GeForce GTX 580 And GF110: The Way Nvidia Meant It To Be Played

Test Setup And Benchmarks

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Test Hardware
ProcessorsIntel Core i7-980X (Gulftown) 3.33 GHz at 3.73 GHz (28 * 133 MHz), LGA 1366, 6.4 GT/s QPI, 12 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Power-savings enabled
MotherboardGigabyte X58A-UD5 (LGA 1366) Intel X58/ICH10R, BIOS FB
MemoryKingston 6 GB (3 x 2 GB) DDR3-2000, KHX2000C8D3T1K3/6GX @ 8-8-8-24 and 1.65 V
Hard DriveIntel SSDSA2M160G2GC 160 GB SATA 3Gb/s
GraphicsGigabyte GV-N580D5-15I GeForce GTX 580 1.5 GB
Row 5 - Cell 0 Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 1.5 GB
Row 6 - Cell 0 Nvidia GeForce GTX 470 1.25 GB
Row 7 - Cell 0 AMD Radeon HD 5970 2 GB
Row 8 - Cell 0 AMD Radeon HD 5870 1 GB
Row 9 - Cell 0 AMD Radeon HD 6870 1 GB
Power SupplyCooler Master UCP-1000 W
System Software And Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectXDirectX 11
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 10.10
Row 15 - Cell 0 Nvidia GeForce Release 260.99 (For GTX 480 and 470)
Row 16 - Cell 0 Nvidia GeForce Release 262.99 (For GTX 580)

Falcon Northwest can remove the backlit logo if you're rather have a solid color instead.

In addition to our open-air test bench, which is fine for collecting performance data, but insufficient for gauging heat or acoustic performance (especially in an SLI/CrossFire configuration), Kelt Reeves at Falcon Northwest shipped us a prototype Mach V-series PC in his Icon 2 chassis, which has been an ongoing work since 2002. You'll notice that this thing has a very SilverStone-like look to it, and that's because SilverStone borrowed a number of its design elements when the company was contracted to build this thing. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Kelt should be feeling pretty loved right about now.

The Icon 2 won't be available for another month or so, but if you're planning a high-end system purchase with holiday money, this chassis will become an option in the fairly near future, and it has clearly been a labor of love. Compartmentalized to isolate heat and improve cooling (the shipping version employs a a divider between the fan and grommet in the fan deck shot below), the GPUs are kept separate from the rest of the platform. In our particular setup, an Intel Core i7-980X overclocked to 4.2 GHz is cooled with an Asetek 570LC setup in a push/pull config to maximize cooling.

Icon 2's prototype fan deck

The Mach V made it perfectly clear how big of a difference there is between GeForce GTX 480 and 580. While the 480s would clearly spin up under load, generating a distracting amount of noise, even under load, the 580s were quieter than the 120 mm Scythe exhaust fan on the prototype machine's I/O panel.

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Lost Planet 2Highest Quality Settings, No AA / 16x AF, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 1900x1200 / 2560x1600, DirectX 11, Steam version
Just Cause 2Highest Quality Settings, No AA / 16xAF, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, Bokeh filter and GPU water disabled (for Nvidia cards), Concrete Jungle Benchmark
Metro 2033Medium Settings, AAA / 16x AF, 1680x1050 / 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, Built-in Benchmark, Steam version
DiRT 2Ultra High Settings, 4x AA / No AF, 1680x1050 / 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, Steam version, Custom benchmark script, DX11 Rendering
Aliens Vs. Predator BenchmarkHighest Quality Settings, SSAO, No AA / 16xAF, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 1920x1200 / 2560x1600
Battlefield: Bad Company 2Custom (Highest) Quality Settings, 8x MSAA / 16xAF, 1680x1050 / 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, opening cinematic, 145 second sequence, FRAPS
3DMark VantagePerformance Default, PPU Disabled
Civilization 5Highest Quality Settings, No AA, 1920x1080, Demo Version, Leader benchmark, Map View test (zoom in and zoom out)
Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • xurwin
    its the beast(best)! no doubt nvidia is making a way to combat 6900's
    The last bit of the article is the most important I think. Anyone who drops $500 on this card right now, before Cayman releases, should have their head examined. With two companies releasing so close together, it would be in a person's best interest to see what the other is bringing to the table before shelling out such a large chunk of change.

    If the 6850 and 6870 have shown one thing.. they are much better then the last gen in many ways (power, noise and scaling) and the cayman is much more robust then the barts. So, before you start calling a winner here, wait and see. That is my advise.
  • awood28211
    Sound performance but the game here seems to be...double leap-frog. You can just release a product that competes with the competitors current offerings, you gotta compete with what he releases next... If AMD's next offering is significantly faster than it's current, then NVIDIA will still be playing catchup.
  • Wheat_Thins
    Kinda pointless article other then the fact that the 580 offers superb performance but until I see power and noise set in stone I honestly don't care.

    A single GPU nearly outperforming a 5970 is quite a statement. Wonder if AMD has what it takes to answer this as the 6850 IMPO is pretty disappointing other then the price.
  • nevertell
    So it's basically what the 480 should have been. Fair enough, I'll wait for the 470 version of the gf110 and buy that.
  • TheRockMonsi
    The price right now for this card is way over $500 on newegg. For that price NVIDIA better be giving me a bj as well.
  • It'll certainly be interesting, even if i don't agree with NVIDIA playing catchup. The 480 had its flaws, but it still was the fastest single GPU around.

    We'll see what the 69xx have to offer. NVIDIA releasing now puts somewhat of a time constraint on AMD though. If it takes them too long to get something out the door, even some people waiting now may just get the 580 for christmas.
  • kevin1212
    Nvidia is embarrassed by the power draw of the gtx 580, haha. Improvement in performance but uses the same amt of power... still not a big enough improvement in efficiency, and no big leap in value either. AMD will wipe the floor with this card.

    By the way, i know you guys decided to drop crysis, and i can understand that, but given that this is a high end card, maybe you should have considered it, since frankly anyone buying a card like this would probably want it for crysis more than anything else. A 6870 is more than enough for the others.
  • iamtheking123
    Looks to me that the 580 is somewhere between a 5870 and a 5970. Might have been more impressive if it was Q2 2010 and not Q4 2010.

    With ATI's meat-and-gravy bits of the 6000 series on the launchpad, you'd be an idiot to buy one of these at this price.
  • Blink
    On Civ 5 benchmark the 5970 has the worst 'Zoomed Out' fps. Strange?