Conclusion: Sans-Ti Fighter
Something surprising happened back in April of 2011: Valve’s Steam Hardware & Software Survey recorded that the most commonly used desktop resolution shifted up to 1920x1080, rather than 1680x1050. This means the majority of gamers are probably rocking 1080p panels.
With this in mind, let’s look at the average results from our game benchmarks, using the scores at 1920x1080.
As we suspected at the start of this piece, Nvidia's GeForce GTX 560 performs very closely to AMD's Radeon HD 6870 on average, although the minimum frame rates are a bit lower. Nevertheless, if we see these cards at the suggested $199 retail price, AMD will face some stiff competition.
When it comes to factory-overclocked models, making recommendations (not surprisingly) gets more difficult. After all, now we're talking about derivatives in between aggressively-priced reference models. There’s not a lot of breathing room between a $200 GeForce GTX 560 and a $240 GeForce GTX 560 Ti or Radeon HD 6950.
If you aren’t into overclocking your own graphics cards, the Zotac and Asus factory-tweaked models deliver good value at about $220. But with only $20 between them and higher-end products, making the right choice is hard. Enthusiasts should spend a little extra cash on something with more overclocking headroom. However, gamers without the desire to dig around under the hood will find more value in a product that is already overclocked and (perhaps more important) protected by a warranty.
It’s true that these GeForce cards use more power than their Radeon competition. And while some folks find that compelling, most won't notice or care. If a single-card, triple-display setup is in the cards, AMD is your only option. If 3D Vision and CUDA support for apps like Premiere Pro CS5 matter to you, Nvidia has the upper hand.
Bottom line, a $200 GeForce GTX 560 is a solid buy and a compelling alternative to the Radeon HD 6870. The worst thing you can say about either card is that they’re almost uncomfortably close to the superior Radeon HD 6950 and GeForce GTX 560 Ti. Then again, if you don't have the extra cash for those higher-end boards, that fact matters little. The $200 price point still offers more today than it ever has before.