NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580: A New Flagship Emerges

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The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580


The GeForce GTX 580 reference design looks very much like a cross between the GeForce GTX 470 and 285. The cooler is certainly smaller than that found on the GTX 480, and it lacks the protruding heat-pipes found on the 480 as well. The entire front side of the card is also encased in a shroud, much like previous designs, which gives it a nice, clean look.


NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 Reference Design

The GeForce GTX 580’s PCB measures 10.5”. As you can see in the pictures above, the back-side of the PCB is exposed, but short of the PCI Express edge connector the front side is all fan shroud and fan from tip to tail. As we mentioned on the previous page, the tail end of the fan shroud has a sharp, angled drop-off that allows for better inward air flow for the top card when used in multi-card configurations, where the PEG slots are next to one another. And the top-front of the shroud, along with half of the case bracket, is vented to allow heated air to be mostly expelled from a system.

The outputs on the GeForce GTX 580 are identical to those found on the GTX 480—two dual-link DVI connectors are adjacent to a mini-HDMI connector at the top of the case bracket. Please note, despite having three outputs, only two can be used at any given time to drive displays. For three monitor NVIDIA Surround gaming configurations, like its predecessors, two cards must be used.

Two PCI Express power connectors are present on the GTX 580, one 8-pin and one 6-pin.  The card also has dual SLI edge connectors to support, one, two, three or four-way SLI configuration.


The GeForce GTX 580's Vapor Chamber Cooling Solution

With the GeForce GTX 580 disassembled, we can take a much better look at the cooler’s inner-workings and the GPU itself. The GTX 580’s Vapor Chamber cooler has a smooth copper base, fused to a dense array of thin, aluminum cooling fins. The Vapor Chamber cooler assembly is basically a large, rectangular block where air from the barrel-type fan can easily flow from one end to the other. In comparison to the elaborate (and massive) coolers we’ve seen on some recent overclocked cards, the GTX 580’s Vapor Chamber seems somewhat small in comparison, but it definitely gets the job done. Without question, the GTX 580 is quieter than the GTX 480. In fact, there’s no comparison in real-world use. The GTX 580 is downright quiet next to the GTX 480. It still gets relatively hot though, especially in comparison to AMD’s latest cards.

The GeForce GTX 580 GPU and Heat-Plate

You’ll also notice with the card disassembled that the long, metal retention plate that holds the fan also acts as a heat spreader for the GTX 580’s on-board memory and some other components. The overall design of the GTX 580’s cooling solution, dare we say, seems elegant in comparison to some of the triple-slot, oversized monstrosities that have hit the market recently.

Dominating the center of the PCB is the GPU itself, flanked by memory on three sides. The actual GPU die is hidden under the metal heat-spreader, but the sheer size of the chip alludes to the fact that there’s a big, honkin’ 3-Billion transistor slab of silicon underneath.

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