ASUS GTX 580 Review

ccokeman - 2010-11-11 17:50:48 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: November 29, 2010
Price: $524

Introduction:

Introduced just two short weeks ago, the GTX 580 from NVIDIA gave us what we had been waiting for since November 2009 — a Fermi-based graphics solution that was not a cut-down version of the architecture. We finally got the fully functional version with its 512 CUDA cores instead of 480 or fewer with the lower class cards, the GTX 470 and 460. The performance delivered by the GTX 580 rivaled that of the HD 5970 2GB in some games and easily out performed the GTX 480 and the best single GPU card in the AMD product stack, the now year+ old HD 5870. This means that the green camp has a new performance leader with the GTX 580. It runs cooler, uses less power (for those who use that as a measure of a successful product), and just plain kicked ass when put to the test!

While I have looked at the reference version of the GTX 580, this one is from ASUS and comes to us equipped with a slightly higher clock speed on the core and the ability to tweak voltages using the ASUS Smart Doctor utility for added performance — something that was not available with the reference version. The claim from ASUS on the voltage tweaking ability is an improvement of "Up to 50%" by using this technology. Without the voltage tweak ability, the reference card delivered less than stunning overclocking increases based on a percentage basis. But after playing with the Smart Doctor software, the ability to increase the voltage brings on the pain without the fear of the hardware-based current monitoring kicking in to limit performance. So let's see just what ASUS gives us with its version of the GTX 580.

Closer Look:

The packaging of the ASUS GTX 580 has pretty much remained unchanged over the past year with the warrior on his stallion looking to take your gaming experience to another level. The packaging stands out on a shelf as it should with that kind of visual appeal. The green background lets you know this is an NVIDIA card in lieu of an orange or red background. The front of the package has a large Voltage Tweak medallion that touts the 50% faster performance logo. Underneath are the features of the NVIDIA GTX 580 that include 1536MB of GDDR5 memory, Full DirectX 11 support, CUDA and PhysX support, with the GTX 580 name underneath. The back side lists the features of this series. To the right is an image that illustrates the connectivity options with messages about DirectX 11 and the Voltage Tweak software to the left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening up the packaging, you get the elegant-looking black cardboard shell that holds the GTX 580 and the accessory bundle for this card. The bundle is split between the thin box on top and the compartment to the right. The card is stored underneath, encased in a foam enclosure, keeping it safe in transit.

 

 

The accessory bundle that comes with the GTX 580 is slim by most accounts, but it comes with what you need to get it installed in your system. You get the driver and utility disk, a manual, dual 6-pin PCIe to a single 8-pin connection, and a single mini HDMI to HDMI adapter to round out the package. Like I said, slim, but containing what you absolutely need to get the job done.

 

 

We've seen the packaging and what is included with this card from ASUS, so let's delve a little deeper into the card.

Closer Look:

For all intents and purposes, the ASUS GTX 580 looks to be a reference design card, but the shroud is equipped with ASUS branding so you know where this card came from and can proudly show off your loyalties. The ASUS GTX 580 comes to market with the clock speed of the fixed function units set to 782MHz on the core ,or 10MHz higher than the reference design clock speed, while the 1.5GB of GDDR5 memory is at the standard 2004MHz. This gives you the potential for a light performance increase right out of the box. The GTX 580 measures 10.5 inches long from end to end, meaning it is on the larger end of the spectrum, but most of today's enthusiast-style chassis should present no problems. When you look at the front of the card, the differences between the GTX 580 and GTX 480 are quite easily seen. Gone are the protruding heat pipes and massive heat sink that dominated the external view of the GTX 480. That large of a cooling solution is not required with the GTX 580 since NVIDIA went back to the drawing board and completely redesigned the architecture down to the transistor level for improved power efficiency and thermal performance. The rear of the card is pretty mundane with the surface mount components and the screws used to hold the shroud and heat sinks onto the PCB. ASUS uses a system of covers on the Dual Link DVI connectors and the PCIe slot connector to make sure there is no damage to these connection points once it leaves the factory. Just one added precaution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ASUS GTX 580 uses the reference connectivity solution in the form of two Dual Link DVI ports and a single Mini HDMI port. With this configuration, you are still limited to two displays, so if you are looking at a surround setup, or better yet a 3D surround setup with the addition of NVIDIA's 3D Vision system, you will need a second graphics card. At least this gives you the graphics horsepower to get the best visual experience with the frame rates demanded by gamers. The rear end of the card contains a depression near the fan opening to bring in as much cool air to the GPU when used in an SLI multi GPU setup. This should allow the top card to run cooler for some worry free gaming.

