NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 Review

Author: Chris Ledenican
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Tuesday, December 7th, 2010
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/NVIDIA_GeForce_GTX_570/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Last month NVIDIA unleashed their flagship graphics processor into the market, and most reviewers declared it to be the “Fermi graphics card we have all be waiting for”. Well, we didn’t have to wait long for a follow up, because the green team is at it again and this time they are releasing the latest iteration in the 500 series, the GTX 570. The GTX 570, like the 580 uses a slightly redesigned version of the Fermi architecture that increases the power efficiency and raw graphics power beyond that of 400 series.

Where the GTX 570 differs from the GTX 580 is that it has reduced frequencies, CUDA cores, ROP units, texture units and a lower memory bandwidth. With this reduction the GTX 570 will have the same level of CUDA cores as the GTX 480, but with GPU clock speeds of 732MHz and 1280MB of GDDR5 memory rated at 950MHz (3800MHz effective) the GTX 570 should be able to go round for round with NVIDIA's retired 400 series flagship graphics card.

One aspect that has remained unchanged though though is that the GTX 570 is designed to deliver a quieter gaming experience via NVIDIA's vapor-chamber cooling solution. The vapor-chamber is the green teams latest reference heatsink design that is used on the 500 series graphics cards to reduce the overall operating temperature, while at the same time maintaining a lower acoustic level. The vapor-chamber design worked exceptionally well in combination with the GF110 GPU on the GTX 580, and since this model has a slightly lower TDP, it should prove just as - if not even more so - effective in cooling the GTX 570 GPU. Additionally, the GTX 570 incorporates NVIDIA's Adaptive fan controller to aid even further in the acoustic reduction.

At $349 USD dollars, the GTX 570 is designed to offer gamers a more affordable option than that of the GTX 580, yet maintain a very high level of performance while using maximum settings across even the highest resolutions. According to NVIDIA, the GTX 570 boasts a 25% increase in performance compared to the GTX 470, and better performance than any single GPU product AMD currently has on the market.

Specifications
CUDA Cores
480
Gfx/Processor Clock
732/1464MHz
Memory Config 1.25GB/ 320-bit GDDR5
Memory Speed
3.8Gbps
Power Connectors
2 x 6-pin
Power
219W
SLI
3-way
Length
10.5 Inches
Thermal
Dual-Slot Fansink
Outputs
DL-DVI, DL-DVI, Mini-HDMI

Aesthetically the GTX 570 is very similar to the GTX 580, as both cards use a dual slot design measure 10.5 inches in length. What separates the two models though (at least the reference models) is the use of green throughout the logo on the top portion of the heatsink cover. Overall the length, graphic design and dual slot cooler give the GTX 570 a high-end look that is in my opinion quite visually appealing.

Internally the GTX 570 uses the same GF110 GPU as the GTX 580, however, the specifications have been reduced to fit the lower the cost of the graphics card. The GF110 GPU found in this model consists of 4 Graphics Processor Clusters (GPCs) that have a total of 480 CUDA cores, 60 texture units and 40 ROPs. The GPU clock speed at the factory default level is set to 732MHz, and the CUDA cores are clocked in at 1464MHz. These are slightly reduced from the GTX 580, but are still very strong internal specifications. Additionally, there is 1.25GB of GDDR5 memory that is rated at 950MHz (3800MHz effective) and runs on a 320-bit memory interface. This gives this model a total memory bandwidth of 152.0GB, which is a considerable reduction in comparison to the GTX 580, but I am still expecting its in-game performance to be quite good.

The back of the PCB is nearly identical to the GTX 580 and even has solder points for an 8-pin power connector. However, even with the PCB looking the same there are some variations under the hood. Keeping with the 500 series theme though, this model uses a solid black printed circuit board, which gives it a very sleek look.

The GTX 570 uses a PCI-E x16 2.0 bus for interfacing with the motherboard, and supplies 75W of power to the card.

There are dual SLI connection points on side of the GTX 570, which add support for 3-way SLI.

The GTX 570 has a TDP of 219W, which is supplied via the PCI-E lane and two 6-pin power connectors. In total the GTX 570 will be supplied with up to 225 watts of power, so there is very little headroom left. However, with the on-board power regulation chips this model should have no issues maintaining a consistent power rating under the 225W threshold. Still, with the additional power being limited, overclocking could be negatively effected.

