Review: Factory overclocked
Gainward was never the one to stop at reference cards and its GTX 580 offer includes the company’s factory overclocked GTX 580 Golden Sample. We’re talking about a card based on GF110, currently the fastest GPU on the market. Our today’s guest, Geforce GTX 580 1536MB GDDR5 Golden Sample boasts 805MHz for the GPU, 1610MHz for the shaders and 1050MHz for the memory (4200MHz effectively). Apart from the clocks the card has retained the main features from the reference card – cooling, two dual-link DVIs, one miniHDMI and of course 1536MB of GDDR5 memory.
As you can see, the factory overclock isn’t very high as the reference values are 772MHz GPU and 1002MHz memory (4008MHz effectively). The overclock brought about a slight performance increase and, as is usual with overclocked cards, it comes with a higher price tag as well.
Gainward GTX 580 1536MB GDDR5 Golden Sample 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 not too loud, but we’d still rather see Gainward make their own GOOD (Gainward Optimized Own Edition) solution for the GTX 580.
Thanks to Vapor chamber technology 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.
Unlike the long heatpipes which transfer heat from the copper base to aluminum fins in charge of dissipation, Vapor-X chamber is a component that brings both copper-base and heatpipe functions together.
The advantage is in direct contact with the GPU and a large surface of only a few millimeters thick Vapor-X chamber, which comes in place of a copper base. It then directly receives and transfers heat to the aluminum fins, so except for improved performance, you won’t notice much visual difference between Vapor-X chamber cooling and standard cooling solutions with a copper base. 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. Nvidia added Advanced Power Management, a feature which monitors consumption and performs power capping – all to protect the graphics cards from excessive power draw.
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.
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 maximum graphics card power 244W.
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 Golden Sample 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.
The card comes with two SLI connectors so 2 or 3-way SLI setups are possible. Note that GeForce GTX 580’s GPU must be paired with another GeForce GTX 580 GPU (graphics card manufacturer can be different).
We found a nice little gift in the box – a 1.5m long mini-HDMI-to-HDMI adapter cable.
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
GTX 580 Golden Sample outruns the reference GTX 580 by up to 5%, and is the fastest card in 3DMark Vantage test.
Aliens vs Predator
GTX 580 Golden Sample outruns the reference GTX 580 by about 4.8% in Aliens Vs Predator. 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, Gainward GTX 580 golden Sample outpaces it by up to 26%.
Performance difference between the GTX 580 GS and GTX 580 in Dirt 2 pretty much stayed the same as in the previous test, only both cards scored higher.
Metro 2033 is a pretty demanding game, but as you can see the GTX 580 Golden Sample takes it in stride.
Unigine Heaven v2.1
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 Gainward GTX 580 1536MB Golden Sample runs at 805MHz for the GPU and 1050MHz for the memory.
This will be enough for about 4% better gaming results, but it must be said that there’s additional room for overclocking. In fact, our further overclocking resulted in 11% 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. Gainward team leaves for sure room for additional overclocking on this card, and the good thing about Golden Sample 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, but we didn’t mess with voltages or change the fan speed from AUTO mode.
Gainward pushed the default voltage to 1062mV, resulting in increased stability at higher clocks. Despite the higher than reference voltage, we didn’t manage to push Gainward’s GTX 580 GS beyond 845MHz.
Further overclocking isn’t possible without manual voltage changes. We managed to hit 875MHz for the GPU and 1110MHz for the memory (4440MHz effectively) by pushing the voltage to 1138mV.
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.
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 on the card or else it will downclock on its own. Compared to our system with a reference GTX 580, our GTX 580 Golden Sample consumption measurements show about 12W higher consumption. Note however that after testing three GTX 580 cards, we realized that our reference GTX 580 consumes higher than average.
We downclocked and lowered the voltages on the other two GTX 580 cards we received from Nvidia’s partners and measured far lower consumption than with the reference card provided by Nvidia.
The following results were recorded after we disabled Nvidia’s throttling mechanism.
Gainward announced two GTX 580 cards – one based on reference clocks and the other factory overclocked to 805MHz for the GPU and 1050MHz for the memory (4200MHz effectively)
The factory overclock resulted in about 4.5% higher performance, which is nice, but reference clocked GTX 580 cards can already handle more demanding games. Gainward decided to stick with reference cooling although, as we said earlier, we would’ve preferred to have seen Gainward’s non-reference solution. The reference cooler is not quiet, but it isn’t what we’d call very loud, which coupled with improved performance is the main difference when comparing it to the GTX 480.
GTX 580 is a DirectX 11 card with 1536MB of GDDR5 memory, meaning you’re pretty much set for future games. Unfortunately, you won’t find a game in the box but Gainward ships the mini-HDMI-to-HDMI cable which will surely come in handy. It's currently pretty hard to get your mitts on this card but you can find it starting from €499, here.