Zotac GeForce GTX 580 review

The fastest single GPU card on the planet

Zotac GeForce GTX 580
If you fear the vagaries of multi-GPU drivers, the GTX 580 is as good as it gets. Stonking at hi-res

TechRadar Verdict


  • +

    Impressive single and SLI performance

  • +

    Cooler and quieter than the GTX 480

  • +

    Highly efficient


  • -

    Rather pricey

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Nvidia's GTX 580 is the best single-GPU card on the market. There's no caveat – across our entire benchmarking suite, it held sway over all others.

It's down to the exemplary GF110 GPU sitting at the heart of it. Fermi has proven to be the best GPU architecture the green company has ever manufactured, and with this second generation, the GTX 5xx series, it's gone from strength to strength.

The first Fermi, the GTX 480, was the top card of its day, but wasn't without issues. The problem was the amount of power it needed and the quantity of heat it generated.

With the GTX 580, though, Nvidia's engineers went back to the drawing board and tweaked the design right down to the transistor level, tailoring the smallest parts to give the best performance where needed, and the best efficiency where speed wasn't the main goal. That means the GTX 580 is faster, cooler and more efficient than its older brother. In short, it's just better.

It's the re-engineered GF110 that's enabled Nvidia to create the dual-GPU behemoth that is the GTX 590. If it were a case of sticking with the GTX 480's GF100, there never would have been a dual-GPU Nvidia card unless it was permanently LN2-cooled out of the box.

The impressive GTX 580 only gets better when you add a second card. As we mentioned before, multi-GPU drivers peak at two chips and you can't get faster. With two GTX 580s in SLI, the GTX 590 suddenly looks like a donkey turning up at the Grand National.


DirectX 11 tessellation performance
Heaven 2.5 FPS: Higher is better
Single: 21.3
SLI: 39.9

DirectX 11 gaming performance
Metro 2033 FPS: Higher is better
Single: 13
SLI: 19

DirectX 11 gaming performance
Aliens vs. Predator FPS: Higher is better
Single: 27
SLI: 52

DirectX 11 gaming performance
Lost Planet 2 FPS: Higher is better
Single: 37
SLI: 64

DirectX 11 gaming performance
DiRT 2 FPS: Higher is better
Single: 76
SLI: 135

DirectX 10 gaming performance
Just Cause 2 FPS: Higher is better
Single: 31
SLI: 57

You may not be getting twice the performance across the board, but it's mighty close. If you can afford it and your mobo can cope with SLI, this is the performance dual-GPU pairing of choice.

But price is a bit of an issue. The GTX 580 is £100 more expensive than the HD 6970, and while it's faster, we're not entirely sure it's £100 faster. When you pair them up, that £758 price tag looks insane, but performance is king and the GTX 580 has got it in spades.

Juice bars

Power draw is also important, especially when you're looking at a pair of GTX 580s compared with a single GTX 590. On one hand. the GTX 590 only requires a 700W PSU as a minimum, whereas a pair of GTX 580s need more juice.

The difference with the two-card setup, though, is that if you end up trying to clock the GTX 590 to the same speed as the GTX 580's cores, you're putting far more stress on your PSU. With a pair of cards, the power draw is separated more, whereas if you overclock the GTX 590, you're pushing more juice down those 8-pin PCI-e connectors than they're rated for.

The GTX 580 is the real money-is-no-object option. In terms of single-card configuration it can't be beaten, and the same goes for a dual-GPU SLI. For top performance, it's the ultimate.

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