The rear IO video outputs consist of two DVI ports and one mini-HDMI port. Both the DVI ports support resolutions up to 2560x1600 and can also support stereoscopic 3D monitors with a 120Hz refresh rate. The mini-HDMI port uses the 1.4a standard for NVIDIA's 3D technology, and through this connection type both audio and video signals are supported. NVIDIA's 3D Surround Technology is supported by the GTX 570, but two cards would be required to use the technology.

The GTX 570 is designed for a quieter gaming experience, which is facilitated by the dual-slot copper vapor-chamber heatsink as well as NVIDIA's newly redesigned adaptive fan controller. The vapor-chamber heatsink ensures the high-end GF110 GPU is efficiently cooled, while the adaptive fan controller uses advanced algorithms to improve the ramp up and down of the fan. This essentially means the fan on the GTX 570 will adjust to the internal conditions of the GPU with smooth rotational increases, as opposed to a fast spike in RPMs. NVIDIA has also made changes to the fan design to reduce the vibration and noise. With the new design, the fan generates a lower pitch and tone, lowering the overall noise output of the graphics card. The GTX 570 has a slightly angled area at the end of the heatsink cover to improve the airflow while being used in an SLI configuration.

With the vapor-chamber removed, you can see that there is a large black heatspreader that stretches throughout the entire PCB. This cooler will make contact with critical components such as the memory and VRM, and will ensure they operate at their optimal temperature level.

The GTX 570 is the second model to use NVIDIA's on-board power management system. The system performs real-time checks of the current and voltage on each12V rail, and will not allow the rails to exceed a preset power level. This is done via the GPU being throttled back if the card monitors a large spike in power, and it will continue to throttle down until the current and voltage on each 12V rail is under its maximum threshold. This should prevent any massive power spikes from occurring, which in turn reduces the chances of damage to the GPU.

The vapor-chamber cooler has an elevated copper base that makes direct contact with the core. This design has proved very effective in cooling even the fully equipped 512 CUDA core GF110 GPU, so it should perform well on this model as well.

The idea behind the vapor chamber is not entirety different from that of a heatpipe, as both use a liquid inside a pipe, or in this case a chamber to transfer the heat from the core to the finned array. What really separates the design of the chamber from the heatpipe is that while heatpipes isolate the heat into a certain area of the array, the vapor chamber dispense the heat evenly into the array. With the heat having a greater degree of separation, it can then be exhausted out of the card with less moving air. This means the air flow from the fan is more effective at lower RPMs, which helps further reduce the overall noise level of the card.

Once you get down to the bare PCB you can see that there are a few difference between this model and the more high-end GTX 580. The biggest difference is that two of the Samsung based memory chips have been removed, thus accounting for the reduction in available memory. The other differences are that the VRM has been reduced and consists of two less phase units and six less MOSFET transistors. Also, there are a few less capacitors on the back of the PCB.

 

Overclocking:

One aspect that was disappointing about the GTX 580 was the low overclocking headroom, and unfortunately the GTX 570 also proved to be a weak overclocker. In all the maximum increase for the GPU clock speed was 75MHz, and the memory was capable being increased by 113MHz. While any bump in frequencies will yield some additional in-game performance, the final stable values on this card might not show a dramatic increase in performance.

Hardware Configuration:

Software:

All the ATI cards released prior to the 6800 series will be tested using AMD's Catalyst 10.8 drivers, while the NVIDIA graphics cards will be tested using their 260.89 drivers. Both the HD 6870 and HD 6870, however, will be tested with AMD's latest 10.10 drivers release.

Benchmarks DX11:

Benchmarks DX10:

All benchmarks were performed at resolutions of 1280x1024, 1680x1050, 1920x1200 and 2560x1600. Vsync is disabled in the control panel and AA is set to x4 with AF set to x16. The only benchmark performed with lower AA and AF is Street Fighter IV, which showed better scaling when AA and AF were set to 0.

Usage:

MSI's Kombuster will be used to gauge the power requirement and temperature of the graphics cards. The program applies a very heavy load to the GPU and as such will push the card beyond that of a game or benchmark. For the minimum temperature and power consumption the system will be left in an idle state for 15 minutes and for load Kombuster will be left on for 15 minutes.

