This is simultaneously the best kept and the most talked about secret in the business right now. The GeForce GTX 580 Ė itís been rumored to be everything from dual GF104 chips to a new monster concoction of epic proportions. Just about all the rumors got it wrong until concrete evidence began to disseminate through the leaky pipes of the supply chain. Even then, as the specs began to bubble up to the surface, most people came to the wrong conclusions.
It all started back in the March/April time frame, around when NVIDIA launched their first part built on the well-hyped Fermi architecture, the GeForce GTX 480. Reviews were mixed; it was the fastest single GPU on the planet, no questions asked. It was a tessellation monster and its scaling in games, up to 3-way SLI, was incredible. It was a great advance for gaming computers.
But it was also hot and loud. And that was compounded by the press using open-air test beds to test the GeForce GTX 480 Ė which meant the card had to do all the work in moving air over its hot components without the assistance of a well-ventilated chassis.
In fact, it is proven that the heat-stack vertical design of the MAINGEAR SHIFT custom built pc aided the GeForce GTX 480 in such a way that it was dramatically quieter in 3-way SLI than an identically configured Corsair 800D chassis that has terrible airflow.
The GeForce GTX 580 is a fully-realized GF100 with all 512 shaders. It has higher memory bandwidth, and a higher core and shader clock. And it does all of this while drawing less power and at half the noise level. Itís the last two features that will blindside everyone. Once the specs made it from the rumor department to accepted, on-line "fact," everyone began to speculate that it would sound like a hair dryer and draw the power generated by a flux capacitor. And require 1.21 jiggawatts and 88mph to go back in time.
In reality, NVIDIA designed a wicked vapor chamber a la ATI Radeon 2900XT, threw out the exposed gigantic heat pipes, and managed to tweak the design to draw less power, all while delivering around 20% more performance.
I was fortunate enough to get to test out a MAINGEAR SHIFT with both 2-way GTX 480s and 2-way GTX 580s and can show you some numbers. So letís get started.
By now you may have heard the numbers, and recently the rumored specs have solidified into the truth. Yes, it has 512 shaders. Yes it is clocked at 772MHz and delivers 192.4GB/s of bandwidth.
Hereís what we shoved into a SHIFT for this test:
Core i7 970 @ 4.135GHz
6GB of DDR3 2000MHz memory
Rampage III Formula
128GB Crucial RealSSD C300
And all the rest.
In comparison to the Nvidia 480, you see anywhere from a 10-20% increase in performance. There is plenty of reason to get excited about this though. Dual GTX 580's consumed about 40 watts less than dual GTX 480's. And you would not believe how much quieter they are. It is striking. Unfortunately I didn't bring a SPL meter with me, but NVIDIA reports it's about 50% quieter. I do not doubt for a second that is an accurate assessment. I was floored.
Can you see Billy Mays selling this thing? "THE NEW NVIDIA GTX 580 IS FASTER. IT'S QUIETER. IT USES LESS POWER! AND BEST OF ALL, IT'S THE SAME PRICE. THAT'S RIGHT FOLKS, THE ALL NEW GTX 580 IS NOT ONLY THE WORLD'S FASTEST SINGLE GPU ON THE PLANET, IT'S THE SAME PRICE AS THE GTX 480! BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE. BUY THE GEFORCE GTX 580 AND GET FREE(!) SUPPORT FOR CUDA. FOR 3D VISION. FOR PHYSX! ALL OF THESE COME BUNDLED IN THE NEW NVIDIA GTX 580 GRAPHICS CARD!"
OK, so maybe it's only me. But either way, this bad boy is replacing the GTX 480 in my book, ASAP. EVGA also offers a Superclocked version for those of you who still want "MOAR POWAH!"