Gigabyte GTX 580 Super Overclock Review
So here we are with another GTX 580 review which just so happens to be the second of five which will be hitting the pages of Hardware Canucks over the next few weeks. Typically, early summer is a relatively slow time for new architecture introductions in the graphics card world and many board partners use this time to expand their lineups with new twists on existing cards.
During Computex, we’ll surely see all manner of custom cards (many of which will never be available in North American retail channels) but Gigabyte has pre-empted much of their competition by already introducing their upper crust single GPU card: the GTX 580 Super Overclock.
Much like the MSI Lightning (and the upcoming Lightning X) we reviewed a little while back, Gigabyte has swung for the fences with this card. There’s a substantial overclock on the core which should result in a good framerate boost. For whatever reason Gigabyte increased memory speeds by an almost nonsensical 100Mhz. Unfortunately, the SoC “only” comes with 1.5GB of onboard memory which could cause an issue since the competition has begun showing off 3GB designs.
One of the main selling points of the Super Overclock series has always been their high-end heatsink design and this card is no different. This Windforce 3X design uses a large vapor chamber that’s topped with a pair of 8mm heatpipes and a three 80mm fans. Unlike some custom designs, this heatsink doesn’t stick out over the custom PCB’s edge which is good considering the SoC is a good ½” longer than the reference GTX 580.
Along with the usual GPU Gauntlet sorting process and Ultra Durable VGA+ design, Gigabyte has also added some extras for overclockers. There’s an Extreme Dual BIOS button which switches between the standard Gigabyte SoC BIOS and one that is tailored to work around the GF110’s cold bug when under LN2. The card does have to be uninstalled to actually access this button but we don’t expect it to be used all that much anyways.
Voltage read points are conspicuous by their absence considering Gigabyte claims this card has them. We couldn't find them in any easily-accessible location, that's for sure.
All of this cutting edge GPU technology is held together by an extensive 14-phase PWM design which is linked up to LED’s on the PCB’s underside. This PWM is also helped along with NEC / Tokin Prodalizer film capacitors mounted next to the aforementioned LEDs.
Naturally, the Super Overclock boasts a hefty entry cost. At $540 it is a good $20 more than MSI’s Lightning which may cause a bit of an issue since both cards should perform identically and offer almost the same feature sets. Can Gigabyte really justify even the slightest premium over the Lightning? We’re going to find out.
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