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Old 11-09-10, 10:45 AM   #3
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Testing Methodology

Test System:

The test system for the GTX 580 was previously designed around middle-of-the-pack GPUs like the GTX 450/460/465 and Radeon HD 4850/4870/4890 and 5830. As such, the system components do not represent the absolute ideal environment for a GTX 580. The Tuniq case is a bit small, the power supply is no hot-rodded Gold unit, and the LCD is a relatively-pedestrian 24 1920x1080 unit. BUT, there are plenty of potential GTX 580 purchasers out there with similar hardware. Some have not upgraded their case, power supply or monitor yet, and will likely run their new card with components similar to these for a while before they finish their upgrade cycle. At least CPU limitation won't be an issue with six AMD cores humming along full-time at 4 GHz.
  • AMD Phenom II x6 1055t, 4 GHz at 1.4625 vcore
  • KingWin XT-1264 CPU cooler with extra Cooler Master 120mm fan
  • Asus M4N98TD EVO nForce 980a SLI AM3 ATX motherboard
  • 2x2 GB A-Data DDR3-1600 at 1510 MHz, 9.0, 9, 9, 24, 27, 1T
  • Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W power supply with one 120mm internal fan
  • Sunbeam Tuniq 3 ATX mid-tower case with 2 mounted 120mm fans and one 120mm fan blowing across the top of the graphics card and across the heatpiped northbridge
  • Mushkin Enhanced Callisto Deluxe (Sandforce SF-1222) 60 GB boot drive
  • 2x Western Digital Caviar 16 SE WD2500KS 250 GB SATA2 drives in RAID 0
  • LG DVD/R/RW drive
  • Samsung SyncMaster B2430 24 1920x1080 LCD
  • KingWin silver compact laptop-profile keyboard
  • Microsoft Sidewinder x5 mouse
  • Altec Lansing ADA885 4.1 THX-Certified speaker/sub setup
  • Windows 7 Ultimate SP1

Graphics card, driver, and driver settings:
  • NVIDIA Reference Geforce GTX 580 772 MHz Core / 1544 MHz Shader / 4008 MHz Memory (Effective)
  • Forceware Driver Version 262.99
  • 60 HZ Refresh Rate
  • VSync Disabled
  • High Quality Texture Filtering
  • Gamma Correction Enabled
  • Ambient Occlusion Enabled - Quality
  • Antialiasing Transparency: Multisample

Test system with the GTX 580 installed

Obviously it's a very tight fit for a large video card, but given that this case is adequately-cooled and ventilated enough to help a 1.4625v 4 Ghz x6 chip to idle at 36C and peak at 55 during Prime95 torture testing, everything should be kosher. So, this card will fit in mid-tower cases, but it'll be a little tight, and will likely require very optimal cooling.

Test Suite

Game Tests:
  • Metro 2033 Benchmark
  • Lost Planet 2 Benchmark Test B
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Gameplay
  • HAWX Benchmark
  • HAWX 2 Benchmark
  • Just Cause 2 Benchmark
  • Far Cry 2 Benchmark

Synthetic Tests:
  • Unigine Heaven (Extreme Tessellation)
  • Stone Giant (High Tessellation)
  • 3DMark Vantage (Performance Preset)

Benchmark results for both synthetic benchmarks and game tests are the results of averaged multiple runs. Most gaming tests were performed at a resolution of 1920x1080 resolution with 4x Antialiasing and 16x Anisotropic Filtering enabled. Where applicable, higher AA modes are tested to assess performance impact.

Regarding Performance Testing:

We had planned on comparing the GTX 580 to a GTX 480 or other high-end card, but could not secure one in time. The only other cards in the author's possession at this time is a GTX 460 768 and a Radeon HD 5830, and neither one of those can really serve as much of a performance comparison. If we obtain a 480 or similar card to compare soon after this review is published, we will add to the review. However, what we did do in applicable cases was investigate the performance hit of the various levels of Antialiasing that should be available to the user with a high-end GPU such as this. So suffice to say, the depth in this review might be in a different area than some of the other reviews out there, and it is our hope that you the reader find some benefit in it.
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