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Testing GeForce GTX 480 vs GTX 580 for Gaming in Stereo 3D Mode

December 4th, 2010 · 20 Comments · GeForce 3D Vision


A few days ago I told you that I’ve managed to finally get my hands on GeForce GTX 580 – the new top model GPU from Nvidia, and I was quite happy by the fact that the full cover water cooling blocks from the older GTX 480 fit nicely on the GTX 580. This was enough to convince me to upgrade to 580s, so I used this opportunity to also do some testing and compare the performance of GTX 480 and GTX 580 in a single and dual configurations (SLI). Of course there are a lot of reviews out there that have already done that, but not quite the way I wanted to test and by that I mean to test in stereoscopic 3D mode in some of the more recent and popular and of course more demanding games. So I’ve chosen 5 different games and started testing, I was eager to try the GTX 580, that is why I didn’t go for a lot of games on one side and on the other, I was having some trouble finding games that do not max out at 60 frames per eye with SLI in stereo 3D mode.

Below you will find the results from the five games I tested with, including Metro 2033 which is still one of the heaviest games, especially if you want to play it with max details and in stereo 3D mode as you will see from the charts. There are four different test scenarios in the charts – single GTX 480, single GTX 580, dual GTX 480 in SLI and dual GTX 580 in SLI, with the idea that you can compare not only the single card performance, but also to see how it scales in dual GPU configuration. The results in frames per second listed in the charts are for each eye, with 60 fps being the maximum per eye, because of the Vsync required to be forced when in stereo 3D mode. So if you see 60 fps in the chart, that actually means 120 fps average framerate for both eyes and since you cannot go further, maxing out at 60 fps per eye average simply means that the system can pretty much supply even higher fps. All the tests were done in 1920×1080 resolution with maximum detail levels and some AA/AF enabled as the specific game supports and these settings are also mentioned in the charts graphs. You may notice that the difference between single card configurations and dual card configurations are quite different with the single cards showing much bigger difference at times. The reason for that is quite simple, because of the Vsync in stereo 3D mode the top framerate is capped, so the difference in performance becomes less apparent for games where the 60 fps per eye is very close to the average achieved. And that is pretty much clearly visible in the SLI results for the first 4 games, so you should use the Metro 2033 results for judging the performance in SLI and how well does dual GTX 480 scale as compared to dual GTX 580. Also do not forget the fact that 5 frames in the chart are actually 10 frames difference, because the chart lists only the framerate achieved per eye and the actual fps is doubled, because in stereo 3D mode both eyes see different frames.



I’m starting with Battefield: Bad Company 2, a game that is still a bit challenging for single card configurations in stereo 3D mode as you can see from the results, however with dual GPU configurations the average fps almost hits 60 fps per eye. And as I already mentioned this is not good for comparing the scaling of the dual GPU configurations, although you can compare the single vs dual results. The difference between GTX 480 and GTX 580 in terms of performance is about 18% and the difference between single GTX 480 and dual GTX 480s is almost hitting 50%.



Moving to Formula 1 2010, a quite demanding game for single GPU configurations in stereo 3D mode, but not a challenge for SLI setup even with GTX 480 as the game is hitting 60 fps per eye average in both SLI setups. And this pretty much means that with two GTX 480 or two GTX 580 in SLI the minimum framerate pretty much does not drop below 60 fps per eye, so comparing between these two in the F1 game is pretty much pointless as the difference cannot be measured in stereo 3D mode. In single GPU configurations the GTX 480 is just about 7% slower than the GTX 580.



The next game in line, Fallout: New Vegas does pretty much the same as F1 2010 in terms of results, just about 8% difference between the single GPU configurations in favor of the GTX 580 of course and almost 60 fps per eye average for both SLI configurations.



Mafia II is another quire demanding games that can be a tough nut to crack for a single GPU in stereo 3D mode, however when in SLI with dual GPUs it again almost reaches the 60 fps average per eye, which makes it hard to compare the difference between SLI setup with 480 and 580. Around 14% difference between GTX 480 and GTX 580 in favor of the later of course.



