GeForce GTX 580 vs. Radeon HD 5970 2GB Performance

We will see if NVIDIA’s new GeForce GTX 580 has what it takes to compare to AMD’s Radeon HD 5970 2GB dual-GPU video card. These five apples-to-apples tests will reveal performance differences and memory limitations on the Radeon HD 5970 2GB. The Radeon HD 5970 is less expensive, so let's where the chips fall.


Civilization V

Civilization V, like F1 2010 seems to also be sensitive to memory capacity at high resolutions with AA using all the DX11 features. This game uses a large amount of high quality textures that are loaded into memory as you zoom in and zoom out and pan around the game. In all of our graphs, you will notice the many drops in performance to near 0 FPS. This is due to data loading in the game, either from the HDD or into memory and graphics memory. This is just the nature of the game, but higher memory capacities do yield a smoother experience in this game. The DX11 features used by DirectCompute eat up a fair bit of memory as well.

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Similar to F1 2010, we are experiencing erratic and inconsistent behavior with the Radeon HD 5970 running at 8X MSAA at 2560x1600 in this game. The average framerate is just slightly higher than the GeForce GTX 580, but the variance in performance is much greater. This can be felt in game. As you zoom around the game, pan left and right and up and down, there are delays and pauses that occur. Radeon HD 5970 is plenty fast enough, but the VRAM isn’t there to support the performance that is capable. This means the GeForce GTX 580 and the ATI Radeon HD 5870 2GB deliver a smoother experience. I would not play Civ 5 at 8X MSAA on the Radeon HD 5970. I would drop down to 4X AA so that the gameplay is smoothed out; whereas, the GTX 580 is more than playable at 8X MSAA in this game.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

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This game did not seem to be impacted as much at 8X MSAA gaming with the ATI Radeon HD 5970. We did not experience erratic or inconsistent behavior at this setting. Performance was smooth, and the game was playable at this level. The ATI Radeon HD 5970 held a 21% performance advantage over the GeForce GTX 580. Compared to the Radeon HD 5870, the HD 5970 was 45% faster. The better gameplay experience was delivered with the ATI Radeon HD 5970 here, unlike the previous two games.

Medal of Honor

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Medal of Honor is running on a modified Unreal 3 Engine. This is a DX9 game, and since it does not use DX11 shader effects like the other games, it is more texture performance heavy. What we see is that performance between the Radeon HD 5970 and GeForce GTX 580 is a lot closer than the other games so far. There is only an unperceivable 8% performance difference between them. At framerates like this, it was impossible to tell just by playing the game which one was faster. They both deliver the same gameplay experience and it felt like the same performance. This is in contrast to the other games tested. We can see that CrossFireX is working well in this game as there is a large 53% performance improvement over the Radeon HD 5870 2GB video card.

Metro 2033

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Finally, another shader intensive game, in Metro 2033 there is a 19% difference in performance between the Radeon HD 5970 and GeForce GTX 580. This seems to indicate that an older gaming engine, or less shader heavy game like MoH, favors the GeForce GTX 580 in performance. In a more shader intensive game, Radeon HD 5970 is able to push through. There is definitely a large performance improvement compared to the Radeon HD 5870, almost 50%.