 

 

The dual bridge connections on the ASUS GTX 580 means that it can support up to a three-card SLI setup at resolutions up to 7680x1600. By going with more than one card, you can use an NVIDIA 3D Surround multi monitor setup for a truly immersive gaming experience with a trio of 120Hz monitors. The ASUS GTX 580 has a TDP of 244 watts and you will need a power supply that includes both a 6 and 8-pin connector if you do not want to use adapters. This TDP is 56 watts less than the power hungry GTX 480. NVIDIA recommends a 600 watt or greater power supply when using the GTX 580. The power supply requirements obviously scale up when you use more than one card. You can look up the listing of NVIDIA certified power supplies over at SLI Zone under the Certified Products tab.

 

 

To verify that this truly is a reference design card, you have to get under the hood and take a look. NVIDIA took what it learned from the GTX 480 and improved the thermal design characteristics. By fixing this problem, it gained some flexibility in the size and type of cooling solution that could be used. For this build, the card uses a large Vapor Chamber heat sink that is smaller and more efficient than the massive cooler used on the GTX 480. To keep the voltage regulation circuits and memory modules cool, an aluminum plate is used as a full cover heat sink. This plate is held to the PCB by screws and keeps the PCB from flexing as well as functioning as a heat sink. The diagram below provides an illustrated view as to how a "Vapor Chamber" works. Just imagine it as a large flat heat pipe.

 

 

Looking at the heatsink assembly once it is removed, you see that it is a substantial cooler. The large fin array runs the length of the Vapor Chamber and directs heat out through the vent on the I/O bracket. On top of the heat sink are a series of strips of insulation that keep the air driven by the fan going through the fins of the array to maximize cooling efficiency. The Vapor Chamber has a raised platform that makes contact with the integrated heat spreader of the GF 110 core so that is the only point of contact.

 

 

The GF 110 GPU was completely redesigned down to the transistor level with "lower leakage transistors on less timing sensitive processing paths and higher speed transistors on more critical processing paths," as NVIDIA puts it. Through this redesign, the clock speeds were able to be increased as well as lowering the power consumption — a win on both counts. With the GF 110 GPU used on the ASUS GTX 580, we get the full capabilities of the Fermi architecture. You get four graphics processing clusters, 16 streaming multiprocessors (instead of 15), 512 CUDA cores (instead of 480), 16 Polymorph engines, 64 texture units, 48 ROP units. The clock speeds have been bumped from 772MHz on the fixed function units and 1544MHz on the CUDA cores to 782MHz and 1564MHz, respectively, on this ASUS card. The ASUS GTX 580 uses the reference specification 1536MB of GDDR5 memory that runs through a 384-bit interface with 768K of shared L2 cache. The memory used on this card is manufactured by Samsung and is rated to run at 1250MHz.

 

 

Let's see if the additional 10MHz on the core makes a difference in performance. I'm sure the Voltage Tweaking will, but how much is the question.

Specification:

Graphics Engine
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580
Bus Standard
PCI Express 2.0
Video Memory
GDDR5 1536MB
Engine Clock
782 MHz
CUDA Core
512
Shader Clock
1564 MHz
Memory Clock
4008 MHz (1002 MHz GDDR5)
RAMDAC
400 MHz
Memory Interface
384-bit
Resolution
D-Sub Max Resolution : 2048x1536
DVI Max Resolution : 2560x1600
Interface
DVI Output : Yes x 2 (DVI-I)
HDMI Output : Yes x 1 (via Mini HDMI to HDMI adaptor x 1)
HDCP Support : Yes
Accessories
1 x Power cable
1 x Mini HDMI to HDMI adaptor
Software
*Please follow the driver setup instruction to download SmartDoctor application on ASUS website prior to use
Dimensions
11 " x 5 " Inch

 

Features:

ASUS Exclusive Innovation

Graphics GPU Features:

 

 

 

All information Courtesy of  ASUS @ http://usa.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=YqKMcRh44teNejV9&templete=2

Testing:

Testing of the GTX 580 video card from ASUS will consist of running it and comparison cards through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors. Comparisons will be made to cards of equal and greater capabilities to show where it falls on the performance ladder. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles to give you an idea of how the cards perform relative to each other.

