Gigabyte is best known for its blue motherboards, hands down some of the best in the business. However, depending on where you live, you'll find that they sell a wide variety of other products these days, from cell phones to computer mice. The graphics card division has grown to be a top contender in recent years, whether you're looking to save up and buy a vanilla reference board style graphics card or want a custom design that offers an improved cooling solution out of the box.
To address the enthusiastic community, Gigabyte has released the SOC (Super Overclock) series. When checking which GPUs belong to the range, we found that only a few AMD-based graphics cards are part of the range. Most products carry the Nvidia seal, including several variants of the GeForce GTX 560 Ti SOC, the GTX 570 SOC, and most recently the GTX 580 SOC, which we will be testing today.
Factory overclocked graphics cards are nothing new and the GTX 580 GPU has been around for months (apparently nothing new from Nvidia is planned until next year), but Gigabyte claims to have the fastest GTX 580 in the world. Notable competitors include MSI / OC's N580GTX Twin Frozr II, which operates at 800 MHz, Zotac's AMP2! ZT-50104-10P, which brings the GPU to 815 MHz, and the DS Superclocked 797MHz card from eVGA.
Asus also introduced an optimized GTX 580 that beats the iteration of Zotac by a single megahertz, so still just 5.6% overclocking from the default of 772 MHz. Since most board partners were afraid of taking the 244w GTX 580 well beyond its reference spec, we were surprised when Gigabyte announced its solution that runs on deeper water than the competition dares.
The Gigabyte GTX 580 SOC works at 855 MHz or about twice as fast as the cards from Asus and Zotac. For a seemingly reasonable premium of $ 35 over Nvidia's already high suggested retail price of $ 500, they add a new PCB design and improved cooler. Let's take a closer look at that before we slam the card with our numerous performance tests.