NVIDIA Geforce GTX 570 Review

ccokeman - 2010-12-03 22:59:33 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: December 7, 2010
Price: $349 MSRP

Introduction:

Here we are, December 7, 2010, Pearl Harbor Day, just a few weeks after NVIDIA threw down the gauntlet in the GPU wars, just the same way the US was drawn into WWII on this "Day that will live in Infamy", with the introduction of the GTX 580. It proved to be, without a doubt, the fastest single-GPU video card on the planet, at times giving the dual-GPU HD 5970 from AMD a run for its money. Now that the dust has settled and we are waiting for the delayed AMD Cayman-based HD 6900 series to see what the response will be in terms of performance, NVIDIA is ready to launch its more budget-conscious offerings.

The GTX 570 is not what you might originally think, in that it is not a drop-in replacement for the GTX 470, but rather a compliment to the hierarchy that will now be GTX 580, GTX 570, GTX 470, GTX 460. So where does this leave the GF 100 based GTX 480, you ask? It will live on under the Quaddro umbrella and will not be available to the consumer as the GTX 480. The GTX 570 is said to be 25% faster on average than the GTX 470, with gaming performance higher than AMD's top single-GPU card, the HD 5870. Those are some strong claims that will surely be investigated.

The GTX 570 comes with all the improvements made to the GTX 580, which includes modifying most of the transistors in the GF 110 core so that the card is more power efficient and runs cooler. Both of these are improvements that have been needed to make the GF 110 a so-called success. Even though the GTX 580 is the fastest single GPU card on the market right now the discussions changed from pure performance to power efficiency as the big discussion point instead of the performance delivered by the video cards we now use every day in our gaming rigs. Some folks want their cake and the ability to eat it as well. We have seen how the GTX 580 performs and it is currently the king of the hill in single-GPU performance with, at this point, no real peers. Let's see how competitive the GTX 570 is by comparison. Priced at $349 the GTX 570 is poised to fill this price point with a new performance leader.

Closer Look:

The reference GTX 570 looks much the same as the GTX 580 that I looked at just a few short weeks ago with the exception being the addition of the green highlights and subtlety-raised NVIDIA logo on the front cover. Measuring 10.5 inches from the I/O bracket to the end of the fan shroud, the GTX 570 is a full size graphics card that should fit in the majority of the current crop of chassis on the market. The blower-style fan is still used on this reference card from NVIDIA and makes the GTX 570 a dual-slot cooling solution much like the vast majority of performance video cards in use today. Being that the GTX 570 is just a lesser-powered clone of the GTX 580, the noise profile should provide the same low-pitched hum to the ears. The rear of the PCB looks the same and is covered with surface mount components. Again, there is no cutout for an air intake as the airflow into the card has been tweaked with the new shroud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connectivity options mirror the GTX 580 with a single Mini HDMI 1.4a port and a pair of Dual Link DVI ports. In this configuration, you will need two cards to run a three-monitor surround setup or, by adding another piece of the NVIDIA ecosystem in its 3D Vision system, you can get a 3D Surround setup at resolutions up to 7680x1600. By adding the 3DVision system, you can enjoy 3D Blu-ray content over your 1080p display. The rear of the card is unchanged from the GTX 580 with a small depression on the back end, as well as a chamfered edge that allows additional airflow into the fan when you run two or more of these cards in an SLI configuration. An improvement over prior designs.

 

 

On the top of the card are two SLI bridge connections that allow up to three GTX 570 cards to be run in TRI SLI mode for added graphics performance. By running two or more cards, you get the option of running a surround setup. Some may see this as a disadvantage over running only a single card since you need to buy two cards. NVIDIA took the stance that if you are going to do it then you want to have the best possible gaming experience. That means turning up the eye candy, which takes some graphics firepower in today's games. Two will beat one in an FPS performance race when you turn up the settings. Power connections for this card come in the form of two 6-pin PCIe power connections. The GTX 570 has a lower TDP of 219 watts and the recommended power supply is only 550 watts.