Comparison Specifications:

 
AMD Radeon HD 6870
AMD Radeon HD 6850
ATI  Radeon
HD 5750
ATI Radeon HD 5770
ATI Radeon HD 5830
ATI Radeon HD 5870
NVIDIA GTX 480
EVGA GTX 460 FTW
Processing Cores
1120
960
720
800
1120
1600
480
336
Core Clock
900MHz
775MHz
700MHz
850MHz
800MHz
850MHz
700MHz
850MHz
Memory Clock
1050MHz
1000MHz
1150MHz
1200MHz
1150MHz
1200MHz
924MHz
1000MHz
Memory Interface
256-bit
256-bit
128-bit
128-bit
256-bit
256-bit
384-bit
256-bit
Memory Type
1GB GDDR5
1GB GDDR5
1GB GDDR5
1GB GDDR5
1GB GDDR5
1GB GDDR5
1.5GB GDDR5
1GB GDDR5
Fabrication Process
40nm
40nm
40nm
40nm
40nm
40nm
40nm
40nm

3DMark Vantage is the stunning sequel to 3DMark 06. Futuremark's benchmarking programs have always been at the center of every bragging match. The best way to show that you've got the greatest gaming rig, is to show that you've got the highest 3DMark score. Vantage does just that. It puts your system through a series of strenuous tests, and provides you with a score to brag about!

Right away the GTX 570 shows off the power of the redesigned Fermi architecture as it perfomed ahead of the GTX 480 in each of the 3DMark Vantage settings. Overclocking did improve the overall perfomance, but it still wasn't able to perfom at the same level as the GTX 580.

Unigine Heaven became very popular very fast, because it was one of the first major DirectX 11 benchmarks. It makes great use of tessellation to create a visually stunning...heaven.

In Unigine the GTX 480 was able to outperform the GTX 570 prior to overclocking, but after the clock frequencies were increased the 570 was able to pull ahead. In comparison to the GTX 470 though, the GTX 570 is absolutely dominating.

Aliens vs Predators is a DX11 Benchmark that runs though a scene straight out of the classic 80’s movie, Aliens. Since it uses DX11, it can often be more than a graphics card can handle.

The GTX 570 in AvP again has performance that falls between the GTX 480 and GTX 580.

Metro 2033 puts you right in the middle of post apocalyptic Moscow, battling Mutants, rivals and ratio-active fallout. The game is very graphics intensive and utilizes DX11 technology, making it a good measure of how the latest generation of graphics cards performs under the new standard.

Again the performance is between the retired NVIDIA flagship graphic card and current flagship card. The overclocked settings are actually giving the GTX 570 more horsepower than I anticipated, but if there was more overclocking headroom the GTX 570 could have narrowly outperformed the dual GPU AMD graphics cards.

Street Fighter 4 doesn’t necessarily push a graphics card to the limits, but it is a good benchmark to gauge the overall performance. This test is run at default settings to show the best scaling possible.

The GTX 570 contiunes to show a high level of performance at both stock and overclocked settings. And yes, we see the GTX 570 outperform the GTX 480.

Batman: Arkham Aslyum mixes extraordinary visuals with great gameplay, in order to make an excellent benchmark. It's not a stressful as Crysis, but it can still push cards to their limits.

You can't argue with these results. In Batman Arkham Asylum the $350 dollar GTX 570 handily outperformed even the $1000 ASUS ARES graphics card.

Crysis Warhead is one of the most graphically intensive games on the mainstream market. It's graphically breathtaking, and can bring any system crashing to it's knees.

Once again the GTX 570 is ahead of the GTX 480, and in comparison to the GTX 470 this card is in another league entirely.

Call of Duty is one of the most successful game franchises of all time and Modern Warfare 2 is the latest iteration in the series. The games combine modern-day settings and locations with jaw-dropping graphics and explosions.

Call of Duty scales very well with dual GPU graphics cards, but even so I was still surprised the GTX 570 didn't outperform the GTX 295. Still, though the 295 came out ahead, the GTX 570 had extremely high frame rates all the way up to 2560x1600 pixels.

Darkest of Days puts the player in historic battles to ensure the survival of key figures from the past. It is a very interesting concept and the use of real life conflicts keeps the title engaging. The in-game options does not allow PhysX to be disabled, so it can often favor NVIDIA graphics cards over those from ATI.

Darkest of Days is one of the few titles were the GTX 570 is bested by the GTX 480. Still, the 570 had expectational overall performance.

Resident Evil V is the newest installment of the Resident Evil series. The game comes with a built in benchmark that features a bunch of zombies walking around the center of a village. Believe it or not this seemingly simple benchmark can push video cards way out of their comfort zone!

The GTX 570 and GTX 580 were essentially tied in this benchmark, so even a relatively small overclock was enough to push it ahead of the stock 580.

