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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 Gemini Video Card E-mail
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Written by Olin Coles   
Thursday, 24 March 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 Gemini Video Card
GeForce GTX 590 Basic Details
NVIDIA Gemini Internal Details
Features and Specifications
Video Card Testing Methodology
DX9 SSAO: Mafia II
DX10: 3DMark Vantage
DX10: Crysis Warhead
DX11: 3DMark11
DX11: Aliens vs Predator
DX11: Battlefield Bad Company 2
DX11: BattleForge
DX11: Lost Planet 2
DX11: Metro 2033
DX11: Unigine Heaven 2.1
NVIDIA Gemini Overclocking
GeForce GTX 590 Temperatures
VGA Power Consumption
GeForce GTX 590 Conclusion

NVIDIA Gemini Internal Details

On the outside, NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 590 is merely a brick-shaped video card. On the inside, NVIDIA's codename "Gemini" design grabs your attention. The first thing you'll notice are two self-contained GPU coolers, each utilizing a copper vapor chamber and dual-slot heatsink, with a 80mm fan positioned equidistant between them. Beneath these heatsinks is a 12-layer printed circuit board (PCB) to ensure the highest signal integrity, and to help disperse heat more effectively across the PCB. NVIDIA uses two ounces of copper for each of the GTX 590's power and ground PCB layers, enhancing the circuit board's longevity.


Popular in the world of CPU coolers, NVIDIA has used hollow vapor chamber technology to provide a robust thermal management system on the GeForce GTX 590. This will bring into question the need for add-in card partners to design their own cooling solution, and challenge them to produce better results. Pictured below is one of two heatsink component, with the vapor chamber residing inside the copper portion. The polished copper contact surface mates together with the GF110 GPU, as the fan drives air past the aluminum fins and outside the each end of the fan shroud.


With the heatsinks removed, two GF110 processors are exposed. Packed with 512 CUDA cores each, two independent NVIDIA GF110 GPUs are combined by a NVIDIA NF200-P-SLI-A3 chip to deliver 1024 total cores of graphical processing power at 607 MHz. There are six 64-bit memory controllers that offer 384-bit combined bandwidth per GPU, and feed 3GB of combined GDDR5 video frame buffer. The reference design enabled 1GB of 1000 MHz GDDR5 memory clocked to 835.5 MHz, but could potentially include the use of higher-density DRAM modules in the future. Replacing the Samsung 128MB 1250MHz K4G10325FE-HC04 GDDR5 IC's with 256MB IC parts such as: Samsung 1250MHz K4G20325FC-HC04 GDDR5, or 1500MHz K4G20325FC-HC03 might be possible.


NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 Exposed PCB (click for larger image)

NVIDIA now dedicates hardware circuitry to the task of monitoring power consumption as well as temperature, adjusting performance to protect the graphics card from damage. Circled below are the electronic components responsible for power management on GeForce GTX 5xx series video cards (GTX 580 pictured). NVIDIA has indicated that this circuitry is optional, and that not all AIC partners will include it on their products. Benchmark Reviews uses 3DMark11 to stress both GPUs and produce maximum power usage measurements, although admittedly not many video games exist that might create comparable average power demands.


To help provide cooling for the PCB and its components, and aluminum baseplate is secured to the top of the board. In addition, two backplates are mounted on the bottom of the board to cool the graphics memory. Combined with a 10-phase digital power controller, the GeForce GTX 590 run exceptionally cool and quiet. NVIDIA adds one final touch the GTX 590: a glowing NVIDIA GeForce logo near the power connections.


In the next section, we detail the various Fermi products and lay out their features and specifications before putting them to test. If you're looking for specific transistor counts or texture unit detail, this is the section...



# RE: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 Gemini Video Cardmihai 2011-03-24 06:37
good review, great battle, 590gtx ugly competitor, for me is no choice
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# RE: RE: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 Gemini Video CardOlin Coles 2011-03-24 06:40
Thank you Mihai. What features made you want one card more than the other?
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# RE: RE: RE: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 Gemini Video Cardmihai 2011-03-24 08:27
good question ! there are not big things (power consumption,eyefinit y 4gb of vram)
but i will wait until aftermarket coolers for 6990 appears
anyway i appreciate great competitions like this one
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# Poor reviewGT40 2011-03-25 06:01
For a balance please redo the temp/fan noise on the same test you mesured the power draw with. Then also do the power test on the Furmark test.

If the results show low power use in Furmark for the 590, you know the card is activating its limiter, therefor the temp/noise reading are not realistic.

Simply put the power/temp/fan noise should be done on the games as you benched them, its all to easy to program a driver to fool one application to make it look and sound good.