 

 

The similarities to the GTX 580 are evident all the way to the point where you take off the shroud over the PCB. The fan's airflow is still ducted directly to the heat sink for maximum cooling. The heat sink assembly used on the GTX 570 is slightly different from the one used on the GTX 580 in that it does not have a cutout at the top of the assembly. This gives the GTX 570 a little more capacity in the cooling department. A Vapor Chamber design is still used on this implementation and should prove to offer lower temperatures with the reduction in the amount of hardware in the GF 110 core. The GPU heat sink sits above the aluminum plate that covers the VRM circuits and memory modules and serves as a means to remove the heat from these components. The airflow over this aluminum plate is carried out of the chassis through the venting in the I/O plate. An illustration of how the Vapor Chamber heat sink works is included to clear up any concerns on how this system works. Think of it as a large flat heat pipe!

 

 

The heat sink used on this card is slightly different than the one used on its more powerful sibling. The assembly is a Vapor Chamber design that runs the complete length of the fin array for maximum heat dissipation. This design has been proven an efficient solution to the thermal problems of today's cards. While the top of the heat sink looks similar, the bottom is much different in that the Vapor Chamber is slimmer than the one used on the 580 and has a higher contact pad. So much so that the screwdriver I used to disassemble the card is not as thick as the contact surface. I'm not sure how this will impact performance, but should prove an interesting test. One thing you will notice when you look closely is that all avenues for air to flow around the heat sink are blocked with foam strips. In this way, you can improve efficiency just by running all the air through the heat sink instead of around it. It's always the little things that make the difference.

 

 

 

Last, but not least, we get to the GTX 570 version of the GF 110 core. This version is built using the same 40nm process with the same 3 billion transistors, but that's where the similarities end. This card has 480 CUDA cores like the GTX 480, but has seen a reduction of the Texture units to 60, the ROP units to 40, and the shared L2 cache to 640KB, while the GDDR5 memory drops to 1280MB running through a 320-bit bus with clock speeds bumped to 732MHz on the fixed function units and 950MHz (1900MHz) on the Samsung GDDR5 memory. What this effectively does is give the GTX 570 one more streaming multi processor, four more texture units, 32 more CUDA cores, and higher clock speeds than the GTX 470 is delivered with. Kind of a hybrid of the GTX 470 and 480 if you will, with the implementation of the transistor level improvements made to the GF 110 core.

 

 

 

Now that we know a little more about the GTX 570, it's time to see just how well it competes with its more powerful sibling, the GTX 580, as well as how it stacks up against the GTX 480 and the best single-GPU cards from AMD.

Specifications:

 
Graphics Card
GTX 570
Processing Units
Graphics Processing Clusters
4
Streaming Multiprocessors
15
CUDA Cores
480
Texture Units
60
ROP Units
40
Clock Speeds
Graphics Clock (Fixed Function Units)
732 MHz
Processor Clock (CUDA Cores)
1464 MHz
Memory Clock (Clock rate / Data rate)
1900 MHz
Memory
L2 Cache Size
640KB
Total Video Memory
1280 MB GDDR5
Memory Interface
320-bit
Total Memory Bandwidth
152 GB/s
Fillrate
Texture Filtering Rate (Bilinear)
43.9 GigaTexels/sec
Physical & Thermal
Fabrication Process
40 nm
Transistor Count
3 Billion
Connectors
2 x Dual-Link DVI-I
1 x Mini HDMI
Form Factor
Dual Slot
Power Connectors
2x6-pin
Recommended Power Supply
550 Watts
Thermal Design Power (TDP)1
219 Watts
Thermal Threshold
97 ºC

 

Features:

All information courtesy of NVIDIA

Testing:

Testing of the GTX 570 from NVIDIA 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 260.89 Forceware drivers from NVIDIA for all cards save the GTX 580 and the 10.10 Catalyst drivers for AMD. 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 video cards and RED for AMD Radeon cards. 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 570 was a challenge. After speaking to NVIDIA about the clock speeds to expect from this offering, the expectation was that it should overclock around the same as the GTX 580 since they are the same core. Of course every card produced will fall somewhere on a bell curve. You will have the overachievers on the far side of the curve, the underachievers at the start of the curve and all the rest falling somewhere in between on the "bell". I can't help but think that this card falls close to the underachievers side of the bell with a fully stable 53Mhz, or about 7% increase over the baseline 732MHz. The increase on the memory was just as slim with an increase 1013MHz, or an increase of 633MHz (6%). This makes this card officially the lowest overclocking "Fermi" derivative I have tested. Is this indicative of all the GTX 570s? I think not and only time will tell just how well they will do when you have the ability to tweak the voltage to the core for increased clock speeds and performance. Looking at the thermal performance of the GTX 570, it is almost a mirror image of the GTX 580 in both the temperatures delivered and the noise level of the fan. The fan and thermal solution are the same, so you get the same noise signature that is far and away better than the previous generation. Locked up tight in a case and the card is no more offensive than some of the medium-speed 120mm fans on the market when at full speed or about 3600RPM.

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. Whether this works with the GTX 570 or just the GTX 580 will come down to some additional play time. If you plan on playing with some dry ice or liquid nitrogen then go for it, as with higher core voltage the GTX 580 scales well.

 

 

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. Aliens vs. Predator
  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. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
  9. 3DMark 06 Professional
  10. 3DMark Vantage
  1. Temperature
  2. Power Consumption

Aliens vs. Predator, developed by Rebellion Developments, is a science fiction first-person shooter and is a remake of its 1999 game. The game is based off the two popular sci fi franchises. In this game, you have the option of playing through the single player campaigns as one of three species, the Alien, the Predator, and the Human Colonial Marine. The Game uses Rebellion's Asura game engine that supports Dynamic Lighting, Shader Model 3.0, Soft Particle systems, and Physics. To test this game I will be using the Aliens vs. Predator benchmark tool with the settings listed below. All DirectX 11 features are enabled.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

Performance-wise, the GTX 570 falls between the GTX 480 and GTX 470 in most of the testing. The GTX 570 is faster in this game than the HD 5870 in all six tests. In the stock testing, the GTX 570 was no more than two frames per second behind the GTX 480.


 

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 GTX 570 is every bit the equal of the GF 100-based GTX 480 in this game and performas well above the GTX 470 and HD 5870. When overclocked, the GTX 480 holds a slim edge over the GTX 570 due to the low overclocking headroom on this sample.

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

 

At stock speeds, the GTX 570 is almost the equal of the GTX 480 through each of the resolutions. When compared to the GTX 470 and HD 5870, the GTX 570 is ahead in all three resolutions.

Testing:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is an 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 compare the GTX 570 at its reference clock speeds to the rest of the field, the card is faster than all but the HD 5970 and GTX 580, easily out performing the GTX 470 and HD 5870.

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

 

Again, at stock speeds the GTX 570 and its 480 CUDA cores keeps pace with the GTX 480. The GTX 570 offers a significant increase in performance when compared to the GTX 470 and crushes the HD 5870.

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

 

The performance margin over the GTX 470 ranges from 5 to 8 FPS, while the margin above the HD 5870 is between 4 and 12 FPS, depending on the resolution. The GTX 480 is slightly faster, with an advantage of 1 to 2 FPS.

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 570 is once again equal to the GTX 480 in performance, with a very healthy margin over the GTX 470 and HD 5870.

