Review: Factory overclocked to 841MHz
Factory overclocked GTX 580 cards are on the rise but many Nvidia partners still haven’t launched their fastest cards. Point of View / TGT announced the GTX 580 Ultra Charged, which is our today’s guest, but we must admit we’re still anxious to see the faster, Beast Edition. Although GTX 580 gave Nvidia the single-GPU graphics throne, the fight is far from over, especially since AMD plans its single-GPU, Cayman-based HD 6970 for the next month.
GTX 580 Ultra Charged is factory overclocked to 841MHz for the GPU and 1026MHz (effectively 4104MHz) for the memory. In comparison, reference GTX 580 cards run at 772MHz while the shaders run at twice that - 1544MHz. The reference clock for the 1.5GB of GDDR5 memory is 1002MHz and the memory is paired up with a 384-bit bus.
Geforce GTX 580 is based on a “new” and improved GF100 (GTX 480) chip that now bears the GF110 moniker and it has 512 shaders and all eight clusters turned on, the same number that was possible on a fully enabled GF100 chip.
Point of View / TGT chose to stick with reference cooling for their GTX 580 Ultra Charged, but as you already know this cooler comes with the quite popular vapor chamber. Unlike the GTX 480, the new Nvidia card is much better when it comes to thermals and noise. The TDP is somewhat lower compared to the GTX 480 as the chip was slightly tweaked and the board has better power management. The novelty here is the clock speed throttling logic which reduces clock speeds when an extremely demanding 3D application such as Furmark or OCCT is run. Additionally, the power current regulation circuits regulate the speed of the fan with more precision than before.
With an average selling price of €440 for the cards based on reference speed and listings going all the way to €499, we cannot say it’s really a bargain. GTX 580 Ultra Charged clocks are pretty high compared to the reference ones but so is the price – it’s priced at €520. However, you should know that Point of View / TGT sweetened this deal with a gift game - Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands.
A closer look at GTX 580 Ultra Charged
The card comes with reference dual slot cooling which is improved in comparison to the cooler on GTX 480 cards. With help from the vapor chamber technology, the cooler is quiet, at least for a high-end card. Vapor chamber technology has been around for a couple of years, but it was usually reserved for non-reference boards so this is the first time we see it as part of the reference design.
Thanks to this tech, Nvidia can get rid of its heatpipe solutions such as the one on GTX 480 (picture below). You can also see that the difference between reference and Ultra Charged’s cooler is only in the sticker.
The vapor chamber method is simple - a chamber filled with of a water-like liquid evaporates and transfers the temperature from the GPU. Once the gas cools down, it “rains” back down and the process starts all over again. As a result, the card’s temperature dropped from an average 94°C on the GTX 480 to 85°C on GTX 580 cards.
GTX 580’s PCB design hasn’t changed much from the GTX 480, but there have been improvements in power regulation circuitry. The GTX 480 has a hole in the PCB below the fan, but the GTX 580 has no holes in the PCB or the cooler’s metal block.
Nvidia added Advanced Power Management, a feature which monitors consumption and performs power capping – all to protect the graphics cards from excessive power draw.
GTX 580 is the same size as Geforce GTX 480, measuring 10.5 inches or 26.67 centimeters in length. It has one 6-pin and 8-pin power connector and a 244W TDP.
Video engine didn’t change; it is the same as on GF100, Fermi chips. You still have a maximum of two display supported. GTX 580 Ultra Charged comes with two DVI ports and a mini HDMI where you could use a mini-HDMI dongle to get a proper HDMI port. We think that consumers deserve to get HDMI and DisplayPort on any high-end card and we're not thrilled by the lack of the latter.