And as a final, the Metro 2033 results. As I’ve already mentioned the game can stress well enough even two GTX 580s in SLI setup, and it is even more demanding for single GPU configurations in stereo 3D mode. The average fps of a single GTX 480 can make the game not so comfortable to be played in stereo 3D mode at times, because of the framerate dropping to about 20 fps per eye at maximum detail levels of course and although the GTX 580 performs better, you better go for SLI setup for that game if you want to play it in stereo 3D mode with everything to the max. The single GTX 580 is about 18% faster than the GTX 480, but if you go from a single GTX 480 to dual GTX 480s in SLI you will be gaining not only more comfortable framerate at about 70% scaling. The situation from a single to dual GTX 580s is pretty much similar with about 59% improvement in the framerate when using two cards in SLI, and the GTX 480 SLI versus GTX 580 SLI provides about 10% difference in performance.

So depending on the game when playing in stereo 3D mode you can get between 7% and 18% or an average of about 13% faster performance from the five tested games between the GTX 480 and GTX 580, so there is actually a point in upgrading a single GTX 480 to GTX 580. The scalability that a single to dual GTX 480 or GTX 580 also shows is quite nice, so you can also consider going for a second GTX 480 card to get a SLI setup instead of replacing the single GTX 480 with a single GTX 580 with a more limited budget for upgrades. Of course if you don’t have a limited budget for upgrading, then going for two GeForce GTX 580s in SLI and slightly overclocking them should solve your problem even with Metro 2033 in stereo 3D mode and will make sure you are absolutely ready for the upcoming new Crysis 2 game. And now I’m going to overclock the dual GTX 580s to see how far I can go into upping the framerate in the Metro 2033 game over the above results that were achieved with all of the video cards running at their stock parameters and not being overclocked.

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20 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Massimo // Dec 4, 2010 at 15:59

    I’m waiting for my Gtx 580 to arrive!
    I just received the new Benq XL2410T but my old gtx 260 is not enough to play with max detail and 3d vision!
    Can’t wait!

  • 2 iaTa // Dec 4, 2010 at 19:22

    Superb write up, thank you.

    I can’t wait to get back from my round the world trip so I can build a top 3D system.

  • 3 Nick 3DvB // Dec 4, 2010 at 20:42

    Good work Bloody 8 )

    I was hoping that the Crysis 2 beta would be ready soon, but I just read the first test is for XB360 only… 8(

    Maybe you could test 3Dmark11 with 3Dvision, it should be out on Tuesday unless it is delayed again.

  • 4 Bloody // Dec 4, 2010 at 20:52

    I will try it for sure and hopefully it will be stereo 3D ready… ;)

  • 5 Zerofool // Dec 4, 2010 at 21:31

    Nice article! Can you also test Crysis: Warhead (from what I’ve heard so far Crysis 2 will not be as heavy on the PC hardware as the old 2 games) and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat (the benchmark), and could you share your thoughts on how the later one works with 3D Vision (in terms of the quality of the sereoscopy). Thanks

  • 6 mihabolil // Dec 4, 2010 at 22:32

    Good job!
    I’m glad to see that 480 SLI is competitive to 580 SLI :))))
    So no reason for me to go for 580 soon

  • 7 Bloody // Dec 4, 2010 at 22:51

    Zerofool, both Crysis ans Stalker are not looking good in stereo 3D mode and cannot (should not) be played with all details on max for best visual results. They are both more of games used for benchmarking than games for playing anyway… ;)

  • 8 Zerofool // Dec 4, 2010 at 23:47

    Exactly the same is the situation with these two games when used with the iZ3D driver, that’s why I wondered how are things on 3D Vision side of the front. Good thing Metro 2033 is 3D Vision-ready, otherwise it would be the same mess in 3D I guess (like it is with the iZ3D driver for example :)).
    I saw an earlier article that you did about GTX470 with benchmarks of the two games in question, so I thought they were OK. It’s a shame they’re not :(. Never mind, thanks for the info.
    I agree, they both are more of tech-demos with “(sandbox) play” function, rather than actual games imo (especially Crysis, Stalker at least has unique atmosphere ;)).