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# RE: Poor ReviewCom-Tek Chris 2011-03-25 08:41
I think these guys spend more time than you think ATI FANBOY. The results these guys give don't come out of a cracker jack box. Read the whole review. They give you power readings at idle and under the heaviest load. The sound results were simply put, ATI is louder. I own the 6990, its louder and somewhat annoying, but I deal with it because I have noise canceling headphones. Do you trolls even read the whole articles....? Or just bits and pieces?
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# RE: Poor reviewOlin Coles 2011-03-25 10:09
Poor review? If that's the case, go hold your breath for that special request!
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# VS 6990Summary 2011-03-24 06:42
after all gtx 590 is better why? preformance maybe is not as great as i expected and found lack of it in gpu/mem clocks...3Gb vs 4GB for higher resolutions is lack too..but i had previously ati 5870(paid so much for buggy card with buggy memory) and what i suffered from? first card was an issue because of memory chips of samsung not form hynx and random GSOD happened...niether bios change fix that problem...rma'd card second was good but again samsung chips did not allow me to clock card higher than 1mhz even it had great afetmarket cooler....second the driver issue cf scaling in games tess' performance and on and on...i considered on going on 6970 but bought gtx 580 and was amazed with performance and driver release adn support...drivers was released in 18-th january and new release was not needed...but when i had 5870 driver fixes or many issues and games was released every 1-2 months ???? that is mine expierence with ati that i don't want to live again ,thanks but no way...about gtx 590 this card offer cuda(i needed so much for my study at university),3d vision,now multimonitor setup,physx and many other stable technologioes by nvidia that are certified....even if it is not faster than amd 6990 which is not faster that much than gtx 590 for me quality is number one and nvidia offer that....i am not fanboy of nvidia niether ati but i had many products from nvidia staring with agp card geforce 2 MX440 that served me great for long period of time that 8600gt,8600 gts,9500gt than ati 4870 that had also driver issues and 4870x2 with heat issues...than came 5870 and finally gtx 580 which i plan soon to sli with another one card...
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# RE: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 Gemini Video CardDavid Ramsey 2011-03-24 11:32
Like the ammo-case packaging, although I assume that's only for the review cards. Did it come with the magazines, too?
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# RE: RE: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 Gemini Video CardOlin Coles 2011-03-24 11:39
Nope, those are for my AR-15's. As you already know, I shoot all review samples after testing.
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# RE: RE: RE: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 Gemini Video CardSteven Iglesias-Hearst 2011-03-24 13:15
Good job you couldn't over-volt this card or you really would have to shoot this sample... Damn shame about these cards blowing up.
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# Shoot? What?Eric Garay 2011-03-24 15:29
LOL! Do you literally shoot them? Or, are you just messing around? Because...damn. :p
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# RE: Shoot? What?Olin Coles 2011-03-24 15:35
I shoot the big ones, but throw back the youngin's. :)

Actually, the hardware sits in a big box for retests and other projects. After a year or so, they become gifts or sold for what little they're still worth.

Hey- I never did see any of your work from PAX! Hope it was fun, and worth the visit.
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# RE: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 Gemini Video CardFxAsus 2011-03-24 12:19
I think with two 6870 you are done this year
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# What holdSuccellus 2011-03-24 16:43
What hold Nvidia from topping is the lack of memory in game really pushing like A10C full, Nvidia Short of memory especially on triple + monitor settings.
They really need to put some 2g or even 3g of mem on those 580 cards.
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# Quick heads upCharles McGraw 2011-03-24 17:34
Great review; as a quick heads up though, on the Features & Spec's page you have the GTX 590 listed as 7.7 Gigapixels per second.

I'm pretty sure that's not right.
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# RE: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 Gemini Video CardRobert17 2011-03-24 20:57
Nice review. Interesting how one week, one product, can up-end the previous high-water mark.

So what's up next week?
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# Amazing ArticleCom-Tek Chris 2011-03-24 21:18
I always appreciate the time that is taken into all the tests. I also appreciate the non bias assessments made. I currently own the 6990 (Great Card but it is noisy but I have the Logitech G930 Headset and it offers some noise cancellation) & I own 2x 580 GTX's in SLI, also beastly cards. If I had an extra $700 to bang out I would prob buy this new 590 but the budget says................oh wait..........I just sold 40 computers today to a, gimme a week, I got this baby!
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# I was surprisedBruceBruce 2011-03-24 21:35
The thing that surprised me the most was the price. But when I look at the clocks, and I see that it is basically the same performance as two GTX 570 cards, well it makes sense since thaey are hanging at $350 right now. It's kinda funny how ATI got slammed for making the HD 5970 from two 5850 chips, and then NVIDIA decides to follow the same path. I know the GTX 590 isn't gimped on shaders, but it's so hamstrung by it's low clocks that it may as well be. Well, they pinned a target on the HD 6990 and they hit it, center of mass! Or was that a headshot?
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# RE I was SurprisedCom-Tek Chris 2011-03-24 22:18
HEAD SHOT!!!!! coming soon to give reviewers a chance to test the real gaming pc's. Sorry had to do it, please don't kill me, lol.
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# does not seem to be as unbias a review as should betoros 2011-03-24 21:54
First I am not a diehard fan of either brand I go with who has the best overall product at the time. But its clear whenever a Nvidia product is launched it is always tested with a bias on games that have the nvidia tag on them. This is obviously going to make there card perform better.

