When we were first shown the GTX 580 and 570 by NVIDIA it was clear that they had put some considerable focus on creating cards and GPUs which were offered better build quality and design than the previous generation. With the GTX 590 they have taken another step along that path, creating a dual GPU product which excels in the design and quality department. For a reference based card (and the ASUS model based on the same design) the GTX 590 is a more impressive product than we can remember. It offers a high quality PCB, assembly and cooling solution. Does so with a size which is noticeably smaller than the competition and in the process NVIDIA have really taught AMD a lesson in how to build and cool a high end dual GPU product.
The end result is a card which runs cooler than the Radeon 6990, runs quieter than the 6990 and in a number of games it performs faster too. When allowed to perform at its maximum the GTX 590 hits framerates which are exceptional, even at 5760×1080 with maximum detail. Crysis 2 was a prime example of this. We were also pleased to see that GPU computing performance has not suffered when moving to the dual GPU design. Using the recently released Badaboom 2 as an example we were able to convert video faster than our 990X CPU with exceptional output quality.
The GTX 590 also retains the key features of the GTX 580 which are PhysX and 3D Vision, ensuring that it offers a flexible graphics solution which is enhanced by the ability to game on 3 screens with one card.
There are two minor issues with the product at the moment though. The first is that there were a couple of driver issues which limited performance in two new titles. One was Dragon Age 2 where we had to limit gameplay to 1920×1080. The other was Shogun 2 which struggled at 1680×1050 unless we disabled SLI in the driver. We have no doubt these will be fixed soon however it is not like NVIDIA to be as slow with optimisations as this.
Our second issue is pricing, at £560 the GTX 590 feels a little high. We do get a lot of performance for our money however those who don’t value PhysX or 3D performance could be swayed to go with an alternative product given the £60 price difference. That said the quieter operation could be a big selling point for many people and well worth the extra money.