  • 9 Nick 3DvB // Dec 5, 2010 at 01:50

    I thought the first half of Crysis was a great “stealth” game, but the aliens were crap… they look much better in Crysis 2 though.

    TriDef virtual 3D mode is supposed to work ok with Crysis without having to turn off all the lighting and shadows, but I don’t think it supports 120Hz yet ???

  • 10 Helifax // Dec 5, 2010 at 03:59

    Really nice Info here…so to sum it up: If you want 3D Vision (or have ) go go go for the SLI setup as 1 single card cannot do it very well…

  • 11 Helifax // Dec 5, 2010 at 04:07

    For those people who still have a single gtx 295: Metro 2033 will go from 22-50 fps (depending on the scenes) in stereo 3D on everything maxed out. So the results will be more or less above the ones of a single gtx 480.

  • 12 jacob pederson // Dec 6, 2010 at 17:34

    If you get a chance, can try a sli+HDMI+ 3dvision setup on the 580 and see if the following issue is still cropping up. I’d love you forever :)

    http://forums.nvidia.com/index.php?showtopic=182846

  • 13 Bloody // Dec 6, 2010 at 18:43

    Jacob, I’ll can try that, but if it is an issue only with Mitsubishi 3D DLP TVs it should not be apparent on the Panasonic TV I have that uses 3DTV Play… unless it affects both 3D Vision and 3DTV Play. On a side note, I actually remember seeing a few times the same thing that engriffi describes in the Nvidia forums with the 480s on the Panasonic 3D TV.

  • 14 franco // Dec 6, 2010 at 19:20

    I’m happy to see that the difference between 2 gtx 480’s compared to 580’s is not a big deal at all.
    It’s been only 3 months since I bought my 2 EVGA GTX 480’s and I’m happy with my SLI setup. It will take long until I replace them, longer than a year I expect at least.

    In 2011 I will only get a new mobo and a new corei7 processor to replace my old 790i Ultra SLI mobo and Qx9650. My cards are brand new, why Nvidia had to release a faster card tahn 480 so soon, that ain’t fair.

  • 15 chris // Dec 7, 2010 at 12:52

    bloody what temps do you get under load ? and what was your temps with the 480 sli setup , what rads / pump / do you use (if its any difference to your original setup ) i use a single loop with an i5 @ 3.4ghz triple rad and a lian ddc pump i get it maxxing out at 67oc

  • 16 Bloody // Dec 7, 2010 at 22:43

    Chris, I have a long writeup about the early stage of the water cooled system and components used, you can take a look here: http://3dvision-blog.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=329

    Meanwhile I just added a second GTX 480 in the loop, and after that replaced the two 480s with two 580s. I was hitting about 70 degrees with both GTX 480s under full load for a while, and now the two 580s don’t go above 55-56 degrees Celsius with an i5-750 @ 4GHz also in the loop.

  • 17 Ryan Newby // Dec 8, 2010 at 04:11

    Now i love this blog, ashame my blog isnt up to date like yours. good reviews, willbe recommending your site to others for sure,

  • 18 erik // Dec 14, 2010 at 02:29

    Bloody do you know if you are using a DLP set that uses the checkerboard 3d if it also uses half the processing power as 1080p 120hz full 3d? Really what I’m wondering is if a single 580 could perform well in s3d with a DLP.

  • 19 Ferry // Dec 15, 2010 at 21:27

    Very helpfull test Bloody !
    This was someting I was waiting for,because I had plans going sli with 480 or 580’s
    Couldn’t decide..,but know I can !

    Thanks !

  • 20 Gary Kahler // May 21, 2012 at 06:35

    Awesome testing… I was wondering, did you happen to do any testing with a 480 as dedicated PhysX and a 580 as main GPU?

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