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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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25 responses so far ↓

  • 1 vesper8 // Mar 24, 2011 at 19:28

    darn! This is making me doubt whether I should cancel my order for a 2nd GTX 570 and get this baby instead and try to sell back my 4 week old GTX 570 for a small loss. My two GTX 570s will have cost me 620$.

    Then again.. ncix is advertising the gtx 590 for ~800$.. nowhere near the mrsp of 699 =\

  • 2 Anthony // Mar 24, 2011 at 22:09

    Great !
    I’m looking for the best hardware in order to play on 3D with 3D monitors ! Actually I have 2 GTX 295 and it is not enough to do this.
    Searching on the net, I can’t find wath to buy to give me this 3D Vision in 3 surrond.
    If someone do that tell me how please !

  • 3 mihabolil // Mar 24, 2011 at 23:05

    Great review, but Just Cause 2 does utilizes both my GTX480s.
    I got “Black Market DLC” and the game updated :)))

  • 4 jpnn80 // Mar 25, 2011 at 00:42

    Well I hope the the time Nvidia spent on developping this new card did not further delay the Kepler GPU which was supposed to come out this year, and be nearly 3 times more powerful than the current Fermi GPU… http://media.bestofmicro.com/nvidia-kepler-maxwell,I-Y-262474-3.jpg

  • 5 maker // Mar 25, 2011 at 01:17


    Is Kepler presently suffering from a delay?

  • 6 Zerofool // Mar 25, 2011 at 06:23

    Kepler will come out when TSMC gets their 28nm node right. So basically, it will come out together with AMD’s HD7000 series, (according to latest rumors) in late Q1 next year, meaning there will be no new cards for a whole year. But that’s all unofficial info, so… we’ll see.

  • 7 tritosine // Mar 25, 2011 at 10:59

    Zerofool, im sure we can count on TSMC on that! (12 /q1)

  • 8 Lo4eath // Mar 25, 2011 at 18:35

    Okay, but I think there a hinch… For a precise information, they should have said at what res they had it, they could have gotten the almost 100 FPS on Metro 2033 on 1024*756, noneAA, details set to LOW….

  • 9 mihabolil // Mar 25, 2011 at 19:58

    I bet it is 1920×1080, all settings at max (with some exeptions for AA i gues)

  • 10 maker // Mar 25, 2011 at 20:21


    The review does say what resolution was used, 1080p.

  • 11 dnvg // Mar 27, 2011 at 16:29

    There must be an problem! With my two ASUS 570 DCu II, I get with 3DMark 11 X3244 score (Extreme setting) . It’s very close to 2 x GTX 590!…
    An I get 25337 (SM2.0 score: 9154; HDR/SM3.0 Score: 13277) all set to default (res: 1280×1024, AA:None, Filter:Optimal, HLSL : 3_0).
    All is to stock setting for GPU except to CPU i7-950 oc to 3.7GHz (very slow oc but all still very quiet…).

  • 12 Bloody // Mar 28, 2011 at 09:39

    dnvg, you’ve meant to say close to two GTX 580s in SLI at stock? The performance that dual GTX 570s in SLI get you at default is pretty much the same as a single GTX590 at default frequencies. Have in mind that the results posted above are at stock frequencies for both the cards and the CPU… ;)

  • 13 Darkbibou // Mar 28, 2011 at 16:35

    I really look forward to the test of this GTX590 in 3D vision surround.

    In my humble opinion, an overclocked GTX590 might reach the performance of a non overclocked SLI of GTX580 (model with standard vram).

    However, if i’m not wrong the major limitation in 3DVS is the vram. Currently there is a great GTX580 with 3GB of vram available on the market.

