Nvidia GeForce GTX 590 3 GB Review: Firing Back With 1024 CUDA Cores

Dual-GPU Cards Versus Two Cards In SLI/CrossFire

We had several requests for GeForce GTX 580 cards tested in SLI after the Radeon HD 6990 review. So, in addition to factoring in results for the GeForce GTX 590, we’re also including scores for two 580s.

It takes nearly $1000 worth of GeForce GTX 580s to beat a $710 Radeon HD 6990 in 3DMark 11. That alone doesn’t mean much, given this title’s synthetic nature. More interesting is the fact that two Radeon HD 6970s in CrossFire, which sell for $680 together, turn in faster scores. GeForce GTX 570s also do really well, and you can find a pair of those for $650. In comparison, the GeForce GTX 590 falls into last place, making it both more expensive and slower than a pair of its own derivative boards.

We noticed that the 1.5 GB of memory on Nvidia’s highest-end cards seemed disadvantaged at 2560x1600 in Metro 2033 with anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering cranked up. So, while the GeForce GTX 580 is followed by the 590, followed by the 570 without the “extra” eye candy turned on, all three cards trail the three AMD-based configurations when the knobs go to 11.

Two GeForce GTX 580s serve up the ultimate performance in Lost Planet 2, and that setup dominates, regardless of whether AA is enabled or not. Again, though, the GeForce GTX 590 starts falling behind once the anti-aliasing gets cranked up. All three AMD-based configurations slide on by, if only by a couple of frames per second.

AMD’s sponsorship of this game can’t keep a pair of GeForce GTX 580s from taking first place. Three Radeon-based configs take second through fourth place, though. The GeForce GTX 590 has to settle for a last-place finish here—not a great place for a $700 card to land.

Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 590 ties the Radeon HD 6990 for last place, but AMD’s card shows up ahead because it serves favorable performance with AA and AF enabled. The overclocked Radeon HD 6990 and GeForce GTX 570s in SLI go head-to-head, but are both outmoded by two Radeon HD 6970s in CrossFire. Even that solution gets dominated by two GeForce GTX 580s in SLI, though.

Just Cause 2 is all about AMD’s hardware. The three Radeon-based setups take first through third place (led by the two 6970s in CrossFire), while Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 580s in SLI place fourth. The company’s new flagship settles for a fifth-place finish.

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.
  • nforce4max
    Nvidia like ATI should have gone full copper for their coolers instead of using aluminum for the fins. :/
  • The_King
    The clock speeds are a bit of a disappointment as well the high power draw and the performance is not that better than a 6990. Bleh !
  • stryk55
    Very comprehensive article! Nice job!
  • LegendaryFrog
    I'm impressed, good to see Nvida has started to care about the "livable experience" of their high end products.
  • plznote
    Great card. But low clocks.
    GREAT for overclocking!
  • darkchazz
    Wow @ low noise
  • rolli59
    Draw! Win some loose some. What is the fastest card? Some will say GTX590 others HD6990 and they are both right.
  • Scoregie
    MMMM... HD 6990.... OR GTX 590... HMMM I'll go with a HD 5770 CF setup because im cheap.
  • Sabiancym
    You can't say Nvidia wins based on the sound level of the cards. That's just flat out favoritism.

    I'll be buying a 6990 and water cooling it. Nothing will beat it.
  • Darkerson
    rolli59Draw! Win some loose some. What is the fastest card? Some will say GTX590 others HD6990 and they are both right.Thats more or less how I feel. They both trade blows depending on the game.