Until AMD’s Antilles-based Radeon HD 6990 launches, I’m personally not excited about high-end graphics. Radeon HD 5970s are back up to $600 dollars and more. That's a card that launched more than a year ago. Skip. GeForce GTX 580s cost $500. Unless you're buying at the top to pair a couple of flagship cards in an exorbitant $1000+ SLI or CrossFire setup, there’s waymore value in the mid-range right now.
GeForce GTX 460, Radeon HD 6870, GeForce GTX 570, Radeon HD 6950—any of those cards in a dual-board config are going to blow you away.
And now we have the GeForce GTX 560 Ti sitting squarely in the middle of those four other cards. From a performance standpoint, it’s almost exactly a drop-in replacement for GeForce GTX 470. From a pricing standpoint, it offers a $10 savings. Considering noise, the GTX 560 Ti is a definite winner, although the GTX 470 was never the gross polluter that earned GTX 480 its disdain. Power consumption favors the GeForce GTX 560 Ti too, showing up roughly 25 W under the GTX 470, on average.
All of these things, taken individually, are incremental improvements that Nvidia really needed to introduce anyway. The GeForce GTX 470 stood out in the company’s portfolio amongst more elegant products, like the GTX 460 and GTX 570, as a result of its big, hot GF100 graphics processor. Thus, even with all of those little points considered together, it’s frankly difficult to get excited about GeForce GTX 560 Ti. There’s nothing wrong with the card per se; it’s just a better version of the GTX 470 it replaces in an already-competitive mid-range market for 10 bucks less.
I’m hesitantly more enthusiastic about some of the partner boards that center on GF114. Gigabyte’s GV-N560SO-1GI wasn’t able to beat the GeForce GTX 570 in any of our benchmarks, but it did get danged close. Gigabyte swears that card is going to sell for $269. That still seems mighty low to me for a 1 GHz board. Should it maintain that price, though, it’s a slam dunk, grand slam, hat-trick against the $349 GeForce GTX 570. Fortunately, I’m sending the board I tested here to Thomas Soderstrom for a GeForce GTX 560 roundup in progress, so we’ll have confirmation on pricing and a full performance breakdown very soon. Depending on the other cards, though, this could be an award winner.
How about the competition? Although the GeForce GTX 560 Ti is almost universally faster than Radeon HD 6870, and only about $20 pricier (now $40 pricier, in light of AMD's zero-hour pricing), I’d be remiss in not mentioning that several 6870s are selling for under $200 after a rebate (admittedly, I detest chasing after companies to send rebates). Even still, in a CrossFire configuration, that’s $100 total savings versus the GeForce GTX 560 Ti in SLI. The Radeon HD 5870 still looks compelling as well, but only if you can find it for less than Nvidia’s new GeForce card.
It’s a great time to upgrade from something two or more generations old, without a doubt. If you’re already sporting a decent card from the last year, though, GeForce GTX 560 Ti won’t really give you a reason to spend another $250. It’s a little faster, a little cooler, a little more efficient, and a little cheaper than the GeForce GTX 470 that waves farewell.