With the last generation of Fermi cards from nVidia we, until the release of the MSI Lightning and Gigabyte SOC, felt the cut-down models actually were the choice models in the line-up. All of the performance with little of the drawbacks they were an ideal choice.
The revised range-topping GTX580 model from nVidia fixed all of the faults of the GTX480 and absolutely wowed us with its immense performance, cool temperatures and comparitive silence.
In feature terms it gives us everything we could ask for except of course for the rather serious price-tag. So with that in mind nVidia have launched their first reduced model in the GF110 range, the GTX570, and that's what we're having a look at today. Does it give us all the class-leading performance of the GTX580 without the divorce-inducing price-tag, or is it compromising too much to be worthy of consideration.
Contrary to previous middle-range versions of the premium cards, the GTX570 hasn't been trimmed back much at all. 480 Cores rather than the 512 of the GTX580 might seem a downer, but when you consider this is the same as the GTX480 it appears this is as powerful as the GTX480 was when it appeared on the scene, but with the improvements nVidia have given the GF110 when compared to the GF100 Fermi.
Externally at least the nVidia reference GTX570 follows the long-established design of reference heat-sinks that have existed seemingly since the dawn of time now. With the best will in the world it's nearly impossible to get excited about them or find anything new to say.
Connectivity is provided by two DVI ports and a mini-HDMI. In keeping with the reduced power requirements of the revised nVidia 5 series the GTX570 only has twin 6-pin PCIe power connectors.
Stripped down the GTX570 is nearly identical to the GTX580. The shroud is well ventilated allowing for better temperature control in SLI setups.
Underneath the hood we have a very similar arrangement to that we saw in the GTX580 with a series heat-sink complete with a vapor-chamber to help rein in the temperatures of the GF110 core.
ASUS Rampage III Extreme
Intel i7 950 @ 4GHz
6GB Mushkin Redline RAM
Corsair AX1200 PSU
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
This 'as reference as can be' card from nVidia still managed to gain 68 MHz on the GPU Core and 100 MHz on the Memory. Not too bad at all and something that is bound to be improved upon as their Partners get to work on the cards.
Thanks to the excellent cooling of the new nVidia 5-series heat-sink, and the lower output of the GF110 over it's toasty Dad, the card remains cool throughout all of our testing. Sub 80°C for a high-end GPU is impressive stuff.
3D Mark Vantage
Starting off with 3D Mark Vantage it's a bit of a swansong for the old girl. Throughout all three of the settings in the Futuremark standard we see the consistency of the GTX570 performance.
It handily spanks the range-topping GTX480 and can hang with the vastly more expensive GTX480 Lightning. Such is the level of performance available to us that it's not too disgraced by the GTX580 itself.
For those of you who are wondering where the Red Team are in this comparison, the GTX570 is equivalent to Crossfire HD6870s. So obviously neither on price terms nor single card comparisons is it something we're going to include.
3D Mark 2011
Always hot off the press with the latest for you we don't, often literally, sleep at OC3D to make sure you've got the most up-to-date information available. So here are a couple of 3D Mark 11 scores for you. At a glance you can see the immense drop in final numbers, similar to the first few 3D Mark Vantage results that were obtained. A stern test doesn't begin to cover it.
Unigine Heaven 2.1
Unigine is always a tough test and even the best hardware struggles to cope with the amount going on and the detail level. The GTX570 manages to cope admirably though, keeping up with its bigger brother and the blazingly fast GTX480 Lightning.
With the anti-aliasing ramped right up the GTX570 gives us quite a shock, managing to to beat out the stock GTX580. There certainly hasn't been much cut-out of the architecture as it still comprehensively beats the GTX480.
After the high results we've seen on the previous pages it's clear we might be gaining some performance from the latest drivers, or our initial GTX580 wasn't quite up to snuff in certain games as the GTX570 definitely strolls through Crysis Warhead comfortably. When overclocked we see 70fps average which is impressive in anyones book.
Alien vs Predator
Normal service is resumed with AvP but the GTX570 still rocks hard, keeping up with the highly impressive GTX480 Lightning. Its bigger brother wins out quite comprehensively, but considering the price differential it's not to be sniffed at.
FarCry 2 clearly doesn't stress the modern capabilities of the cards and is rather more dependant upon pure power as the GTX570 comes behind all of the top-end models.
We see the same results in the fearsomely high detail Metro 2033 but for the opposite reason. Whereas in FarCry 2 its DirectX 10 and so prefers just horsepower, Metro 2033 takes everything DirectX 11 has to offer and it's here when the lesser abilities of the GTX570 finally catch up with it.
When we reviewed the GTX580 recently the main question we were left with afterwards was is it sufficiently good enough to justify the increase in price over the GTX480.
There was no doubt that it is the ultimate single-GPU solution, and by quite some margin, but the increase from £340 to £450 ish certainly does bring performance per pound into the equation.
If the GTX580 did anything though it was drive down the price of the GTX480 to around £300. All signs point to the GTX570 coming in just a few notes underneath that mark at around the £280 mark.
So what does it all mean for us?
Well if the GTX580 is lots better than the GTX480 but with a healthy premium to be paid for such performance, then the GTX570 becomes a bargain.
It's everything that a slimmer version of the full-fat card should be. Not quite as expensive, not quite as powerful, but still with plenty of grunt.
It spanks the GTX480 in all of our tests bar the last couple, and the realities are that if you haven't completed FarCry 2 by now you probably wont, and Metro 2033, whilst a feast for the eyes, isn't exactly the best game on the planet. So really you shouldn't be dissuaded from purchasing a card based on those two results.
Rather we have something that needs to be thought of as being what the GTX480 should have been, and with a price-tag to match. It's slightly cheaper, it's faster, cooler, quieter and all-around a much more pleasant ownership experience.
With the release of the HD4870 ATI rocked nVidia. The HD5870 made it seem like a complete monopoly. Suddenly nVidia have re-entered the fray with two products so stunning and so much faster than AMDs latest efforts that, if they aren't quite out the park, they certainly have been knocked to the warning track.
Sure if you've got the big bucks and want the absolute best, the GTX580 reigns supreme.
If you've got a sensible amount of money, and want something that is just a gnats chuff shy of being as good as you can buy, then the GTX570 is a stunner and thoroughly deserving of our Gold award..
Thanks to nVidia for supplying the GTX570 for review. Discuss in our forums.