|ASUS ENGTX580 GeForce GTX 580 Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 22 November 2010|
Page 16 of 19
ASUS SmartDoctor Utility
AMD and NVIDIA already stretch their GPUs pretty thin in terms of overclocking head room, but there's a difference between thin and non-existent. In this section, Benchmark Reviews overclocks the ASUS GeForce GTX 580 video card using the ASUS SmartDoctor overclocking utility. This application offers several adjustable variables to reach the desired overclock, and allows for voltage changes (increase/decrease). The aim of this project is to push the Fermi GF110 GPU inside the ENGTX580 as far as it could go by taking advantage of the ASUS Voltage Tweak functionality.
In the past, software-based overclocking on ASUS video cards has been accomplished through the GamerOSD program. Now these tasks are handled by ASUS SmartDoctor (illustrated below), which is described as "intelligent hardware protection and a powerful overclocking tool". The ASUS SmartDoctor tool allows users to overclock their ASUS video card's GPU and RAM, and at the same time monitor thermal output. ASUS simplifies the on-screen feedback with notes such as "Your VGA Card is OK.", but more advanced users will appreciate the in-depth data that is displayed at the upper-right corner of the module.
The ASUS SmartDoctor utility measures memory speed in quad data rate, which means that the stock speed of 1000MHz GDDR5 appears as 4000MHz in the utility. The ASUS SmartDoctor utility worked well to overclock GPU clock speed, while Vcore voltage allowed plenty of available range thanks to the added Voltage Tweak functionality. As a best practice, it's good to find the maximum stable GPU clock speed, and then drop back 10 MHz or more. After several trial-and-error gaming sessions to confirm stability, the ASUS ENGTX580 video card proved to offer an overclock that resulted in some very impressive gains.
ASUS SmartDoctor Overclocking Utility (GeForce GTX 580)
ASUS ENGTX580 Overclocking
The factory overclocked ASUS ENGTX580 uses 962 mV at 782 MHz, but with the help of added Voltage Tweak stability and their SmartDoctor software we safely applied 1145 mV to reach 925 MHz. This amounts to a 153 MHz increase over the standard speed, and 143 MHz increase over the factory overclock. Beginning with the maximum stable GPU clock speed, I slowly increased the settings until I began to see screen tearing or the Forceware driver crashed. Once I reached the most stable speeds for both GPU and GDDR5, I put the video card back into action with high-demand video games for additional benchmark tests. Here are the results:
GeForce GTX 580 Overclocking Results
Overclocking Summary: After re-testing the overclocked GeForce GTX 580 on eleven different benchmarks, the increased performance amounted to 8-20% improvement in video frame rates. This is an impressive overclock considering that the GeForce GTX 580 already rests at the very top of NVIDIA's food chain. The recent ASUS ENGTX480 Overclocking project used a refined GF100 GPU that yielded 12-17% improvements, while the AMD Radeon HD 6870 was limited to 6.5-9.3%. Even though ASUS uses NVIDIA's best processor, there's still headroom for overclocking to squeeze every extra frame into an advantage over your enemy.
Back in the day, software overclocking tools were few and far between. Benchmark Reviews was literally put on the map with my first article: Overclocking the NVIDIA GeForce Video Card. Although slightly dated, that article is still relevant for enthusiasts wanting to permanently flash their overclock onto the video cards BIOS. Unfortunately, most users are not so willing to commit their investment to such risky changes, and feel safer with temporary changes that can be easily undone with a reboot. That's the impetus behind the sudden popularity for software-based GPU overclocking tools.
Want to boost graphics card performance without exiting the game? Activate ASUS GamerOSD anytime during gameplay and adjust the GPU clock for instant overclocking. Real-time FPS (frames per second) status is also available to keep track of performance improvements. The ASUS GamerOSD (On-Screen Display) is a tool for combining ASUS SmartDoctor and video capture tools together without leaving the action. What I found especially helpful was the high-resolution DVD-quality video capture feature, which comes FREE with the ASUS ENGTX580 kit. Programmable hot keys assign actions, and recorded video (saved in XviD MPEG-4 format) or screen shots can be taken on command. These are features you would have to pay for using other software, such as FRAPS.
ASUS GamerOSD On-Screen Display Utility
In the next section, we explore NVIDIA APEX PhysX enhancements with the ASUS GeForce GTX 480...