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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 1GB Review

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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When NVIDIA announced the GTX 460, it was heralded as the perfect graphics card for people looking for excellent performance on a reasonable budget. As competing solutions were released its price has gradually decreased to its current mark of slightly under $150 which has essentially opened up a hole in NVIDIA’s lineup between it and the $250 GTX 560 Ti. Enter the GTX 560 1GB (sans Ti).

At a starting price of $199 we’ll likely see the GTX 560 go up against some well entrenched products like AMD’s popular HD 6870 and some of the higher clocked GTX 460 1GB models. Much like the GTX 460 before it, the 560 will be launching at numerous price points with both reference and pre-overclocked cards being available right out of the gate. When these higher spec products are taken into account, there will likely be GTX 560 cards at every interval between $199 and $225.

Today also happens to be when NVIDIA officially launches their new R275 drivers. They don't offer much in the way of performance improvements but automatic background updates for SLI profiles, a more intuitive 3DVision control panel, more monitor scaling options and some much needed bug fixes are just a few of the things that have changed.

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With a solid lineage at its back the GTX 560 is hoping to build upon NVIDIA’s success with their other “refreshed” Fermi cards while brining high performance to a lower price bracket. To accomplish this, the latest addition to the GeForce family makes use of a GF114 core and much like the GTX 460, it ships with a single SM disabled for a total of 336 cores and 32 texture units. Meanwhile, the four 64-bit memory controllers and the structure of 32 ROPs remain untouched which essentially means we won’t see any 768MB cards…for the time being at least.

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To many, the GTX 560 will likely look like nothing but an overclocked GTX 460 and that’s exactly what it is….but with a twist. This “refreshed” architecture has been graced with a revised transistor layout for increased rendering and thermal efficiency so it can achieve some impressive clock speeds. Advances like these have allowed for a core clock of 800Mhz on the reference GTX 560; nearly equaling some of the most extreme GF104-based cards on the market. Memory speeds have also seen a bump to 4Ghz.

All of this is accomplished without this new card consuming any more power than the reference GTX 460 which is a testament to the engineering changes made between the GF104 and GF114.

But we haven’t seen the last of our old friend, the GF104. The GTX 460 still offers phenomenal capabilities and will continue to cling desperately onto life. NVIDIA needs something to bridge the substantial performance gap between the GTX 560 and GTX 550 Ti and what better to fill this space than a highly respected yet affordable solution?

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Even with a reference core speed of 800Mhz, NVIDIA’s board partners have come to realize there’s plenty of overhead left in the GTX 560’s tank and will be launching some very interesting products. In this particular review we’ll be looking at three cards from Gigabyte, MSI and ASUS. All have different clock speeds with the Gigabyte OC edition being the closest to reference speeds, the ASUS TOP being the furthest and the MSI Twin Frozr III OC taking the middle ground. The same can be said of their respective prices; Gigabyte’s slightly overclocked version goes for $199, MSI’s hits the $209 mark while ASUS’ little monster will be found for $219.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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ASUS GTX 560 1GB DirectCu II TOP

ASUS GTX 560 1GB DirectCu II TOP


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ASUS has once again used the same packaging we have seen from their TOP edition cards for the last few years. The interior is well protected against the bumps and bruises that might happen during shipping and the accessory package is slim as expected. There is a pair of Molex to 6-pin adaptors and a single mini HDMI to HDMI dongle.

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The card itself boasts an impressive exterior design and a custom PCB which houses the components included with ASUS’ Super Alloy Power design. At a little under 10” including the heatsink’s overhang, this is also one of longer GTX 560 card one the market but it will still easily fit in all standard ATX cases.


ASUS has used their new DirectCu II heatsink for this card which consists of a copper base in direct contact with the core along with a large fin array and a pair of large fans. Since this setup is actually quite heavy, a stiffener bracket has been installed along a portion of the PCB’s leading edge.

The two PCI-E power connectors are placed at a right angle to the PCB in order to cut down on the card’s length once the PSU’s connectors are attached.

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The backplate consists of the usual layout with a pair of DVI outputs and a single mini HDMI which can be converted into a full size HDMI 1.4 output with the included connector.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Gigabyte GTX 560 1GB OC

Gigabyte GTX 560 1GB OC


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Much like ASUS, Gigabyte has chosen their basic design for the GTX 560’s packaging and sticks to the basic accessories. It is however good to see that a mini HDMI to HDMI adaptor is included.

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The design used for Gigabyte’s GTX 560 OC can only be described as unique. It uses a pair of huge 100mm inclined fans are supposed to provide top notch cooling while being extremely quiet. The large heatsink and fans also keep this GTX 560 at the reference length of about 9”.

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Even though Gigabyte does use a custom blue PCB, its layout and components stick to the reference specifications. If you are looking for upgraded components and much better performance, we suggest you wait for the upcoming Super Overclock edition to be released.

The heatsink design is definitely a step up from what we have come to expect from cards that are in line with the reference price. It uses four large copper heatpipes and an extensive number of densely packed aluminum fins for optimal heat dissipation. Unfortunately, the massive fans seem to go to waste since their large diameter blades causes a good portion of their airflow to move around the heatsink instead of through it.

It should be interesting to see how this performs since larger, lower RPM fans sometimes have issues pushing enough air through densely packed fins.

