First things first – considering we’ve already reviewed nVidia’s flagship GTX 580, this won’t be a full-fledged review. However, the ASUS GTX 580 comes factory overclocked and features a tweaked BIOS that facilitates easier voltmodding and overclocking using their bundled Smart Doctor utility, something we thought was worth taking a look at.
Design and Packaging
There’s no doubt the ASUS GTX 580 is one of the better looking versions of the card out there. It refrains from using flashy stickers and has a more minimalistic design – all black with the ASUS logo. It’s pretty much identical to other 580s out there otherwise, which really is no surprise as it’s based off the reference card. Despite it being an overclock-friendly card, ASUS have kept the reference cooling mechanism and the 6pin+8pin PCI-E power connector combination.
Pretty sweet looking card
The packaging is pretty much standard ASUS fare, complete with the Voltage Tweak logo that promises a 50% increase in performance, something we’ll get to in due time. Aside from the obvious things, a mini-HDMI to HDMI convertor and a dual 6-pin to 8-pin PCI-E power adaptors are bundled. No game though, surprisingly.
The ASUS GTX 580 runs at a core clock of 782MHz and the Shader Clock at 1564MHz, which are a marginal increase from the 772MHz and 1544MHz offered by the reference cards. The Memory clock, however, remains untouched at 1002MHz. Does this lead to any meaningful increase in performance? The short answer would be no and the long answer would be “Can you really call that an overclock?” However, we’ll take it – it’s a free overclock and while the improvements are minimal, the real test for this card is how it fares in the actual overclocking department and its performance thereafter.
Using Smart Doctor, we managed to coax out a pretty decent overclock from this card, it was stable at 860MHz – a 10% increase in clock speed. The Memory clock leveled off at 1140MHz. What this shows is that the GTX 580 is in a whole different league from the previous Fermi cards when it comes to overclocking. nVidia have left some headway for overclocks with this offering, something that is markedly different from their pushed-to-their-limits GTX400 series. Funnily enough, we did manage to get even higher with our overclocking but settled for the aforementioned, rather conservative frequencies due to two reasons. Firstly, while it got through stability tests just fine, it would crash every time we booted up a game. Another factor we considered was that the GTX 580 comes with the throttling feature that lowers frequencies when it detects itself drawing too much power, something we wanted to prevent from happening.
In order to maintain consistency, we put the ASUS GTX 580 through the same tests we put the earlier 580 through and the results were more or less as expected. The minimal 1% factory overclock had next to no effect in benchmarks and games. Come on, do you really want to show off a 2% increase in frame rates? However, the proper overclock led to some pretty impressive results, most of all in the Unigene Heaven 2.1 benchmark where the overclocked ASUS GTX 580 performed a lot better than reference card and its own stock version.
Overall, the overclocked card performed much better. The increases in performance varied from 5 to 14 percent which is pretty damned good. However, it is still nowhere near the 50% advertised on the box though.
Power, Temperature and Noise
Strangely enough, the ASUS GTX 580 drew lesser power than the reference card, despite boasting of a 1% overclock. This can be explained away though by ASUS setting a higher fan speed in their BIOS, because Fermi cards normally draw lesser power when they’re running cooler.
Temperature wise, the 580 is a cool customer. Even with the overclocking, the ASUS GTX 580 didn’t cross 80 and 90 degrees at stock and overclocked frequencies respectively, which is a far cry from the F100 chipsets. nVidia have delivered with their awesome GF110 chipsets, something that really cannot be overstated.
The card is also really quiet. You cannot hear it when it’s idle and even when you load up a mildly intensive game (Mass Effect 2, in this case). It’s only during really heavy load that the fan begins to kick into high gear and even then, it only results in a hum noise rather than a high-pitched whirr.
The ASUS GTX 580, just like any other GTX 580, is a magnificent card. It will chew up everything you throw at it even at stock and overclocking it just leads to more destruction. However, the factory overclock does next to nothing, which is a shame at a price of Rs. 30480 + taxes. If you don’t plan on overclocking, you probably shouldn’t pick this one over the others. If you do plan on it though, go for this one with your eyes closed because it’s a great overclocker and what’s more, you don’t void your warranty doing it!
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