It’s been a while since the announcement of the GF110 processor over which time its successor GF104 came out and the second-generation Fermi architecture finally replaced the first one which hadn’t been much of a success. As we wrote in our GeForce GTX 570 review, this GF110-based graphics card was rather boring to benchmark as it proved to be head above the competition in our comparative tests. In fact, Nvidia managed to release a $349 product that delivered the same performance as the GeForce GTX 480 which had cost almost $500 at the moment of its own announcement. The ex-flagship had also been less economical but far noisier and hotter than the GeForce GTX 570 with its effective cooler based on an evaporation chamber.
Thus, the GeForce GTX 570 came to be an indisputable leader in its price category. Many enthusiasts wondered, however, if it was possible to get the performance of the new $499 flagship GeForce GTX 580 for the same $350.
The GF100 chip is known to incorporate 512 unified shader processors, 64 texture-mapping units and 48 raster back-ends but was never used in this full configuration in actual products. Its successor GF110 has the same configuration and an improved architecture of TMUs. Theoretically, a substantial part of such chips employed on GeForce GTX 570s should be free from defects in any of their 16 streaming multiprocessors. Enthusiasts may dream of unlocking the disabled multiprocessor but that’s easier said than done. Such unlocking was possible in the past when, in 2003, a Radeon 9500 could be with some luck transformed into a Radeon 9700, but by the year of 2011 all such opportunities have been blocked by both AMD and Nvidia, so there is no way to make a GeForce GTX 580 out of a GTX 570.
On the other hand, if there’s demand, there must be supply. That’s the law of any market. Although GPU developers themselves are not interested in customers buying cheaper products and transforming them into more expensive ones, AMD’s and Nvidia’s partners in graphics card manufacture often offer enthusiast-targeted products which are either overclocking-friendly or even pre-overclocked by the manufacturer. The GF110 was sure to be used that way since its frequency potential proved to be higher than that of the GF100.
So, we’ve been expecting pre-overclocked GeForce GTX 570s, but the question is whether such cards can get close to the GeForce GTX 580 in terms of speed through overclocking only. We are going to answer this question today by comparing two factory-overclocked GeForce GTX 570 cards from Gainward and Zotac. If that is not enough, we will try to catch up with the GeForce series flagship by accelerating these cards even further. So, let’s see which one is better at overclocking: Gainward GeForce GTX 570 GS GLH or Zotac GeForce GTX 570 AMP!