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Five Overclocked GeForce GTX 560 Cards, Rounded-Up

Five Overclocked GeForce GTX 560 Cards, Rounded-Up
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We were foiled in our quest to find the best vendor-provided GPU cooler for Nvidia's GeForce GTX 560. But out of the ashes sprung a round-up of cards armed with those very same solutions. Which of these five GF114-based boards is right for you?

This story was conceptualized as a means to compare graphics card coolers from different vendors. Because no two GPUs have the exact same overclocking headroom, we wanted to take one GeForce GTX 560 and drop solutions from Asus, ECS, Galaxy, MSI, and Zotac onto that bare board. With thermal, acoustic, and performance data, we would have been able to give you a definitive answer as to whose heat sink and fan combination does the best job of pulling heat away from Nvidia's GPU. Surely, this would have been great information to have when overclocking. 

Unfortunately, that plan was foiled by a number of variables that we simply couldn’t overcome to our satisfaction. For example, the cooler designers employ a surprisingly diverse range of fan power cable plugs, which aren't interoperable with any one card's connector. Moreover, fan temperature profiles vary from one card's firmware to another's, affecting our thermal and acoustic results.

With five GeForce GTX 560 cards in-hand, though, we still had the makings of a respectable round-up. So, we abandoned the idea of isolating cooler/fan effectiveness and forged ahead to bring you a comprehensive look at five examples of Nvidia's roughly-$200 contender.


Asus GTX 560
DirectCU II TOP
ECS Black
GTX 560
Galaxy MDT4
GeForce GTX 560
MSI N560GTX
Twin Frozr II OC
Zotac GeForce
GTX 560 AMP!
Graphics
Clock
925 MHz870 MHz
830 MHz
870 MHz
950 MHz
Shader
Clock
1850 MHz1740 MHz1660 MHz
1640 MHz
1900 MHz
Memory
Clock
1050 MHz1000 MHz1002 MHz
1020 MHz
1100 MHz
GDDR5
Memory
1 GB
1 GB1 GB1 GB1 GB
Cooler
DirectCU II
Reference
Custom
Twin Frozr II
Custom
Size
10.25" x 5"9.5" x 5"8.75" x 5"
10" x 5"9.5" x 5"
Connectors
2 x DL-DVI,
1 x mini-HDMI
2 x DL-DVI,
1 x mini-HDMI
4 x DVI,
1 x mini-HDMI
2 x DL-DVI,
1 x mini-HDMI
2 x DL-DVI,
1 x mini-HDMI
Form Factor
Dual-slotDual-slotDual-slotDual-slot
Dual-slot
GPU
Voltage
0.912 V Idle
1.012 V Load
0.950 V Idle
0.987 V Load
0.912 V Idle
0.987 V Load
0.912 V Idle
0.987 V Load
0.912 V Idle
1.15 V Load
GPU Voltage
Adjustment
Asus
Smartdoctor
Not supported
(MSI Afterburner)
Galaxy Xtreme
Tuner HD
MSI
Afterburner
Not supported
(Stock 1.15 V)
Special
Features
And Software
N/A
N/AQuad-Display
Support
Includes game:
Lara Croft and
the Guardian of Light
Includes game:
Assassin's Creed:
Brotherhood
Warranty
3-Year
parts & labor
2-Year labor
3-Year parts
2-Year labor
3-Year parts
(if registered in 30 days)
3-Year
parts & labor
2-Year Standard,
Limited Lifetime Extended
(if registered in 30 days)
Newegg
Price
$219.99
$192.99
$229.99
$199.99
$219.99


As you can see, there’s a wide range of specifications applied to these cards, none of which match Nvidia’s reference 810 MHz core and 1002 MHz frequencies. The Galaxy model comes closest with its 830/1002 MHz clocks, but Zotac's AMP! edition goes all the way to 950/1100 MHz.

There’s a lot more distinguishing one board from the others than operating clock rates, though, as all of the coolers are unique as well. There's only one that matches the reference design. Some cards also include value-adds like games, and the Galaxy MDT supports as many as four display outputs and triple-monitor surround gaming. Of course, we also have to gauge how far our samples can be overclocked.

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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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