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Five Unique GeForce GTX 560s

Five Overclocked GeForce GTX 560 Cards, Rounded-Up
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Although the cooler comparison we had originally planned didn't quite work out, we were still able to use the submissions for a round-up of GeForce GTX 560 graphics cards.

With the ability to tweak core voltage on each of our five samples, we saw peak overclocks within 40 MHz of each other. The lowest overclock came from Zotac's AMP! card, which correspondingly had an unusually high temperature (by about 20 degrees under load). Even still, it scaled up to within 20 MHz of the other specimens. It seems reasonable, then, to expect Nvidia's GF114 GPU to land in the 1 GHz range if you're willing to put 1.15 V through it, no matter what cooler your vendor of choice uses.

Asus GTX 560 DirectCU II TOP

The Asus entry features solid construction, making it a great all-around offering. It boasts the second highest factory overclock amongst our contenders, the lowest idle noise, and moderate power draw in light of aggressive frequencies.

On the other hand, if you ask its fans to run at 100%, you're going to get unpleasant acoustics. Also, the company's price tag is on the high side given a lack of value-adds in the bundle. What you're paying for, then, is Asus' cooler, three-year warranty, and elevated clock rates.

At $220, this card doesn't represent the best value compared to other GeForce GTX 560 cards. However, the quality of its construction may warrant paying a little extra for folks satisfied with other Asus products.

ECSBlack Series NBGTX560-1GPI-F

This ECS card comes to the table with the lowest power draw, our second-lowest thermal reading, reasonably low acoustic output, and the highest attainable core overclock, though we suspect our sample was hand-picked. Nevertheless, ECS also gives us the lowest price tag. And, in a world where enthusiasts are happy handling their own tweaks, it's often worth paying as little as possible and extracting value the good-old-fashioned way.

Perhaps the worst thing we can say about ECS' submission is that its bundle is fairly bare. With that said, a lack of flashy extras is almost certainly responsible for enabling a sub-$200 price tag. And when every dollar counts, it's worth noting that game vouchers often go unused anyway.

Although there's a fair chance that your overclock won't be as fruitful as ours, ECS' effort here is sound. If you're looking for a low-cost GeForce GTX 560 to tinker around with, the NBGTX560-1GPI-F becomes an easy recommendation.

Galaxy 56NGH6DH4TTX GeForce GTX 560 MDT x4

The Galaxy MDT x4 card distinguishes itself from the rest of the field by enabling quad-display support using Nvidia's two independent display pipelines. One of the outputs operates on its own, while the others are ganged together using IDT's ViewXpand technology.

The good news is that you don't need special DisplayPort adapters like the ones required on most Radeon cards with Eyefinity support. The bad news is that because ViewXpand is driven by a single dual-link output, link rate limitations impose certain restrictions, like a 50 Hz refresh when you run three screens at 1920x1080.

Even still, the card performs well when it comes to power, thermal, and acoustic measurements. Moreover, despite its special functionality, it's also the smallest card, physically. As one of three cards able to reach or exceed 1 GHz with additional voltage applied, it's a capable overclocker too. Perhaps best of all, you pay a mere $10 premium over other overclocked cards like the Asus and Zotac models that lack the three- and four-screen support.

The principal reason you wouldn't want to spend that extra $10 is that a GeForce GTX 560 isn't beefy enough to play most demanding titles across three screens at 5760x1080. Although more mainstream or older games stand a better chance of running at playable frame rates, you'd get a better experience from two more powerful cards in SLI or CrossFire. 

With that said, Galaxy's board is plenty capable gaming on one screen as you use three or four for productivity-oriented tasks.

MSI N560GTX Twin Frozr II/OC

MSI's Twin Frozr II/OC is another well-rounded card, offering the second-lowest power numbers, the lowest GPU temperature, minimal acoustic output, and the second-lowest price tag. At $199.99 it is again difficult to find fault with this model, especially considering that the company includes Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light in its bundle.

There's really not much else to add; we can't come up with anything to dissuade the value-conscious gamer from picking MSI's N560GTX Twin Frozr II/OC. It is, overall, a solid contender in a very competitive field of mid-range cards.

