ZOTAC GTX590 3GB Graphics Card Review

👤by Sahil Mannick Comments 📅13-06-11

The GTX590 is a remarkable feat by Nvidia. Back when the Fermi architecture was first unveiled and demonstrated through the GTX480, most were appalled by its power consumption, thermal output and noise. One year on, the progress achieved by Nvidia means that they are now able to package two derivatives of the original GF100 GPU onto one PCB whilst still maintaining the three factors that made the GTX480 so notorious. Indeed, GF110 has proved to very efficient on the GTX570 and GTX580, so much so that Nvidia saw no need to lock any of the 512 CUDA cores, 64 texture units and 48 ROPs when designing the GTX590.

Engineering aside, the GTX590 is a very good performer and easily blasted its way ahead of other single GPU graphics cards. Its only real competition comes from AMD’s similarly designed HD6990 and both tend to be on par in overall performance. As always, different games tend to prefer different cards such as HAWX 2 or Street Fighter IV, but in other Nvidia centric games such as Far Cry 2, it was disappointing to see AMD clawing back some performance. This brings us to our next point. Unfortunately, due to power constraints and the initial surge of faulty cards resulting from overvolting, Nvidia has had to limit the clock speed of the card and its ability to overvolt. While still a decent overclocker, the performance figures of each core are not enough to match a GTX570, yet alone the GTX580 they are based on. Consequently, the card’s disadvantage becomes prominent when pitted against the HD6990 whose GPUs demonstrate none of those restrictions. In the end, the GTX590 was only ahead of the single GPU GTX580 by 37.7% at reference clocks and by 33.6% when both were overclocked. For a graphics card that is being marketed at around £570, the 37.7% performance benefit is not representative of the 50% price tag different over the GTX580. Theoretically, the GTX590 should have performed 57% better than its single GPU brother and that would have justified its cost but what it reveals instead is the inevitable inefficiency of SLI scaling. However as we found, scaling was better at higher resolution and under greater load so perhaps gaming on larger displays would have truly unlocked the card’s potential. So our conclusion would be to only consider the GTX590 for 27inch or 30inch displays, otherwise a GTX580 will be more than enough for blazingly fast gaming. Ideally, the GTX590 should be priced at around £500.

Deciding between a dual card SLI setup and the dual GPU option is a tough choice. On the one hand, the GTX590 does not take up as much space and uses less power but on the other hand, two separate cards will run cooler and be more flexible when it comes to overclocking without the restrictions to limit power draw.

Zotac have done a very good job on their GTX590. They have stuck to the reference cooler, which is surprisingly efficient at keeping the GPUs cool despite the constraints, and bundling a number of extra accessories to differentiate itself from other brands. The card is also very practical in everyday use; it doesn’t sound like a jet fighter taking off every time you game and it is short enough to fit inside most cases without modifications.

+Class leading performance
+Excellent tessellation and superb AA performance
+Not as loud as one might expect
+CUDA and PhysX support
+Very well packaged
+Good bundle including free game voucher
+5 years warranty

-Restricted voltage tweaking and overclocking
-SLI scaling at lower resolutions

The ZOTAC GTX590 deserves the Vortez Silver Award.

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