Gigabyte GTX 560 OC ReviewRHKCommander959 - May 17, 2011
Category: Video Cards
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NVIDIA is back at the naming scheme game again with the new GTX 560. This card is at the very center of the new NVIDIA generation for performance. Also to note, the Ti moniker added onto the prior GTX 560 makes a big difference now. It is unclear yet if NVIDIA will do the same for the GTX 550 Ti although there is the possibility. For the sake of suppressing some confusion, the GTX 560 is superior in CUDA core count and thus performance over the GTX 550 Ti. The design is very similar to the GF 104 based GTX 460 so it should be quite interesting to see how they compare against each other as the GTX 560 is based on GF 114 silicon. NVIDIA has stated that this card is not the replacement for the GTX 460. The designs are very similar with the GTX 560 being clocked faster on both core and memory. NVIDIA is marketing this card as the perfect upgrade for users with older graphics cards. According to a Steam survey most gamers are still using older 9800 GTs.
The GTX 560 under review today (product launch) is from Gigabyte. This GTX 560 is factory overclocked 20 MHz on the core equating to 830 MHz while the memory is stock at 4008 MHz on a 256-bit memory bus just like on the GTX 560 Ti. The heat sink cooling this new card is called the WindForce 2x Anti-turbulence cooling solution. This design has two 100mm fans and four 6mm heat pipes. The fans are inclined slightly to help push air out toward the exhaust grill and out of the case. Recycling exhaust air is a common problem with impeller based fan designs similar to this. Each 100mm fan can push up to 30.5 CFM of air while still operating quietly with PWM fan control technology. Gigabyte has chosen to not solder the heat pipes, claiming that solder actually hurts thermal conduction compared to just clamping the fins to the heat pipes. Air is a worse thermal conductor than metal and in general, cheaper heat sinks aren’t soldered (to save on money). The possibility exists that the disabled CUDA cores could be re-enabled. This would depend on whether or not they were physically disabled or if the BIOS was used to disable them. If it were possible to unlock the core, then the card would become a GTX 560 Ti!
The front of the box has a robotic eyeball looking outwardly. Everything is bluish or golden in color generally with some small exceptions. The top has two stickers for NVIDIA, one saying that this is an authorized board partner and the other saying the card is 3D Vision ready. The Gigabyte logo found on all sides of the box is reflective and changes color depending on the angle of light coming in. The lower portion has three stickers showcasing features of the card. The first feature is a 3-year warranty extending from Canada to the USA, and Latin America. Gigabyte's Ultra Durable technology is extended to this video card. This includes a thicker copper PCB of 2oz, Japanese solid capacitors, ferrite core chokes, and MOSFETs. The chokes should not buzz like the cheap ones do and efficiency is increased across the board (no pun intended) with all of these components. Life span is also increased by using these higher-end components. The card is cooled by a system dubbed WindForce 2x anti-turbulence cooling. This system uses two low-RPM (<2000) 100mm fans at a very slight angle to help guide air out of the exhaust grill. Four heat pipes directly touching the GPU IHS carry heat from the core to the fins. Air still escapes and re-circulates around the case but at least the flow is directed outward more than on most heat sink assemblies. The back of the box goes into further detail on the WindForce, showing that the goal was quiet operation with great cooling. The Ultra Durable VGA components are explained in much greater detail as well. The components claim an increase of 10-30% overclocking capability and 10-30% lower Power Switching loss. GPU temperatures are also supposed to be 5-10% lower. The main features are repeated at the bottom in nine languages.
The top flap of the box is similar to the front and back, with the same details being recycled. The look is nice and clean while describing the card adequately from every side. The other flap has some barcodes on it along with the same stuff from the first flap. Both sides are again similar except with one showing some features in grey boxes. The box looks good overall, the back had some minor grammar issues but overall, showed quality.
Opening it up we find a nice glossy smooth cardboard box. Opening it up shows the driver CD tucked inside the manual at the top. Underneath this is foam protecting the card. To the right is a space holding the hardware accessories: two double-Molex to 6-pin PCIe connectors; one Mini HDMI to HDMI adapter; and one DVI to D-Sub VGA adapter. As always, the card is protected by an anti static bag! Inside the bag, the card is also protected by caps on the outputs and SLI connection. The PCI Express slot and power connections are left unguarded.
Time to get a look at the card itself!