Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 £290
7th Dec 2010 | 14:00
Faster, cheaper, quieter. So, not bad then…
Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 review: Overview
Always spoiling for a fight here comes Nvidia's latest card, the GeForce GTX 570, just as we're hearing what AMD is planning.
When the rather impressive GTX 580 tipped up out of the blue the other month we were promised it was going to be the vanguard of a whole new range of 500 series GeForce cards based on this revised Fermi chip. And true to its word here comes the obvious next iteration, the GTX 570.
This whole 500 series though has been something of a surprise to everyone and, in the light of what could turn out to be a rather catastrophic delay to AMD's HD 69xx cards, I think it's probably surprised a fair few people inside Nvidia itself.
The 500 cards probably weren't meant to be released this year, but when the rumblings started to filter through that AMD would be getting its new generation of cards out of the door pre-holidays it looked like Nvidia wanted to spoil the party.
Unfortunately for AMD though it wasn't so much a party as an awkward get together of a few socially inept gimps with nothing to say and nothing to recommend them. What I'm trying to say is the proposed AMD GPU launch actually turned out to only be the rather poorly performing Radeon HD 6870 and HD 6850 series of cards and the GTX 580 rocked up and almost unnecessarily pushed Nvidia further ahead in the performance race.
The GeForce GTX 570 follows on from the GTX 580 much in the same way as the GTX 470 followed the inaugural Fermi, the GTX 480.
The difference here is that the GTX 580 was a much higher spec card than the GTX 480 was at the time and because of the trickle down effect this new card actually has more in common with that first Fermi card than the GTX 470.
The GTX 580 came in with the full CUDA core count of 512 in sixteen of its Streaming Multiprocessor (SM) blocks with a dedicated Polymorph engine in each and 64 texture units. In GPU terms the GTX 570 effectively strips away one of those SMs leaving this latest card with 480 CUDA cores in 15 SMs and 60 texture units.
In essence almost the same configuration as was in the GTX 480.
The difference comes in the shape of the number of render output units (ROPs); both the GTX 480 and GTX 580 came with a count of 48 ROPs while the GTX 470 and GTX 570 come in with a still-chunky 40 each.
The GTX 570 is also clocked higher than either of the two top-end 400 series Fermi cards, making it rather more of a direct replacement for the GTX 480 than the GTX 470.
That said the memory configuration is where things have been held back to stop this card just getting into the silly performance territory, where it might actually hurt the sales of its more expensive big brother.
With 1,280MB of GDDR5 running on a 320-bit memory bus it's not going to have the same high-resolution grunt as the GTX 580. Still, in all but our high-res Metro 2033 benchmark the GTX 570 managed to either beat or hit exactly the same numbers as that first ever Fermi card.
And that's really nothing to sniff at.
Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 review: Performance
Considering the other three cards in these comparative benchmarks are all £400-odd cards the figures we're getting out of the GTX 570 are impressive.
The GTX 570 is actually happily trading blows with the GTX 480, a card that until a couple of months ago was the pinnacle of single-GPU performance. For less than £300 it's arguably making itself more relevant than the GTX 580.
All these figures are taken at the maxed out resolution of our 30-inch screen, 2560x1600 and represents the current top end of gaming resolutions.
DirectX 11 Tessellation Performance
Heaven 2.0 – FPS: higher is better
Nvidia GTX 570 – 22
Nvidia GTX 580 – 25.9
Nvidia GTX 480 – 21.7
AMD HD 5970 – 20.8
DirectX 11 Gaming Performance
Metro 2033 – FPS: higher is better
Nvidia GTX 570 – 3
Nvidia GTX 580 – 14
Nvidia GTX 480 - 13
AMD HD 5970 – 1
DiRT 2 – FPS: higher is better
Nvidia GTX 570 – 64
Nvidia GTX 580 – 75
Nvidia GTX 480 - 59
AMD HD 5970 – 72
AvP – FPS: higher is better
Nvidia GTX 570 – 22
Nvidia GTX 580 – 27
Nvidia GTX 480 - 23
AMD HD 5970 – 31
LP2 – FPS: higher is better
Nvidia GTX 570 – 32
Nvidia GTX 580 – 36
Nvidia GTX 480 - 30
AMD HD 5970 – 31
DirectX 10 Gaming Performance
Just Cause 2 – FPS: higher is better
Nvidia GTX 570 – 30
Nvidia GTX 580 – 34
Nvidia GTX 480 - 31
AMD HD 5970 – 39
Far Cry 2 – FPS: higher is better
Nvidia GTX 570 – 66
Nvidia GTX 580 – 76
Nvidia GTX 480 - 66
AMD HD 5970 – 82
Crysis Warhead – FPS: higher is better
Nvidia GTX 570 – 25
Nvidia GTX 580 – 21
Nvidia GTX 480 - 17
AMD HD 5970 – 27
Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 review: Verdict
So there you have it. Not content with bringing out a card that knocks its previously top-spec GPU into that special bin of obsolescence, Nvidia has brought out a more mainstream card that beats it too.
