Zotac GTX 590 Review

By on March 24, 2011
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Powerful enough to threaten the HD 6990?

Good: Extremely fast, Very quiet, Slightly larger than GTX 580
Bad: Doesn't scale as well as two GTX 570s in SLI
Price: AED 2,600
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

The huge fan on the GTX 590, apart from keeping the 2 GPUs relatively cool, also has the added advantage of being very quiet. So quiet, in fact, that under stress it was just as loud, if not lesser, than the GTX 580! Zotac’s GTX 590 seems to be based on the reference Nvidia designs, so I doubt they have put on a custom heatsink and fan.

On idle the GTX 590 hovered around 40°C, while under full load it went up to 82°C. I managed to overclock the Zotac GTX 590 up to 684Mhz on Core clock, up from 607Mhz stock, while memory speeds remained the same. At these speeds, the GTX 590 reported temperatures of 85°C.

That’s a good amount of scaling with a 77MHz overclock. Now given that the GTX 590 has the ability for voltage tweaking, I got really brave and decided to over-voltage the card as well as the speeds and see how far I can go. Using MSI Afterburner I increased the voltage by 75mV and bumping up the Core speeds to 753Mhz which resulted in an incredible score of 9816 on 3DMark 11 (p). Hoping to hit the 10k mark, I decided to bump the voltage to 125mV with Core speeds of 804Mhz. As 3DMark 11 was coming to a close, the whole system shutdown and I could see smoke coming out of the power cable connectors.

As the smell of burnt plastic and metal faded, I contacted Nvidia to try and see what happened. The GTX 590 should have been able to either handle the voltage increase, or simply failed to a BSOD or crashed the system. I certainly didn’t expect it to die on me. Turns out the drivers provided by Zotac were 267.52 and the latest drivers from Nvidia, 267.71, have some fail-safe measures to protect the GTX 590 against over-voltage. So remember folks, a simple driver update can be the deciding factor between the life and death of a graphics card when you’re pushing it to the limits. Always update your drivers.

Anyways, that tragic incident aside, the GTX 590 did one hell of a job. Now let’s look at the final deciding factor. The price of the GTX 590 is set somewhere around the $720 mark, just over two GTX 570s. The AMD HD 6990 is $700 which is also just over two HD 6970s. And while performance between these two cards is a tossup, the GTX 590 certainly has the leg up on the HD 6990 when it comes to size and most importantly noise.

The GTX 590 may not be as good as two GTX 570s in SLI, while costing slightly more. However, it is undeniably quiet, and, at the end of the day, is a single card solution which will satisfy the needs of anybody wanting to play the latest games at ultra-high resolutions or on a dual/triple monitor setup.

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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.

  • Naved

    wow T-Break that was a quick review was hoping that it would take another few weeks for the GTX590 to arrive in UAE.BTW Taimoor IF** noise is not an issue will you prefer to go for HD6990 over GTX590?

    • Taimoor Hafeez

      I’d go with the GTX 590. The performance is up there with the HD 6990, although the latter may have an advantage in some cases. But personally I love how Nvidia managed to slap together two GF 110 GPUs on a board that’s hardly longer than the GTX 580, while still keeping it quiet. And trust me, once you hear the HD 6990, you’ll really appreciate the architecture of the GTX 590.

      • Mr. Awesome

        Once you hear the 6990? How about once you hear the GTX 590 go boom!

      • Mr. Awesome

        Once you hear the 6990? How about once you hear the GTX 590 go boom!

      • Myself

        Coming from a 4870×2 saying the 6990 is loud is crazy. It’s not loud at all. AMD has a better product overall. Coming from the previous owner of an MSI Geforce 570OC.

      • The_reaper_420

        I think the deciding factor here would be the extra feature nvidia packs.. for gamers Physx…for professionals cuda for premiere pro cs5s mercury playback engine…the extra Vram would really come close to a quadro card so it is the best bang for your buck if gaming is not the only thing you do with that really capable box in your living room…

  • Pingback: Nvidia Lanza su Geforce GTX 590 dual GPU – Review disponibles | ::. Xtremecore .::

  • Hell69_

    So you fried the card because you didn’t check the driver version? Wow…

    • Taimoor Hafeez

      Life teaches you lessons, sometimes the hard way.

      • Naved

        well it’s not only happened to u only…tech power up and sweclockers also blew up their’s and its getting worse

      • Naved

        well it’s not only happened to u only…tech power up and sweclockers also blew up their’s and its getting worse


    Glad to see I didn’t jump the gun by hopping onboard team 6990 before the 590 was released. Thought I might have made a mistake…. but it appears otherwise. Go team red! :)

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  • Taimoor Hafeez

    From Nvidia customer support:

    “In the web release driver of GeForce GTX 590, we have added some important enhancements to our overcurrent protection for overclocking. We recommend anyone doing overclocking or running stress apps to always use the latest web driver to get the fullest protection for your hardware. Please note that overcurrent protection does not eliminate the risks of overclocking, and hardware damage is possible, particularly when overvoltaging. We recommend anyone using the GTX 590 board with the reference aircooler stick with the default voltage while overclocking, and avoid working around overcurrent protection mechanisms for stress applications. This will help maintain GTX 590′s great combination of acoustics, performance, and reliability. NVIDIA has worked with several watercooling companies to develop waterblocks for GTX 590, and these solutions will help provide additional margin for overclocking, but even in this case we recommend enthusiasts stay within 12.5-25mV of the default voltage in order to minimize risk.”

    They suggest 12.5 to 25mV…I bumped it up to 125mV. Yeah…

    Apparently TechPowerUp used 267.71 and their card still blew up.

  • Pingback: 3/24/2011 Daily Hardware Reviews — GeForce GTX 590 Edition | Oo! News

  • Pingback: Llegan las GeForce GTX 590 - Foros de Informatica - Foro de Windows 7, Foro de ayuda, Noticias de Informatica, Windows 7 y Windows Vista

  • Octavian Adam

    Really .. the numbers in this release are screwed up .. i checked other reviews on the web … and they are way diffident

  • Octavian Adam

    Really .. the numbers in this release are screwed up .. i checked other reviews on the web … and they are way diffident

  • Luay

    One thing’s for sure, the GTX 590 will offer you the “best BANG for your buck” :P

    • Anonymous

      Unlike two GTX 580s in SLI :)

  • Pingback: Nvidia responde al tema de las Geforce GTX 590 quemadas « Temiga – virussx

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  • Naser

    It would be nice to know what res. Ur running the games no!?

    • Taimoor Hafeez

      Woops! Added the resolution on the Benchmarks page.

      “Apart from 3DMark, all benchmarks were run at a resolution of 1920×1200.”

  • Naser

    And Metro is well coded for Nvidia, so that’s not a very fare comparison.

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