MSI GeForce GTX 580 1536MB Video Card

It's nice to know that someone out there made the effort to get us a GTX 580, even if it wasn't NVIDIA.

Published Thu, Dec 2 2010 12:02 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:02 PM CST
Rating: 74%Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Package


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As was the case with the GTX 480, NVIDIA APAC again chose to ignore us with the launch of the GTX 580, so we had to resort to the manufacturers to try and get a sample. Eventually, weeks after the launch, MSI stole one for us so we could bring you this review.

I would like to think it's not just me that has animosity against NVIDIA and I'm pretty confident after talking to partners that I'm not the only one. While my frustration with NVIDIA relates to the lack of support with up to date information and complete lack of samples when it comes to high end parts, there's clearly partners who are both unhappy and worried about NVIDIA hitting the retail channel.

There are three reasons this review wasn't brought to you at launch. The first is that NVIDIA APAC doesn't care about me. New mid-range card? Oh, they're happy to help; we have more GTX 460 coverage than any other tech site, helping promote the model heavily for NVIDIA. It was a great card and partners did some great things with it, and we wanted to show you that. High end, though? We just get looked past by them. I'm not sure why; I'd love to have an answer not just for you, but for me. Unfortunately we weren't even granted a logical explanation.

Another reason we didn't have this card for launch is because partners didn't have any real stock. Tight stock means that reference cards tend not to get sampled and this is something we're seeing with NVIDIAs high end models. Again, the launch of the GTX 46X series was completely different. The other thing is that partners are legitimately worried about their future with NVIDIA. Since NVIDIA didn't provide a sample, it forced me to dig and dig and dig to get one. When you dig so much, you find out so much more. Partners seem worried about NVIDIA going retail and anyone who said they were worried said the same thing; at the end of the day they can't compete with NVIDIA when it comes to price, because they set it.

That's Another reason why we didn't have a card at launch. That doesn't matter now, though, since we have one for the moment. No doubt at the next high end launch we'll run into the same problem.

Anyway, let's get into the package that MSI has got going on.

The Package

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There's really not much that you haven't seen to the overall package with the main stand outs being a 6-Pin to 8-Pin PCI-E connector along with a mini-HDMI to HDMI cable. It's nice to get the cable versus just a convertor; good news for people who own monitors that are HDMI connected.

Card and Specifications

The Card

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Really, you're not seeing anything too different here to what you've seen in the past. The card looks very much like the last few high end NVIDIA cards; the GTX 470 and GTX 480 when it comes to the overall look. The cooler has been worked on, though, and we don't have that massive grill on the front.

To be completely honest, I loved the grill. It kind of gave that feeling of power. I'd just love to see a company use it if it was even just for cosmetic reasons.


The big thing about the GTX 580 is the fact that it's got 512 Shaders, which is what we all thought the GTX 480 would carry when it launched earlier this year. Word was that we ended up with 480 Shaders because NVIDIA struggled to get the chips to do 512. Whatever reason it was, though, we've got a card with 512 now.

Clocks have been bumped a little. The GTX 480 had a 701 / 1401 / 3696MHz QDR Core / Shader / Memory setup; the GTX 580 carries with it a 772 / 1544 / 4008MHz QDR setup.

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Memory remains the same in both size and bus width which is 1536MB on a 383-bit bus. What you essentially end up with is an overclocked GTX 480 with more Shaders. There's nothing really new here.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Mittoni, Noctua and Corsair.

We'll be checking out the GTX 580 against the GTX 480 of course. We've also got some of the new HD 6800 series cards here. We've got the HD 6870 by its lonesome along with the HD 6850 and HD 6870 both in Crossfire.

Let's get started!

3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
Buy It Here

3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.

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Straight away over the GTX 480 you can see the massive performance increase on offer.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 2
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

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Checking out Heaven, we can see that the GTX 580s performance is about in line with the GTX 460 OC SLI setup and ahead of the HD 6850 CF setup.

Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5

Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.

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Getting into games, we continue to see strong performance from the GTX 580. We can see compared to the other setups you're looking at performance similar to the GTX 460 OC SLI.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X is an arcade-style flight simulator video game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and iPhone OS.

The fundamental gameplay mechanics are similar to those of other console-based flight series. Players take on enemies with over 50 aircraft available. Each mission is at real world locations in environments created with commercial satellite data. A cockpit, first person, and third person view are selectable. The third person view gives the player an external view of both their plane and the target.

Set above the skies of a near-future world, increasingly dependent on private military companies with elite mercenaries who have a relaxed view on the law. As these non-governmental organizations gain power, global conflict erupts with one powerful PMC attacking the United States.

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Again, strong performance lining up with the GTX 460 OC SLI setup. Compared to the Crossfire setups, we're a little behind, but still nice playable numbers across the board.

Benchmarks - Mafia II

Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
Buy It Here

Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

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What's important here is the fact we've gone from below 60 FPS with the GTX 480 to over 60 FPS with the GTX 580. We've essentially gone from not playable to playable which is exactly what we want when moving up in video cards.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

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Lost planet sees some great gains, especially at the higher resolution. We're neck and neck with the GTX 460 OC SLI setup again and fighting it out with even the higher end HD 6870 CF setup in this case.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator

Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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Strong performance again and you can see at 1920 x 1200 the GTX 480 falls just short of that 60 FPS average, while the GTX 580 flies past it.