When you look at the things that are not bias towards either product IE Heaven benchmark. Thats where you see the real difference in the cards. All this end talk about features is complete garbage. You can say the same for ATI there card and 3d bluray is far superior then the Nvidia solution. Eyefinity maybe a novel feature but it does work. Something Nvidia has yet to even come close to matching. Heck this is first card with 3 monitors support. Also the displayport is a mute point because ATI is now including a displayport adaptor that illiminates the super high cost of this solution among other reasons could state that this is not a fd it will eventually be the standard. If your going to skew your review because you like nvidia just do it at the begining. Its getting extremely old seeing the bait and switch from both sides.
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# Fan-boys cry the loudestOlin Coles 2011-03-24 22:27
You know what else gets old? Fan boy trolling. It's obvious you favor ATI, and that's your right as a consumer. I'm a reviewer without a horse in this race, so I couldn't care less for who wins the graphics war every week. If you researched my position a little more before you made rude comments on the work I've just delivered, you might see that. Just two weeks ago I was highlighting the AMD Radeon HD 6990. Anyone with their head pulled from the clouds would realize that the GTX 590 is virtually the same card, only with more polish.

Some of your remarks are a relief to me, because they show how uninformed you truly are. According to you, features like PhysX, 3D Vision, and CUDA support don't matter. I suggest you start asking around, because like it or not those 'garbage' features help sell these products.

By the way, those 'biased' NVIDIA games that always score the highest... games like BattleForge and Battlefield Bad Company 2... those are AMD co-developed games, not NVIDIA.
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# RE: Fan-boys cry the loudestCom-Tek Chris 2011-03-24 22:56
In all honesty with "toros" comment I really don't think he read all of your review or any of it for that matter. I would say his comment is based on 1 of 2 things. 1. He got this email and 2. He only read Page 19 Paragraph 2 line 1 where "NVIDIA designed the GeForce GTX 590 to be the best graphics card available on the market".

Then Toro's jumped on this forum and blogged his ATI Fanboy Mumbo Jumbo. But you know what, that's ok, Handicap need a place to lay their heads at night. If he had read the whole review he would have seen that facts. 1. The 6990 has its pro's and con's. Fact 2, The Nvidia and ATI cards are pretty neck and neck. Fact 3, the 590 won 5, tied 5 and (barley) lost 5. I don't know how anyone could have taken this review as "BIAS" towards Nvidia. I am an Nvidia fan, but I own a 6990 and 2 580 GTX's, they are both powerful................nevermind, I know if Toros is reading this it wont make sense so i will save my time.
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# RE: Fan-boys cry the loudestVik 2011-03-26 17:05
I think the points about NVidia's features are valid, but I disagree with what was said about Eyefinity support. In the past the adapters or dp capable monitors may indeed have been an expensive proposition, but given that the 6990 ships with an assortment of adapters, I don't think that is a fair point to try and make. I am running Eyefinity on the older 5970 now with 3 DVI monitors and one adapter. I wish those cheap adapters and free adapter were available back when I set this up, but early adopters pay that price.
Interesting read though. I am anxious to see how the cards compare at their overclocked overvolted limits on reference cooler.
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# seems unbiased enoughSempifi99 2011-04-01 10:26
I would think the review is plenty unbiased. But I would hardly discount features, since that is where the real difference between ati cards and nvidia cards are. Both brands can provide more than enough horsepower for most games at anything but extreme resolutions and their price points for performance are similar. But I think it is funny that someone who complains about bias in a review notes such a strong bias in his reply.
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# You know...Jake 2011-03-25 08:26
I am the kind of consumer that actually check this cards when they lower the price (you know, as long its using the same DirectX and not a lot different from other features), does the card industry will get better or will be a very stable year after this last movements?
For all I know next year could have big stuff for processors.
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# Finally!Rob 2011-03-25 09:57
It's about time to see some neck-and-neck battles between ATi and Nviida again. I was especially surprised to see how well the 6990 made improvement in Dx11 titled games as before it was for the most part Nvidia based products rather outperforming in Dx11 titled games. Now I just have to wait a few years for the next DirectX (12 perhaps) and then I will replace this GTX480 with a revised Dx12 card rather than just jumping the gun. Good to finally see some strong competition for a change between both manufacturers.

