Guess what? Overclocked.
Is this going to be the last hurrah for the Fermi architecture and can the overclocked speeds make this Gigabyte offering worthwhile?
The NVIDIA GTX 580 GPU, based on the GF110 Fermi architecture, is old but it isn’t forgotten. Released in November of 2010, NVIDIA had held the single GPU performance grown for more than a year before it was usurped by AMD and the Radeon HD 7970 just this month. Still, the GTX 580 is a solid high-end enthusiast graphics card that has wide spread availability and custom designed, overclocked models from numerous vendors making it a viable option.
Gigabyte sent us this overclocked and custom cooled model quite a while ago but we had simply fallen behind with other reviews until just after CES. In today’s market the card has a bit of a different role to fill – it surely won’t be able to pass up the new AMD Radeon HD 7970 but can it fight the good fight and keep NVIDIA’s current lineup of GPUs more competitive until Kepler finally shows himself?
The Gigabyte GTX 580 1.5GB Super Overclock Card
With the age of the GTX 580 designs, Gigabyte had plenty of time to perfect their PCB and cooler design. This model, the Super Overclock (GV-N580SO-15I), comes in well ahead of the standard reference speeds of the GTX 580 but sticks to the same 1.5 GB frame buffer.
The clock speed is set at 855 MHz core and 1025 MHz memory, compared to the 772 MHz core speed and 1002 MHz clock rate of the reference design. That is a very healthy 10% clock rate difference that should equate to nearly that big of a gap in gaming performance where the GPU is the real bottleneck.
Gigabyte has been able to keep temperatures lower than our reference cards using a triple fan cooler without a noticeable change in sound levels, even with the higher clock rate.
While the back of the card doesn’t have any of the frame buffer, you can see that Gigabyte has put quite a bit of design effort on the PCB. There is a row of high quality NEC capacitors as well as LED indicators that light up based the power phase the card is using.
These NEC / Tokin 0E907 is a fairly expensive capacitor that is used on other products in the high-end hardware world including ASUS ROG Maximus IV Extreme and ASUS Rampage III Black Edition.
The GTX 580 of course supports 3-Way and 2-Way SLI.
Required power connections remain the same as well with an 8-pin and a 6-pin ATX.
Despite the overclocked settings and the cooler on the Gigabyte Super Overclock GTX 580 it is actually thinner than the reference design, though it still requires a pair of expansion slots.
The display connectivity includes a pair of dual-link DVI ports and a mini-HDMI port. Still, as with nearly all NVIDIA GeForce cards on the market, you are limited to two simultaneous outputs without having an SLI configuration.
Here you can see the LEDs on the back of the card that are actually quite bright and will illuminate your case if you have a window on it.