NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 3GB Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: March 23, 2011
Product Name: GeForce GTX 590
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The GTX 590 in NVIDIA’s Current Lineup

Naturally, the GTX 590 will initially take over the flagship position in NVIDIA’s lineup and will go toe-to-toe against AMD’s HD 6990. Since NVIDIA hasn’t had a dual GPU card since the GTX 295 was discontinued, there is very little to compare it to but the price alone can almost guarantee its place among some of the most expensive cards ever released.

Speaking of the price, things really are starting to look interesting. Dual GPU cards usually come with a hefty price premium over two cards purchased individually, but at $699 this new flagship model is very comparable to a pair of GTX 570s, which can be found for a little under $680. On the flip side of the coin, a single GTX 590 consumes significantly less power and takes up less space than two GTX 570 cards.

Specifications for the GTX 590 are about what we would have expected in several areas, but many will likely be surprised NVIDIA’s chose to use fully enabled GF110 cores. Both GPUs on this card come with 512 CUDA cores and their associated 64 TMUs and 48 ROPs in addition to 384-bit memory controllers and 1.5GB of GDDR5. Unfortunately, these high-end stats come hand-in-hand with increased power consumption and heat production when compared to the cores used in GTX 570 cards. As a result, some sacrifices had to be made in terms of clock speeds, which have been whittled down to a point that nearly identical to those found on the previous generation GTX 470.

When compared to the GTX 580, the processor clock has been reduced over 200Mhz which will likely have a profound impact upon in-game performance at lower resolutions, while the lower GDDR5 speeds could have an effect upon ultra-high resolution framerates. We can also assume that most voltages have been reduced as well, which will of course limit overclocking, while NVIDIA has also implemented their power capping technology in order to keep consumption in check.

Since the GF110 doesn’t support the mixed memory configuration built into NVIDIA’s GF116, there was no way to increase the allotment past 3GB unless consumers would be willing to stomach the cost associated with 6GB of GDDR5. However, in a market where AMD’s flagship card comes equipped with 4GB of ultra fast memory, NVIDIA may have gone a bit too far in trimming down this card’s specifications.

In short, it seems like NVIDIA has been backed into a corner by the limitations of their Fermi architecture but have made sensible cuts in order to meet certain goals. They could have been a bit more aggressive in terms of clock speeds, but the 512 cores and 384-bit memory bus will definitely help to balance things out.

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