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I am interested in setting up a gaming rig, and wanted to know if 4x GTX590 SLI cards are possible, if not, would I be correct to assume that only 2x GTX590 are possible which is not as good as 4x GTX580 cards?

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Either way, wow. –  Lil' Smokey Jul 14 '11 at 14:55

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Four GTX-590 cards all in SLI are not possible, because each GTX-590 has two discrete GPUs on each PCB. Even NVIDIA's own website states that two GTX-590's will technically perform as a Quad-SLI configuration.

You would be correct in assuming that four discrete GTX-580s all SLI'd together would outperform two discrete GTX-590s. That being said, both setups are technially Quad SLI. The reason the four 580's would outperform the two 590's can be found in the NVIDIA specification sheets (here is the GTX 580 versus the GTX 590). If we compare the two:

GPU Specifications:   GTX 580     GTX 590
-----------------------------------------
Graphics Core Clock   772 MHz     607 MHz
Processor Clock      1544 MHz    1215 MHz
Fill Rate (10^9/s)   49.4        77.7

So, assuming performance scales linearly, you can see that doubling the GTX 590's specs is infact less then the GTX 580. Since both are a multi-GPU setup, you can also assume that performance losses through SLI scale the same in both setups.

Do note that with the quad GTX 580 setup, you would have massive power and cooling requirements. You would need to include at least two power supplies in your build.


Other reasons why a 4 card GTX 590 SLI setup isn't (currently) possible:

  • The 590 only has one bridge connector limiting SLI to a total of 2 cards.
  • Quad SLI is 4x GPUs in whatever configuration, card count excluded. Since the 590 is a dual GPU config, it would count as 2 GPUs and the driver treats them as such.

So when a benchmark like 3DMark seems to hint at a 4 card configuration (as in here), it is in fact incorrect. It counting cards from the perspective of the graphics driver that sees each GPU as a single card. With dual-core cards setup, this math is no longer valid.

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Breakthrough. You are correct and my answer, while valid concerning other issues, is not on the particular issue of SLIing 4 cards. I will delete it and upvote you for the correct answer. You answer doesn't deserve coming in second place. I'm going to also edit your answer to add a bit more relevant information. –  A Dwarf Jul 14 '11 at 17:29

You should go for 4x GTX580 as they overclock better according to this forum post.

This is backed up by the 3DMark Hall of Fame.

With that out of the way, proceed to The Real Deal, for a hands-on experience of such a system.

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I have to wonder why you would ever need to overclock something THAT powerful... –  Simon Sheehan Jul 14 '11 at 17:43

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