Motherboard: EVGA 4xSLI
CPU: Core i7 965 XE (Intel EIST and Vdrop enabled)
Memory: 6GB Corsair Dominator 12800 7-7-7-24
Harddisk: OCZ Vertex 2 100 GB
Power Supply: CoolerMaster Silent Pro Gold 800W
Case: CoolerMaster HAF X
Fan Controler: Kaze Master Pro 5.25"
Operating System: Win7 64-bit
Aliens vs Predator
GTX 580 Ultra Charged outruns the reference GTX 580 by about 6.5% at 1920x1080. The same card proves that it’s the fastest single-GPU card on our test and it does great at 2560x1600 as well, scoring a playable frame rate. As for the GTX 480, GTX 580 Ultra Charged outpaces it by up to 29%.
Overclocking, Consumption and Thermals
Geforce GTX 580 packs plenty of OC potential, with many partners jumping on the OC ship. While the reference GTX 480 runs at 772MHz for the GPU and 1002MHz for the memory, our factory overclocked Point of View / TGT GTX 580 Ultra Charged runs at 841MHz for the GPU and 1026MHz for the memory.The memory on GTX 580 Ultra Charged has only received a minor boost but the GPU runs 69MHz faster than reference. This will be enough for about 7% better gaming results, but it must be said that there’s additional room for overclocking. In fact, our further overclocking resulted in 14% better performance when compared to the reference card.
Overclocking GTX 580 cards will depend on core voltage and overclocking results will vary from card to card. TGT team leaves room for additional overclocking on all its cards, and the good thing about PoV/TGT OC cards is that GPU voltage has been increased by default, which will help with overclocking results.
We recently tested a reference GTX 580 (1025mV default voltage) and managed to overclock the GPU to 855MHz. This is only 14MHz higher than GTX 580 Ultra Charged’s clock, but we didn’t mess with voltages or change the fan speed from AUTO mode.
Point of View / TGT pushed the default voltage to 1125mV, resulting in increased stability at higher clocks. Without meddling with voltages or changing the fan speed from AUTO mode we managed to push our today’s test subject’s GPU to 888MHz and the memory to 1150MHz (4600MHz effectively). Upping the voltage to 1138mV didn’t result in additional overclocking.
Higher factory clocks at the same time mean that the card will consume more compared to the reference card.
FurMark test is not quite favored by Nvidia’s driver and you’ll have to manually disable throttling or else the card will downclock on its own. Our consumption measurements show about 55W higher consumption compared to the reference card. The following results were recorded after we disabled Nvidia’s throttling mechanism.
During Aliens vs Predator test our rig consumed about 425W with the reference GTX 580 and about 473W with GTX 580 UC. Strangely enough, the same scenario with GTX 480 resulted in only 410W, which doesn’t quite concur with the GTX 580’s touted lower consumption. Nevertheless, we decided to publish the results as they were.
The fan isn’t too loud during intensive gaming and we can finally say that we’re pleased with the noise levels. Speeding up the fan didn’t contribute to overclocking headroom.
Point of View / TGT is definitely keen on showing everyone they mean business, and the GTX 580 Ultra Charged stands as proof of this. This is one of the first factory overclocked GTX 580 cards and its clocks are pretty high compared to the reference ones. While the reference cards run at 772MHz for the GPU and 1002MHz (4008MHz effectively) for the GDDR5 memory, Point of View / TGT’s GTX 580 Ultra Charged comes with a GPU clocked at 841MHz and memory at 1026MHz (4104MHz effectively).
Thanks to the factory overclock, the card ran about 7% faster in our test games and not only that – we further overclocked it and got another 7% boost. Compared to the GTX 480, GTX 580 will provide about 22% more muscle. The card comes with reference dual slot cooling that’s pretty quiet for a high-end graphics card, especially if it’s the fastest single-GPU around. Idle operation is even quieter.
The card currently goes for about €525, here. Point of View / TGT sweetened this deal with a gift game - Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, although we’d rather see some other, more demanding game, which would’ve put the GTX 580’s potential to good use. If GTX 580 sounds nice then you’ll love Point of View / TGT’s GTX 580 Ultra Charged and if you crave top performance, this is the card for you. Having said that, it might be wise to wait until the second half of December when Radeon 6900 series hits the shelves, if for nothing else then for the price adjustments.