When NVIDIA launched the GeForce GTX 480 in Q1 2010, their worst fears became reality. The high-end Fermi part was launched and then was gutted and slaughtered over three trivial aspects; those being high-power consumption, loud noise levels and a GPU that ran far too hot.
The flipside of that coin was the fact that the performance was actually spot on. To date the GeForce GTX 480 is the fastest kid on the DX11 block offering stunning performance. Yet the dark clouds that started hovering above the Fermi launch was something they never got rid of, up until the GeForce GTX 460 launch.
That made the GeForce GTX 480 probably the worst selling high-end graphics card series to date for NVIDIA. Throughout the year we've reviewed a good number GTX 480 cards and we've always tried to be very fair. We firmly (not Fermi) believe that if NVIDIA addressed the heat and noise levels from the get go, the outcome and overall opinion of the GTX 480 would have been much more positive as more enthusiast targeted end users can live with that somewhat high TDP. Good examples of these are KFA2's excellent GeForce GTX 480 Anarchy and more recently the MSI GTX 480 Lightning and soon Gigabyte's GTX 480 SOC.
However, the damage was done and NVIDIA needed to refocus, redesign and improve the GF100 silicon. They went back to the drawing board, made the design more efficient and at transistor level made some significant changes. As a result they were able to slightly lower the TDP, increase the shader processor count and increase the overall clock frequency on both core and memory domains.
The end result is the product you've all been hearing about for weeks now, the GeForce GTX 580. A product that is more silent then the GTX 280/285/480 you guys are so familiar with, a product that keeps temperatures under control slightly better and noise levels that overall are really silent. All that still based on the 40nm fabrication node, while offering over 20% more performance compared to the reference GeForce GTX 480.
Will NVIDIA have it right this time? Well they'd better hope so, as real soon AMD's Cayman aka Radeon HD 6970 is being released as well. These two cards will go head to head with each other in both price and performance, at least that's what we hope.
Exciting times with an exciting product, head on over to the next page where we'll start up a review on the product that NVIDIA unleashes today, the GeForce GTX 580.
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