The Effect of GPU Memory on Surround & Stereo 3D Performance

Author: SKYMTL
Date: October 24, 2011
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Months and months ago when we covered the first 3GB GTX 580 cards, many wondered where (if anywhere) these high priced GPUs would be able to flex their muscle. You see, our standard suite of tests showed that in most situations the difference between a reference 1.5GB GTX 580 and its 3GB-totting sibling was minimal at best. Most of the time the underlying GF110 core proved itself to be a bottleneck long before any memory limitations were reached.

Back then, we used a “measly” resolution of 2560 x 1600 and some slightly outdated games but this time we’re taking things to the next level. The 30” monitor has been cast aside and in its place is a setup of three 1920x1080 monitors for a complete NVIDIA Surround solution. Of course 3D Vision has been thrown in for good measure and we’re using some of today’s most popular games: Shogun 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, The Witcher 2, Dirt 3 and Crysis 2. Metro 2033 has been thrown in for good measure as we feel it sets the benchmark for high quality DX11 scenes and compatibility with multi monitor solutions. Unfortunately, our copy of Battlefield 3 didn't arrive in time to include but expect it to be covered sooner rather than later.

Since NVIDIA’s Surround requires two GPUs to be used, we’ve chosen to pair up our 3GB GTX 580s while throwing in a new twist: a pair of EVGA's relatively new GTX 570 2.5GB cards.

Meet the Cards

Our pair of GTX 580 cards comes from two different manufacturers: EVGA and Zotac. We extensively reviewed the EVGA card back in June and found it to be a reasonably good product but not worth the additional money over a reference version. Nonetheless, with a lifetime warranty and more power than you could possibly need for most games, there’s value to be found here regardless of its $600 asking price.

Zotac on the other hand has also remained with a standard layout for their 3GB GTX 580 but have blazed a different trail with their card’s price. It currently hovers around the $530 to $550 mark which isn’t all that much more expensive than many reference versions go for. Zotac also offers a Lifetime Warranty, a fact that very few people know about.

NVIDIA GTX 570 cards come in many flavors from reference spec to overclocked to custom cooled but EVGA is currently the only board partner to offer this card with 2.5GB of memory (at least in North America). Dubbed the GTX 570 HD 2.5GB is not only offers double the GDDR5 memory but also uses a custom heatsink and houses an DisplayPort connector. The heatsink itself is loosely based off of the one which graces the GTX 560 Ti but uses an expanded aluminum fin array to cope with the GTX 570’s increased heat output. For those of you wondering, due to core architecture limitations, the addition of a DisplayPort connector doesn’t allow for native Surround support from the single card.

While this GTX 570’s clock speeds stick to the standard speeds, its price of about $380 is bound to raise some eyebrows since most reference cards go for $320 without mail in rebates.

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