sites have it on pre-order for £459.99.

+Class leading performance
+Excellent overclocking headroom
+Excellent tessellation and AA performance
+Efficient and cool operation
+CUDA and PhysX support
+Well packaged
+Voltage Tweaking support
+3 years warranty

-Weak bundle

The ASUS GTX580 deserves the Vortez Silver Award.

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