Zotac AMP! ZT-50702-10M GeForce GTX 560

Zotac's GeForce GTX 560 AMP! edition boasts the highest stock voltage setting and factory overclock in our test group. In fact, we can't find a GeForce GTX 560 running at higher frequencies. That alone might be sufficient reason for some enthusiasts to shell out the $220 bucks this board commands (particularly if you can't be bothered to overclock manually). Additionally, the board includes a good game choice: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.

Unfortunately, the cooler on our test sample didn't perform as well as we would have hoped, and was louder than competing cards under load. Along with this, we saw higher temperatures and power usage. In fact, the results were "off" enough to make us wonder if the GPU cooler was properly seated. We disassembled the card and found everything installed properly from the factory. This was backed up by consistent numbers that didn't change after putting the card back together. We checked with Zotac before publishing our findings and were told that the issue is likely related to the firmware that shipped with a number of early samples.
Update: We just received an updated firmware and will add our results with it as soon as possible.

Slightly higher power consumption and elevated temps might not be show-stoppers for enthusiasts gunning for the highest possible overclock. However, the acoustics are more problematic. It is also worth noting that Zotac is the only manufacturer in this round-up that offers a limited lifetime replacement warranty if the product is registered within 30 days of purchase. This extra warranty is only offered in the US.

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  • 5 Hide
    pensivevulcan , January 19, 2012 3:47 AM
    Kepler is around the corner, so are lower end AMD 7000 series parts, this was interesting but wouldn't one want to wait for a plethora of reasons.
  • 4 Hide
    payneg1 , January 19, 2012 4:19 AM
    The Galaxy model comes closest with its 830/1002 MHz clocks, but Zotac's AMP! edition goes all the way to 950/1100 MHz.

    This dosent match with the above chart
  • 0 Hide
    salad10203 , January 19, 2012 4:43 AM
    Are those temps for real? My 280 gtx has never idled under 40C.
  • -2 Hide
    crisan_tiberiu , January 19, 2012 4:51 AM
    so, basicaly if someone plays on a single monitor, there is no point going beyond a gtx 560 or a 6950 in today's games. (it slike in the "best gaming CPU chart", no point going beyond i5 2500k for gaming.
  • 0 Hide
    giovanni86 , January 19, 2012 4:52 AM
    salad10203Are those temps for real? My 280 gtx has never idled under 40C.

    Your kidding right, my overclocked 580GTX at 60% fan speed idles at 32c. Cards down clock themselves which allows them to run cooler at idle temps even if it were clocked at upwards i don't think a card would get hot unless it was being used.
  • -2 Hide
    crisan_tiberiu , January 19, 2012 4:52 AM
    sorry, i ment single monitor @ 1080p :p .
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , January 19, 2012 6:37 AM
    Im surprised they got 5 OCed GPUs to run BF3 without crashing
  • -1 Hide
    justme1977 , January 19, 2012 6:53 AM
    crisan_tiberiu[/nom..... (it slike in the "best gaming CPU chart", no point going beyond i5 2500k for gaming.


    I have the feeling that even a i5 2500k@4ghz bottlenecks a 7970 @1080p in most newer games.
    If the GPU market goes the way it does, it won't take long that even midrange cards will be bottlenecked @1080p by the cpu.


  • 1 Hide
    wizloa , January 19, 2012 7:04 AM
    heh, my 4870 runs at 80c regardless of idle or load
  • 3 Hide
    FunSurfer , January 19, 2012 8:22 AM
    I think there is an error on the Asus idle voltage: instead "0.192 V Idle" it should be 0.912
  • 0 Hide
    Memnarchon , January 19, 2012 8:49 AM
    justme1977
    crisan_tiberiu[/nom..... (it slike in the "best gaming CPU chart", no point going beyond i5 2500k for gaming.
    I have the feeling that even a i5 2500k@4ghz bottlenecks a 7970 @1080p in most newer games. If the GPU market goes the way it does, it won't take long that even midrange cards will be bottlenecked @1080p by the cpu.


