When the GTX 460 came out last year with the GF104 chipset, it quickly rose to the top in the value for money charts and its performance stood out from the rest of the Fermi chipsets – mainly because the GF100s were hot, power-hungry beasts and not many people were keen on getting one for their rig. The GTX 460 was a different ballgame though, it brought to the table a fantastic mid-range card that overclocked very well, so NVIDIA managed to avoid a complete washout in a generation which saw the ATi cards take over.

What about this generation, though? We saw with the GTX 580 and GTX 570 that NVIDIA had delivered a rather perfect one-two punch to AMD in terms of this generation of graphics cards. With a superb combination of performance and low power consumption/noise, the GF110 chipsets are real winners. So when the GTX 560 Ti was announced last month, it caught me a little by surprise, not because I was totally unaware of the rumours surrounding it – but because it came out earlier in the release cycle than the GTX 460 did, and it was aimed at a higher mid-range bracket. Aimed not as a replacement to the GTX 460, NVIDIA has tried to seat the GTX 560 Ti comfortably between the 460 and the 570 with its price. Now let’s find out if it performs at that level.

Design and packaging
I tested two GTX 560s for this review, the ZOTAC GTX 560 Ti and the factory-overclocked ASUS DirectCU II GTX 560 Ti TOP.

The ZOTAC GTX 560 Ti

The ZOTAC GTX 560 Ti

ZOTAC have used their GTX 460 cooler on the 560 too, with minor tweaks to the design. Their black and orange colour scheme returns, which makes it easily identifiable as a ZOTAC card and also looks pretty decent. There are also a few mesh-like vents which should facilitate some decent airflow. The ASUS on the other hand uses a dual-fan design and combined with the black and red colour scheme, looks menacing and very cool. Contrasting with the ZOTAC is the much more open design, with the side and top of the card having gaps. This card is built for overclocking, so the emphasis on airflow is not surprising. Both cards are left open at the back.

The ASUS DirectCU II GTX 560 Ti TOP

The ASUS DirectCU II GTX 560 Ti TOP

While the ZOTAC has two DVI-D ports, a DisplayPort and an HDMI 1.4a port, the ASUS has a mini-HDMI port and two DVI-D ports. Both cards do, however, need two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors.

Variation in ports!

Variation in ports!

Packaging is pretty standard fare for both companies. They follow their tried and tested patterns, but ASUS caught my eye with the big logo that says 900MHz on their cover, making it easily recognizable as a factory overclocked SKU. Bundled stuff for both include the pretty standard converters – mini to full HDMI, Molex to PCI-E power and DVI-VGA. ZOTAC have bundled Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood with their card though, which is a rather cool freebie to give away, because it’s a pretty good game.

Specs
The GF114 chipsets, that the 560s are based on, are an upgrade to the GF104, which powered the GTX 460s. With an additional Streaming Multiprocessor Partition enabled, that takes the total Unified Stream Processor count to 384, 48 more than the 336 the GTX 460 had. You can check out the rest of the specs in the image below.

Check out the specs

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