    So, in SLI you have 3GB of vram per GPU (6GB total) with GTX580 and only 1.5GB of vram with GTX590. That’s a major difference ! :)

    I’m not sure that there will be one day a 6GB GTX590 ^^

  • 14 Zerofool // Mar 28, 2011 at 22:24

    Talking about OC-ing the GTX590… just have that in mind ;)

  • 15 Global_Widecat // Mar 30, 2011 at 12:01

    Darkbibou :So, in SLI you have 3GB of vram per GPU (6GB total) with GTX580 and only 1.5GB of vram with GTX590. That’s a major difference ! :)

    Sli dosn’t work that way , 2x 3GB sli cards = 3GB in total not 6GB


  • 16 Darkbibou // Mar 31, 2011 at 12:51


    My sentence was not clear enough, i was just saying that with GTX580 you can have 3GB per GPU contrary to GTX590 with which you only have 1.5GB per GPU :)

  • 17 Franco // Mar 31, 2011 at 17:26

    Darkbilou, GTX 580 has 1.5GB’s per GPU, the same as GTX 590. The difference is that GTX 590 is dual GPU card, so it’s 1.5GB’s x 2 = 3GB’s, not 6GB’s. You can’t have 3GB’s with 580’s, unless you SLI.

    Bloody, I have 2 GTX 480 in SLI, I guess it’s performance would compare to a GTX 590, right? You said 2x 570 in SLI would be the abouy the same as a GTX 590. GTX480 is like a GTX 570 with more Vram and worse cooling system, but it still cool to me. But I woudn’t trade my 2 GTX 480 for 2 GTX 570, only 580’s are superior.

  • 18 maker // Apr 1, 2011 at 04:19


    There are GTX 580 cards with 3GB VRAM. Perhaps that’s what he meant.

  • 19 Helifax // Apr 7, 2011 at 00:26

    There is something wrong with the results of the gtx590 here …. On my system at stock clocks, on my Gtx590 I get better results….Unfortunately I don’t have SLI 580 to compare:))

  • 20 Bloody // Apr 7, 2011 at 00:53

    The above results are with an Intel i5 750 CPU running at stock frequency…

  • 21 whosjohnny // Apr 11, 2011 at 09:00

    I’m running an outdated LGA775 platform and my 3DMark11 Xtreme score is actually higher than his 580 SLI. What kind of hardware is he running? I thought mine is +3YRs in due of an upgrade. The only thing keeping this up is my GTX 590.

    [45nm Q9450, 1800mhz FSB] -=- [3.6 GHz w/ Zalman Copper]
    [EVGA nForce i790 Ultra SLI] -=- [PC Power & Cooling 750w @82%]
    [4 GB OCZ DDR3] -=- [1600 MHz @7-6-6-24-2T]
    [(1)EVGA Classified GTX 590] -=- [700/1851 @0.938v, 3DMark11 P8123, X3353]
    [All External eSata HDD] -=- [Modified ANTEC 900 Case, Air Cooling]

    Xtreme Preset X3353 http://3dmark.com/3dm11/1006884
    Performance Preset P8123 http://3dmark.com/3dm11/1006795

  • 22 Bloody // Apr 11, 2011 at 09:32

    The results are on a non overclocked system using Intel i5 750 CPU with the video cards also not overclocked. In 3D Mark you can get a few hundred points just by overclocking the CPU and again a few more by overclocking the video cards… ;)

  • 23 Jacob // Apr 12, 2011 at 23:31

    In my opinion the GTX 590 is fantastic value, considering that you can OC it safely without raising voltage (& making the VRM go nuts) to at least 660mhz, or buy a pre-clocked 660 charged version.

    It costs $699 and comes within 5% range of GTX 580 SLI which costs $1,000.

    Not to mention it is much more silent than the Radeon 6990. I would have seriously considered AMD’s card if it was not for the abysmal noise level.

    All in all, if you already have the cash to go for highest-end graphics, the consumer wins by buying this. You save ~300 dollars and when clocking the GTX590 at ~650-660mhz, get nearly identical performance of two GTX 580’s.

  • 24 Andy // Oct 4, 2011 at 09:15

    the main drawback is that you have only 2*1.5 gb vram with the 590. afaik BF3 will use more than 1.5 gb vram with max settings. in this case, two gtx580 with 3 gb vram each is the best solution. but 2*580 plus 1000W power supply will cost about twice the price of a 590 with a cheaper power supply…

    (please consider that BF3 is internally adjusting settings automatically so you can set all to max with 1.5 gb vram but you not really have all maxed out)

  • 25 Badelhas // Oct 5, 2011 at 02:09

    I bought a 720p Projector for 3D Vision, the Benq W700. I never played at this resolution. Can find any benchmarks of 3D vision at this resolution. What do you think is best: 580 1.5gb or 2 570 1.3gb in SLI?

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