Gigabyte is best known for its blue motherboards, undoubtedly some of the best in the business, however depending on where you live you will have noticed these days they offer a multitude of other products from mobile phones to computer mice. Their graphics card division has emerged as a top contender in recent years, whether you are looking to save up and buy a vanilla reference board-style graphics card or if you are after a custom design that carries an improved cooling solution out of the box.
In an effort to appeal to the enthusiast community, Gigabyte launched the SOC (Super Overclock) series. Checking out which GPUs belong to the series we noted few AMD-based graphics cards are part of the line, with a majority of products branded with Nvidia's seal, including several variants of the GeForce GTX 560 Ti SOC, the GTX 570 SOC, and most recently the GTX 580 SOC that we'll be testing today.
Factory overclocked graphics cards are nothing new and the GTX 580 GPU has been around for months now (with nothing new scheduled from Nvidia until next year apparently), but Gigabyte claims to have the world's fastest GTX 580. Noteworthy competitors include MSI's N580GTX Twin Frozr II/OC, which operates at 800MHz, Zotac's AMP2! ZT-50104-10P, which pushes the GPU to 815MHz, and eVGA's DS Superclocked 797MHz card.
Asus has also introduced a tweaked GTX 580, which outpaces Zotac's iteration by a single megahertz, so still a mere 5.6% overclock from the default 772MHz. With most board partners scared to push the 244w GTX 580 far beyond its reference spec, we were surprised when Gigabyte announced its solution which treads on deeper water than the competition dares to.
The Gigabyte GTX 580 SOC operates at 855MHz or about double the overclock of Asus and Zotac's cards. For what appears to be a justifiable $35 premium over Nvidia's already steep $500 suggested retail price, they are adding a new PCB design and upgraded cooler. Let's take a closer look before slamming the card with our battery of performance tests