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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  • maverick7614 - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    Hi guys,

    Thanks for the great review of the GTX580 from yesterday!

    I know this is a bit off topic regarding GTX but as someone that just received as a gift a GTX480 recently, and has no space in the case to use a 3 slot air cooling solution, I was wondering if it would be possible to fit the new GTX580 cooling solution on a GTX480.

    If this would be possible it would be great if you guys could retest the temperatures, noise and power draw for such a modded GTX480.

  • slickr - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    I see no reason why you would want to keep CIV5 in the benches, since its obviously not reliable to test graphic card speeds.
    I would like you to add another strategy game in its place, something like Total war series, you know with large scale combat and all that good stuff.

    And why isn't there no Starcraft 2 benchmark there, its basically one of two PC only titles and yet you don't include it?
  • smookyolo - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    I say they benchmark Age of Empires.

    The first one.

  • Exodite - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    While it's clear from this review, as well as others, that the GTX 580 is a significant improvement over the GTX 480 in power usage, temps and noise I realized that what I've actually taken away from reading it is how totally awesome the Radeon 6870 is. In CrossFireX especially.

    I reckon that's not quite what Nvidia had in mind but meh, it seems the absolute extreme-end cards still aren't a winning proposition.
  • silverblue - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    Aside of the odd issue with minimum frame rates, Barts is a notable improvement over Cypress for Crossfire. If I was to paraphrase a quote taken from the 460 launch, this would be Evergreen done "right", at least in terms of multiple graphics card setups - better scaling and better power usage essentially means less waste, and it's not as if Evergreen was hungry to start with. Just a shame that AMD has effectively limited Barts to two cards at once.

    As for the 580, very well done, however I think we're going to have to wait for another redesign before power usage is properly tackled.
  • spiked_mistborn - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    It would be nice if you could include 5770 CF scores in the future. I have a Sapphire Vapor-x running at 960 / 1350 and it's very quiet and performs ok, and I could get another one for about $140 on Newegg. The 5770 has similar or faster tesselation performance to that of 5870 (due to faster clock speed) and in CF has similar shading / texturing abilities. It would be nice to see how 2 of these at stock speeds compare to the other cards. Overall this is a great article as always!
  • Folterknecht - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    2x 5770 ~ 1x 5870
  • Neomis - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    What are the pc specs on this test system? it would be nice to know what processor/Clock limited some of these tests...
  • shaggart5446 - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    look how quick he do an sli and the 580 just release yesterday and when the 6870 and 6850 was release there wasnt any xfire the next day but he could also do an over clock 460 sometimes i wonder why amd even send u guys card to review
  • haukionkannel - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    Well, most simple explanation between these different heat result is that the review part was cherry picked (like they normally are, so that you can get better overclockin results etc.) and the Asus one is normal version, that you can normally expect to get.
    When the production run gets better, I think that we will see more chips that are more like the early cherry picked one...

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