Talk about a mixed bag for me. I find myself really struggling with the GTX 580. The first thing that has to be said is that this card doesn't deserve to be part of a new series. It's essentially a GTX 480 on steroids. The performance boost is indeed very nice, but it doesn't really bring anything new to the table.
It's not the first time NVIDIA has played with series names, though, and really, it's not a bad upgrade from the GTX 480 because it brings with it a really nice performance boost. It's not a very well valued upgrade, but from a performance point of view it's probably justifiable for diehards.
What I love about the GTX 580 is the simple fact that they've essentially jammed the power of two GTX 460 OCs into a single GPU card. Considering the performance on offer from GTX 460 SLI setups and how much we've praised them, it's easy to fall for the performance.
What I hate about the GTX 580 is the fact that while we've got the performance of two GTX 460 OCs in a single card, we still don't have Surround Vision. You would still need to buy a second GTX 580 if you wanted to go down the three screen route. The other big issues I have with the card are the price, which like the GTX 480 is more expensive than two GTX 460s, and the availability. It's been a few weeks since the GTX 580 launched and stock is as bad, if not worse since the launch of the card.
The other thing is these 'magical cooling numbers and power numbers'. I just don't see them on my retail sample. Ok, heat's not as bad and power draw at idle is better, but it's not leaps and bounds better. Throw a pair together and you're still going to be drawing some serious power and generating some serious heat.
I look at it like this. Would I personally own a GTX 580? No; and for one simple reason. I would require two to run my three monitors. As an Eyefinity user I just won't go back to single displays. I don't game heaps on my PC and I just don't need a dual card setup. With that said, it would be nice to have the power the GTX 580 has on offer if I want to have a bash at something.
NVIDIA has done what they wanted to with this model, though, I think. They've put AMD on the back foot; they've planted the seed of doubt. NVIDIA are fantastic at this; you just get this sense that AMD don't have the same confidence. You just know when the GTX 580 results started coming out AMD staff were going crazy. What do we do, what do we do? NVIDIA has taken money from AMD. That's the bottom line. Delays from AMD mean that people have just bought the GTX 580; people who would've bought the HD 6970. Achievement Unlocked!
The GTX 580, though, is what NVIDIA wanted to deliver in November 2009. You have to think if this card was here then, how the market would've just changed completely. Is the GTX 580 too little, too late? For some, yes; for others, no.
The bottom line is the GTX 580 is fast; damn fast. The performance isn't something you can take away from the GTX 580; well, today that is. It could change come the week of the 13th.
NVIDIA didn't just rattle the AMD cage, though, they threw it down a set of stairs from the tenth floor. NVIDIA has done this right with the GTX 580. They've created something fast, taken sales from future AMD cards and made sure that going into the holidays, it's not going to be all AMD.
It's fast, it's overpriced, it's hardly available and it's a card a lot of people are still going to want, because it does one thing very well - Run games well!