GeForce GTX 590 Review Roundup

Hardware, Reviews

March 24, 2011

By Andrew Burnes

The GeForce GTX 590 hit the streets today, if you hadn’t already heard. A dual GPU graphics card, the GTX 590 is our fastest single-slot graphics card and the quietest dual-GPU graphics card in the world. But don’t just take our word for it, check out the opinions of independent hardware reviewers:

Hardware Canucks: "In many ways the GTX 590 has truly set a new high water mark not by soundly beating the competition in a framerate war but by redefining the market’s preconceptions of dual GPU solutions.

The GTX 590’s real accomplishment is the feeling of refinement that it exudes. Unlike the HD 6990, its VRMs don’t squeal like a scared piglet and fan noise is kept to an absolute minimum. The fact that its svelte 11” length will fit into a wide variety of cases should also make it in vastly more appealing than the behemoth AMD is currently saddled with.

The GTX 590 is a card that’s full of surprises. It may not decisively beat the HD 6990 but it’s quite obvious that NVIDIA has raised the bar for dual core graphics cards by lessening the perceived shortcomings.

Their solution is quiet, runs cool, doesn’t consume as much power as many were predicting and is immensely powerful while boasting one of the most complete feature sets currently available. A price which puts it on level footing with Antilles is just icing on the cake.”

Bjorn3D: "The Nvidia GeForce GTX 590 has impressed us in many ways, including its extremely quiet operation during full load, reaching only 48dB(A), as compared to the GIGABYTE Radeon HD 6990's 58dB(A) at full load. The overall PCB design, with two ounces of copper and component design was impressive as well. Nvidia proved that it is possible to incorporate 3GB of memory and two GF110 GPUs on a single PCB while keeping the card only 11 inches long (compared to the full length 12.2 inch HD 6990). The length of the AMD card is especially discouraging to customers who use mid-tower enclosures, as very few mid-tower cases have the requisite 310mm clearance. The Zalman Z9 Plus, a case with specially designed high PCI-E slot clearance, has only 300mm, meaning it would fit the GTX 590 but not the HD6990.

Giving the gamers the option of Nvidia 3D Vision Surround from a single video card is also very impressive, though gamers that want to experience such setup while pushing the gaming envelope to the next level will most likely need a second GTX 590 for a Quad-SLI setup.

The low noise and shorter graphics card size makes us lean towards the GTX 590, especially knowing that the GTX 590s are going to be starting off at $699.”

Bit-Tech: "The GTX 590 3GB topped our performance charts in almost every test, no matter what resolution or game we used. In some games the lead over even AMD’s massive Radeon HD 6990 4GB was substantial and in others only marginal, but the GTX 590 3GB is the king of the graphics cards based on the performance we saw.”

Performance: 10/10

Legit Reviews: "It's hard to believe the last dual-GPU video card by NVIDIA was the GeForce GTX 295 and that card was launched way back in January 2009! For more than two years there wasn't an update for this flagship part, but that all changed today with the GeForce GTX 590. To make this dual-GPU beast work the engineers at NVIDIA took the GF110 GPU that is found on the GeForce GTX 580/570 cards and reduced the clock speeds to make a card that was running at 365W. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 is a welcomed addition to the NVIDIA GeForce 500 series of graphics cards and it did prove itself to be faster than the GeForce GTX 580 and is the new flagship video card for NVIDIA!

The lack of fan noise and the tame GPU temperatures were very impressive to us during testing. We saw the GeForce GTX590 get into the low 80C's during game benchmarking with the fan on auto and that was a bit of a shock considering what hardware is on this card. One of the reasons that this video card ran so cool is that NVIDIA had to drop the frequency from 772MHz used on the GTX 580 cards to 607MHz for the GTX 590. This obviously reduced the capabilities of the card, but NVIDIA wanted it to fit in that 365W TDP category. We did notice that while this GPU cooler used on the GeForce GTX 590 is great for mild overclocks it wasn't designed for those that want to increase GPU voltages and do extreme overclocking. With the right cooling, though, this card is going to be amazing as we were able to hit over 800MHz with the stock cooler.

We love the fact that you can hook up three monitors with this card and run 3D Vision Surround with just one card. Before this card you always had to run an SLI setup, so for those that run multiple monitors this is a better solution. With stereoscopic 3D, PhysX and tons of CUDA applications this card should be on the short list to buy if you want the ultimate in single card performance."