    Not really. This is mostly game depended. Depends on how much stress each graphics engine push at cpu and gpu.
    Games like Dragon Age 2 and SWTOR are gpu intensive. So a GTX570 (that I have) is being used at 1080p at 99% of its usage with a low performance nowadays Q6600 in SWTOR (used MSI after burner to monitor it).
    But with games such Skyrim which cpu is more important than other games, a highly clocked sandybridge is required in order to play smoothly at 1080p.
    One thing is certain for sure. The higher the resolution the more gpu power and less cpu power requires a game.
  • -3 Hide
    nevertell , January 19, 2012 11:00 AM
    Hey, I have a gtx 460 and I play with tesselation and DX11 enabled in metro 2033 @1080p. It has some drops to 25 and lower, but that's never in the middle of a firefight.
  • 0 Hide
    silverblue , January 19, 2012 11:14 AM
    giovanni86Your kidding right, my overclocked 580GTX at 60% fan speed idles at 32c. Cards down clock themselves which allows them to run cooler at idle temps even if it were clocked at upwards i don't think a card would get hot unless it was being used.

    The 280 idles higher than the 580 to the best of my knowledge, plus it's a 65nm part and the largest gaming GPU ever created.
  • -4 Hide
    GhosT94 , January 19, 2012 11:44 AM
    would you please add Crysis 2 to all GPU benchmarks
  • 0 Hide
    stingstang , January 19, 2012 12:41 PM
    silverblueThe 280 idles higher than the 580 to the best of my knowledge, plus it's a 65nm part and the largest gaming GPU ever created.

    That's an enormous amount of fan speed for an Idle GPU. Hope you're happy having a nice loud fan at idle. I can't imagine how loud it gets under a light load.

    To the article, I don't think these comparisons are really necessary. All the cards are going to have different overclocking capabilities, which is what anyone from tom's is going to check. Hell, the worst card you guys test according to this comparison might overclock the most, and be the best card for the money on someone else's comparison.
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , January 19, 2012 12:46 PM
    Any subjective comments about the Asus cooler's noise? I'm wondering if the different fans reduce harmonic whine, or some similar effect of having two identical fans in close proximity. I have this cooler on my GTX560Ti, and I never hear it.
  • 0 Hide
    jaquith , January 19, 2012 12:55 PM
    Hmm...Missing something here...Where's any EVGA??? See -> http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=50001402%2040000048%20600094002%20600158457&IsNodeId=1&bop=And&Order=REVIEWS&PageSize=20 EVGA on GTX 570/580 (-AR lines) also includes Lifetime Warranties. IMO EVGA and ASUS are the best choices for nVidia GPUs.

    For a $30 savings the ASUS ENGTX560 DCII OC/2DI is worth a look. Sure if you run the fans at 100% a higher CFM fan is going to be very loud, but no one runs their fans @ 100% either.

    With Apps like MSI Afterburner and others it's incredibly easy to OC any GPU. It's a balancing act between performance, temperatures, and dDA (noise). One of the big reasons for water blocks on higher end cards, etc.
  • 0 Hide
    jaquith , January 19, 2012 1:12 PM
    Duh me, typo dBA...coffee hasn't kicked in yet.

    BTW - I appreciate the Article, it's enlightening and offers good info. Thanks! :) 
  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , January 19, 2012 1:42 PM
    payneg1The Galaxy model comes closest with its 830/1002 MHz clocks, but Zotac's AMP! edition goes all the way to 950/1100 MHz.This dosent match with the above chart


    Quite right! Fixed.
  • 2 Hide
    wolfram23 , January 19, 2012 1:42 PM
    Quote:
    so, basicaly if someone plays on a single monitor, there is no point going beyond a gtx 560 or a 6950 in today's games. (it slike in the "best gaming CPU chart", no point going beyond i5 2500k for gaming.


    The GTX 560 is comparable to the 6870, though generally thought to be a little slower but with better OC headroom. The 6950 is much faster, and is comparable to the GTX 560 Ti.
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