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Conclusion

So what have we found about the GeForce GTX 580, the new flagship graphics card from Nvidia? In fact, this card is what the GeForce GTX 480 had been meant to be until Nvidia had to cut down its configuration despite the chip’s physically incorporating all those 512 stream processors and 64 texture-mapping units. The GF110 now has all of these resources active and working while the architecture of the TMUs has been improved so that they can process textures in all formats at full speed. Coupled with the optimizations of the manufacturing process which enable higher clock rates, the GF110 has got rid of the bottlenecks typical of its predecessor GF100. The GeForce GTX 580 comes out a well-balanced premium-class solution with no obvious drawbacks and with excellent performance in modern games. The summary diagrams make everything clear.

The resolution of 1600x900 pixels is not often used by owners of $500 graphics cards since such cards just can’t show their best here, the frame rate being often limited by other factors. However, the GeForce GTX 580 is an average 14% ahead of its predecessor even at 1600x900. It is also slower than the dual-processor Radeon HD 5970 in nine out of the 19 tests, but the gap is only large (10% and more) in four games, including the second graphics test from 3DMark Vantage. So, this looks like a tie or even a win for Nvidia, if you consider the difference in price between the two flagship solutions.

The resolution of 1920x1080 (Full HD) is quite popular nowadays as many gaming monitors come with such LCD matrixes. The GeForce GTX 580 can boast an impressive 38% advantage over its predecessor here. The Radeon HD 5970 wins 10 tests now, but the gap is only really large (24%) in Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Of course, the GeForce GTX 580 ensures a comfortable frame rate in every game including the notorious Crysis Warhead. The only exception is Metro 2033. If you turn on the tessellation option in that shooter, none of the existing graphics solutions (perhaps save for 3-way SLI and 4-way CrossFireX configurations) can maintain a playable frame rate in it.

There are not so many users who own large monitors with a native resolution of over 1920x1080 and such monitors are mostly used for serious work rather than for gaming. However, if you do have a 30-inch or larger display, you may consider purchasing a GeForce GTX 580. It won’t disappoint you even though it doesn’t ensure a playable speed in every game at the highest resolution if you select the highest graphics quality settings together with full-screen antialiasing. In such games as Aliens vs. Predator, Crysis Warhead and Metro 2033 you will have to turn FSAA off. Tessellation should also be turned off for Metro 2033, especially as it doesn’t improve the game’s visuals much. In the other games the new card should be strong enough to maintain a comfortable frame rate even if you launch such heavy applications as S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat or Lost Planet 2.

Thus, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 has performed in our tests as a well-balanced solution worthy of its price. It is indeed the fastest single-GPU graphics card available today. Moreover, it has challenged the previously unrivalled Radeon HD 5970. Considering the lower price of the GeForce GTX 580, AMD loses its superiority in the sector of premium-class products, at least until the next generation of dual-processor Radeon HD cards. Most importantly, the GeForce GTX 580 is far more comfortable than its opponent in terms of noisiness and is only inferior to it in power consumption. However, it has the same power draw as the GeForce GTX 480 in 3D applications while being faster. It is also more economical than both its predecessor and the Radeon HD 5970 in power-saving modes.

Thus, the GeForce GTX 580 is a perfect offer for any gamer who can afford a $500 graphics card. It can’t become a bestseller for obvious reasons but it deservedly gets the title of the best premium-class product. We will see if it can hold it for long because the ATI Radeon HD 6900 series is already coming up!

Highs:

  • Best performance in its class;
  • Can compete successfully against Radeon HD 5970;
  • High performance with enabled tessellation;
  • Wide range of supported FSAA modes;
  • Minimal effect of FSAA on performance;
  • Fully-fledged hardware HD video decoding;
  • High-quality HD video post-processing with scalability;
  • Supports Nvidia’s exclusive PhysX and 3D Vision technologies in selected games;
  • Wide range of GPGPU applications developed exclusively for Nvidia CUDA;
  • Low noise;
  • Highly efficient cooling system.

 Lows:

  • No serious drawbacks discovered.
 
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