HotHardware: "The new GeForce GTX 590 was a strong performer throughout our entire battery of tests. In comparison to the fastest single-GPU powered cards on the market, namely the GeForce GTX 580 and Radeon HD 6970, the GeForce GTX 590 offers significantly higher performance in every game or application we tested.

The GeForce GTX 590 is noticeably quieter than the Radeon HD 6990, that’s going to be a big plus for many users. The GeForce GTX 590 also allows for triple-monitor surround gaming from a single card, and the GTX 590 also offers support for PhysX and a wide range of CUDA apps that the Radeon can’t.

This has historically been the case for GeForce cards, but now with the dual-GPU powered GTX 590 there is more flexibility and obviously more performance to enable all of these things without too adversely affecting framerates. Two of the games we feature in our benchmark suite, for example, Metro 2033 and Just Cause 2, arguably looks more realistic on the GeForce due to its support for PhysX and some other CUDA related features. And NVIDIA is hoping these capabilities add some value."

Neoseeker: "Where the GTX 590 really stands out over the HD 6990 is in its total size, sound and power consumption. The HD 6990 is unfortunately extremely loud, especially when the fan is at high RPM, which can be rather annoying when dealing with the sound for long periods of time, or when it interferes with your gaming experience. The GTX 590 on the other hand is an extremely quiet solution and even when the fan is at high RPM, the overall acoustics are still very good. We were actually very impressed with this aspect of the GTX 590, as this card is definitely the quietest dual GPU graphics card we have used to-date. The GTX 590 also manages to come in a full inch shorter than the HD 6990, which gives it a wider availability of supported cases, and it also uses slightly less power than the HD 6990.

The GTX 590 is also a very unique solution, being the first single PCB graphics card from Nvidia to support Nvidia Surround and 3D Surround technologies. This could be a huge selling point for consumers looking to optimize space and still have full access to these features. The GTX 590 also gives users the ability to configure the GPU settings via the Nvidia control panel. This can either be setting the GPUs to scale together in an SLI configuration or you can also set one GPU to run 3D applications, while the second GPU is dedicated solely to PhysX.

In conclusion, the GTX 590 is a very elegant graphics card which boasts performance that rivals, and at at times even exceeds that of the HD 6990, but it does so at quieter noise levels. Additionally, the GTX 590 natively supports technologies such as 3D Surround out-of-the-box, and the GPUs can even be configured to best fit the user’s demands. All of these along with the $699 price point make it an excellent option for any high-end gamer willing to shell out top dollar for a serious gaming solution."

Benchmark Reviews: "The GeForce GTX 590 is the ultimate enthusiast graphics card intended for affluent top-end gamers. It may match the competition's solution in terms of frame rate performance, but then again it also operates at lower temperatures, and does so very quietly. For elite-level gamers and hardware enthusiasts the GeForce GTX 590 represents the best you can buy, and delivers on its price point. Of course, putting together a GeForce GTX 570 SLI set is still an option, but it will consume more power and dissipate additional heat. If you're looking to match performance on the cheap, value-seeking gamers could purchase one GeForce GTX 570 now while saving to upgrade with a second unit later. You'll take up more room inside the computer case and a multi-card setup could require a new power supply unit, but it's possible so long as you're willing to make concessions. If you can afford the asking price, the GeForce GTX 590 'Gemini' graphics card delivers the best total package that money can buy."

PureOverclock: "From what we've seen with the launch of the GTX 590, it continues the winning ways of the GeForce 500 series cards. Frankly, Nvidia has been on a roll with its latest generation lineup across all price points of the market.

Looking at the two heavyweights from Nvidia and AMD, the tale of the tape shows the GTX 590 will beat the Radeon 6990 in just about every facet, from gaming performance and temperatures to noise levels and power consumption. There's also the bit about PhysX being available on the Nvidia cards, and if you're a Folding @ Home disciple, then the GTX 590 is a juggernaut.

While the performance is utterly eye-watering here, the really impressive thing about this ASUS card is that it runs cool and quiet, which is no small feat for a dual-GPU card. The dual vapor chambers work wonders in keeping the chips under control at load, and the fan runs impressively quiet.

