In our previous multi-GPU articles we have already learned that NVIDIA graphics adapters obviously scale extremely well. This article is not different, with the one exception that we have so much graphics horsepower under the hood that we far more quickly run into a CPU bottleneck (the state where the GPUs are waiting on the CPU to provide data). Though that might seem bothersome, it really is luxury problem to have.
Performance wise, not a lot of negatives can be said about the GeForce GTX 580 setup in SLI. In previous articles we have shown you guys already that the performance scaling of two GPUs is something the GTX 400 and thus now 500 series as well, is really good at.
Heat and noise will definitely go up depending on your configuration, but remain acceptable. If you can please do place the cards as far away from each other as possible, a special flexible SLI bridge is required for that though.
Power consumption then, well it is high. When observing Crysis Warhead, which really is tremendously GPU intense, we notice power draws well over the 700+ Watt. You do need to be aware of that, each GPU has a 242W TDP, that's nearing 500 Watt already. Then add a nice spicy processor, likely overclocked a little drawing say 175W~200W and then the residuals like chipset and devices really can accumulate to significant numbers. But hey, this is the extreme high-end arena, it never has been any different. It's just that over the past years we as consumers and press have become much more critical about this topic.
We also really need to mention that one of the boards used (engineering sample) had an older BIOS and that power consumption on that board might be a tad higher as a result of it.
Now keep this in mind, with the more GPU stringent monitor resolutions and modern games you can gain 1.6x ~ 1.9x performance with two of these cards and that really is exemplary.
To be able to operate two or more cards in SLI mode you'll need an SLI certified motherboard. Most Intel X58 based motherboards are SLI certified, and often P55 motherboards as well. That or an older nForce motherboard (which is a dying breed). But carefully make sure and check that out before opting for SLI, okay ?
The big question remains, do you really need SLI with cards as powerful as the GeForce GTX 580 really is? Well, with current games and the brute force that is the GeForce GTX 580, one card will do more than fine of course. It's always like this though, that x-factor, going that extra mile, you gotza have a little more e-peen, you are a record breaker or simply want the best. If you fall within that category then this might be something you should opt.
There's of course another reason you might want to look into SLI, and this is a very valid point: If you like to opt triple screen gaming with NVIDIA's Surround vision option, you will need a serious amount of rendering performance. Add to that if you have beefed up your game platform with 3D Vision, well that's where this feature eats away hefty on your framerate budget, that's where an SLI setup like this actually makes a lot of sense. And for surround vision, SLI is actually a mandatory requirement.
Bare in mind, so much GPU horsepower needs a very spicy PC that can keep up with them GPUs. Also do the right thing and go for a Kilowatt PSU, have a little extra always ... at all times.
We certainly enjoyed testing these two cards in SLI. If you can live with the deficits like power consumption and the sheer amount of money needed to create your game PC that is. Yeah, it puts the full G in Geforce alright :)
We have not seen any driver issues, we did not run into any weird stuff and neither did we had to configure anything. Everything worked straight out of the box with near perfect scaling. As such if you are interested in marvelous game performance and are gaming with an unlimited budget, then this might be your route to follow.
Ooh and as a bonus, you can finally Crysis Warhead in Enthusiast mode + AA at well over 60+ FPS in a decent monitor resolution, w00t (!) Oh and we also added a 3-way SLI article which you can find right here.
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