Zotac GeForce GTX 580 review

By on November 9, 2010
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Nvidia’s claim to the next-gen graphics card throne?

Editor's Score

The Verdict:
More power, less heat, less noise.

With AMD’s recent launch of their 6xxx series card with the mainstream HD 6870 & 6850, the only high-end GPU I was looking forward to before the end of the year was the upcoming HD 6900 series, especially considering the GTX 480 launched just 7 months ago. Who would’ve thought that the 500 series will be launching from today onwards?

In face of competition from AMD’s upcoming high-end Cayman GPU, Nvidia preemptively struck with the GF 110 series and the launch of the GTX 580 today. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even hear a whisper of this product until last week’s leaks on the internet, but having the card in my hand yesterday was quite an incredulous moment.

On paper the GTX 580 may not seem like much of step away from the GTX 480, but looking closely we find that there have been a lot of improvements that make this card better in more ways than just having higher horsepower. Firstly, the card runs much quieter than the GTX 480. Heck, at idle state, the GTX 580 is one of the quietest cards we’ve had in the Tbreak office; even the CPU fan on our Core i7 965EE was louder than the GTX 580.

At idle state, the GF110 chip hovers at around 39C, and full load goes up to 82C while running Unigine Heaven 2.1. At that stage the fan goes on quite loud, but nowhere near as unbearable as the GTX 480, much quieter in fact. Part of this has to do with a mix of low, medium and high latency transistors used in the GF110, instead of only low latency transistors used in the GF100 chip. This results in lesser leakage of power, thereby requiring much less drain on the PSU. The new adaptive GPU control chips take into account the amount of power required for a certain application and the temperature of the GPU, giving a much smoother increase in fan speed while also keeping the noise in check. Obviously, part of the reason for such an efficient cooling is the new vapor chamber cooling tech employed by Nvidia to keep the GF110 ultra-cool.

While the GTX 580 is advertised with having 3-way SLi support, Nvidia has told us that it actually supports 4-way SLi as well. A claim we sadly cannot verify at this time since we’ve only had the fortune of receiving one GTX 580 in our office.

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From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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