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GeForce GTX 590 vs 2x GTX 580 SLI in Plain 3D and Stereo 3D Mode

March 24th, 2011 · 25 Comments · GeForce 3D Vision

Time for some benchmarks of the new GTX 590 dual-GPU video card, as promised I did some quick testing to compare the GTX 590 versus two GTX 580 in SLI. Below you will find the results and I can say that they are quite interesting, considering the fact that the GTX 590 uses pretty much two GTX 580 GPUs, but running at lower operating frequency and video memory also running at slower speed. Of course I did try some overclocking of the GTX 590 and thus found some interesting things while trying to run both GPUs it at the default operating frequencies of a GTX 580, but more on that after the benchmark results.

I’m starting with 3DMark 2006 and 11, two popular synthetic benchmarks. The surprise here is that in 3DMark 2006 the GTX 590 is a bit faster than dual GTX 580s in SLI, but that test runs at lower resolution and is not as much as GPU dependent as it is with the CPU nowadays. The latest 3DMark 11 in Extreme mode shows significant difference in performance, however in actual games there isn’t such a big difference visible.

Moving to actual games in 2D mode (plain 3D mode), 1080p resolution, max details and with AA in some games, the average difference in performance in the tested games is about 10% in favor of the dual GTX 580 SLI configuration, although in some games the difference can be lower or higher. Do not be alarmed by the low framerate of the game Just Cause 2, it is to be expected considering the fact that the game does not utilize more than one GPU, so it does not do very well in SLI testing and it is just there for comparison.

Moving to testing the games in stereo 3D mode, again 1080p resolution, max details and with AA in some games, but have in mind that the framerates in the table with results here are per eye. The average difference here is even lower with about 5.7%, but this is due to the fact that you get vsync active when in stereo 3D mode and the maximum framerate is capped at 60 fps per eye or 120 in total.

So in the end things don’t look that bad for the GTX 590 when compared to a dual GTX 580s in SLI, on the contrary the difference is even less than what I’ve expected, so I can say I’m pleasantly surprised. And when you add in the fact that the GTX 590 runs cool and quiet under load, doesn’t consume that much power, performance wise is not much slower than two GTX 580s in SLI and at the same time is more attractive in terms of price as compared to getting two 580s… things are looking quite good for the new dual-GPU card. You can easily add a second GTX 590 at a later time if your hardware supports it, whereas the hardware that supports three or four independent video cards running in SLI isn’t that much, not to mention the increased power and cooling needs that 3-4 video cards also bring and last, but not least the need of a good and bigger case. As the same time the motherboards that support two video cards in SLI are much more and with two GTX 590s in a Quad SLI setup you may be able to get a very nice scalability in the video performance, if the video drivers are well optimized to do that. Getting a single GTX 590 video card also gives you the option to make a 3D Vision Surround setup with 3 3D monitors, so I’ll try to get three 3D monitors to do some 3D Vision Surround benchmarks with the GTX 590 for next week…

And now a bit about overclocking, I did try to bring the operating frequencies of the GTX 590 to the same level as the ones that GTX 580 uses and that is possible with the latest beta 1 of Afterburner 2.2.0. However it appears at these frequencies the GTX 590 is easily hitting the TDP of 365W under load as it is almost like having two GTX 580 on a single PCB and the Power Limiter kicks in. The result from that is that the performance increase is not as high as expected and certainly not as high as two GTX 580 cards in SLI, but if we also get an option to disable the power limiter as we can on the GTX 580s, the GTX 590 may reach the same performance level as two GTX 580s in SLI after some overclocking of course. And just to be sure getting water cooling for the card is recommended as well as at least a good 1000W PSU is a must if you decide to overclock seriously the GTX 590 with the power limiter disabled.

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