During the previous generation of graphics cards, nVidia’s top-end GeForce GTX 480, based on the first-generation Fermi chipset, performed well, but its high price and hot temperatures didn’t quite warrant the relatively modest improvement in performance over AMD’s offerings. nVidia refined its original Fermi design, greatly improving its performance and efficiency, and the result is the GTX 580.
The standard GTX 580 has 512 cores, running at 772MHz, with a shader clock of 1544MHz. Zotac has factory overclocked the core of the AMP2, to 815MHz and the shader clock to 1630MHz, resulting in some breath-taking performance.
Zotac’s GeForce GTX 580 AMP2 dominated our tests. It was the only card to achieve over 100fps in Bad Company 2 at 1920 x 1080, and still broke 60fps at 2560 x 1600. The results in Stalker were also greatly improved over both the GTX 570 and AMD Radeon HD6970.
The only game where it didn’t show a massive performance increase over other cards was Crysis at 2560 x 1600, which suggests that at these very high resolutions, performance depends more on the CPU than GPU.
This card is likely to perform well at high resolutions in most games due in the foreseeable future, so out of all the cards, can be considered the most future-proofed upgrade.
You’d hope so, for the price. While none of the mid-range cards cost much above £250, the Zotac GeForce GTX 580 AMP2 is around £400. That’s partly down to Zotac doubling the GDDR5 video memory of a standard GTX 580, to a whopping 3GB. This is of most help at higher resolutions and in games with giant textures.
Surprisingly, the card is slightly shorter than AMD’s top-end offering, which is testament to nVidia’s more efficient design. Zotac’s custom dual-fan cooler occupies two expansion slots, so the card needs three in total. Unless your PC is low on internal space, that shouldn’t be a problem though.