The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustment will be made to the respective control panels during the testing with the exception of the 3DMark Vantage testing, where PhysX will be disabled in the NVIDIA control panel. I will test the card at stock speeds, then overclocked in order to see how much additional performance is available and to determine if it can run with the current fastest single GPU cards on the market. The drivers used in this test will be the 10.10 Catalyst drivers for AMD and the 260.89 Forceware drivers from NVIDIA for all cards save the GTX 580. Tests will be conducted at both stock and overclocked settings to gauge performance when an increase in clock speed is applied. There is a change in how our graphs are now setup, with the card being tested highlighted in GREEN for NVIDIA based video cards and RED for AMD Radeon card. As our tests are very comprehensive, we hope this makes it a little bit easier to pick them out of the crowd. The cards are placed in order from highest to lowest performing.

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocking the GTX 580 from ASUS is a little different than the reference card because of the inclusion of voltage tweaking in ASUS's Smart Doctor utility. What a difference a little voltage tweaking makes in the overall clock speed increases. By pushing the voltage, the card responded well all the way up to 962MHz with the maximum allowable voltage of 1.213v applied in the Smart Doctor Utility. That's a 180MHz jump over the factory clock speed for the CUDA cores. The reference design card used in OverclockersClub's NVIDIA GTX 580 review used without voltage tweaking limited the card to a meager 56MHz increase. When it comes to memory overclocking, the way to test now with memory that features error correction is to increase the clock speed until you see performance degrade or eventually a lock up. These increases represent a 23% increase in clock speed on the core and a 14% increase on the memory. These increases should bring measurable performance increases to be shown in the results of the benchmark testing. Bare in mind that, when overclocking and especially when increasing the voltage applied to the silicon, you are going to run at higher temperatures than you may be accustomed to running, even with the improvements to the GPU. To minimize the temperature impact, I ran the fan on the ASUS GTX 580 at 85% (maximum allowable with ASUS's Smart Doctor utility). The cooling fan's noise signature was the same as the reference version with the fan being audible, but not overly noisy. The fan pitch was more of a hum than a whine, with the increase of the airflow creating the majority of the noise.

One thing that was a shocker was the over current protection system utilized by NVIDIA that throttles current to the card if there is an increase in the current demand associated with so called power virus programs such as OCCT, Furmark and Kombuster. To this end, NVIDIA installed hardware on the PCB that detects this increase and pulls down the current to keep the card temperatures down and keep you from killing the core. There is now a way to defeat this, as shown by Techpowerup, but would not be recommended for use with an air-cooled card. If you plan on playing with some dry ice or liquid nitrogen then go for it, but with air only it's a risky proposition.

 

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

In the past, I had used MSI's Kombuster utility to check for stability coupled with the ability to run through the entire test suite. I have found that some game tests would still fail with this utility, so I have moved to testing with several games at maximum settings through several resolutions to verify the clock speeds that are listed below. Why the change? I have found some cards will play fine at a 4xAA setting, but fail when using 8xAA due to the increased graphics load. If it fails then the clock speeds and tests are rerun until they pass.

   

 

  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Metro 2033
  3. Crysis Warhead
  4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  5. Just Cause 2
  6. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.1
  7. Batman: Arkham Asylum
  8. Resident Evil 5
  9. 3DMark 06 Professional
  10. 3DMark Vantage
  1. Temperature
  2. Power Consumption

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built specially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real-time effects and damage. This next generation first-person shooter comes to us from Ubisoft, surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this Far Cry game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

In Far Cry 2, the GTX 580 and HD 5970 deliver almost identical performance in the four resolutions when tested at the factory clock speeds. When overclocked, you get much of the same with the exception of 1280x1024, where the advantage is pretty large over the GTX 580. The massive overclock of the ASUS GTX 580 did not show a significant improvement until above the 1280x1024 resolution.

Testing:

Part first person shooter, part survival horror, Metro 2033 is based on the novel of the same name, written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, where you'll spend most of your time traversing the metro system, with occasional trips to the surface. Despite the dark atmosphere and bleak future for mankind, the visuals are anything but bleak. Powered by the 4A Engine, with support for DirectX 11, NVIDIA Physx and NVIDIA 3D Vision, the tunnels are extremely varied - in your travels, you'll come across human outposts, bandit settlements, and even half-eaten corpses. Ensuring you feel all the tension, there is no map and no health meter. Get lost without enough gas mask filters and adrenaline shots and you may soon wind up as one of those half-eaten corpses — chewed up by some horrifying manner of irradiated beast that hides in the shadows just waiting for some hapless soul to wander by.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The factory overclock on the ASUS GTX 580 is of limited value when you run the card at its baseline clocks in this game. Overclocking using the Voltage Tweak options for this card shows significant improvements above 1280x1024, where i believe the CPU is the limiting factor for performance, as the results scale well in the higher resolutions.

