After a few days of using the ASUS GTX 590 3GB, I still find myself wondering why NVIDIA opted for such a low reference clock speed. Considering that ASUS themselves promote up to a 50% performance increase with voltage control, we have to think that there's some serious headroom and in talking to some people, it seems that 800 - 850MHz isn't out of the question.
So why did NVIDIA opt for a clock speed near 200MHz lower than that? - Well, I think one of the biggest gripes to the HD 6990s is indeed the heat the card is outputting and I think after the GTX 480, NVIDIA know that just because you're faster, if you're running too hot and drawing too much power, people aren't going to be interested.
It seems what they've done is just kind of go down a bit more of a safer path to offer a card that runs cooler than the HD 6990, but more importantly quieter. The issue is that out of the gate you compare the performance of the two dual GPU cards under 3DMark 11 and you'll find yourself disappointed with what NVIDIA is offering.
What's funny, though, is when you start to get into the games the GTX 590 begins to perform very strong against the HD 6990 and it seems to be due to the fact that they're able to achieve a higher maximum under games. AMD seem to hit a wall much earlier than NVIDIA. Mafia II for example sees no AMD setup get much over 110 FPS; NVIDIA sees performance that exceeds 150 FPS. It's not just Mafia II, though; we see it in other games as well.
It reminds me of a few years back when we saw ATI at the time release a driver that was able to make use of quad core CPUs. What it did was push the overall performance of its cards higher because a CPU limitation wasn't encountered as often. It seems, though, that NVIDIA are able to make better use of your CPU and in turn offer you overall a higher FPS, and this is something that's really important. When you're spending this kind of money on a video card, you want to make sure that your whole system is being used to the best of its ability.
Surround Vision off the one card is also very nice and sure we've had Eyefinity on single cards for ages now, but there's still a lot of people out there who don't want to make the jump to a DisplayPort monitor because they're happy with what their DVI ones offer, and to be honest that's fair enough. I also like the inclusion of the mini-DP connector, but it would've been nice to see ASUS include a convertor to standard DP.
Heat is similar to the HD 6990, but on average slightly lower because one core on the HD 6990 does run warmer. Noise is a huge pro for this card, though, and that's where the card really shines. To have this much power on tap, power that is greater than two heavy pre overclocked GTX 560 Ti cards in SLI, at this noise level and 100w lower power draw is fantastic. The shorter length is also good, but I don't think it's as important to people as if you're buying something like this then the chances are you'll already have quite a nice system.
This brings us on to the price, though. NVIDIA has set the price at $699 USD, the same price as the HD 6990 4GB. Based on the out of the box performance, I thought this was actually a little too high, but you're going to pay a premium for the NVIDIA card and the price of the GTX 580 means making it lower would be quite difficult without dropping the price on that card.
So, is the card too expensive? - Well, if it was the exact same card with an AMD label on it, we'd probably say yes. Because it's an NVIDIA one, though, we say that it's about what you would expect. Is it a better buy over the HD 6990 4GB at the same price? You know what? I couldn't really tell you, as it's going to come down to the person. If you want 3D Surround Vision then it's a better buy; if you want Surround Vision with all DVI monitors then it's a better buy. If you want something that's quieter than the HD 6990, it's a better buy. But there's also plenty of places where the HD 6990 is a better buy.
Of course, if you're in Australia there's a whole new problem. The HD 6990 4GB can be had for around $799 AUD which isn't too bad considering the $699 USD MSRP. The GTX 590 4GB, though, is being seen for around $1,100 AUD. Considering it's the same USD MSRP, there's something really wrong with that and we're not sure if that's going to translate into other countries.
Overclocking is going to be something else that has to be thrown into the mix here and we'll be looking at that soon. As we've mentioned, people have managed to achieve in excess of 800MHz already, so we're sure we'll be able to achieve a nice performance boost against the numbers we've already got.
We've managed to lay everything on the table here and talk about what exactly the ASUS GTX 590 is able to offer. For some they're not going to be interested; for others they're going to be glad with what NVIDIA are offering. It's going to really come down to what you want out of your high end video card. SLI single GPU solutions continue to be better value, but if you want a single solution dual GPU offering the decision is going to be tough.
I also think with so much potential headroom, we're going to see companies like ASUS get quite aggressive with the model sooner rather than later. There seems to be some serious breathing room and no doubt companies will make sure we can see it out of the box very soon.
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- Page 1 [Introduction and Package]
- Page 2 [Card and Specifications]
- Page 3 [Test System Setup and 3DMark 11]
- Page 4 [3DMark Vantage]
- Page 5 [Unigine Heaven Benchmark]
- Page 6 [Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5]
- Page 7 [Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2]
- Page 8 [Benchmarks - Mafia II]
- Page 9 [Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2]
- Page 10 [Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator]
- Page 11 [Benchmarks - Street Fighter IV]
- Page 12 [Benchmarks - Far Cry 2]
- Page 13 [Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum]
- Page 14 [Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF]
- Page 15 [Benchmarks - PhysX Tests]
- Page 16 [Temperature Test]
- Page 17 [Sound Test]
- Page 18 [Power Consumption Tests]
- Page 19 [Total Performance Rating (TPR)]
- Page 20 [Total Value Rating (TVR)]
- Page 21 [Final Thoughts]