The Asus GeForce GTX 580 is the graphics card that the GTX 480 could have been. It's still based on the Fermi architecture, and doesn't add any particularly eye-catching new features, but it brings a tangible amount of increased performance, lower power consumption and lower temperatures. 

So the Asus GeForce GTX 580 is a minor improvement, for sure - but remember that it's an improvement over what is already the best single-GPU graphics solution in the consumer market. It manages to lead the list, even improving upon the performance turned in by overclocked GeForce GTX 480 graphics cards.

The Asus GeForce GTX 580 still does not particularly favour DisplayPort, and its DirectX 11 performance has improved a bit with the 32 extra CUDA cores (512 now, as against 480 cores in the GTX 480). Clock and memory speeds have also been increased.

It has been about a year since AMD/ATi launched its Radeon 5000 series of GPUs for graphics cards. AMD has already released its Radeon 6850 and 6870, with the top-end single-GPU Radeon 6970 expected to be available quite soon. AMD's upcoming high-end Radeon offering may or may not beat the GeForce GTX 580 in performance. However, if a big lead over AMD is what nVidia wanted, a year has been lost perfecting the architecture while the firm's competitor continues the assault with products that offer decent performance at good prices.

Asus GeForce GTX 580 specifications

Asus lost no time in bringing a version of the GeForce GTX 580 to market that's not only factory-overclocked, but also offers plenty of voltage tweaking headroom. Enthusiasts can further overclock using nVidia's own System Tools and the Asus software provided - SmartDoctor and GamerOSD.

The Asus GeForce GTX 580 graphics card has 1.5GB of GDDR5 video memory clocked at 1,002MHz, and a GPU core clocked at 782MHz (10MHz higher than the stock speed). It has a 384bit memory interface and 512 cores that support OpenGL 4.1 and DirectX 11.

The table below shows how the specifications of the stock GeForce GTX 580 differ from the older GTX 480, and competing cards, the Radeon 5870 (single-GPU) and Radeon 5970 (dual-GPU).

Asus GeForce GTX 580 comparison table

The GPU comparison table above pits specifications of the Asus GeForce GTX 580 against its peers

Asus GeForce GTX 580 design

The Asus GeForce GTX 580 (ENGTX580/2DI/1536MD5) has a dual-slot cooler hidden behind a black covering, with only the fan visible. The fan clearly kept the card well-cooled, as the GPU temperature was very decent for a high-end card. The fan never got noisy in testing, unlike the reference GTX 480.

Asus GeForce GTX 580

The Asus GeForce GTX 580's cooling system is closed for the most part, and the grilled heat vents at the rear throw heat out. It is targeted at high-end desktop computers (gaming/rendering professionals). So the type of PC cabinet and power supply required should have already been taken care of - not much to think about on that front. Power input connectors are on the card: one 8-pin and one 6-pin PCI-E power input.

Asus GeForce GTX 580 package contents

Display outputs at the rear are aligned in one row, to allow a full row for the heat vents. The output ports consisted of one mini-HDMI port and two DVI ports. This seems a little basic for a card of the stature of the Asus GeForce GTX 580 and the profile of the kind of user who would want it.

Asus GeForce GTX 580

Want multi-monitor beyond two, or DisplayPort? You're out of luck.

The package we received had no port adaptors except for the mini-HDMI to HDMI port adaptor. But there was a SpeedSetup guide, a CD with drivers and manual and one 8-pin PCI-E power input connector connecting to two 6-pin PCI-E connectors. Latest versions of Asus diagnostic and tweaking software (GamerOSD, Smart Doctor) can be downloaded from the website.

Next page: Asus GeForce GTX 580 performance benchmarking, and our expert verdict >>

See also:

Group test: what's the best graphics card?

Group test: what's the best budget graphics card?

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The Asus GeForce GTX 580 graphics card is a factory-overclocked version of the nVidia GeForce GTX 580, launched in a bid to retain the performance crown.

Our colleagues at PC World India put the Asus GeForce GTX 580 graphics card through its paces in their benchmarking labs. Here's how the GTX 580 got on.

Asus GeForce GTX 580 performance

To prevent bottle-necks as much as possible, the test-bed consisted of an Intel Core i7 965 processor, Intel DX58SO motherboard, Intel X25-M 80GB SSD, 3GB of Kingston DDR3-2000MHz HyperX RAM, Tagan BZ-1300W PSU and Windows 7 Ultimate. We used the latest driver available at the time of testing for the Asus GeForce GTX 580 - nVidia ForceWare v262.99 WHQL.

The graphs here show only performance numbers as seen at the default speeds set by Asus, and selected from a wider set of tests conducted. To put the results in context and help you compare, we juxtapose its benchmark scores with two other top-end graphics cards. These are the previous generation card, MSI GeForce GTX 480 Lightning, and the dual-GPU Radeon 5970 from the opposing camp.

Below is a graph of how the Asus GeForce GTX 580 graphics card fared in synthetic benchmarks:

Asus GeForce GTX 580 performance charts

Asus GeForce GTX 580 performance charts

Below is a graph of the Asus GeForce GTX 580's gaming performance seen in higher-end usage patterns.

Asus GeForce GTX 580 performance charts

Among the top-end cards chosen for temperature comparison, the Asus GTX 580 ran relatively cool in normal gaming patterns. However, FurMark pushes it to the brink such that the temperature cut-off kicks in, so you see such a high temperature at full load. Notably, the Asus GeForce GTX 580 refused to become as noisy as the other cards, preferring to run a higher temperature instead (which we presume it is engineered to tolerate for long periods of time).

Asus GeForce GTX 580 performance charts

Next page: Our expert verdict >>

See also:

Group test: what's the best graphics card?

Group test: what's the best budget graphics card?

More graphics card reviews

Asus GeForce GTX 580: Specs

  • 1.5GB GDDR5 video RAM
  • 782MHz core clock speed
  • 1,002MHz memory clock speed
  • 384bit memory interface
  • DirectX 11
  • shader model 5.0
  • mini-HDMI-out
  • dual DVI
  • 3-year warranty
  • 1.5GB GDDR5 video RAM
  • 782MHz core clock speed
  • 1,002MHz memory clock speed
  • 384bit memory interface
  • DirectX 11
  • shader model 5.0
  • mini-HDMI-out
  • dual DVI
  • 3-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

Priced competitively at £399 and friendly to overclockers, the Asus GeForce GTX 580 is an obvious choice for those building a new gaming machine. If you've already got a high-end gaming machine, with a graphics card of the class of a GeForce GTX 480 or dual Radeon 5870s in CrossFire, upgrading to the GeForce 580 is a tougher decision - it may be worth waiting to see what the Radeon 6970 has to offer.

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