When I first build my new system I knew that I wanted to play games across three screens without sacrificing performance. However, I lacked the money at the end to buy two gtx 580s, so I designed my system with a 580 and a 550 in a hybrid sli of sorts. My custom driver allows me to play accross all three screens in the same way that a normal sli config would. Except it has no where near the performance of two 580s due to both the custom driver and using a 550. (It is much better than one 580 if your wondering). Now however I have gotten the money to upgrade, and I decided I want to switch to two 580 now. I am looking at two cards. The evga 580 (Which takes two slots and utilizes a vapor chamber with a blower style fan.) and the asus direct cu II (which takes three slots with heat pipes and dual 100 mm fans.) My setup has my originial 580 three slots down, and I am putting the new 580 in the first slot. If I purchase the evga then there will be one empty slot in between the cards. If i purchase the asus there will be no empty slot. I know the asus has better cooling by itself. However, my question is which of the two choices is better? Will the asus be cancelled out because there is little to no room?
The Asus may have the ability to cool the GPU better, but the reference EVGA has the ability to cool the CPU better by venting heat outside the case. For SLI, you need to consider the impact on temperatures to your overall system if you have custom GPU cooling blowing hot air around inside the case.
Really, I would get the EVGA with the reference cooling, which is still a very good and very quiet option. Have you looked into some of the new 580's that come with a self-contained water cooling unit? I know both PNY and Zotac have them. http://www3.pny.com/GTX-580-Liquid-Cooled-Graphics-Card...
I ended up buying the evga reference design, and plan to over clock it slightly. I have looked into water cooling but just never liked the idea. Air cooling has treated me well and I just don't quite like the sound of routing tubes of liquid through my computer. Call me paranoid if that is what it is .
I have another related question to anyone who uses nvidia surround or sli with multiple monitors. Right now with the custom driver each monitor I have is independent (Which means I can drag a window to one monitor and maximize it only on that monitor and do likewise to all other monitors.) What will this experience be like with sli and three monitors? Also when I game I only like to play across three monitors with certain games. A lot of FPS games I don't like to play with that high of a resolution and fov. With surround and sli enabled can I play a game on one screen without disabling sli or the other two monitors? (Maybe just change the resolution in the game and it goes to only one display?). Thanks in advanced. Still waiting on my card in the mail.
P.S. I asked my boss these things and he told me he doesn't do sli, and therefore didn't know too much about it, but that I was too picky when it came to getting things to work on computers .