Introducing Nvidia’s GTX 580 – Fermi Improved!
Price to Performance
It is pretty clear from our 24 games and two synthetic tests that the GTX 580 is a potent GPU to put against AMD’s upcoming Cayman video cards – the HD 6950 and HD 6970 which are the forthcoming replacements and upgrade over the current HD 5850 and HD 5870 video cards. The new GTX 580 has the clear distinction of being the fastest video card in its class – the fastest single GPU video card; and at a suggested retail price of $499, sets it just above the average price of most overclocked GTX 480s. GTX 480 has been steadily gaining on the HD 5870 in performance with newer GeForce drivers and the GTX 580 is simply in a higher class than the current top Radeon, the HD 5870. The only AMD card that we do not have, the $600 HD 5970, is a dual-GPU video card that is able to match and/or beat the GTX 580 in many games where CrossFire scales well; and it is also coming down in price.
Considering the awesome, cool and quiet cooler and the much better performance, it is a no-brainer to go for Nvidia’s new GTX 580 solution if you are considering buying a GTX 480. We also expect that some of its success will depend on market pricing and what AMD does with their HD 5970 pricing which appears to be dropping as AMD responds to GF110. But if you want the fastest single GPU with an awesome cool and quiet VGA cooler, the new GTX 580 gives you your cake and allows you to eat it also.
Clearly AMD is confident in its own mature product with HD 5870 and HD 5970 and they are apparently going to counter Nvidia with discounted pricing and it is also clear that they are leaving their partners to use their own judgment. Will this strategy work? How will Nvidia respond? There is a good chance that AMD’s new high-end HD 6000 series including both Cayman and Antilles will be introduced later on this year. Until then – and right now – it is an excellent time to upgrade as there is price competition again, something we have not seen for a long time until recently. The GTX 580 is actually priced at Nvidia’s own suggested retail price for the reference and overclocked GTX 480s.
This Morning’s Interview with AMD’s Stanley Ossias, Director, Mobile Discreet Graphics Product Management at AMD
We had an opportunity to interview Stanley Ossias, Director, Mobile Discreet Graphics Product Management at AMD right about the time that the GTX 580 NDA ended. Basically his message was that AMD expected this improved version of Fermi and is well-prepared to counter it now and with their further release of their upcoming HD 6000 series. They feel that AMD has the right product and the right price point and that competition is good. We will have more of the actual interview with Mr Ossias later on and in a separate published article on ABT. Stay tuned as this graphics war gets more and more exciting and ABT is reporting from right on the battlefront’s front lines.
This has been quite an enjoyable – if physically exhausting – one week, hand’s on experience for us in comparing our brand-new, under-NDA, GTX 580 versus our two GTX 480s versus our HD 5870 and HD 6870 and we look forward to evaluating further new products from AMD and Nvidia. We used all “fresh” testing with the very latest drivers for all of these video cards and we wish that we had more than the 7 days that we were allowed to benchmark the GTX 580 so as to give you our first impressions. Fortunately, we have been gaming for months with both the reference GTX 480 and with our HD 5870, so that we can provide you with a reliable comparison. However, it was certainly worth it and we feel priviliged to bring you our very first benchmarks and performance testing of Nvidia’s amazingly improved GTX 580.
We like the new GTX 580 quite a lot and we plan to follow up with this editor’s special areas of interest – multi-GPU scaling and multi-display’s Eyefinity versus (2D) Surround. We were amazed by the supeb scaling of SLI in newer games when we tested GTX 450 SLI. So, expect an ongoing series. We also expect GF108 from Nvidia to take on HD 5500/5400 series. Soon we will cover AMD’s continued launch of their HD 6000 series Cayman GPU which they expect to take on GF110.
In the meantime, feel free to comment below, ask questions or have a detailed discussion in our ABT forum. If you have any requests on what you would like for us to focus on for further testing or for any other information, please join our ABT forum or leave a comment.
Pros and Cons:
- The GTX 580 is confirmed as the world’s fastest DX11 GPU and it currently is the fastest single-GPU video card (period!)
- The GTX 580 is much faster than its competition, HD 5870 and is solidly faster than GTX 480 and often it wins even versus our highly overclocked GTX 480.
- There is further room for overclocking and the overclocked GTX 580 is solidly faster than the overclocked GTX 480 at the same overclocks.
- New architecture brings support for GPU computing and a level of performance way beyond the last generation.
- DX11 and great support for tessellation, PhysX and CUDA, 3D gaming, and 2D/3D Surround (with SLI) bring realism to gaming
- Nvidia’s new vapor chamber cooler is great for achieving and keeping your OC by keeping your GPU cool. It is one awesome cooler that tames GTX 580’s thermals very quietly, bringing GTX 580 performance at or near HD 5870 volume levels.
- Power draw and thermals have improved; current limiters may be a mixed blessing – great for protecting the system (but may limit extreme overclocking).
- If you are considering SLI (for performance, 3D or Suround), 2 x GTX 580 is a very potent performance solution and you may also consider Tri-SLI; in that case, you are unlikely to need a further dedicated PhysX card. Two of these cards are designed to be put close together and still exhaust air and stay cool
- Price and uncertainty about AMD’s Cayman. The market will decide.
That’s it. For about the same price or slightly more than a reference GTX 480 or an overclocked version, you get all the features that Nvidia video cards have to offer in an overclocked and very solidly-built, cool and quiet-running GTX 580! Add to this all the benefits of a flagship card, and we feel that Nvidia has a real winner in their GTX 580 to offer us and we are pleased to award them our ABT Editor’s Choice award!
We do not know what the future will bring, but this amazing card brings a great value to the Fermi family of GTX “tanks” in Nvidia’s lineup. Look for it at an etailer this week. This editor believes that Nvidia, although late, does bring a very remarkable full-featured DX11 GPU lineup to the market that will find good acceptance among customers and their fans alike. Fermi architecture is impressive and flexible and it does translate to performance in gaming – although with a bit of a price premium. We have also seen Nvidia’s drivers improve and their multi-GPU SLI scaling for newer games is very impressive. We also like the direction they are heading in with their simplified installations of the GeForce 260 drivers.
If you currently game on a HD 4870, 8800 GTX, 8800 GTS, or 9800 GT class of card on up to HD 4870-X2, GTX 280, GTX 285 and even GTX 295, you will do yourself a big favor by upgrading. The move to a GTX 580 will give you better visuals on the DX11 pathway and you are no doubt thinking of GTX 580 SLI if you want to get even higher performance or want to use Suround’s three-panel display (which we are going to explore in a future article versus Eyefinity).
If the many exclusive features of the new GTX 480 appeal to you and you are gaming at 1920×1080 or above, you cannot go wrong with a GTX 580. In this editor’s experience, it is also great choice if you are considering overclocking further. The competition is hot as the prices on both the HD 5970 and the HD 5870 have softened and they offer their own set of features including a cheaper way to experience 3-panel multi-display with Eyefinity. And AMD is also bringing out their Cayman-based highest performing single GPU video cards out shortly. Stay tuned, there is a lot coming from us at ABT.
ABT Senior Editor
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