Gainward Phantom GTX570 Review Page: 1

Gainward Phantom GTX570 Review

Introduction

The GTX570 has been one of the big surprises of recent times, fixing all the issues of the original Fermi nVidia cards and performing incredibly well for the reasonable price charged. With a good chip you can expect to overclock it up to stock GTX580 speeds.

Unquestionably it's the card we'd recommend as the major player on the market at the moment.

Gainward have been producing graphics cards for a very long time. Indeed your authors first upgrade after the Voodoo 2 and Riva TNT days was to a Gainward model.

The most famous of the Gainward series is unquestionably the Golden Sample labelled cards which come with a good factory overclock and always managed to go further still.

Today however we have a new model from them labelled the Phantom. The surprise being that rather than concentrate on pushing the Silicon as hard as possible they've brought us a very different looking cooling solution indeed and only overclocked the GPU mildly.

Technical Specifications

A quick look at the specifications shows that the apart from the 18MHz GPU overclock the Gainward Phantom is very much a standard card.

Product Name  :    Gainward GeForce® GTX 570 1280MB "Phantom"
GPU  :    GeForce GTX 570
GPU Clockspeed  :    750 Mhz
Memory  :    1280MB GDDR5 (320 bits)
Memory Clockspeed  :    1950 Mhz
Pixels per clock (peak)  :    N/A
Bandwidth  :    156 GB/s
Ramdac  :    400 MHz
Bus  :    PCI-Express 2.0
Cooling  :    2.5-Slot/Three Fans cooler
Video-Features  :    HDMI
Connectivity  :    Dual DVI-I, DisplayPort

 

Of course the cooler is the real selling point of this, so let's move on and take a look at that. 



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Gainward Phantom GTX570 Review

Up Close

Clarity is definitely the order of the day here. No need to have pictures taken from the front of Steven Jackson books here. The only slight odd thing is the stylised use of a lower-case h in the PhANTOM. The only thing we can think of is that it means ph as in acid balance. But that makes no sense.

Gainward Phantom GTX570 Review     Gainward Phantom GTX570 Review  

The accessories package is the standard fare we're used to seeing with a graphics card. A slim manual, a power adaptor, a DVI adaptor and the driver disk that's out of date the moment it's pressed.

The card itself... WOW. Stunning. It looks like a water-cooling radiator from nearly every angle and it took a while to manage to get the right combination between light and angle to ensure that you got a little peak into what lies beneath.

Gainward Phantom GTX570 Review     Gainward Phantom GTX570 Review  

This is much more like the way you'll see the Phantom usually. Bristling with heatpipes and a very smooth from. Of course the major change is that the Phantom has no obvious fans.

Moving the card around you can see that beneath the top section of the heatsink lay three 80mm fans which provide the cooling. It's like a combination between a cover on a normal heatsink, and extra surface area. Either way it's different and certainly eye-catching.

Gainward Phantom GTX570 Review     Gainward Phantom GTX570 Review  

As well as the very subtle main box the card itself has a classy gold Gainward logo on the top face. This would marry perfectly to the Gigabyte UD7 we've just reviewed. Anyone for a black and gold rig?

Underneath the cooler the board is a standard nVidia GTX570 as we'd expect from the standard specifications.

Gainward Phantom GTX570 Review     Gainward Phantom GTX570 Review

The most impressive thing about the cooler is that it's a single item. There aren't any complex backplates or similar accoutrements, rather the cooler, fans, top piece and cabling all come off in one go.

With the cooler off we can take a good look at how the fans are sandwiched between the main body of the cooler and the top section that hides it all. Ingenious.

Gainward Phantom GTX570 Cooler     Gainward Phantom GTX570 Heatsink



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Gainward Phantom GTX570 Review

Test Setup

Gainward Phantom GTX570
Intel Core i7-950 @ 4GHz
ASUS Rampage III Extreme
Muskin Joule 1200w
6GB Mushkin Redline
Noctua NH-D14
Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Overclocking

Unfortunately the Gainward doesn't come with any method of upping the voltage on the Phantom and therefore the overclocking capabilities are limited. Either Gainward are saving this for a Golden Sample card, or hopefully there will be a "Extreme" or similar version of this card because the lack of voltage tweaking really hinders the ability to overclock.

As it was we managed to get another 75MHz out of the Core on top of the 18MHz increase it comes with. This obviously gives 150MHz on the Shader speeds, alongside another 25MHz out of the GDDR5.

Gainward Phantom GTX570 Review

So how does this gorgeous new cooler design control the temperatures? Very well indeed is the answer.

We see a maximum temperature of 64°C which is impressive enough, but even better is the way in which it obtains it. The reference design GTX570 is pretty quiet even under load, but the Gainward Phantom is not only cooler, but even when it's having to speed the fans up to keep the card cool it's unnoticeable from when it's at idle.