Benchmarks - Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Elezen (Male)
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Final Fantasy XIV, also known as Final Fantasy XIV Online, is the fourteenth installment in the Final Fantasy series. The game is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game and is developed and published by Square Enix. The game takes place in a land called Hydaelyn, mainly in a region named Eorzea, which will have a contemporaneously aesthetic blend of science fiction and classic fantasy elements.

The battle and job systems will be different from the one previously used in Final Fantasy XI, which utilized experience points and level-based progression. Final Fantasy XIV is being designed to utilize a skill-based progression[15] system similar to that of Final Fantasy II. Character races will resemble and allow players to create avatars similar to ones in Final Fantasy XI. Group play has been de-emphasized, and now solo and group play have been balanced. Weapon use will alter "character development".

Note: Final Fantasy XIV gives us a score and not a normal FPS rating, our understanding is that anything around 2000 points or above is considered playable.

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Thanks to Crossfire having troubles with FF XIV due to the fact it runs in Windowed mode, we see the GTX 580 just blitz everything here.

Benchmarks - Street Fighter IV

Street Fighter IV

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

While Street Fighter IV features models and backgrounds rendered in 3D, the gameplay remains on a traditional 2D plane, with the camera having freedom to move in 3D at certain times during fights, for dramatic effect. Producer Yoshinori Ono has stated that he wanted to keep the game closer to Street Fighter II. A new system called "Focus Attacks" ("Saving Attack" for the Japanese version) has been introduced, as well as Ultra moves. The traditional six-button control scheme returns, with new features and special moves integrated into the input system, mixing classic gameplay with additional innovations.

All the characters and environments in Street Fighter IV are rendered as 3D models with polygons, similar to the Street Fighter EX sub-series Capcom produced with Arika. However, there are a couple of key differences. Art director and character designer Daigo Ikeno, who previously worked on Street Fighter III 3rd Strike, opted for non-photorealistic rendering to give them a hand-drawn look, with visual effects accented in calligraphic strokes, ink smudges and ink sprays during the fights.

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Big numbers across the board; we again see the card performs pretty much in line with an overclocked GTX 460 SLI setup.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
Buy It Here

The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

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Very playable numbers across the board and some nice little speed bumps in the averages when compared to the GTX 480.

Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman Arkham Asylum

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.

Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.

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Again some great performance and in this case we see it's ahead of the GTX 460 OC SLI setup.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.

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Some great numbers here and more importantly we see under Mafia II the GTX 580 is able to break the 60 FPS average.

Benchmarks - PhysX Tests

PhysX Tests

Here we're able to find out when PhysX is turned on in games that support it what kind of frame rates we're able to get. We always set PhysX to the highest possible in game settings while also keeping detail at its highest.

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We see some good numbers here. Batman AA across the board gives us playable numbers. Under Mafia II the GTX 580 is the only card to break the 60 FPS mark.

Temperature Test

Temperature Tests

The temperature of the core is pulled from MSI Afterburner with the max reading used after a completed run off 3DMark Vantage and the Performance preset.

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They say the GTX 580 is meant to run a lot cooler, but you can see it's our third warmest card. The two cards above it both have more voltage running through the core.

Sound Test

Sound Tests

Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

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Noise levels are A LOT more impressive, sitting a good chunk lower than the GIGABYTE GTX 480 SOC and the GTX 480 Super OC from Galaxy. This is good news. Something interesting, though, is the idle noise; that's really good.

Power Consumption Tests

Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a SSD hard drive is used with a single CD ROM and minimal cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

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It seems under things like Furmark the power draw isn't as aggressive. But you can see that it pulls similar numbers to our GTX 480 SOC from GIGABYTE and only slightly less than the Galaxy GTX 480 Super OC. The idle is a little lower, though, which is something worth noting.

Total Performance Rating (TPR)

Total Performance Rating

The TPR graph is a combination of all our benchmarks in which NVIDIA and ATI are on an even playing field.

The TPR number is a combination of:

3DMark Vantage, Heaven Benchmark V2, Resident Evil 5, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., Mafia 2 (PhysX Off), Lost Planet 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Final Fantasy XIV, Street Fighter IV, Far Cry 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum (PhysX Off) and our four High Quality tests which include Mafia 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Street Fighter IV and Far Cry 2.

All of the benchmark results achieved are then combined into a single number. As this graph will grow over time and cards won't be re-tested, next to each model you'll find the driver version that was used when the card was benchmarked.

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The poor numbers for FF XIV with Crossfire setups do skew the numbers a bit here and in the New Year we'll be removing FF XIV from the TPR line up. That aside, the GTX 580 is a very strong performing card.

Total Value Rating (TVR)

Total Value Rating

The TVR graph is the TPR score divided by the price of the video card. The price of the video card is based on the list price of the model on In the event the card isn't listed, it will be based on the U.S. $ MSRP given to us by the manufacturer.

In the event we can't source a price from either, the product will not receive a TVR rating. As with our TPR graph, the amount of video cards on the list will grow over time and the price of the model won't change from what it was when first reviewed. For this reason the U.S. $ price that the card is based off will be included next to the name of the model.

In the event you want to find the TVR rating yourself based on the current price, all you have to do is simply divide the TPR number by the list price.

TVR numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number; 100.3 will be 100; 100.8 will be 101 and 100.5 will be rounded down to 100.

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Like most high end cards, though, the value is quite poor. The GTX 460 SLI setup continues to be a better buy which offers similar performance and the new HD 6800 series in Crossfire represents better value.

Final Thoughts

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!

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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