NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 - The Real Fermi Deal


The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580

As is the case with high-end cards, the GeForce GTX 580 is not what you’d call compact. Measuring at a considerable 10.5 inches and weighing a hefty 884 grams, the GeForce GTX 580 is a massive card, but surprisingly, as the pictures below can attest, it looks slightly more compact than the GeForce GTX 480.

This is due mostly to the new cooler that NVIDIA employs on the GeForce GTX 580. Apart from increasing performance and improving power efficiency, NVIDIA was also concerned about the new card’s acoustic and thermal characteristics. The GeForce GTX 480 was notorious for running really hot and it was also very noisy to boot, as the fan will emit a noticeable whine whenever the card is heavily taxed.

To rectify this, the GeForce GTX 580 has a completely redesigned cooling solution which uses a vapor chamber cooling design at the heart of the heatsink solution. Vapor chamber technology promises faster heat transfer by means of liquid vaporization and condensation and has often been employed by Sapphire on their high-end cards such as this. Apart from that, NVIDIA has also made tweaks to the fan so that it produces a lower pitch and is less intrusive; and also the cooler cover, which is slightly tapered so that it can better route air towards the rear bracket when configured for SLI.

Despite packing more graphics horsepower, the GeForce GTX 580 is the same length as the GTX 480 and looks less bulky thanks to the absence of protruding heat pipes.

A diagram showing how vapor chamber technology works. In a nutshell, liquid near the GPU core evaporates, carrying heat and condenses at the heatsink fins. This process promises to be faster than traditional heatsink designs.

The GeForce GTX 580 has the same twin DVI and single mini-HDMI ports found on the GTX 480. It still can only power two displays simultaneously.

Not surprisingly, 6-pin and 8-pin PCIe power connectors are required to power this beast of a graphics card, with NVIDIA recommending a PSU rated for at least 600W.

The presence of two SLI connectors means that with the right hardware, 2 and 3-way SLI is possible. Imagine the frame rates you'd be getting with such a setup! We'll share those details soon enough.

8.5
Performance
9
Features
8.5
Value
8
The Good
Untouchable single-GPU performance
Cooler and less power hungry than GTX 480
Excellent Tessellation performance
The Bad
Costly
DX10 performance could be better
No triple display support on 1 card