You can buy GTX 480s now for just over the £300 mark, but with a RRP of £290 this GTX 570 is remarkably still cheaper.
Essentially it is a very slightly cut-down GTX 580, built on exactly the same PCB (it's even got some of the same ID numbers on our reference sample) you can see where Nvidia has removed components to cut the cost and the performance.
It's the GPU's core configuration that's as close as makes no odds to the outgoing GTX 580 that makes this card such a star performer, only the cut down memory configuration holds it back and only then at the very high end of the resolution scale.
Intriguingly it's even knocking on the door of AMD's multi-GPU marvel, the Radeon HD 5970, in some benchmarks. Again though it's that relative paucity of memory that holds it back against the weightier card.
The GeForce GTX 570 also comes with that self same impressive vapour-chamber cooling technology that managed to keep the GTX 580 below the first Fermi's windy roar. It's not necessarily that cool running, regularly topping the 80degreeC mark under load, but it still remained softly-spoken throughout testing.
So it's not looking at all good for AMD in light of the fact that we still haven't seen chip nor board of the Cayman GPU-powered HD 69xx cards. The only one of AMD's cards that achieves any sort of relevance compared with the GTX 570 at the moment is weirdly the recently decommissioned HD 5870.
It can't really come close in DirectX 11 games, but at least it stays within touching distance in DX10 titles. The HD 5970 is the closest in straight performance metrics but is still a £400+ card, pricing itself out of the market.
The real competition then comes from within and, wouldn't you know it, it's that miniature marvel the GTX 460 1GB that is muscling in on the GTX 570's act. And it's the SLI performance again that is really making a difference.
The sheer performance of twin GTX 460s really sticks it to the newest Fermi in everything bar the Lost Planet 2 benchmark. And when it's just in one game you can be sure that it's more down to the game engine itself than the card.
At the moment a pair of those cards will also be cheaper than a single GTX 570, only by about £15 compared to Nvidia's current RRP, but that's still a tangible difference. And only likely to increase once the board partners start putting their own margins on top.
The saving grace is that not everyone will have an SLI-certified motherboard thanks to Nvidia's approach to licensing the hardware or a PSU powerful enough, or with cables enough, to power them.
And that only makes us more intrigued to see the GTX 560 once that tips up early next year. Though Nvidia might want to hold off on that one a little longer in case it impacts its own sales too much.
But for now in single card terms this is looking like a very sweet spot indeed. With no AMD-shaped competition yet available this £300 card looks like a much more attractive proposition than the GTX 580. The actual difference in benchmark framerates between the two top-end Nvidia cards would be pretty tough to see with the naked eye. So why spend the extra £100?
Well, if you had a 2560x1600 monitor and were fanatical about Metro 2033 maybe, but for the rest of us the GTX 570 is currently hitting a decent balance between outright performance and value for cash.
Roll on the GeForce GTX 560 then, eh?
Because it's based on the GTX 580's improved architecture and cooling design it's actually as fast, and sometimes faster, than the previous generation's GTX 480. The fact it can hit those speeds without going louder or being more power hungry is impressive.
There's not a lot to dislike really. At the moment the sub-£300 pricing looks good, but the board partners are likely to put the price up once they get their own spins of the card out the door.
The performance of twin GTX 460 1GB cards takes a bit of the shine off the card though considering they can be picked up for less cash than the single card alternative.
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