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A quick average of frame rates at 1080p sheds a little more light on how these cards match up in our benchmark suite. Bear in mind that we're excluding the new Batman game due to its show-stopping DirectX 11 bug.
Despite significantly different frame rates observable on a game by game basis, the field averages out in a way that puts each card pretty close to the others. Let's focus on Nvidia's GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 Core, though.
The new card’s performance is about 12% higher than the standard GeForce GTX 560 Ti in our tests. Again, that figure will rise and fall depending on the game you're playing, the resolution you use, and the settings you choose. The point is that there's a quantifiable difference, and the case can be made for spending an extra $55 over the vanilla GTX 560 Ti for this 448-core version.
The problem is that AMD's Radeon HD 6950 1 GB is almost as fast, but it costs $45 less. If you're satisfied with its stock performance and planning to play at 1920x1080, there’s little reason to opt for more than a Radeon HD 6950 1 GB. It has the best price/performance ratio, matching the 2 GB version's performance and nipping at Nvidia's new GTX 560 Ti 448 Core.
But overclocking enthusiasts may see the competitive landscape a little differently. The $265 Radeon HD 6950 2 GB doesn't look like much of a contender compared to the cheaper 1 GB card. However, it gives you the chance to match the $350 Radeon HD 6970, if you're able to unlock its disabled GPU resources through a BIOS modification. Until now, there wasn’t a sub-$300 GeForce in Nvidia's line-up able to facilitate that same level of performance.
Our tests indicate that Nvidia's GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 Core introduces the potential for big gains via tweaking. As we saw from our overclocking tests, this board can sail past a pricier GeForce GTX 570 at its stock settings. The idea that AMD's Radeon HD 6950 might be unlocked is great, but it doesn't have as much overclocking headroom.
We're happy to see a sub-$300 option catering to enthusiasts with a penchant for Nvidia's product line. The GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 Core doesn't detract from the allure of AMD's Radeon HD 6950 2 GB, if you're willing to chance a firmware flash. But with that said, competition is a good thing in this space. More than anything, it's too bad that the GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 Core is being introduced with the expectation that it'll disappear soon. After all, it shows promise at its stock settings, while serving up value in its overclocking headroom. We're sure there will be power users happy to snatch up these GF110-based boards while they last.