|ASUS ENGTX580 GeForce GTX 580 Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 22 November 2010|
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ASUS GeForce GTX 580 Conclusion
IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating specifically for the product tested which may differ from future versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.
Beginning with frame rate performance, the ASUS GeForce GTX 580 video card competes at a level comparable to the dual-GPU ATI Radeon HD 5970 and occasionally matched up well against a pair of AMD Radeon HD 6870's in CrossFireX configuration or GeForce GTX 460's in SLI. All of these options share a similar premium price point, and offer similar DirectX 11 functionality. In comparison to the Fermi GF100-powered GeForce GTX 480, the GF110 proved that GeForce GTX 580 was far more than an added streaming multiprocessor and clock speed increase; it was the perfect blend of tessellation, shaders, and texture units we first witnessed with the GF104 inside GeForce GTX 460.
In our DirectX 10 tests, 3D Mark Vantage had the 782 MHz GeForce GTX 580 trailing slightly behind the Radeon HD 5970 and CrossFire 6870's in Jane Nash, but then it comes back and matches or exceeds them in New Calico. Overclocked to 925 MHz, the ENGTX580 struggles to keep up with the two overclocked GTX 460's in SLI, but it matches or beats the others. Crysis Warhead matches the GeForce GTX 580 to the Radeon HD 5970 equally at stock speeds, yet both trail behind the Radeon 6870's in CrossFire. In our DirectX 11 tests, Aliens vs Predator puts the GeForce GTX 580 video card behind the Radeon 5970 and CrossFire 6870's, and then positions it between them for Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Then BattleForge, Lost Planet 2, and Mafia II all report the GeForce GTX 580 even with, or outperforming, the Radeon HD 5970 and CrossFire 6870's. Testing with Metro 2033 the GeForce GTX 580 takes a turn South, and both Radeon contenders surpass it. Tom Clancy's HAWX2 clearly works better with GeForce tessellation, putting the GTX 580 and all other NVIDIA products way ahead of AMD Radeon video cards. Finally, the Unigine Heaven benchmark confirms the trends we've seen in all the tests leading up to this, and position the ASUS GeForce GTX 580 slightly ahead of the dual-GPU ATI Radeon HD 5970 and trailing shortly behind a pair of AMD Radeon HD 6870's in CrossFireX. Further overclocking to 925 MHz sends the ENGTX580 past the competition.
Appearance is a more subjective matter since the rating doesn't have benchmark scores to fall back on. Partners traditionally offer their own unique twist on the design, with improved cooling solutions and colorful fan shroud designs. NVIDIA doesn't allow this to happen with the GeForce GTX 580, primarilty because the video card operates so efficiently that improving an already effective cooling solution would be superfluous. The reference design allows nearly all of the heated air to externally exhaust outside of the computer case, which could be critically important to overclockers wanting the best possible environment for their computer hardware. This deep shroud chamfer also preserves the Fermi GF110 GPU in SLI sets. Aside from some branding decals, the ENGTX580 is identical in physical appearance to the reference design. The GTX 580 might not look as tough as the GTX 480 on the outside, but it doesn't need to overcompensate by exposing a few heat-pipes.
Defining value at the premium-priced high-end segment isn't easy, because hardware enthusiasts know that they're going to pay top dollar to own the top product. Even still, value is a fast moving target because the price on these products literally changes by the minute in this industry. Even with a factory overclock and plenty of extra headroom, the ASUS ENGTX580/2DI/1536MD5 model sell for $520 (Amazon and NewEgg) and matches the most-affordable GeForce GTX 580 models.
In summary, the GF110 GPU inside the ASUS ENGTX580 clearly contrasts how far off the mark GF100 was when it launched with GTX 480, possibly lending credibility to the leap in series number (GeForce 400 vs 500). The GeForce GTX 580 redeems the Fermi architecture with performance results the enthusiast community can finally appreciate, along with reduced power consumption and thermal output everyone can be grateful for. These are all impressive enhancements to the series, and some will argue that it's what NVIDIA should have done with Fermi from the start. ASUS further extends performance with their Voltage Tweak feature, which allowed us to overclock the ENGTX580 up to 925 MHz completely stable.
Taking all aspects of the ASUS GeForce GTX 580 into consideration, there's really a lot more to like about the Fermi architecture now. The GF110 graphics processor finally has its priorities straight, and the dramatically efficient power consumption levels have reduced heat output to their lowest level in many years. The expensive price tag on the GTX 580 is something consumers of premium top-end graphics products might already be used to, but it's hard to like a $500 price point. I find myself reminded that this video card matches performance with a dual-GPU Radeon HD 5970 that was priced at $700 for the longest time, and the few remaining models still cost nearly $600. And while the ASUS GeForce GTX 580 proves itself a solid contender against the Radeon HD 5970, there's still the small matter of two GeForce GTX 460's in SLI or two AMD Radeon HD 6870's combined into CrossFire to consider. This will ultimately be a decision for the consumer, who either wants the best overall performance a single card can offer along with several proprietary features benefits only available from NVIDIA, or they'll settle for two lesser products that produce comparable frame rates.
If the ASUS GeForce GTX 580 video card was yours, would you overclock it using Voltage Tweak? Leave comments below, or ask questions in our Forum.
+ Fastest single-unit DX11 graphics accelerator available
- Very expensive premium-level product
Final Score: 9.1 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.