NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580: A New Flagship Emerges

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Test Setup & Unigine Heaven v2.1

How We Configured Our Test Systems: We tested the graphics cards in this article on a Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 motherboard powered by a Core i7 965 quad-core processor and 6GB of OCZ DDR3-1333 RAM. The first thing we did when configuring the test system was enter the system BIOS and set all values to their "optimized" or "high performance" default settings. Then we manually configured the memory timings and disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows 7 Ultimate x64 was installed. When the installation was complete we fully updated the OS and installed the latest hotfixes, along with the necessary drivers and applications.

HotHardware's Test Systems
Core i7 Powered

Hardware Used:
Core i7 965 (3.2GHz)
Gigabyte EX58-UD5 (X58 Express)

Radeon HD 5850 (2)
Radeon HD 5870 (2)
Radeon HD 6850 (2)
Radeon HD 6870 (2)
GeForce GTX 460 (2)
GeForce GTX 470 (2)
GeForce GTX 460 OC (EVGA)
GeForce GTX 470 OC (Galaxy)
GeForce GTX 480 (2)
GeForce GTX 480 OC (Gigabyte)
GeForce GTX 580 (2)

6GB OCZ DDR3-1333
Western Digital Raptor 150GB
Integrated Audio
Integrated Network

Relevant Software:
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
DirectX June 2010 Redist
ATI Catalyst v10.10d
NVIDIA GeForce Drivers 262.99

Benchmarks Used:

Unigine Heaven v2.1
3DMark Vantage v1.0.1
H.A.W.X.
FarCry 2
Just Cause 2
Alien vs. Predator
Left 4 Dead 2*
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars v1.5*

* - Custom benchmark

Unigine Heaven v2.1 Benchmark
Synthetic DirectX 11 Gaming


Unigine Heaven

The Unigine Heaven Benchmark v2.0 is built around the Unigine game engine. Unigine is a cross-platform real-time 3D engine, with support for DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11 and OpenGL. The Heaven benchmark--when run in DX11 mode--also makes comprehensive use of tessellation technology and advanced SSAO (screen-space ambient occlusion), and it also features volumetric cumulonimbus clouds generated by a physically accurate algorithm and a dynamic sky with light scattering.

NVIDIA's Fermi-architecture based derivatives are partially known for their excellent geometry and tessellation capabilities, hence their strong performance in the Unigine Heaven benchmark. This test features and extreme tessellation load that's much more taxing than what is used is today's DX11 games, but it offers a clear view as to the relative tessellation performance of the GPUs we tested here. As you can see, the GeForce GTX 580 clearly leads the pack, easily besting even AMD's dual-GPU powered Radeon HD 5970.

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