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NVIDIA GTX 590 Review

Price: $699


When the Fermi architecture was first introduced, NVIDIA took a lot of heat (no pun intended) over how this was going to be a hot running, power hog of a card. True to form, that's exactly what we were treated to when the GTX 480 was released almost a year ago to the day. As the year progressed, NVIDIA worked to tame the savage beast and delivered variants of the GF 100 GPU to fit just about every price and performance point. They had some real standouts in the value category in the GTX 460 and GTS 450. Even, while still holding sway over the top of the single-GPU hill with the GTX 480. The AMD HD 5970 still held the king of the hill video card honors though. AMD rolled up their sleeves and took a couple shots at the top with the Northern Islands lineup but NVIDIA countered with the GTX 500 series right before the AMD HD 6900 series launch. Giving, the NVIDIA faithful what they had been waiting for since Fermi was unveiled at the Inaugural NVIDIA GPU technology conference in November 2009. A fully functional 512 core beast of a card. The concerns were going to be the heat output and power consumption issues that plagued the GTX 480. In the span of eight months, NVIDIA fixed the heat with an improved Vapor chamber cooling solution while reducing the noise penalty associated with the need to remove heat from the core. Power consumption was attacked also with the result being significantly reduced operating voltages that contributed to the lower heat and thus noise to rid the card and chassis of that heat. So, in turn you had a win win combo that really put a damper on AMD's parade. Fast forward a few months and we have AMD's shot at retaining the single card crown with the fast, obnoxiously loud "Antilles" HD 6990. There is no doubt that this card is at the top of the food chain for AMD and delivers its promise as the current fastest card on the planet. Today though, we have NVIDIA's response to this brash performer with the introduction of the GTX 590. This is the card that many said could not be built due to the power hungry nature of the Fermi architecture and its associated heat. Well boys and girls it's real and the rumors are true. The GTX 590 comes with the full compliment of 512 Cuda cores on each of the two GF110 GPU cores for a total of 1024. Eight GPC (Graphics Computing Clusters), 32 streaming multiprocessors, 128 texture units and 96 ROP units. This beast comes with 3GB (1.5GB per GPU) of GDDR5 memory running through a pair of 384 bit buses. All this attached to a special 12 layer PCB. This amount of memory is shy of the 4GB on the HD 6990 but we'll see how the addition of a second GPU to the PCB affects the performance. We'll also see how well the GTX 590 scales as well as to the kind of performance it delivers. Will the thermals be a deal breaker? Can NVIDIA keep the acoustics under control? Let's find out.


Closer Look:

The GTX 590 we have to look at is actually from ASUS as they are one of the exclusive board partners chosen by NVIDIA for this launch. They in turn will have availability of the GTX 590 through the usual channels including popular etailers such as Newegg, NCIX and Tiger Direct. Additionally, they have some high-end system integrators getting behind ASUS for the GTX 590 launch including Maingear, Puget Systems, IBuyCyberPower, DigitalStorm and more. Enough of that. let's look at what ASUS has delivered for this launch. The packaging is pretty much the ASUS standard graphics card packaging and includes messaging about thier "Voltage Tweak" technology, Additional mentions include DirectX 11 support as with all of the 5 series, SLI and 3D Surround support and that the GTX 590 is equipped with 3GB of GDDR5 memory. The back panel has a brief summary of the specifications and talks about gaming performance, the 3D Vision ecosystem and the connectivity options. All pretty interesting information if you take the time to read it.



The inner packaging is again traditional ASUS and sets them apart from the crowd with the black coloring with the ASUS label embossed in gold. Inside, the method used to deliver the accessories has changed slightly using a foam block to fill the entire enclosure with the GTX 590 filling most of the space. The hardware accessories fill a small cutout in this foam block.



The accessory bundle is kind of slim but with the connectivity options the need for adapters is minimal. You get the Quick install guide, Driver and utility disk, dual six pin PCIe to eight pin PCIe power adapter, DVI to d-sub and DVI to HDMI adapters.


The ASUS GTX 590 is designed to be at the top of the NVIDIA single card food chain. As such, the expectations are high going into this review.

  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Closer Look: The Video Card
  3. Specifications & Features
  4. Testing: Setup & Overclocking
  5. Testing: Aliens vs Predator
  6. Testing: Metro 2033
  7. Testing: Crysis Warhead
  8. Testing: Tom CLancy's HAWX 2
  9. Testing: Lost Planet 2
  10. Testing: Unigine 2.5
  11. Testing: Just Cause 2
  12. Testing: Mafia II
  13. Testing: Battlefield Bad Company 2
  14. Testing: 3DMark 11
  15. Testing: Temperatures
  16. Testing: Power Consumption
  17. Conclusion
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