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Tom's Hardware's 2011 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders

Zotac Infinity Edition ZT-50102-30P GeForce GTX 580

$649.99
www.zotacusa.com

Go big or go home, right? Heading into the 2011 home stretch, the GeForce GTX 580 remains the fastest single-GPU card in Nvidia’s consumer line-up. It might only include half of the total CUDA cores as the dual-GPU GeForce GTX 590 (512 vs. 1024), but better thermals mean it's able to run faster, too.

Of course, the GeForce GTX 580 can also be overclocked, though that serves to push a potentially loud card into the realm of ridiculously loud. What’s a self-respecting, ear-protecting gamer to do?

Zotac has one answer: add water cooling. Better yet, just have that water cooling installed out of the box. And while you’re at it, Zotac will overclock your card at the factory, taking NVIDIA’s 772 MHz default graphics engine clock and juicing it to 815 MHz. The shader clock climbs from 1544 MHz to 1630 MHz. Even the 4008 MT/s memory clock gets a nudge to 4100 MHz at the end of Nvidia’s 384-bit GDDR5 memory bus.

Of course, Zotac supports all of the usual amenities: DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.1, CUDA, PhysX, three-way SLI, and 3D Vision. The card utilizes PCIe 2.0 x16 and offers one mini HDMI and two dual link DVI-I connectors.

Zotac uses the CoolIT Systems Omni ALC cooler, which is factory-sealed and ready for system installation. The interposer plate that attaches to the GTX 580 card is remarkably thin and allows the card to occupy only one card slot. L-shaped tubing connections keep the total card length at only 10.5 inches. Most interestingly, the interposer plate is the only proprietary part of the cooling system. In this case, it’s designed for the GeForce GTX 580, but in theory you should be able to purchase different interposer plates for future cards and carry over the radiator and tubing apparatus, which is a terrific value-add for serious gamers.

Zotac throws in a software bundle, including Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, but the real draw here is the overclocking and liquid cooling. This GeForce GTX 580 Infinity Edition is without question one gift that would keep giving the whole year ‘round.