Testing:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The additional 10MHz increase on the core clock helps the ASUS GTX 580 outperform the reference card in three out of four resolutions. When overclocked, the ASUS version keeps close tabs on the HD 5970 with a three FPS differential at 2560x1600 and five FPS differential at 1920x1200.

Testing:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the latest iteration of the venerable first person shooter series, Call of Duty. Despite its long, successful pedigree, the game is not without substantial criticism and controversy, especially on the PC. Aside from the extremely short campaign and lack of innovation, the PC version's reception was also marred by its lack of support for user-run dedicated servers, which means no user-created maps, no mods, and no customized game modes. You're also limited to 18-player matches instead of the 64-player matches that were possible in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Despite all this, the game has been well received and the in-house IW 4.0 engine renders the maps in gorgeous detail, making it a perfect candidate for OCC benchmarking. You start off the single player missions playing as Private Allen and jump right into a serious firefight. This is the point where testing will begin. Testing will be done using actual game play with FPS measured by Fraps.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

When you overclock the ASUS GTX 580, it is just about the fastest video card available to play this wildly popular installment of the Call of Duty franchise through all four resolutions. The only card faster is the dual GPU HD 5970. The differential at 1920 x 1200 is only three FPS between the ASUS GTX 580 and HD 5970, with both cards overclocked of course.

Testing:

Just Cause 2 is a third-person shooter that takes place on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. In this sequel to 2006's Just Cause, you return as Agent Rico Rodriguez to overthrow an evil dictator and confront your former boss. When you don't feel like following the main story line, you're free to roam the island, pulling off crazy stunts and causing massive destruction in your wake, all beautifully rendered by the Avalanche Engine 2.0. In the end, that's what the game basically boils down to — crazy stunts and blowing things up. In fact, blowing things up and wreaking havoc is actually necessary to unlock new missions and items.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

When overclocked, the ASUS GTX 580 saw a drop in performance at the lowest resolution over the reference card, but improved against it all the way up to 2560x1600 where it was seven FPS faster.

Testing:

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.0 is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on the Unigine engine. What sets the Heaven Benchmark apart is the addition of hardware tessellation, available in three modes — Moderate, Normal and Extreme. Although tessellation requires a video card with DirectX 11 support and Windows Vista/7, the Heaven Benchmark also supports DirectX 9, DirectX 10 and OpenGL. Visually, it features beautiful floating islands that contain a tiny village and extremely detailed architecture.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

Even when overclocked, the ASUS GTX 580 cannot keep up with the dual GPUs under the lid of the HD 5970. However, it does reduce the FPS margin with the increased clock speeds applied.

Testing:

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a new game that brings together two bitter rivals, the Joker and Batman. The Joker has taken over Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. Your task is to rein the Joker back in and restore order. This game makes use of PhysX technology to create a rich environment for you to become the Dark Knight.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

In Batman, the GTX 580 from ASUS and the reference card take turns at the top of the chart. Overclocking leaves no doubt as to which card is faster, with a ten FPS differential over the HD 5970.

Testing:

Resident Evil 5 is the sequel to one of the best selling video games of all time. You play the game as Chris Redfield a survivor of the events at Raccoon City who now works for the BSAA. Sent to Africa to find the genesis of the latest Bio Organic agents, you meet up with another BSAA operative and work together to solve the problem. The game offers incredible 3D effects and a co-op gaming style.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

Once again, we see the similarity in the results at stock speeds when compared to the HD 5970 and GTX 580 reference card. Overclocking makes this card the fastest in this test at and above 1920x1200.

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest begins. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The results in 3DMark06 show a less than ideal scenario where the large overclock is not showing as an increase in performance. At this point, I can speculate that there is a CPU limitation in this test.

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista-based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. "Entry" is 1024x768 progressing to "Extreme" at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

At stock speeds, the ASUS GTX 580 is again similar in performance to the reference card. Where this card earns its keep is in its overclocked performance. At 1680x1050 and 1920x1200, the ASUS GTX 580 is the fastest card in the comparison and is just edged out at 2560x1600 by the HD 5970.