If your desire is to hear yourself think while gaming then the Phantom definitely has you covered.

  Gainward Phantom GTX570 Review



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Gainward Phantom GTX570 Review

3D Mark Vantage

There is no denying that whilst the Phantom isn't far behind the standard GTX570 it is, nonetheless, behind it. That's quite a surprise. Of course in the synthetic world of 3D Mark, especially the older Vantage version, this doesn't follow that the real-world performance will mirror this. Also 3D Mark Vantage has always preferred the PhysX equipped nVidia cards to the Radeon hardware hence the HD6970 id definitely lagging behind here.

 

3D Mark 11

3D Mark 11 is a much tighter affair with all the various improvements it's brought to the table compared to its older brother. The Gainward here really benefits from the memory overclock allowing the shaders to really rock their socks as much as possible and give the gains one would expect. At stock it's much tighter as neither card has an edge over the other.



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Gainward Phantom GTX570 Review

Unigine

0xAA

The always gorgeous, and equally harsh on performance, Unigine Heaven benchmark gives the Phantom just about the edge in performance over its reference counterpart. Both are way behind the HD6970 which AMD confess has been tuned to be great at exactly those things Unigine stresses.

 

8xAA

Even with the image quality levels bumped right up both GTX570s keep apace with each other nicely. The HD6970 stretches its lead even further, but 47 FPS with everything up to the stops is impressive enough.



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Gainward Phantom GTX570 Review

Crysis Warhead

Crysis responds well to our overclocked Phantom, being a couple of frames per second faster than the reference design. At stock it's inseparable. Quite a shock for Crysis Warhead to actually behave itself for one.

 

Alien vs Predator

Such is the use of DirectX 11 in Alien vs Predator, lighting being a special trump-card of the engine, that all three of the cards on test perform around the same level. Although the stock Phantom just edges the reference card it's equally just behind when overclocked.



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Gainward Phantom GTX570 Review

FarCry 2

Far Cry 2 relies so heavily upon pure performance thanks to its console heritage and use of the earlier version of DirectX that both the reference and Gainward designed GTX570s are a gnats chuff apart at all times. Only when overclocked does the Gainward sneak a frame or two but as we're long past 60FPS it's not a major difference.

 

Metro 2033

Metro is a supremely harsh test of any system and to obtain 60fps demands two GPUs. At stock the Gainward Phantom GTX570 just lags behind a little, but makes it up when overclocked. Given the stressful nature of Metro the odd frame differential here and there is to be expected.



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Gainward Phantom GTX570 Review

Conclusion

There are two distinct elements to the gauging Gainward GTX570.

Firstly we need to compare it to the reference nVidia card. In this respect there isn't a lot of difference in pure performance terms. Throughout our graphs they were very nip and tuck with neither gaining or losing much to the other. 2 or 3 frames-per-second here or there most definitely wont sway anybody either way.

Perhaps the big surprise was that the, admittedly mild, overclock Gainward supply the Phantom with doesn't really make much of a difference. However when the card was overclocked as well as we could force it, considering there is no standard method to increase the voltage to allow for higher overclocks, it generally responded much better than the reference design. Nothing earth-shattering, but consistently enough that you could make a case for it performing more impressively.

As you may have noticed though I did say 'standard' method of increasing the voltage. So keep a close eye in the video for some less standard ways of increasing the voltage to allow for the true potential of the GF110 to shine.

The second, and by far larger, thing to take into consideration is that cooler.

We adore it. Under the shroud it's very similar to many other tri-fan designs that have come through the OC3D offices. It is very quiet even when under heavy loading, far quieter than the already reasonably quiet reference design. But it's not about compromise as the temperatures are exceptional. When overclocked and under loading we didn't see the temperatures go above 64°C which is remarkable for a modern high-performance card. Doubly so when we consider the swathe of heat issues its predecessor suffered from.

However it's not just about temperatures and noise. Aesthetics play a part too with this being one of the sexiest cards we've ever seen. The black and gold motif would look beyond stunning if you were considering pairing it with the Gigabyte UD7 in a new LGA1155 based rig. Even if you weren't though this definitely lends an air of class to proceedings.

Perhaps the only disappointment we have is that the tremendous cooling potential of the Gainward GTX570 Phantom isn't really harnessed fully. This would have been the perfect opportunity to apply Gainwards considerable skill gleaned from their Golden Sample cards to produce an all-conquering model.

Despite that small gripe the performance is still fantastic and when you couple it to that innovative cooler it has to win our OC3D Silver award.

      

Thanks to Gainward for supplying the GTX570 Phantom for review. Discuss in our forums.