There are several areas of performance to consider.  First, the GF110-based GTX 580 against the GF100-based GTX 480 and how the new GPU improves on the best single-GPU configuration around.  With an increase to 512 CUDA cores, additional texture units and the increased reference clock speeds, it makes sense that the GTX 580 should never be slower than the GTX 480.  The numbers aren’t that impressive when looked at individually: 6.6% more shaders and texture units, 10% higher GPU clock speeds, 8% higher memory speeds.  But the combination of all of that, plus the improved Z-cull and FP16 texture filtering, equates to a noticeable boost in gaming performance.  In most cases that difference is in the 15% range and as high as 30% in the synthetic tests; I think the 15% gain we see is about you can expect going forward though. 

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When we compare the new GTX 580 to the top AMD options, the Radeon HD 5970 and the 5870 2GB, the single-GPU 5870 2GB card falls well behind in nearly all of our tests that look at DX11 titles and aren’t CPU limited.  The exception is the F1 2010 title (that is still running DX9 and will soon be DX11 via a patch) where the AMD architecture and driver team have done a great job.  The Radeon HD 5970 is a different story though – in most of our games it is actually the better performer, but NOT in Metro 2033 (which is a tie) or Lost Planet 2.  Bad Company 2, F1 2010, L4D2: all of these are still running better on the dual-GPU card from AMD than the top single GPU from NVIDIA.

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And of course, because I like to start some controversy, what about the pair of GTX 460s against a single GTX 580?  In all but a few rare cases (mostly at 2560×1600), the pair of GeForce GTX 460 1GB cards in SLI outperform the top single GPU from NVIDIA.  Why is this important?  Because you can get two of them for well under the price tag of a single GTX 580 plus you will get the option to run NVIDIA Surround (or 3D Vision Surround) that you don’t get with the single GTX 580 card.  Yes that combination does use more power than the GTX 580, but I can’t help but wonder if this validates AMD’s stance that make a great mid-to-high end GPU and combining them to make an enthusiast card (ala the HD 5970 and pending 6990).  Will we see a dual-GF104 single card solution on the market now?  It seems unlikely without NVIDIA undoing their work with the GTX 580.

All of those discussions aside, the GeForce GTX 580 is easily the best performing GPU in the world. 


There aren’t really any feature changes going from the GTX 480 to the GTX 580, so everything remains the same.  You still have support for NVIDIA-exclusive features like CUDA applications, PhysX features in a few games and 3D Vision support for gaming with active shutter glasses.  If you want to take advantage f Surround support (gaming on three panels) you are still required to use an SLI configuration to get the job done. 

Check out the features section of this page to get the full run down.

Pricing and Availability

We have discussed pricing in several different places, but here is a summary:
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As always, there is a lot of competition for the new GeForce GTX 580 including some from the NVIDIA camp.  If the GTX 480 continues to drop in price as I expect it to, it could become a bargain option with performance differences of only 15% or so.  The pair of GTX 460 1GB cards (for about $400 for reference speeds) also presents an interesting alternative to the GTX 580 as I discussed above.  Finally, the Radeon HD 5970, at least at the $499 price we see it today, is another very interesting option to throw into the mix.  The 2GB variants of the HD 5870, especially for $400, are probably not a good alternative though based on the performance results we saw. 

UPDATE: As of launch morning, these are priced at $559 at thought with the offer code “EMCZZYR24” you get $50 off of that.  That’s really annoying, but at least it is close to the MSRP.  TigerDirect also has some in stock.

Final Thoughts

NVIDIA continues to dominate in the world of the high-end GPU – the GTX 480 was never really challenged (thanks to the consistently higher prices on the HD 5970) and the new GeForce GTX 580 just extends that lead in the single-GPU market to further bounds.  NVIDIA is also hoping that the improved performance per watt and improved noise levels also mean that both consumers and media are less likely to harp on it for architectural deficiencies.  The truth is that if you want the highest performing graphics card on the market for today and tomorrow’s games, then the GeForce GTX 580 looks like your best choice. 

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GeForce GTX 580 – Best Performance GPU

Further Reading:

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