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 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.
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.
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 >>