Though a little late to the party, we are finally done reviewing the ZOTAC GTX580, which once again reaffirms Nvidia's place at the top for having the fastest single core GPU in the world. This is a marked improvement over its predecessor and is what the GTX480 should have been in the first place. So how has Nvidia achieved this breakthrough with Fermi?
For starters, the GTX580 is based on an entirely new core codenamed GF110. This core was re-engineered at a transistor level, thereby giving us a better performance per watt ratio. The transistor count has been cut down and optimized for lower heat and power consumption. Nvidia have also added IC's for real-time monitoring of current and voltage on each of the 12V rail. These also come into play when using heavy applications to stress the card by dynamically adjusting the performance to keep the power within the specified range. Other enhancements include additional functional units for tessellation, shading and texturing and improved timings for the core and memory clocks.
The original Fermi ran hotter than the fires of hell, so how does the GTX580 fair? Well, Nvidia has taken care of this as well by using a vapor chamber in the heatsink. For those not aware of this term, a vapor chamber (see pic above) consists of a hollow metal block that contains a special liquid. This portion is placed directly over the core of the GPU. Once you start the system, the liquid heats up and begins to evaporate, but at the same time it is rapidly cooled by the heatsink above the chamber. The fan sucking in cool air causes the liquid to condense and return to the bottom, where the cycle repeats.
This is very effective since it is able to dissipate a lot of heat quickly thereby keeping the GPU cool and the other plus side is that the fan doesn't have to spin very fast, which in turn gives you a much quieter system. Normally we see this type of cooling used by AIB partners to differentiate their product from the rest. But here, Nvidia has chosen this cooling technology in their reference design itself.
Now that we are better acquainted with the beast, let's have a look at what ZOTAC has to offer. The ZOTAC GTX580 follows Nvidia's reference design and specifications. The clock speeds are the same as the reference, and the cooler is the same vapor chamber with their sticker on it. It's nice to see some companies still bundling a free game along with their graphics card. Prince of Persia isn't exactly a stressful game for the GTX580, but it's free, so we can't complain.