Radeon HD 6990 card was a bit of a preposterous preposition to consumers. It was
hot, it was noisy, and it was expensive ($700). And it offered users less
bang for their buck than two individual Radeon HD 6970s. Still, it was
incredibly powerful and offered AMD bragging rights for owning the title of the
most powerful single card solution.
NVIDIA wasn't about to let AMD walk away with this
useless prize. So it went and released its own equally over-the-top
That card is the GeForce GTX 590 and it broke
The GTX 590 is built on the Fermi architecture and
manufactured at a 40 nm process. It has a pair of GPU chips each with 512
stream processors. Those 1024 hungry processing units are paired with 3
GB of GDDR5 memory.
The core is clocked at 607 MHz, the shaders are
clocked at 1214 MHz, and the memory is clocked at 853 MHz. The two GPU
chips contain 6 billion transistors in total, and are
manufactured by Taiwan's TSMC.
The card retails for a whopping $700 USD, $60 USD
more than a pair of GeForce GTX 570s. And the price of special
performance models climbs even higher, to $730 USD or more.
The GTX 590 inherits the proud lineage of the dual-GPU
GTX 295. According to AnandTech it earns a virtual draw with the
Radeon HD 6990, just 1 percent shy of its mean performance.
Ultimately, what that means is that the two
competitors split the field. In benchmarks of Civilization V, DIRT
2, Mass Effect 2, and HAWX NVIDIA's
card dominates, according to AnandTech.
AMD dominates Crysis, BattleForge,
and especially STALKER: Call of Pripyat.
This tie is somewhat negated by the fact that
AMD's wins are a bit higher quality in so much that it gets better framerates
in games which tend to get lower framerates (like Crysis),
where as NVIDIA gets ridiculously high framerates in games with already good
framerates (like HAWX).
So perhaps AMD still can claim to hold the
performance crown by a narrow margin.
Ultimately the worst thing about NVIDIA's
performance is the same as the worst thing about AMD's, though -- the card is
beat by a pair of single-GPU cards in SLI that cost less. Namely, a pair
of GeForce GTX 570s appears faster than the GTX 590 in most benchmarks, though
they fall to the GTX 590's overclocked variant.
Hardware and HotHardware offer
III. Noise and Heat
You may recall the AMD card was "relatively
cool" by this generation's standards, measuring up to 89 degrees Celsius
(to be fair, this is "hot" in human terms -- hot enough to cook an
egg) during loading exercises. In gaming the AMD card was cooler than NVIDIA, but in benchmarks the NVIDIA card was cooler, indicating it might run cooler when used for GPU computing
The NVIDIA card edges out AMD's offering in
noise by a more substantial margin. While the Radeon 6990's stock 65 decibels pain the ears, the GTX
590 manages to operate at 57.9 decibels when loaded. Even the overclocked
version only manages to produce 63.1. This is a bigger difference than
you might think as decibels are a logarithmic measurement.
Similar to the heat issue, NVIDIA's card does well on power in benchmarks, but not quite as resoundingly well in gaming. When running Furmark, the stock model sucks up ~455 watts in average benchmarks, while AMD card pulls
~520 watts. However, the NVIDIA card consumes roughly 10 more watts when gaming.
While the GTX 590, like its AMD doppelgänger,
seems impressive it falls short in that it gets beat by a cheaper package of
two cards. So which ridiculous, overpriced single card is better?
That depends on what you value.
NVIDIA wins on temperature, noise, and power.
AMD arguably still holds the performance crown by a narrow margin.
That said, the scale might tip in NVIDIA's favor ever
so slightly given its card’s CUDA GPU computing capabilities, which are
increasingly being used by researchers.
Ultimately, though, despite the shine and allure,
this is a card rational customers simply should not buy, outside a few highly
quote: Once you game this way you never want to go back to single screen it feels like wearing blinders.
quote: There are no games to take advantage of these $700 monsters anyway.
quote: We have inquired as to how many units will be for sale in North America. Officially NVIDIA will only tell us, "Thousands will be available at launch worldwide." We have heard unsubstantiated rumors that there will be very few of these GTX 590 cards available. So depending on demand, the GeForce GTX 590 may or may not be a "collector's item" soon.
quote: The card also draws about 65 watts less. The stock model sucks up ~455 watts in average benchmarks, while AMD card pulls ~520 watts.
quote: AMD's dual-GPU Radeon HD 6990 card was a bit of a preposterous preposition to consumers.
quote: This tie is somewhat negated by the fact that AMD's wins are a bit higher quality in so much that it gets better framerates in games which tend to get lower framerates (like Crysis), where as NVIDIA gets ridiculously high framerates in games with already good framerates (like HAWX)....Ultimately the worst thing about NVIDIA's performance is the same as the worst thing about AMD's, though -- the card is beat by a pair of single-GPU cards in SLI that cost less.