Archive: Graphics Card Reviews 2007 - 2011

REVIEW / Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 1.5 GB

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Régis Jehl Published on May 25, 2011
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SPECIFICATIONS

  • Chip GF110
  • GPU frequency 772 MHz
  • Memory quantity 1.5 GB
  • Memory type GDDR5
  • Memory frequency 1002 MHz
  • Cooler Double-decker
Seven months after the release of the GeForce 400 series, NVIDIA has given us the 500 series. The GeForce GTX 580 is the first fruit of the firm's recently developed Fermi architecture. It holds plenty of promise: better performance, lower energy consumption and, above all, lower noise levels. Let's see what it's like in practice.

Size, Noise and Heat

The GeForce GTX 580 is the same size as the GTX 480 and is very similar visually. The cooling system has, however, been entirely revisited and is now much more effective. The heat from the chip is better dispersed and, more importantly, it runs at much lower noise levels.

In practice, this translates to a maximum temperature of 79°C, which is a 10°C improvement on the previous model, which nevertheless had a slower clock speed. We measured noise levels at a very low 41.4 dB(A) at idle.

During 3D games, the fan obviously picks up speed and becomes fairly noisy—we measured it at 50.5 dB(A). This is, however, much better than the GTX 480, which gave out at a deafening 60.4 dB(A). The new NVIDIA cooler can therefore be considered a real success for high-end cards.

Power Consumption

Of course, everyone's been waiting to see how power-hungry the GTX 580 is, since this was the main weakness of the GTX 480 and 470. In spite of NVIDIA's promises here, you have to say that the card still draws a monster amount of power.

In intensive 3D use, our 4-core CPU test computer drew 431 watts at the wall socket. This is actually just a bit less than the GTX 480, which scored 451 watts under the same conditions. We therefore strongly advise a good 600 watt power supply.

At idle, things get a little better, with the card consuming 113 watts. This is nevertheless some way off the AMD 6000 series cards, which dip under the 100 watt barrier when idle.

Gaming Performance

What actually is this GeForce GTX 580? Put simply, it's an optimised GTX 480 with higher clocks and additional processing units. It's no surprise, then, to find we've got a card that handles gaming so well.

You gain between 10% and 20% in performance on the old model, depending on the resolution used. This allows you to do your gaming without having to lower any graphics settings. The next plus point is that gaming in stereoscopic 3D won't affect performance too much.

The Radeon HD 5870 is a long way behind, notably in Crysis Warhead. At 1920 x 1200 resolution with texture filters activated, the 580 registers an average of 41 frames per second, whereas the Radeon doesn't manage any more than 32 fps. The difference is sometimes less marked in other games though: you can analyse our readings in detail in the graphics card face-off.

Tt gtx 580
Average general performance
Click on the image to see all our readings
and compare this model with other graphics cards

To sum up, you could say that the GeForce GTX 580 is what the GTX 480 should have been on release. It gives better performance in gaming and, above all, benefits from a much improved cooler. It therefore clearly does a better job of digesting the - too - many watts drawn by the reworked chip.

Graphics Cards: Performance Index Tables

The card at a glance
For this review, we used a card supplied by NVIDIA itself. There are two DVI outs and a mini HDMI at the back. Two PCI-E connectors, one 8-pin and one 6-pin, supply the electricity.

The NVIDIA extras

NVIDIA cards, of course, have the advantage of being compatible with other NVIDIA brand technologies. 3D Vision first of all for your 3D gaming. To enjoy it, you'll need to get yourself a 3D screen as well as the 3D Vision kit that includes the obligatory glasses.

Next comes PhysX support that allows for more elaborate graphics effects in compatible games.

3D Surround Gaming is NVIDIA's version of ATI Eyefinity. It allows you to do your gaming across 3 screens simultaneously. The drivers allow you to fuse the screens you have to give a higher res display area.

3D Surround and 3D Vision can be combined. You do however need at least two GeForce GTX 580s for a three-screen 3D set up, as well as the 3D Vision kit. Only for a handful of wealthy nutters then!

Finally NVIDIA also highlights the acceleration of processing for various pieces of software that allow you to use the graphics card for this. While your average Joe rarely uses this type of application, the enterprise market does, with 3D rendering, photo retouching and so on.

PROS

  • Good gaming performance
  • Cooler effective and quiet in 2D
  • DirectX 11 compatibility
  • 3D Vision and 3D Surround
  • Accelerated processing for CUDA compatible applications

CONS

  • Power consumption: requires a big power supply
  • Expensive

CONCLUSION 4/5

This is well thought-out card bringing together gaming performance, lower noise levels and advanced functionality. Its only fault is a truly excessive power consumption.
4 Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 1.5 GB DigitalVersus 2011-05-25 00:00:00
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