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GeForce GTX 580 3GB vs 1.5GB test, SLI and surround
by Damien Triolet
Published on October 24, 2011



While preparing a GeForce GTX 580 roundup, we wanted to see if the 3 GB variants, which are starting to become more common, offer any real advantage. We carried out a few tests at very high resolution as well as in surround, all with antialiasing, which significantly increases video memory demand.



High resolution performance
Firstly, here are the results we obtained at 2560x1600 with 4x and 8x AA (with the 280.26 drivers):


Hold the mouse over the image to view relative performance.


Whether with a single card or in SLI, having 3 GB of memory only gives you an advantage in two cases: Starcraft II with 8x AA and Metro 2033 with 4x AA and Depth of Field on. In this second case, the fps count is too low for the game to be playable, even in SLI. Note that when the additional memory doesn’t make a difference, it reduces performance slightly, a phenomenon already observed with the 1 GB and 2 GB versions of the Radeon HD 6950.


Surround performance
Next we measured performance across three 1080p screens, namely at 5760x1080, again at 4x AA and 8x AA:


Hold the mouse over the image to view relative performance.


We noted a slight gain in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat and bigger gains in Metro 2033 with 4x AA, mainly with DoF on. Unfortunately Metro 2033 remains unplayable even in SLI with this level of quality.


Conclusion
While moving up from 1 to 2 GB can be more easily justified in certain very high-end situations, it has to be said that 1.5 GB of video memory is sufficient and that there isn’t really any point in doubling this quantity of memory with higher density modules, even in SLI and surround.

Either games don’t require this level of memory, or the processing power required of the GPU in addition to memory demands is too high, even for the GeForce GTX 580s, as is the case in Metro 2033. While a Quad SLI system could however get you close to a level of performance in gaming conditions that require 3 GB per GPU, such a platform is both very extreme and for a very reduced number of users and certainly doesn’t justify the proliferation of 3 GB versions of the GeForce GTX 580.






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