Final Thoughts

Even though NVIDIA is only launching a single card today there’s a lot to digest, so let’s get to it.

Since the GeForce GTX 580 arrived in our hands last week, we’ve been mulling over how to approach it. It boils down to two schools of thought: 1) Do we praise NVIDIA for delivering a high performance single GPU card that strikes the right balance of performance and temperature/noise, or 2) Do we give an indifferent thumbs-up to NVIDIA for only finally delivering the card that we believe the GTX 480 should have been.

The answer we’ve decided is one of mild, but well earned praise. The GTX 580 is not the true next-generation successor to the GTX 480; it’s the GTX 480 having gone back in the womb for 7 months of development. Much like AMD, NVIDIA faced a situation where they were going to do a new product without a die shrink, and had limited options as a result. NVIDIA chose wisely, and came back with a card that is both decently faster and a refined GTX 480 at the same time.

With the GTX 480 we could recognize it as being the fastest single GPU card on the market, but only by recognizing the fact that it was hot and loud at the same time. For buyers the GTX 480 was a tradeoff product – sure it’s fast, but is it too hot/too loud for me? The GTX 580 requires no such tradeoff. We can never lose sight of the fact that it’s a high-end card and is going to be more power hungry, louder, and hotter than many other cards on the market, but it’s not the awkward card that the GTX 480 was. For these reasons our endorsement of the GTX 580 is much more straightforward, at least as long as we make it clear that GTX 580 is less an upgrade for GTX 480, and more a better upgrade for the GTX 285 and similar last-generation cards.

What we’re left with today is something much closer to the “traditional” state of the GPU market: NVIDIA has the world’s fastest single-GPU card, while AMD is currently nipping at their heels with multi-GPU products. Both the Radeon HD 5970 and Radeon HD 6870 CF are worthy competitors to the GTX 580 – they’re faster and in the case of the 6870 CF largely comparable in terms of power/temperature/noise. If you have a board capable of supporting a pair of 6870s and don’t mind the extra power it’s hard to go wrong, but only if you’re willing to put up with the limitations of a multi-GPU setup. It’s a very personal choice – we’d be willing to trade the performance for the simplicity of avoiding a multi-GPU setup, but we can’t speak for everyone.

So what’s next? A few different things. From the NVIDIA camp, NVIDIA is promising a quick launch of the rest of the GeForce 500 series. Given the short development cycles for NVIDIA we’d expect more refined GF10x parts, but this is very much a shot in the dark. Much more likely is a 3GB GTX 580, seeing as how NVIDIA's official product literature calls the GTX 580 the "GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB", a distinction that was never made for the GTX 480.

More interesting however  will be what NVIDIA does with GF110 since it’s a more capable part than GF100 in every way. The GF100 based Quadros and Teslas were only launched in the last few months, but they’re already out of date. With NVIDIA’s power improvements in particular, this seems like a shoo-in for at least one improved Quadro and Tesla card. We also expect 500 series replacements for some of the GF100-based cards (with the GTX 465 likely going away permanently).

Meanwhile the AMD camp is gearing up for their own launches. The 6900 series is due to launch before the year is out, bringing with it AMD’s new Cayman GPU. There’s little we know or can say at this point, but as a part positioned above the 6800 series we’re certainly hoping for a slugfest. At $500 the GTX 580 is pricey (much like the GTX 480 before it), and while this isn’t unusual for the high-end market we wouldn’t mind seeing NVIDIA and AMD bring a high-intensity battle to the high-end, something that we’ve been sorely missing for the last year. Until we see the 6900 series we wouldn’t make any bets, but we can certainly look forward to it later this year.

Power, Temperature, and Noise
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  • FragKrag - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    Still no SC2? :( Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    Honestly, I ran out of time. I need to do a massive round of SC2 benchmarking this week, at which time it will be in all regular reviews and will be in Bench. Reply
  • ph3412b07 - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    There is always some debate as to the value of single gpu solutions vs multi gpu. I've noticed that the avg/max framerate in multi gpu setups is in fact quite good in some cases, but the min fps paints a different picture, with nearly all setups and various games being plagued by micro-stutter. Has anybody else come across this as reason to go with a more expensive single card? Reply
  • eXces - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    Why did u not include some overclocked 5970? Like u did with GTX 460 when u reviewed 6800 series? Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    If you don't recall from our 5970 review, we disqualified our 5970 when running at 5870 clocks. The VRMs on the 5970 cannot keep up with the power draw on some real world applications, so it does not pass our muster at those speeds by even the loosest interpretation. Reply
  • 529th - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    I knew OCCT was a culprit of causing problems. Reply
  • Ph0b0s - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    Was very interested to look at the review today to see how the new GTX580 and other DX11 card options are in comparison to my GTX 285 SLI setup. But unfortunately for the games I am playing BFBC2, Stalker etc and would base my descition on, I still don't know as my card is not represented. I know why,, becuase they are DX11 games and my card is DX10, but my card still runs them and I would want to know how they compare even if one is running DX10 and the other running DX11. Even Anandtech's chart system gives no measure for my cards in these games . Please sort this out. Just becuase a card does not run the latest version of directx does not mean it should be forgotten. Escpecially since the people most likley to be looking at upgrading are those with this generation of card rather than people with DX 11 hardware... Reply
  • mapesdhs - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link


    Don't worry, I'll have some useful info for you soon! 8800GT vs. 4890 vs. 460, in all
    three cases testing 1 & 2 cards. You should be able to eaisly extrapolate from the
    results to your GTX285 vs. 580 scenario. Send me an email (mapesdhs@yahoo.com)
    and I'll drop you a line when the results are up. Data for 8800 GT vs. 4890 is already up:

    http://www.sgidepot.co.uk/misc/pctests.html
    http://www.sgidepot.co.uk/misc/stalkercopbench.txt

    but I'm adding two more tests (Unigine and X3TC).

    Ian.
    Reply
  • juampavalverde - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    NVIDIA exceed AMD with this... as long as the barts should have been 6770, this fermi slight improvement just in this universe can be called 5xx series. it is just the gf100 done right, and should have been named properly, as gtx 490. Reply
  • deeps6x - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    Really, who has to have this card when for less money, you can get better results with a pair of 460s in SLI or a pair of 6850s in CF (even better than 460s in almost all cases) to give you better numbers than this card.

    Take the extra $100+ and bump your CPU up a speed bin or two.
    Reply

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