by Rob Williams on May 18, 2011 in Graphics & Displays
To help fill a model gap that no one told us about, NVIDIA has released its GeForce GTX 560, a slight step down from the Ti variant. Featuring a cut of 48 cores and the potential for wildly varying clock speeds, this card is a strange beast. But, we look to pit MSI’s ‘Twin Frozr II’ against our usual fleet of cards to see where it stacks up in the end.
Here I am again, needing to come up with something interesting to say about a graphics card that as a whole isn’t inherently too interesting. The GeForce GTX 560 Ti upon its release filled a gap that needed to be filled in the current-generation of cards, but the non-Ti version feels like a card that plugs no holes, or stands out of the crowd.
Compared to the Ti version released this past January, the non-Ti GTX 560 features 48 less cores, while easily being able to be clocked the same. If the card was released as such, we might have seen greater differences with our benchmarks, but with even a modest “overclock”, the card will come so close to the Ti version that NVIDIA’s bringing it out at all is interesting..
But of course, I just described a $200 card that, when equipped with a minor clock boost, compares nicely to a card that at its minimum can be had for $230. And that’s after a ~$20 mail-in rebate. As always, this seems to be a launch that seeks out to win gamer hearts in the pricing department. With the likes of an ASUS card at 925MHz, there’s no question that this card could easily surpass the performance of the reference Ti, so for avid overclockers, the GTX 560 looks to be a great $200 choice.
The problem with out-right recommending the GTX 560, though, once again boils down to competition. At <$200, the HD 6870 compares nicely to the GTX 560, making it difficult for us to reach a clear-cut conclusion. This is no surprise… which launch article have we been able to publish in recent memory where we could give a no-brainer conclusion?
The situation is made worse with the fact that GPU prices can vary from day to day, so prior to purchasing, it’s always important to be on the lookout for cards that might be on the next-tier up but might be selling at a better price. In terms of overall performance, a stock GTX 560 will come a fair bit behind an HD 6870, while a GTX 560 Ti will flip-flop strengths with that card.
Other considerations include multi-monitor support, which AMD better supports at this point in time. With a Radeon card, you can easily configure three displays at a single time, while an NVIDIA solution will always require a second card due to its design. To NVIDIA’s benefit though, it offers things such as CUDA and PhysX, so between AMD and NVIDIA, one strength may outweigh the other.
While a slightly odd release, the GTX 560 does hold its ground in some regards, and MSI’s variant makes things even better with a great cooler and design, and out-of-the-gate clocks that put it on par in some cases with its bigger brother that costs about $50 more.
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