Summary: Armed with 480 CUDA Cores and vapor chamber cooling, the GeForce GTX 570 brings new levels of performance to the $350 price segment of the graphics market. See how this board fares against GTX 480/580 and Radeon 5870 in this review!
There are two things that are common occurrences in Silicon Valley, chip launches and earthquakes. Ironically, earthquakes and chip launches are very similar in that they both hit with a primary wave and are followed by secondary waves. Over the past two months both AMD and Nvidia launch new products but we are anticipating the next cards from each company in different fashion. Last month Nvidia released its GeForce GTX 580 flagship product to the market and are waiting for mid-range and entry level cards. On the other hand, we are still expecting AMD’s high end Cayman based graphics cards sometime soon. Today we get to look at the first step down from the Nvidia flagship, GeForce GTX 570.
In a “typical” product delivery cycle, we see a major development once a year followed by launches of products to fill each price point (High-end/Enthusiast, mid-range, value and entry level cards). These subsequent launches are normally the result of a "binned" chip filling a specific price point. Since not all chips make it through the manufacturing process the same, manufacturers sort chips based on a set of performance and imperfection criteria. "Grade A" chips become high-end parts while those that can't sustain the high clock rates get moved to the next product category. Chips can also be set aside if they contain small defects. These subsequent parts ship as a new product with either lower clock frequencies and/or have some of their functional units disabled.
This is where we find ourselves today. GeForce GTX 570 is based on the same GF110 core architecture as GeForce GTX 580 but is shipping with less functional units and slower clock frequencies. Some might want to call it GTX 480 2.0, but that would be a misrepresentation. Since it is based on GF110, it has all of the architectural improvements that Nvidia made when going from GF100, then GF104, and ultimately to GF110. So what does this mean in layman’s terms? It means that it should be quieter, cooler, more power efficient and just as powerful if not more so than GTX 480 but less than a GTX 580.
Since it has the heart of a GF110, it can utilize all of the bells and whistles GTX 580 has. These include but are not limited to IEEE 754-2008 single and double precision, z-culling tiling format support improvements, “full speed” 64-bit floating-point (FP16) texture filtering, over-voltage regulation/protection and new cooling profiles. While GTX 570 is a GF110 core, it only has 480 functioning ALUs (CUDA cores) compared to GTX 580’s 512 ALUs. That equates to one whole streaming multiprocessor group comprised of one SIMD, 32 ALUs and a tessellator.
Additionally, if you compare GTX 570 to GTX 480, there is a major functional difference compared to GTX 480. GTX 480 utilized all 48 raster operation units (ROPs) of the GF100 architecture where GTX 570 has an entire block disabled. This means it has 40 ROPs instead of GTX 580’s 48 units. As mentioned earlier, its clock frequencies have also been reduced. The core clock is 40 MHz slower than GTX 580. The ALUs were tuned down 80 MHz and the memory modules by 50 MHz (equivalent to 200 MHz QDR).
Nvidia also changed the memory interface and density for GTX 570. It has 1.28 GBs of memory running on a 320-bit wide bus. This equates to a 40 GB/s drop in bandwidth compared to GTX 580 and 25 GB/s less than GTX 480. Overall most of the changes make GTX 570 theoretically faster than GTX 480 and coming in at suggested price of $350 for reference specified cards from Nvidia’s board partners; it makes it much more attractive than GTX 480.
Unigine Heaven 2.1
The test system has been overclocked to 4.33GHz and should certainly eliminate any potential for the benchmarks to be CPU bound. You can find more specifics on the system via the CPU-Z. Additionally, we have supplied the GPU-Z screenshots so you can see the card specific details.
We ran each test at least three runs. The “average” which we report in each resolution and configuration is the geometric mean. We use it where possible for of all of the runs as to get a true center of the data. The minimum is the minimum of all of the runs. We would like to demonstrate user experiences as much as possible. While it does not play well for PR and marketing types, it is what we experienced and what a gamer would experience under the same conditions. Additionally, the three resolutions we selected are the two most popular and the maximum. We used a resolution of 1920x1080 for Unigine Heaven 2.1. If you have comments about the test setup or what you would like to see run through the paces, please contact us.
Nvidia Reference GeForce GTX 570
Nvidia Reference GeForce GTX 580
EVGA GeForce GTX 480
Asus EAH 6780
Asus EAH6850 DirectCU
AMD Reference Radeon HD 5870
AMD Reference Radeon HD 5850
Battlefield 2: Bad Company
GTX 570 handled Battlefield 2: Bad Company very well. In fact, it outperformed GTX 480 and all of the AMD 5000 and 6000 series cards. It performed quite well, even at 2560x1600 or twice the resolution of HD 1080i.
Metro shows some of GTX 570’s shortcomings of less ROPs and slimmer bandwidth. At each of the three tested resolutions it underperformed the former GTX 480 flagship. That being said, it outperformed everything that AMD has available on the market.
Civilization V has some great surface tessellation and as such, Nvidia’s GTX 570 outperforms AMD once again. You should notice again that GTX 570 trails GTX 480. The higher the resolution the more the gap increases. Again, this should be due to the changes to the number of ROPs, the amount of memory available on the card and the bandwidth available.
Colin McRae: Dirt2
GTX 570 does very well in Dirt2. It pushed out 3 more frames per second over the GTX 480 and 11 more frames over HD 5870 and an amazing 15 frames over HD 6870.
The greatest thing to note is how QUIET GTX 570 is. It was the quietest card in the field. The new cooling profiles, thermal chamber and fan modifications certainly have made it possible to have great performance with less noise.
We continue to utilize a Diamond BizView BV200 card to help with the power test to allow us to get into the operating system and back out. We left the card inserted for all of the power, temperature and acoustic tests for consistency. In the graph you should notice that GTX 570 uses less power than GTX 480. This is truly a feather in Nvidia’s cap as GTX 570 has almost all of the same features but consumes less power.
For $350 the GTX 570 is a remarkable card. Now, does it mean it is the king of the midrange? I cannot say that because for $50 more you Do-It-Yourself types could build a CrossFire or GTX 460 SLI setup. However, if you have a hole being burned in your pocket, GTX 570 is truly an amazing card.
It is quieter, cooler, more power efficient and in most cases more powerful than GTX 480. For $350 you get 80% of the horsepower of GTX 580 but at a two-thirds the cost. This should spark some of you to head out and pick one up. The bottom line is the GeForce GTX 570 is a must have card for those looking for the best of price and performance in a single card.
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