We recently updated our GPU Performance Hierarchy to include a few brand-new cards, which got us thinking: What’s our favorite graphics card of all time? Everyone has their own personal golden age of gaming. If you were born in the late 1970s, perhaps it was the DOS era of PC Gaming known for its innovative 2D RPGs, adventure Ggames and shooters. Or if you’re like me, gaming utopia began in 2011. Behind each of our gaming golden years lies a graphics card powering our screens and pushing out the pixels that make up some of our favorite games.
My golden age of gaming includes GTA IV and V, Starcraft 2, Diablo 3, Alan Wake, Fallout New Vegas, Civilization V, Portal 2, XCOM: Enemy Unknown and XCOM 2, Torchlight II, Valkyria Chronicles, Street Fighter IV and, well, you get the point. It’s an astonishingly long list of games that spans multiple generations. Incredibly, through it all I used one GPU over that seven-year span to play all those games. I owe many fun hours and good times with friends to the Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti. It was the little GPU that could and I fondly remember its purchase.
Despite being a mid-range card, the GTX 560 Ti was fairly powerful compared to its contemporaries. With 2GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 4Ghz and a core processing speed of 822 Mhz, the 560 Ti could play pretty much any game you could throw at it in full HD. It’s performance was even competitive with it’s older brother the GTX 570. The 560 Ti was built from the ground up for DirectX11 and featured powerful tessellation abilities, making games like Civilization V feel truly expansive. Tesselation allowed for graphics to be more detailed and contain smoother surfaces. Its $249 MSRP was a steal and a far cry from the exorbitant amounts we’ve come to expect for a new high-power GPU today.
It was an incredible value back then, and the GeForce GTX 560 Ti remains my favorite GPU of all time. Perhaps the mini GTX 1080 powering my current system will be my new favorite one day, but it has a lot of games to burn through to get there.
Do you have a favorite all time GPU? What piece of silicon do you owe most of your gaming to? Let us know in the Tom’s Hardware Forums.