While most of us mere mortals can only dream about owning a card like this, the simple fact is if you're in the market for the best money can buy, then the GTX 590 is your new darling. We understand that a couple of GTX 560 Ti cards, for example, will offer a formidable setup for most gamers while offering better value, but the GTX 590 isn't about offering best value. So the target market and price needs to be taken into context, otherwise we're not comparing apples here. Certainly the GTX 590 doesn't come cheap, but considering it will easily beat the Radeon 6990 in almost every manner while costing the same, we think the price is warranted. It's about maximum performance, and perhaps even bragging rights, and there's no doubt the ASUS GTX 590 is the fastest gaming card on the planet."

Overclockers Club: "When I first pulled the ASUS GTX 590 out of the box, I was surprised at the fact that it was obviously smaller by comparison to its main competition, the HD 6990.

On the thermal performance, the GTX 590 delivered numbers lower than the HD 6990 in both the stock and overclocked load testing. In my testing, the two GPUs of the GTX 590 averaged 79 degrees Celsius when the fan speed is controlled automatically at stock speeds. When overclocked and the fan speed set manually to 95%, the cores averaged 67 degrees Celsius — pretty decent numbers for the architecture someone once tried to fry an egg on.

That brings up the acoustics — NVIDIA has earned the right to say it has a quiet running card when you compare the cooling solution used on this card versus its competitor, the HD 6990. The fan noise is audible when you manually control the fan, but like the GTX 580, NVIDIA has delivered a solution that does not sound like a vacuum cleaner. At idle and driver-controlled, the fan is inaudible in a chassis with normal background noise. This is in stark contrast to AMD's blower-style fan that is so brutally loud when ramped up to 100%, the dogs leave the vicinity."

Guru3D: "Performance wise the GTX 590 is a beast, the performance level where it operating in is truly amazing stuff to witness. We'll get into that in am minute. Temperatures remains roughly at 80 Degrees C on this card, and that is when it is completely maxed out and stressed. That is exemplary. TDP wise we measure roughly 350W, considering the perf level; thrown at you, that isn't bad either.

Performance then - you will receive a product that exhausts near silly numbers in terms of frame rate. You can flick on 8xAA and the card really isn't bothered.

As always you do need to keep in mind that a card needs an appropriate PC. Even our Core i7 Nehalem based quad core processor clocked at 3750 MHz still will run into some CPU limitation with the somewhat aging DX9 titles we used. Here also we need to state though that CPU limitations / bottlenecks are not necessarily a bad thing. As long as you pass 60 FPS or your maximum monitor refresh rate -- honestly who cares? So do feel free to enable all image quality settings a game offers you. I mean, if I take Battlefield 2 Bad Company, which is massively GPU dependant and enable all and only the very best image quality settings, apply 8xAA and we still get 106 FPS on average in a monitor resolution of 1920x1200, which is just staggering."

Hardware Heaven: "When we were first shown the GTX 580 and 570 by NVIDIA it was clear that they had put some considerable focus on creating cards and GPUs which were offered better build quality and design than the previous generation. With the GTX 590 they have taken another step along that path, creating a dual GPU product which excels in the design and quality department. For a reference based card the GTX 590 is a more impressive product than we can remember. It offers a high quality PCB, assembly and cooling solution. Does so with a size which is noticeably smaller than the competition and in the process NVIDA have really taught AMD a lesson in how to build and cool a high end dual GPU product.

The end result is a card which runs cooler than the Radeon 6990, runs quieter than the 6990 and in a number of games it performs faster too. When allowed to perform at its maximum the GTX 590 hits framerates which are exceptional, even at 5760x1080 with maximum detail. Crysis 2 was a prime example of this. We were also pleased to see that GPU computing performance has not suffered when moving to the dual GPU design. Using the recently released Badaboom 2 as an example we were able to convert video faster than our 990X CPU with exceptional output quality.

The GTX 590 also retains the key features of the GTX 580 which are PhysX and 3D Vision, ensuring that it offers a flexible graphics solution which is enhanced by the ability to game on 3 screens with one card."

Overall: 9/10

As you can see, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 is a cool, quiet, high performance graphics card able to tackle any game with ease in a triple screen configuration, in 3D, with PhysX enabled. And if you’re looking for even more performance, throw in a second GTX 590 and create the ultimate Quad SLI computer.

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