Although we've seen plenty of good things from Nvidia's latest GeForce GTX 570 and 580, both cards are too pricey for the mainstream bracket as many gamers prefer to spend less than $US300 on a GPU upgrade.
For those folks, AMD is currently offering the Radeon HD 6870 and HD 6850 graphics cards ($US240 and $US180, respectively) while Nvidia's solution consists of the 6-month-old GeForce GTX 460 768MB ($160) and 1GB ($200).
It was only a matter of time until Nvidia added a mainstream performance graphics card to its GTX 500 series, and today we have that product. Known as the GeForce GTX 560 Ti, this new graphics card will retail for $US250, placing it in direct competition with the Radeon HD 6870.
Earlier this month some users discovered the GeForce GTX 560 Ti when sifting through the leaked 266.44 GeForce driver. The discovery of the upcoming graphics card in itself wasn't that interesting as we all knew it was coming. What did catch our attention was the departure from traditional naming conventions by resurrecting a suffix that has been dormant since the GeForce 4 Ti 4800 and Ti 4600. Those products date as back as 2002.
The GeForce 4 Ti 4200 is perhaps the most remembered product from this family. The card went down as a legendary offering due to its attractive pricing and excellent overclocking abilities.
Maybe Nvidia is trying to send a subliminal message, wanting to put their new GeForce GTX 560 Ti in a similar light to the now ancient GeForce 4 Ti 4200. Whatever the case may be, you won't hear us complaining if they decide to deliver great value on a performance oriented mainstream card.
Our friends over at Gigabyte were kind enough to send us their revision of the GeForce GTX 560 Ti, which we've put to the test against 15 other offerings in all price ranges to get you the full picture on today's GPU landscape.
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 560 Ti
With a suggested retail price of $US250, the GeForce GTX 560 Ti is still considered a mainstream performance graphics card, costing roughly the same amount as the Radeon HD 6870. The card is ~$US50 more expensive than the GeForce GTX 460 1GB and about $US120 less than some Radeon HD 6970 cards.
Based on Fermi's third-generation Streaming Multiprocessor (SM) architecture, the GeForce GTX 560 Ti boasts 384 CUDA cores, which is 15% more shader power than the GeForce GTX 460. There are also 64 TAU (Texture Addressing Units) units, the same number used by the GeForce GTX 580, while the ROP (Raster Operations) have been decreased from 48 to 32.
Breaking it down, we have 2 Graphics Processing Clusters, 8 Streaming Multiprocessors, 384 CUDA Cores, 64 Texture Units and 32 Raster Operations Units. The graphics clock speed for fixed function units is set at 822MHz, 6% higher than the GeForce GTX 580, while shader frequency was increased by the same measure to 1640MHz.
The GeForce GTX 560 Ti is paired with 1024MB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 1002MHz (4008MHz DDR). Combine that with a memory interface of 256-bit and you get a peak theoretical bandwidth of 128GB/s, or 16 per cent less bandwidth than the GTX 570 and 11 per cent more than the GTX 460 (1GB).
Nvidia has slightly reduced the Thermal Design Power (TDP) rating of the GeForce GTX 560 Ti to 170 watts, down from the GTX 570's 219 watts. This represents a modest 22 per cent drop and it will be interesting to see how well this new graphics card overclocks when prodded a little.
Other than the PCIe slot, much like other high performance cards, the GeForce GTX 560 Ti pulls power through a pair of external 6-pin PCIe power connectors. Nvidia recommends using at least a 550-watt power supply with this graphics card.
Nvidia's reference cooler has a small 70mm fan that blows air over a radial heatsink and forced out the rear of the card, exiting the case. The heatsink features four copper heatpipes which lead to another bank of fins that aid in the cooling process. This is the same design used by the GeForce GTX 460.
Nvidia's manufacturing partners such as Gainward, MSI, Palit and Gigabyte prefer to come up with their own designs. In the case of Gigabyte, we have a much larger heatsink that spans the entire length of the graphics card. Gigabyte has also employed a pair of 80mm fans instead of a single small fan.
The I/O plate of the GeForce GTX 560 Ti is identical to the GTX 570, featuring a vent across the top of the panel and a pair of DVI ports with a mini-HDMI port below.
Steven Walton is a writer at TechSpot. TechSpot is a computer technology publication serving PC enthusiasts, gamers and IT pros since 1998.
Republished with permission.