GTX 580 SLI: Setting New Dual-GPU Records

Today’s main event of course is the performance of the GTX 580 in SLI mode. We hope that it doesn’t spoil things for anyone when we say that the GTX 580 in SLI is setting new records for dual-GPU performance in our charts, a natural consequence of pairing up what was already the fastest single GPU card on the market. Since the results are going to be rather self-explanatory, we’ll skip the running commentary here and stick to the charts.

There are two situations where the GTX 580 SLI doesn’t handily beat everything else: Metro 2033, and Civilization V. The latter appears to be yet another incident where NVIDIA’s apparently faulty Civ5 SLI profile is robbing an SLI setup of performance, while Metro 2033 is a more interesting case. At 1920 the 580 SLI is well in the lead, but at 2560 SLI scaling is breaking down, letting the 5870CF take a slight lead.

Meanwhile in other cases we’re clearly running in to CPU limits even at 2560, as both Wolfenstein and HAWX are definitely hitting the wall; though these are already two of our fastest games before including SLI. The good news is that this leaves plenty of performance for eye candy options, as NVIDIA’s fantastic but expensive Transparancy AA and Supersample AA options for DX10 and DX11 are still available. For the IQ nuts out there that won’t settle for anything less than the best, we managed to get the 580 SLI running Crysis with all Enthusiast settings and 4x SSAA at a playable framerate of 42.8fps – albeit at 1680x1050. Perhaps next year’s 28nm die shrink will unlock enough performance that we can seriously start considering SSAA at the very high end?

As for power, temperature, and noise, the results are in-line with where we’d expect them to be considering we’re pairing up high-end cards. Compared to the GTX 480 everything is peachy; idle power is down 55W(!), load power is down 40-80W, gaming temperatures are down 10C, and even load noise  is way down. Here we see the same 7dB drop as a single GTX 580, bringing the GTX 580 SLI in below the 5970, a single GTX 480, and only slightly above a single GTX 285. Bear in mind that we’re running our cards directly next to each other here to look at the worst case scenario, so given some spacing everything here would be even quieter. Truth be told, we did not really have high hopes here, as we expected the lack of a PCB ventilation hole to take its toll; we’re pleasantly surprised as a result.

On the flipside, we’re still looking at a lot of power consumption – GTX 580 doesn’t change the fact that GF100/110 cards are in their own little universe in SLI compared to the next most power hungry setup, a 5870CF. Meanwhile noise isn’t bad, but if you’re used to a single card then this will probably catch you off guard. So the usual concerns stand with the GTX 580 SLI: make sure you have a solid high wattage power supply, an airy case, and ideally a motherboard with an x16 PCIe slot located farther away from the first one.

Index Normalized Clocks: Separating Architecture & SMs from Clockspeed Increases
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  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    Actually I'd like to. However I only have one 5970.
  • chillmelt - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    Yeah, it always bothers me that 5970 crossfired is never included in benchmarks. It's not like it's impossible to crossfire it to even a 5870 just for the sake of result.
  • the_elvino - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    Why do you only have one 5970?

    I only read the reviews here for entertainment purposes. I enjoy seeing how the reviewers struggle in their reviews to manage the balance between favoring Nvidia over AMD without showing their bias blatantly for everyone to see. However, they seem to be less and less successful at it...

    You have managed to find two GTX 590s pretty much at launch date but couldn't get hold of a second 5970 which was released a year ago? Really? Well, on the other hand it's understandable since Anand doesn't take any money from any company that it might just be over their budget, remember, this is a high-end part!
  • Minion4Hire - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    And do you remember that huge article from a while back showing the very poor scalability of mutli-GPU solutions when you get into three- and four-way GPU setups? I'm sure dual 5970s are not included because the performance would be severely unimpressive (not to mention all the screen tearing and the like) for the money you're throwing at it.
  • the_elvino - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    In an effort to avoid hurting AMD's feelings because the 5970 Crossfire (so you claim) doesn't scale well, it's not included?

    No, Ryan states he wanted to include it but doesn't have one, can't you read?

    Anyway, 5970 Crossfire seems to be doing fine:

    Far Cry 2, 2650x1600:

    5970: 54 fps
    5970 Crossfire: 98 fps

    That's an increase of 81%, so doesn't seem to be as severely unimpressive as you think.
  • tphillips63 - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    That has NOTHING to do witht the fact that they did not run HD 5970 CrossfireX, they "only" have one.
    I think AT needs to get another ASAP and test it too and stop ignoring AMD's top of the line soultion.
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    I'm going to assume this post is in jest and you are not that much of a tool.
  • IceDread - Thursday, November 11, 2010 - link

    Yeah it's really annoying that hd 5970 x2 is not in the tests. After all, it's still after a whole year out there and it's also still the greatest gaming card.
  • Hemi345 - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    Com'on Ryan... you couldn't have submitted a request to any of AMD's AIB partners for a second 5970 loaner and held off publishing the SLI results for a few days if needed??

    Fair and balanced, my ass.
  • Servando Silva - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    Would you include GTX 460 SLI results? I think many people is still considering that option. Since it beats GTX 480, It should perform similar to a GTX 580?

    Thanks for the detailed review Ryan.

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