Testing:

Temperature testing will be accomplished by loading the video card to 100% using MSI Kombuster, which is paired with MSI's Afterburner overclocking utility for temperature monitoring. I will be using the stability test set to a resolution of 1920x1200 using 8xAA. I will use a 15 minute time frame to run the test, ensuring that the maximum thermal threshold is reached. The fan speed will be left in the control of the driver package and video card's BIOS for the stock load test, with the fan moved to 100% to see the best possible cooling scenario for the overclocked load test. The idle test will be a 20 minute cool down with the fan speeds left on automatic in the stock speed testing and left at 100% when running the overclocked idle testing. For load testing the GTX 580, I will use Crysis Warhead run at 2560x1600 using the mainstream setting with 8xAA looping the Frost benchmark scenario, as I have found this to put a load close to that of Kombuster on a video card. This is needed as a way around the current limiting ability of the GTX 580 when it detects programs that put an unrealistic load on the GPU, which Kombuster does.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

Lower = Better

 

When run at the default clock speeds and voltage setting, the ASUS GTX 580 delivers numbers almost identical to the reference card. When overclocked by using the voltage tweak capability in ASUS Smart Doctor, the temperatures increase by a large margin as you still need to keep the three billion transistors cool. Even so, the ASUS GTX 580 is 15 degrees Celsius cooler than the GTX 480 when you put the screws to it.

Testing:

Power Consumption of the system will be measured in both idle states and loaded states and will take into account the peak voltage of the system with each video card installed. I will use MSI Kombuster to load the GPU for a 15 minute test and use the peak load of the system as my result for the maximum load. The idle results will be measured after 15 minutes of inactivity on the system. For load testing the GTX 580, I will once again use Crysis Warhead run at 2560x1600 using the mainstream setting with 8xAA looping the Frost benchmark scenario.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

Lower = Better

 

When run at the stock speeds and voltage levels, the ASUS GTX 580 mirrors the results of the reference card. When overclocked and over-volted, the idle current draw is similar, but the load current draw jumps dramatically from that seen on the reference card. This gives you a good indication of the increased current demands that overclocking this high end card will pull from the wall. This will put additional demands on the cooling as well, as was seen in the temperature testing.

Conclusion:

When you look at the performance delivered by the ASUS GTX 580 when run in its stock configuration, the numbers compare with the those of the reference GTX 580 with some increases here and there across the testing suite. The 10MHz improvement in base clock speed does offer up a small boost in games. However, ASUS was not going to let that be the only point of difference with this card and included its Smart Doctor utility to get the most from the GTX 580. By utilizing this utility and tweaking the voltage, I was able to increase the clock speed from the base 782MHz on the GF 110 core by 23%, up to 962MHz. On the memory, the scaling was not as dramatic, but still went up by 14% to 1140MHz. This allowed the already fastest single GPU in the market to scale well beyond what the reference card was able to deliver. Using the voltage tweak software, I did not see any indication of the voltage monitoring capabilities of this card reducing performance, so that is another hurdle that seems to be overcome as long as you do not use programs such as Furmark and OCCT to test for stability. When run at stock speeds, the ASUS GTX 580 was either equal to or better than the HD 5870 in 18 out of 40 tests run. When overclocked, the differential was just as close at 17 out of 40 tests run, easily outdistancing the GTX 480 and HD 5870, the two prior single GPU top of the line offerings from both the NVIDIA and AMD camps.

The cooling performance of this offering from ASUS mirrors the reference versions results at the factory clock speeds and voltages. When you start increasing the voltage, the card does need to work to get rid of the heat. At the 85% fan speed limit, the ASUS GTX 580 still comes in at four degrees cooler than the stock testing, where the fan speed is automatically controlled. Now, as we all know, the blower-style fan is not the quietest solution out there when you start bumping up the RPMs on the fan. By limiting this card to 85%, the noise penalty is kind of cut off at the pass. Even at 85%, the card is not terribly noisy. The fan is not pitchy, but has more of a hum, making it not quite as annoying a sound profile, but you still know it's there. By dropping the fan speed a little further to the high 70% range, the noise is further reduced with close to the same cooling efficiency.

Putting two of these cards together and using the Smart Doctor software suite has already resulted in the ASUS GTX 580 showing serious performance increases. This added performance has already led to some new 3DMark records being set with tri-GPU and quad-GPU setups. Having this additional performance means running a 3D Surround setup should be a breeze, enabling a higher level of eye candy along with the out-of-screen effects. ASUS has put together a package with the GTX 580 that offers best-in-class performance with some massive upside in performance all for the same retail price as the rest of the non overclocked cards on the market.

 

Pros:

Cons: