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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  • slick121 - Thursday, November 11, 2010 - link

    Wow so true, this is a slap in the face, off to other sites for a more unbiased review.
  • Gonemad - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    ...blow a $1100 hole in your pocket? Yes it can!

    Can it make you consider purchasing a 1200W power supply as something not THAT preposterous? Yes it can! (well, the 480 pair already did, so...)

    Considering a caseless or vapor mod case also not that insane? That too!

    I guess waiting until this card reaches the price/performance charts will take a while. On the other hand as far as performance goes...
  • iwodo - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    One of the thing i never liked SLI or Crossfire like, it needs Drivers support for the specific game to take advantage of 2nd Gfx card.

    Have we solve this problem yet?
  • Spazweasel - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    I've never had to install game-specific drivers to take advantage of SLI in the games I play, and I've had an SLI rig for nearly three years (2x 8800GT). I just update my vid drivers once every few months. It's true that there are often performance tweaks for individual games in a given driver version, but I've never found a game that just doesn't work under SLI with whatever the driver version at hand. When did you last try?

    As for Crossfire... my "guest" PC is all-AMD (Athlon II X4 620, 4870, 785 chipset) and is a fine machine. Every time I consider going Crossfire on that rig, I check the various tech sites and game support sites, and see issues with Crossfire being reported far more frequently than SLI. This points to a situation that has existed for a while: AMD makes faster hardware for the money, but nVidia overall does a better job with drivers, particularly in multi-GPU scenarios, and from the game developers I know, seems more interested in working closely with game devs.

    Which is why when friends ask me about gaming builds, my usual answer (depending upon the products both vendors have at the time) is "Single vid card, go with AMD, dual vid card, go with nVidia". There have been exceptions: 8800GT in its day was just plain the best, and 460 GTX until very recently was also the best single-GPU solution in its price bracket. The overall trend seems pretty steady with regard to single-GPU vs. multi-GPU, though.
  • Finally - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    "Single vid card, go with AMD, dual vid card, go download a proper brain"

    Who drops in another card after 2 years, if there is a new card available that's not only about 100% faster but also brings new features to the table? (E.g. DirectX11, Tesselation, Eyefinity etc.)
  • Sufo - Thursday, November 11, 2010 - link

    Um, i got 2 5850s for less than the price of a single gtx 580, which they consistently outperform. Dual gpu is a legitimate solution in the short term at least.

    You're right that it becomes a less sensible option after a fair amount of time, assuming the tech has moved on significantly - however, expect pc gpu tech to stagnate for a while (as evidenced by the very marginal improvements displayed by the 6xxx and 5xx series) at least until the next round of consoles are out.

    Right now is a great time to buy a top of the line system.
  • Finally - Thursday, November 11, 2010 - link

    You DO know that the marginal improvements from 58xx to 68xx stem from the fact that the new top of the line 69xx are yet to be launched?

    Yes, GPU tech will stagnate because all they have to master are some 3rd grade console ports that only turn out so few fps because the process of porting them over to the pc is done as quickly and cheaply as possible?

    If there was such a thing as a native PC game anymore, you probably would see all those DX11 features put into practice.

    Right now it's simply ridiculous. A HD4870 or a GTX580 will play any console-ported crap you throw at it... more performance has become irrelevant as there is no game to request it.

    Oh, there is Crysis, right.
    And it's out since when exactly?
    I'm really not in the mood to pick up this vegetation benchmark in-disguise and look at it again...

    And then there are games that run with 200+ fps instead of 60+ fps. *yawn* Please wake me up, when you reach 500+ fps with your GTX580 SLI so I can walk over to my bed for some real deep sleep...
  • mapesdhs - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    Spazweasel, please see my site for useful info, comparing 8800GT SLI vs.
    4890 CF vs. GTX 460 SLI:

    and these new pages under construction:

    Hope this helps! :)

  • Spazweasel - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    Thanks, Ian... still happy with my 8800GT SLI setup though. :) It's been nothing but amazing for me. Not looking to upgrade just yet. Let's see what the 560 GTX looks like...
  • mapesdhs - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    Yep, 8800 GT SLI does run rather well, though as my results show
    they fall behind for newer games at higher res/detail.

    Summaries I've posted elsewhere show that if one is playing older
    games at lesser resolutions, then using a newer card to replace
    an older SLI setup (or instead of adding an extra older card) will
    not give that much of a speed boost, if any (look at the 4890 data
    vs. 8800GT). For older games, newer cards only help if one also
    switches to a higher res/detail mode. Newer cards' higher performance
    is focused on newer features, (eg. SM3, etc.); performance levels
    for older features are often little changed.


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