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Roundup: a review of the super GeForce GTX 580s from Asus, EVGA, Gainward, Gigabyte, MSI and Zotac
by Damien Triolet
Published on October 26, 2011

Gainward GTX 580 Phantom
Two customised GeForce GTX 580s are available from Gainward, with the Phantom their top-end model. Both cards are based on the same PCB, which is also used on some of the Gainward GTX 570s, and offer identical, minimal factory overclocking: 783 MHz for the GPU instead of 772 MHz, which is a 1% increase. They only differ by their cooling systems.

The cooling system used here isn't particularly efficient but has been designed to look good at reduced cost. Although this model isn't therefore in the same category as the other cards in this report, we wanted to take a look at what it was capable of in comparison to the reference model, especially as we have a new test system.

Gainward is marketing both 1.5 GB and 3 GB versions, with the only difference being the memory modules used.

We tested the 1.5 GB version.

The card

Gainward has come up with an atypical design for its GeForce GTX Phantoms, with the fans placed under a large radiator. While this may look good visually, this design doesn't have as robust a finish as the reference card’s cooler. Gainward has opted for a rather large cooler with a huge radiator, which extends down the entire length of the card. Six nickel plated copper heatpipes run across it and are fixed to a wide aluminium base. The manufacture is pretty standard here, with no direct contact.

An aluminium plate covers the whole of the PCB, is in contact with the sensitive components and includes a radiator part for the power stage. All this takes up three slots though the Phantom (27 cm) isn’t any longer than the reference card.

There are two DVI outs, an HDMI out and a DisplayPort out on the customised PCB. Only a DVI to VGA adaptor is supplied in the bundle, in addition to the small manual, a CD for the drivers and a double molex to 8-pin PCI Express power supply cable convertor.

The six phases for the GPU on the reference model have been kept for this design, in addition to the two phases for the Samsung HC04 GDDR5 memory. The components are totally different however and seem to have been chosen to reduce costs. Gainward has retained the original version of OCP however.

Infrared thermography

[ At idle ]  [ In load ]

[ At idle ]  [ In load ]

Although no problems came up at idle, in load the Gainward GTX 580 Phantom proves rather inefficient. The power stage heats up considerably and the card has an impact on the temperature of the various other components in the casing.

Temperature and noise readings

The readings confirm this and show that noise levels in load are also very high.

Our opinion
The Gainward Phantom is on sale at the same price as the reference GeForce GTX 580 and didn’t convince us due to high temperatures and noise. Though it might look very good, it’s a very big card and manufacturing quality is down. We then prefer the reference card, which is more efficient.

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