Reviews: Archive: Graphics Card Reviews 2007 - 2011

REVIEW / Nvidia GeForce GTX 590 3 GB

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Régis Jehl Published on May 27, 2011
Translated by Catherine Barraclough
 
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SPECIFICATIONS

  • Chip 2x GF110
  • GPU frequency 607 MHz
  • Memory quantity 3 GB
  • Memory type GDDR5
  • Memory frequency 854 MHz
  • Cooler Double-decker
With its two graphics chips, the GeForce GTX 590 is the fastest and most powerful graphics card in the NVIDIA 500 series. Will it be able to stay one step ahead of the AMD Radeon HD 6990 and does the dual-GPU set-up have any specific downsides? Find out in our review.

Size, Noise and Heat

It's first of all interesting to note that NVIDIA has managed to pack two GPUs into one 28 cm printed circuit board—that's barely 1 cm longer than the GeForce GTX 580 and, above all, it's over 2 cm shorter than the Radeon HD 6990.

As well as its impressive structure, this high-power graphics card isn't too noisy. When idle, although you can still certainly hear the internal fan, it's actually fairly discreet. When working in 3D, it's no more noisy than the GTX 580! OK, so at over 50 dB(A) it's not exactly quiet, but it's still comparable to graphics cards with just one GPU. Nice work NVIDIA!

Power Consumption

You have to expect a pretty high power consumption from cards with two GPUs. We measured 557 watts drawn by our test computer when gaming, which places this card between the Radeon HD 6990 in '375W' mode and the HD 6990 in '450W' mode. You'll therefore need a power source of over 600 watts to use it. When idle, our test computer consumed 133 watts, which confirms that the GTX 590 is certainly no energy-saving graphics card.

Gaming Performance

The graphics chips in this model have already been seen in the GTX 580 but with slightly lower clock speeds. It goes without saying, then, that performance levels are good enough to play pretty much any video game you like. Better still—the GTX 590 is a great choice for gamers who want to make the most of 3D or multi-monitor gaming.


Average general performances
Click on the image to see all our readings
and compare this graphics card with other models

However, these performances aren't quite good enough for this GeForce GTX 590 to be crowned the fastest graphics card we've tested to date, since the Radeon HD 6990 still does better. With the Radeon in '375W' mode, AMD's model is 3% more powerful and it's 5% more powerful with the '450W' BIOS.

So would we recommend the GTX 590? To be honest, it's difficult to say. It's more compact than a couple of GeForce GTX 570 cards in SLI mode, but it's no more powerful. It could appeal to the same kind of users though, namely 3D gamers or gamers looking to make use of several monitors. For anyone else, it's not really worth shelling out for and you'd probably be better off with a card with just one GPU.

Graphics Cards: Performance Index Tables
The Card We Tested
We reviewed and NVIDIA reference card. The fan is located in the middle of the card and only serves to remove some of the hot air from the casing. The rest of the heat 'leaks' out of the back of the card and heats up the inside of the computer casing, which you'd better make sure is pretty well ventilated.

There are four output ports, comprising one DVI port and a Mini Display Port. This is no coincidence either, as it means you can hook up three monitors with the NVIDIA Surround system. There are two 8-pin PCI-E power connectors.

NVIDIA Extras

NVIDIA cards obviously have the advantage of being compatible with other NVIDIA-brand technologies. First of all, there's, 3D Vision for 3D gaming. To enjoy it, you'll need to get yourself a 3D monitor and the 3D Vision kit, which includes the obligatory 3D glasses.

Next, there's PhysX support for more elaborate graphics effects in any compatible games.

Then, 3D Surround Gaming is NVIDIA's version of ATI Eyefinity. It allows you to play across three screens simultaneously. The drivers also let you fuse the screens into a higher-resolution display area. 3D Surround and 3D Vision can be combined too.

Finally, NVIDIA also offers accelerated processing for various compatible pieces of software that allow the graphics card to be used in this way (CUDA technology). While most people rarely use this type of application, some professionals use them all the time for things like 3D rendering, photo editing and so on.

PROS

  • Performances in games
  • Compatibile with DirectX 11
  • NVIDIA technology: 3D Vision, Surround, PhysX and CUDA

CONS

  • Power consumption
  • Heat is partially released into the computer

CONCLUSION 4/5

Although the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 isn't quite as fast and powerful as its direct rival, we actually prefer it to AMD's HD 6990. It is, however, clearly a product for a niche market.
4 Nvidia GeForce GTX 590 3 GB DigitalVersus 2011-05-27 00:00:00
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