Tom's Hardware's 2010 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders

Graphics: MSI GeForce GTX 580 (N580GTX-M2D15D5)

www.msi.com
$525
By: Chris Angelini

Nvidia had some real problems with its GeForce GTX 480. Not only was the card late, but it also ran hot, sucked down gobs of power, and created quite a bit of noise trying to keep up with cooling.

The GF110-based GeForce GTX 580, designed to rectify the flagship 400-series card’s issues, uses just as much juice. But it does so without the offensive acoustics, and it serves up a fair bit more performance in the process. We’ll take that sort of compromise in the name of frame rates that can’t be contested by any other single-GPU board. And good luck trying to keep up with the GTX 580 in an SLI configuration.

Where did all of the extra gaming muscle come from? Well, Nvidia was able to revise the GF100, which only featured 480 active shader cores of the chip’s 512 total. Not only is the resulting GF110 able to operate with all 512 cores turned on, but it’ll also tolerate much higher clock rates as well. Additionally, optimizations that found their way into GeForce GTX 460 (which launched after the GTX 480 and 470) could also be folded into GF110, yielding per-clock benefits as well.

All of those changes allowed Nvidia to hit a more compelling performance target. However, it still used roughly the same TDP ceiling, leaving the thermal issue to be addressed as well. The company tackled that by swapping over to a vapor chamber-based heatsink for more efficient heat dissipation. It also ditched the heatpipe-based design that caused so many folks to comment on the card’s super-heated exposed surface. Reinforcing on the blower-style fan went a long way to keep noise to a minimum, and an improved fan control algorithm smoothed out the rate at which the cooler ramps up, so it’s not as noticeable.

Nearly all of the cards available right now run at Nvidia’s reference frequencies—likely a result of limited headroom in the chip. After all, we had a non-reference roundup of GeForce GTX 580s planned, but every vendor except one pulled out. So don’t be disappointed if there aren’t many factory-overclocked boards available—the reference design is still very much a beast. In order to prove it, MSI sent over its N580GTX-M2D15D5, which centers on the same design as our review sample.  

At $525, it’s a pricey piece of hardware that can be outperformed by a couple of Radeon HD 6870s in CrossFire. If your aspirations are lofty, though, and you want two of these in SLI, you’re king of the hill. In the same vein, if you only have two expansion slots worth of motherboard space available to populate and can only use one card, this is as fast as it gets.

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    Top Comments
  • alexttlyrocks
    I'm only reading this article to look at the chicks
    16
  • LuckyDucky7
    Alternative title:
    Gift Guide Part 1, for Deep Pockets :)
    10
  • Other Comments
  • alexttlyrocks
    I'm only reading this article to look at the chicks
    16
  • rohitbaran
    ^ Keep reading!
    8
  • dogman_1234
    Wait until SB and BD.
    4
  • Anonymous
    Radeon 6870 girl ... someone forgot to photoshop her ^^
    1
  • LuckyDucky7
    Alternative title:
    Gift Guide Part 1, for Deep Pockets :)
    10
  • squanto
    scroll...picture....next...scroll..picture...
    5
  • cangelini
    LuckyDucky7Alternative title:Gift Guide Part 1, for Deep Pockets


    Phenom II for under $100? You must have those pockets that are sewn shut at the top, for decoration! =)
    2
  • Bluescreendeath
    girls > computer parts that we already know about
    5
  • Silmarunya
    Nice review, but I'd have liked to see advice for different budgets. For example, you could recommend a budget, mid range and high end product. For example, I'm currently in the market for a discrete sound card, but don't such an expensive one. On the other hand, I wouldn't be satisfied with a Phenom II X2. It's still a great article, mind you, but it'd have been nice to see some love for every end of the market.
    1
  • Onus
    ntrRadeon 6870 girl ... someone forgot to photoshop her ^^

    No, it's the taint that a Diamond product radiates. They're #2 on my personal "Do not buy" list, right after Belkin.
    1
  • garyshome
    The ps costs as much as the cpu and mb? So much for the budget.
    0
  • sandmanwn
    Quote:
    Ed: You'll have to pardon this little gem missing out on the gift guide photo shoot.

    Off with his head!!!
    1
  • nevertell
    The phenom II x2 555 is some of the BEST bang for the buck. I dropped it in my build, got a quad core running at 3,6 ghz for about 25 $ per core, and I didn't even have to disable any of the powersaving features or anything actually to get it working like this.
    1
  • mi1ez
    Why the hell does the US site work fine and the UK site have it'ss CSS in a twist?
    0
  • tony singh
    Some one gift me please....:)
    1
  • cknobman
    I have no clue what products Toms is actually recommending here, too busy looking and the beautiful product modelers and not the actual products!!!
    1
  • fausto
    Toms needs to spend more money on the holiday Models department. seen much better chicks at Quakecon 2008. No offense to the ladies but some of you are not booth babe material
    -1
  • ta152h
    Bluescreendeathgirls > computer parts that we already know about


    If you're that desperate to see pictures of girls, you're probably right; you must know computer parts better than girls.

    It's pretty sad when pictures of girls gets so much of a reaction. I swear if you get out of the house, you'll actually see them in real life. I'm not lying. You can even say "Hi" to them, and they'll probably even give you a response. I know it sounds far fetched, but I'm really confident about this, so just trust me.
    0
  • ta152h
    faustoToms needs to spend more money on the holiday Models department. seen much better chicks at Quakecon 2008. No offense to the ladies but some of you are not booth babe material


    The pathetic part is, how it's still getting these desperate guys worked up.

    Some of the pictures are just bad too, like the one with the Radeon.
    -4
  • accolite
    TA152H, I'm not desperate... I'm married, but I enjoy a good looking woman more than looking at some hardware components after all we are guys! If you don't your probably a woman yourself or a homo!
    4