Size, Noise and HeatThe 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 ConsumptionOf 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 PerformanceWhat 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.
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