The GTX 480 packed a lot of punch but it wasn’t too exciting. It ran very hot, hogged power and sounded like a hair dryer at full load. Nvidia has ironed out these issues with the GTX 580 which is based on the new GF110 architecture. The GF100 (on which the GTX 480 was based) had a total of 512 stream processors organized as 16 clusters of 32 stream processors each. However one cluster was disabled due to which the GTX 480 had 480 stream processors (15 clusters x 32 SPs). Also the card ran very hot because the fast-switching transistors wasted a lot of energy in the form of heat due to current leakage. The GTX 580 has all the clusters (Streaming Multiprocessors or SMs) enabled which gives it a whopping 512 stream processors. It also consumes less power and heats up much less than its predecessor thanks to better grade of transistors used that waste less heat.
The cooler of the reference design has also been upgraded. GTX 480 used a massive heat sink with four heat pipes that protruded from the side. The one fitted on the GTX 580 is completely different, although it looks somewhat similar sans the heat pipes. The base of the heat sink which cools the GPU and memory chips is a copper vapour chamber. It’s based on the principle of evaporative cooling which involves water evaporating due to heat and then condensing back to water. The heat is dissipated to the fins which are cooled by a blower. The plastic shroud fitted over the cooler facilitates the airflow through the fins and directs hot air to the rear of the card from where it is expelled.
The blower is also slightly different with the blades bound together from the top for additional stability. If you notice the PCB, Nvidia has got rid of the cut out from where the blower used to intake additional air. It worked in the case of a single card, but in case of multi-GPU setups, the cards fitted below used to heat up because the cut out was blocked by the card fitted on top. The new design features a vent at the end through which the cooler can intake additional air.
Keeps you cool, even in intense firefights
The first retail sample of the GTX 580 was sent to us by ZOTAC. It sports the reference design with the core and memory running at stock speeds. Despite slower-switching transistors the core of the GTX 580 runs 72 MHz faster than GTX 480 at 772 MHz. The 1.5 GB of GDDR5 memory tied to a 384-bit wide bus is clocked at 1.02 GHz which is again faster by 96 MHz. The card draws power from an 8-pin PCIe power connector and a second 6-pin connector. No change has been made to the video outputs on the rear, except that the mini HDMI port is version 1.4a. ZOTAC has bundled Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands with this card.
Multiple Displays are possible
CPU: Intel Core i7-940
Motherboard: ASUS Rampage III Extreme
RAM: 4 GB Corsair XMS3-1600 CL9
SSD: Intel X25M, 80 GB
Power supply: Tagan BZ1300
So far none of the single-GPU cards have been able to handle Crysis Warhead in Enthusiast mode at 1980×1080 with the AA maxed out. The GTX 580 just managed it at a steady 38 fps which is smooth. The HD 5870 and GTX 480 could deliver a little over 30 fps at 4x AA. So 16x AA is straight out of question. Mafia II is another game that can bring high end graphics cards to their knees. At 1920×1080 with AA enabled, it ran very smoothly at 70.5 fps but with PhysX completely disabled. With the level of PhysX cranked to full, the card just about managed it at 36 fps which is very commendable.
Belly of the beast
The GTX 580 shone in Unigine Heaven 2.1 benchmark which features extensive use of tessellation. At 1920×1080 with 4xAA and extreme tessellation the scenes were running at 37 fps. Overall the GTX 580 is 25 percent faster than its predecessor and consumes 80 W less at full load.
It goes without saying that the GTX 580 is the fastest single-GPU card in the market at present. Take any game max out all the effects and this card won’t give in easily. No other card comes close to the GTX 580, but a pair of HD 6870s which would cost around the same would give it some serious competition. Its priced at Rs. 31,000.
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