GTX560-1GB-18.jpg

The OC’s backplate is the standard fare with two DVIs and a single mini HDMI.
 

SKYMTL

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MSI GTX 560 1GB Twin Frozr II OC

MSI GTX 560 1GB Twin Frozr II OC


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MSI has done something none of the other board partners in this mini roundup have: they’ve included a game with their card. Supposedly, this will only be offered for a limited time but the newest Tomb Raider game is still a welcome addition.

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At 9” long the MSI card may stick to the reference length but it uses slightly higher end components than some other cards. Supposedly, this will increasing longevity and overclocking headroom.


Sitting atop the card is MSI’s iconic Twin Frozr II heatsink which sports two 80mm fans and an extensive aluminum fin array. We’ve been impressed with this design in the past so it will be interesting to see how it has carried overin to a slightly more affordable card. Much like ASUS, MSI has added an aluminum stiffener along the length of their GTX 560 in order to avoid PCB flexing.

GTX560-1GB-6.jpg

The backplate is once again the standard layout but an MSI logo has been punched into the metal to replace the usual exhaust grille.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Test System & Setup

Test System & Setup

Processor: Intel Core i7 920(ES) @ 4.0Ghz (Turbo Mode Enabled)
Memory: Corsair 3x2GB Dominator DDR3 1600Mhz
Motherboard: Gigabyte EX58-UD5
Cooling: CoolIT Boreas mTEC + Scythe Fan Controller (Off for Power Consumption tests)
Disk Drive: Pioneer DVD Writer
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB
Power Supply: Corsair HX1000W
Monitor: Samsung 305T 30” widescreen LCD
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate N x64 SP1


Graphics Cards:

Gigabyte GTX 560 1GB (Flashed to reference speeds)
Gigabyte GTX 560 1GB OC
ASUS GTX 560 1GB DirectCU II TOP
MSI GTX 560 1GB Twin Frozr II OC
GTX 560 Ti 1GB (Ref)
GTX 460 1GB (Ref)
GTX 550 Ti 1GB (Ref)

HD 6950 1GB (Ref)
HD 6870 1GB (Ref)
HD 6850 1GB (Ref)


Drivers:

NVIDIA 275.20 Beta
ATI 11.4 Preview + CAP 11.2 R4

Note: Even though AMD claims the “AMD Optimized Tessellation” feature in the 11.1a drivers has not yet been implemented, we have changed the setting to “Off” in order to ensure additional, untested optimizations are not enabled.

Applications Used:

3DMark 11
Aliens Versus Predator
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
DiRT 2
F1 2010
Just Cause 2
Lost Planet
Metro 2033
Unigine: Heaven


*Notes:

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT OUR BENCHMARKING PROCESS PLEASE SEE THIS ARTICLE

- All games tested have been patched to their latest version

- The OS has had all the latest hotfixes and updates installed

- All scores you see are the averages after 3 benchmark runs

All game-specific methodologies are explained above the graphs for each game

All IQ settings were adjusted in-game
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
3DMark 11 (DX11)

3DMark 11 (DX11)


3DMark 11 is the latest in a long line of synthetic benchmarking programs from the Futuremark Corporation. This is their first foray into the DX11 rendering field and the result is a program that incorporates all of the latest techniques into a stunning display of imagery. Tessellation, depth of field, HDR, OpenCL physics and many others are on display here. In the benchmarks below we have included the results (at default settings) for both the Performance and Extreme presets.


Performance Preset

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Extreme Preset

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Aliens Versus Predator (DX11)

Aliens Versus Predator (DX11)


When benchmarking Aliens Versus Predator, we played through the whole game in order to find a section which represents a “worst case” scenario. We finally decided to include “The Refinery” level which includes a large open space and several visual features that really tax a GPU. For this run-through, we start from within the first tunnel, make our way over the bridge on the right (blowing up several propane tanks in the process), head back over the bridge and finally climb the tower until the first run-in with an Alien. In total, the time spent is about four minutes per run. Framerates are recorded with FRAPS.


1680 x 1050

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1920 x 1200

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
BattleField: Bad Company 2 (DX11)

BattleField: Bad Company 2 (DX11)


To benchmark BF: BC2 we used a five minute stretch of gameplay starting from the second checkpoint (after the helicopter takes off) of the second single player mission up until your battle with the tank commences. Framerates are recorded with FRAPS.


1680 x 1050

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1920 x 1200

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
DiRT 2 (DX11)

DiRT 2 (DX11)


Being one of the newest games on the market, DiRT 2 cuts an imposing figure in terms of image quality and effects fidelity. We find that to benchmark this game the in-game tool is by far the best option. However, due to small variances from one race to another, three benchmark runs are done instead of the normal two. It should also be mentioned that the demo version of the game was NOT used since after careful testing, the performance of the demo is not representative of the final product. DX11 was forced through the game’s config file. In addition, you will see that these scores do not line up with our older benchmarks at all. This is due to the fact that a patch was recently rolled out for the game which included performance optimizations in addition to new graphics options.

1680 x 1050

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1920 x 1200

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
F1 2010 (DX11)

F1 2010 (DX11)



1680 x 1050

GTX560-1GB-60.jpg


GTX560-1GB-61.jpg


1920 x 1200

GTX560-1GB-62.jpg


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