Just Cause 2 places you in Panau, Southeast Asia as Agent Rico Rodriguez. The game is a third-person shooter that pits you against countless enemies with the opportunity for plenty of environment destruction. With explosions and gun fire galore, this game is perfect for testing out the latest hardware.

Our final test continues the trend of the GTX 580 having performance better than the GTX 480 at reference speeds, and performance closer to that of the GTX 580 once overclocked.

Temprature:

To measure core GPU temperature, MSI's Kombustor was used. The idle temperature was taken after leaving nothing running for up to 15 minutes. The load temperature was taken 15 minutes after starting Kombuster for Multi-Core graphics cards.

Even with a lower TDP the GTX 570 had the same load temperature as the GTX 580. In comparison to the 400 series graphics cards though, the GTX 570 was considerably cooler.

 

Power Usage:

To measure power usage, a Kill A Watt P4400 power meter was used. Note that the above numbers represent the power drain for the entire benchmarking system, not just the video cards themselves. For the 'idle' readings we measured the power drain from the desktop, with no applications running; for the 'load' situation, we took the sustained peak power drain readings at the end of a 30 minute Kombustor run.

The maximum power usage at stock was exceptional, as it consumed less power than the AMD Radeon HD 6870. Overclocking did increase the total power usage, but even with the additional clock speeds the GTX 570 still consumed less power than the GTX 580.

 

Conclusion:

When the GTX 580 entered our labs a month ago it was clear that NVIDIA had greatly improved the performance, power consumption, acoustics and heat output of their high-end Fermi architecture. The GTX 580 highlighted what a fully equipped 512 CUDA core Fermi graphics processor was capable of and now here we are with another exceptional product using the new GF110 GPU. The GTX 570 however has slightly reduced specifications in comparison to the GTX 580, thus giving it less CUDA cores, ROPs, texture units and a lower memory bandwidth. Despite this, the performance of the GTX 570 came out a notch above the GTX 480, which might not seem overly impressive at first, but when looking at it as a replacement for the GTX 470 the overall performance comes more into focus. In our benchmarks the GTX 570 blew the GTX 470 away and in most benchmarks the two models were in a completely different class all together. This makes the $349.99 USD (with a slightly higher premium for overclocked versions) price tag of the GTX 570 seem very reasonable, as it offers exceptional in-game graphics performance, even when the settings were increased to the maximum level and played on a 2560x1600 monitor.

One aspect of the GTX 570 that is unchanged from the GTX 580 is the use of NVIDIA’s copper vapor-chamber cooling solution and new adaptive fan controller. This design is greatly improved over the 400 series and even when the core was overclocked and under extreme stress, the heatsink managed to keep the GF110 GPU under the 85°C mark, which is well under the 97°C threshold. Additionally, the acoustics on the GTX 570 are also improved over the 400 series as NVIDIA has now enhanced the design of the fan and added an adaptive fan controller. The redesigned fan remained very quiet even at high RPM, and the adaptive fan controller also aids the overall acoustics by maintaining a consistent fan rotation. The redesign of the cooling solution used on the 500 series graphics cards is in my opinion an integral part of the new architecture's success, and I hope to see just as efficient designs implemented throughout future NVIDIA products.

The only issue I have with these new Fermi based graphics cards is the apparent lack of overclocking headroom. In our testing both the GTX 580 and GTX 570 were only capable of small clock speed increases and this greatly limits the maximum performance impact of the card. With only a small increase to the frequencies the GTX 570 enjoyed similarly limited performance increases our testbed of  games and benchmarks. There was some additional performance after the clock speeds were increased, but it is hard to get excited about an increase that at maxium is only 10% above the stock settings.

In all the GTX 570 is another excellent release from the 500 series, and even though the overclocking headroom is lacking, there currently is not another graphics card available that can match its performance in the $350 dollar price range. Except possibly a pair of HD 6850's in CrossFire, but not everyone has the opportunity to run dual graphics cards. With a duo of very capable high-end graphics cards now on the market, NVIDIA is ready to compete head-to-head with both the upcoming AMD HD 6970 and 6950. As of this review, there is very little known about AMD's Cayman architecture, so until we get a card in our hands it is impossible to tell who will be the ultimate victor in the high-end GPU wars. For now though, the GTX 570 is an excellent graphics card that offers great performance up to 2560x1600 pixels and retails for $150 less than the GTX 580.

»Neoseeker.com

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