The rest of you fanboys should really stop honestly. In the case of the 6990 and 590, what is there really to say one card is superior to the other? I don't find 50w less, 5c degrees less or a card that runs EVER SO quieter to the other good ways of saying my card beats yours. There is no real pure power difference. So I must agree with Colin above and say they are both virtually the same exact cards.

I just have to stick with purchasing Nvidia however for my 3D setup, no biggie.
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# Image QualityRamin 2011-03-25 13:42
I have a question from "benchmark reviews"

I was wondering if the 6990 still had the aggressive AF optimizations which results in texture shimmering. I am referring to the AF optimization discovered earlier and brought up in an nViDIA blog.

I really hate texture shimmering, that is a deciding factor for me. If I have to switch setting around in Catalyst in order to get rid of shimmering the benchmark results would not indicate the actual performance I'll get from 6990.

Thanks in advance.
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# What I see...BruceBruce 2011-03-25 14:28
In the night scenes of the Unigine Heaven Benchmark, I see severe (bat-like) shimmering on the stones below some of the street lights. Both scenes are towards the end of the benchmark. Is this what you are referring to?
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# Videos in this pageRamin 2011-03-25 21:48
Yep what I mean by shimmering can be seen in videos posted in this page:

Usually shimmering (if it's present) can easily be seen in Half-Life 2 in road or railroad parts of the map which extend long into the horizon.

I remember having horrible shimmering in HL2 back when I had 7800GTX.

In the Unigine night scene you mention, can you get rid of shimmering by setting Catalyst AI to high or turning it off altogether?

I suppose in the same Unigine scene , GTX 590 is not showing any shimmering?

Thanks for the reply btw.
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# CorrrectionRamin 2011-03-25 21:50
Ooops! My mistake, scratch that URL. This page has contains the videos d_6850/s09.php
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# RE: Image QualityOlin Coles 2011-03-25 16:09
Yes, because they are Cayman-based, they still show a collision of ranges in AF-specific testing. Most people will never see the end-effects, but you can see them on tests made for this purpose.
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# RE: RE: Image QualityRamin 2011-03-25 22:03
Thanks for the reply Olin I just noticed that you are the reviewer.

Can you get rid of shimmering by fiddling with Cat AI ? Does the GTX 590 show the same amount of shimmering as well? In HL2 particularly, since it can easily be detected when moving the camera.
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# Struggles of Small BusinessPrasad 2011-03-26 06:27
This Graphics card is very expensive. If the company reduces its price then so many people, students and other game lovers can enjoy the games.
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# RE: Struggles of Small BusinessVik 2011-03-26 18:02

Neither AMD nor NVidia are charities. You want a bleeding edge product, prepare to bleed the cash.
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# RE: RE: Struggles of Small BusinessAvro Arrow 2011-03-27 17:10
Amen to that Vik! :D
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# Quad-SLI / Triple SLI?Sempifi99 2011-04-01 10:19
I enjoyed reading the article though the only thing I wish was here was some results of a quad-SLI of 590s and a triple-SLI of 580s. I know that it would not help everyone but I am sure at least everyone would find it an interesting read. Especially if Nvidia claims that the 590 has 1.5x the performance of the 580. Also it would be especially useful to me since I currently have 2x 580 in SLI for surround-3D gaming but have been finding them a little underwhelming, my resolution is 6160 x 1080, or essentially 6x 1080p monitors at 60Hz each. I have a little time left with the step up program and would love to see an article comparing the quad vs. triple SLI setups. Also triple-SLI 570s would be an interesting inclusion too.
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# I was wonderingjec 2011-04-03 23:31
I was just wondering when I was reading this review...does nvidia ever put HDMI ports in any of their cards at all. I've owned both types in my systems and lately don't recall many nvidias at all having hdmi ports. maybe its not a big deal for many people. what do you guys think? all in all great and fair review. first time coming to this site, great work.
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# RE: I was wonderingSteven Iglesias-Hearst 2011-04-04 00:31
Welcome to BmR jec.

Yes NVIDIA does include HDMI with their cards, I can only assume it is up to AIB partners whether it will be mini-HDMI or a full size port.
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# Re: I was wonderingSempifi99 2011-04-04 13:52
Nvidia puts a HDMI on many of their cards, though with dual link DVI supporting more bandwidth I don't see any need for a direct HDMI cable plug, since with an adapter you get the same thing. I would rather have more dual link DVI plugs and just use adapters. The only acception I can think of is for cards that would be meat to be used for HTPC since there are no TVs I can think of off the top of my head that would requier a dual link DVI connection, though with some of the 3d tvs today I could be wrong. But since dual link DVI supports the most bandwidth I would think it be more adventagious to have more dual link DVI and just have a DVI ? HDMI cable.
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