Testing:

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a first-person shooter developed by EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) and published by Electronic Arts for Windows, PS3 and XBox. This game is part of the Battlefield franchise and uses the Frostbite 1.5 Engine, allowing for destructible environments. You can play the single player campaign or multiplayer with five different game modes. Released in March 2010, it has so far sold in excess of six million copies.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The GTX 570 keeps up with the GTX 480 and offers a large performance margin over the GTX 470 and HD 5870. The margin over the GTX 470 is not quite 25%, but is substantial.

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 GTX 570 outperforms the GTX 480 in the higher resolutions and is well ahead of the HD 5870 and GTX 470 through all four resolutions. When overclocked, the GTX 570 is hampered by the low overhead on this sample.

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

 

As the resolution and setting presets escalate, the GTX 570 pushes well past the level of performance delivered by the GTX 480. The HD 5870 and GTX 470 are distant competitors in 3DMark Vantage.

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 bumped up to 100% when running the overclocked idle and load testing. For load testing the GTX 580 and GTX 570, I will use Crysis Warhead run at 2560x1600 using the Gamer setting with 8xAA looping the Avalanche 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 500 series when it detects programs that put an unrealistic load on the GPU, which Kombuster does.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

Lower = Better

 

With the card controlling the fan, the temperatures delivered by the GTX 570 were excellent. The idle temperature was the lowest of the NVIDIA cards in this test, while the load temperatures were right in the middle of the pack. The low to mid 80 degrees Celsius range seems to be where the fan speeds start spooling up on all the cards tested. When the fan speeds are ramped up for the overclocked testing, the GTX 570 delivers the best temperatures of a Fermi-based card to date.

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 500 series, I will once again use Crysis Warhead run at 2560x1600 using the Gamer setting with 8xAA looping the Avalanche benchmark scenario.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

Lower = Better

 

The temperatures delivered by the GTX 570 show that there is less power being used by way of lower temperatures. That fact is illustrated here. Under load in the stock testing, the GTX 570 pulls roughly 5 watts more than the HD 5870. NVIDIA is almost there.

Conclusion:

The GTX 570 is a deserving successor to the GTX 470 with performance that crushes the HD 5870 in just about every game test run. In 34 out of 36 tests, the HD 5870 is outperformed by the GTX 570. The only tests where the HD 5870 beats the GTX 570 are the power consumption tests, where its lead is a scant 5 watts under load, with a 10 watt differential at idle. NVIDIA is getting closer to leveling the field in the power consumption testing. When you make the performance comparison to the GTX 480, the GTX 570 fills the void left by the GTX 480 at a more attractive price point of $349. In 21 out of 36 game tests, the GTX 570 is equal to or better than the less than one year old GTX 480. It easily beats it in the power consumption and thermal tests, so there is really no need to head for the GTX 480 when you can get comparable performance with the GTX 570 at that lower price point. Now, when it came to overclocking this sample, I have to say I was disappointed in the fact that I could only manage to pull roughly a 7% increase on the GF 110 core with a bump to 785MHz. The memory was just as unforgiving with an increase of just over 6% (63MHz to 1013MHz). The amount of headroom was pretty slim, but even so, the increases in clock speed did show measurable increases in performance. Will the overhead be this slim on all the GTX 570s? I doubt it, and it should improve once the commonly used tools to over-volt the core become available for use by the public. As an example, the ASUS GTX 580 rocketed all the way up to 962MHz on the core with a little bit of voltage love, so the cards seem responsive to the additional voltage.

Knowing now how the GTX 570 performs means you are able to take advantage of its strengths and leverage them to get the graphics performance you need. This graphics horsepower gives you the ability to take advantage of the rest of the NVIDIA ecosystem, including 3D Vision and 3D Surround, while enabling PhysX in games so you get all the eye candy. This one-two punch from NVIDIA has brought a new level of performance and pricing right in the heat of the holiday buying season. Now all we have left is to see what the response will be from the AMD team. With delays there are always concerns, but let's see how this shakes out. As it sits right here, right now, NVIDIA is sitting in the driver's seat.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: