Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti Review: GF114 Rises, GF100 Rides Off

Postscript: AMD Crashes The Party With 20 Radeon HD 6950 1 GBs

For as much as we love good competition, bad marketing can be a real pain.

Last week, AMD reached out to us, letting us know that it'd be shipping a 1 GB version of its Radeon HD 6950 in mid-February between $269 and $279 dollars. "That's fine," I figured. "I'll worry about it when it ships...in three weeks. Until then, it's all meaningless paper-launched speculation."

Of course, mid-week, a 1 GB card showed up, so I ran it through our complete benchmark suite.

In just about every case, the smaller frame buffer (and tighter memory timings) yields one or two more frames per second than the 2 GB model. It's not worth rehashing in a page full of charts. Literally, expect one or two more frames per second across the board. In one situation, Metro 2033 with 4x MSAA and 16x AF turned on, the 1 GB card doesn't have a large enough frame buffer to maintain performance and it drops to 10 FPS versus the 2 GB card's 30 FPS.

Honestly, this is probably the Radeon HD 6950 AMD should have led off with, rather than a $300 2 GB model. It didn't, though, likely to avoid cannibalizing sales of the Radeon HD 6870 at $240-$260. It's pretty obvious that AMD threw this together ahead of Nvidia's launch, an option it likely held in reserve until it saw what the GTX 560 Ti could do. Losing sales of the 6870 to a cheaper 6950 must have sounded better than losing sales to Nvidia.

Now, in the face of GeForce GTX 560 Ti, AMD says the Radeon HD 6950 1 GB will be priced at $259 and the Radeon HD 6870s are down to $219 (without the need for rebates, which we confirmed before this story went live). Whether or not those prices remain remains to be seen. Either way, my conclusion on the GTX 560 Ti doesn't change. It still doesn't present me with the overwhelming urge to upgrade. AMD's cards simply look better in comparison, based on their performance.

The Sordid Tale Develops...

That was going to be the end of the story until Radeon HD 6950 1 GB started shipping. Then, the evening before Nvidia's launch, I get a note saying that AMD managed to get one board vendor's card in stock at Newegg for $259. Convenient, no? At the time of writing, there are 20 in inventory. I talked to Newegg; Newegg confirms it. By the time you read this, there probably won't be many available. 

Obviously, 20 people are going to be super happy to get a card that's faster than GeForce GTX 560 Ti at the exact same price today. For everyone else, you're going to have to wait. Either way, this is one of the weaker marketing tricks I've seen. AMD didn't need to rain on Nvidia's launch with poor availability. The card is strong enough to stand on its own, even at the originally-projected $269-$279.

The Radeon HD 6950 1 GB won't be the card to buy if you're gaming across a three-screen Eyefinity configuration in CrossFire. For that, you'll want the 2 GB frame buffer to maintain 5760x1080 with AA and AF enabled. It is a more attractive card than the Radeon HD 6950 2 GB, though, at 1920x1080 with details cranked up or 2560x1600 at less demanding settings.

In essence, so long as you aren't overwhelming this card's frame buffer, saving $30 or $40 bucks makes it worth looking at, and a solid competitive offering against Nvidia's GeForce GTX 560 Ti.

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112 comments
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  • reprotected
    Some areas could be improved, but this is still pretty decent. Just lower the price 50 dollars please Nvidia and I will buy 10 of them. :)
    0
  • Anonymous
    Wow, it's not as powerful as I expected with that kind of energy use.
    8
  • liemfukliang
    Please don't let me go away from Tomshardware because the disapearing of Print View Mode. If there is an official anounce about that please give me the link. In Indonesia internet is so slow and expensive. That way the print mode is so much help. I open an article, klik print view page. I go watching TV, eat, drink cofee, etc. About 10 - 20 minutes later the acticle is completed. I just save as mht for feature need (personal use). Lastly I read it.
    Btw TomGUIDE still have this print page view. Why only in Tomshardware the button is missing?
    Sorry for my OOT.
    2
  • geekapproved
    Quote:
    Either way, my conclusion on the GTX 560 Ti doesn't change. It still doesn't present me with the overwhelming urge to upgrade. AMD's cards simply look better in comparison, based on their performance.


    FAIL
    -9
  • hardcore_gamer
    6950 is really better than a GTX560Ti, and consumes less power.Gigabyte's 1Ghz card is interesting.If it has the performance of a 6950 at $269, AMD'll be forced to reduce the price (again)
    1
  • anacandor
    I'd love to see some more benchies on that Gigabyte card like noise and temps, for only $20 more it seems like a steal!
    -1
  • amazing2
    liemfukliangPlease don't let me go away from Tomshardware because the disapearing of Print View Mode. If there is an official anounce about that please give me the link. In Indonesia internet is so slow and expensive. That way the print mode is so much help. I open an article, klik print view page. I go watching TV, eat, drink cofee, etc. About 10 - 20 minutes later the acticle is completed. I just save as mht for feature need (personal use). Lastly I read it.Btw TomGUIDE still have this print page view. Why only in Tomshardware the button is missing?Sorry for my OOT.


    Here you go:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/review_print.php?p1=2845

    :)
    2
  • James296
    I waited to see what this card was going to be like but it feels more like a rebranded GTX 460/470 as far as performance so I'm just going to skip the GTX 560 "Ti" and go for the GTX 570
    1
  • cknobman
    GeekApprovedFAIL


    Bigger FAIL
    7
  • hixbot
    So can the 6950 1GB be unlocked to a 6970? If not, I'm not sure it has the value the author mentioned, not when compared to the 2GB 6950 which comes with the free upgrade.
    -1
  • cronik93
    I think it was a good choice for he AMD to make a 1GB version of the 6950 to compete with the 560.
    4
  • leiuno
    what is "unshorn" ?
    0
  • wolfram23
    Can't wait to see what the next gen can do when I may be upgrading... but still, the performance increases over last gen are pretty impressive, and the price/performance ratio is way better now too
    0
  • Onus
    I've been waiting for this. Bummer though, I was really hoping for a single PCIE power connection. Oh well. It looks like the most powerful card out there with only one is the HD6850.
    1
  • Onus
    leiunowhat is "unshorn" ?

    Unshorn = not sheared, e.g. used to describe sheep before their fleece is harvested. Or, in this case, a graphics card without some of its circuits cut out.
    1
  • scrumworks
    That 20 1GB Radeons is only for that single Sapphire model. XFX currently has two 1GB models 20pcs each and I'm sure others follow soon. And that's only at newegg.com.
    1
  • Anik8
    This is chickenshit with everybody blindly slamming the gtx 560.IMO it performed reasonably well and is at par with the 6950.
    Moreover the card has exceptional overclocking headroom and the OC charts are simply overwhelming.
    -1
  • Tamz_msc
    If this drops to 220$ or less in a couple of weeks, AMD will have no answer for it.
    0
  • jprahman
    Wow this kinda sucks, I built my LGA1156 i5-760, 2xGTX 460 rig three months ago. So now because of the Sandy Bridge launch and now this it's already obsolete.
    1
  • rohitbaran
    Well, it doesn't help bring the price of Radeon 6950 any lower. Once AMD launches the 1 GB version of Radeon 6950, this card will be in trouble.
    2