Evaluation and Conclusions
Evaluating the ASUS Matrix GTX 580 card has to start with the performance of the card which is really a 50/50 split in my book. Out of the box, the ASUS card provides an impressive appearance and aura but the default clock speeds and performance improvements don’t necessarily back that up. Compared to the standard GeForce GTX 580 cards on the market the difference of a 44 MHz clock rate means exactly bupkis. ASUS claims that by keeping the default clock rate low they were able to improve the likelihood of keeping this card in stock – sure that makes sense but it doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for the gamer and enthusiast.
The real issue is likely that in order to keep the noise and power metrics where ASUS wanted to be able to claim they were at, they had to keep the clock rate of the power-hungry GTX 580 GPU down pretty low. Increasing that to 900 MHz (or something that seems incredibly easy to do) would increase the power draw (forcing them to require a beefier PSU) as well as increase the temperatures and fan speeds to keep meeting that "20% cooler" claim. In the end, if you overclock (which you should) then you break some of those claims and that is what ASUS was trying to avoid.
So how does the card overclock? This card of ours hit 950 MHz without blinking an eye and the chances are really good that just about any Matrix GTX 580 on the market will be able to do the same. Under that condition, with a healthy 23% clock rate increase, I would expect in game performance that is GPU bottlenecked to easily rise by 12-17% over the reference card results. That is a good chunk of gaming benefit for the modest $60 premium over the rest of the field.
If performance wasn’t all that impressive to you based on our testing and even our overclocking testing, then the features should make up for it. With a collection of "cool stuff" on a GPU that we don’t very often see, the ROG Matrix lineup of cards continues to be one of if not THE best on the market. The list is pretty impressive and includes things like hardware buttons on the PCB for voltage adjustments and 100% fan speeds, a Safe Mode button to revert back from burned-in overclocked speeds (which by itself is a great feature) and the voltage monitoring probe connections all give the ASUS card more than its share of street-cred.
There is more though too including being able to manually override the overcurrent protection on the GPU (for the crazy ones out there) and the custom cooling solutions being labeled as DirectCU II that offers 20% improved temperatures and quiet operation through most of the fan speed band. An LED load indicator, 19-phase Super Alloy Power system, improved fan design and more really make the engineering on the Matrix GTX 580 stand out from the pack.
Don’t forget the software too – the ROG Matrix GTX 580 is the launch card for the newly revised GPUTweak software suite that combines top class monitoring tools, software overclocking and a custom GPU-Z implementation for one of the best user experiences available. Once ASUS is able to add video recording and a benchmarking method, this alone could help sway consumers to the Matrix brand.
Pricing and Availability
I mentioned it before: even though the ASUS ROG Matrix GTX 580 card is $60 more than your basic reference platform card, the increased engineering and capability of this model is more than making up for it.
- ASUS ROG Matrix GTX 580 1.5GB – $529
- GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB – $469
- Radeon HD 6970 2GB – $369
- GeForce GTX 570 1.25GB – $329
The only caveat is that if you are dead set on NOT overclocking your card above stock – in that case I would not recommend you purchase this upgraded model and instead find whatever card is currently the cheapest at your favorite seller. For your extra 12% investment in price though with the ROG Matrix you are getting a host of great features as well as the capability to get more than your 12% back in overclocked performance.
ASUS may have perfected the GeForce GTX 580 with the Republic of Gamers Matrix GTX 580 by combining a customer designed board, power system and cooler that sets it above the rest of the cards we have tested in house. The only downside to this card is the slower than expected default clock speeds that come dangerously close to the reference cards that may turn off potential buyers. For any enthusiast looking at a ~$500 GPU though, overclocking, even with basic tools like the included GPUTweak software, is a must and I think the Matrix GTX 580 offers up one of the best environments to get the most from the Fermi GPU.