MSI N560GTX-448 Twin Frozr III Power Edition Review

RHKCommander959 - 2011-11-23 11:03:31 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: RHKCommander959   
Reviewed on: November 29, 2011
Price: $299.99-309.99

Introduction:

NVIDIA is releasing a new GTX 560 Ti variant much like they did last generation with the GTX 260s. The new GTX 560 Ti has a GF110 core rather than the GF114 used before. Two stream multiprocessor clusters have been disabled out of 16 available meaning the card has 448 CUDA cores (14 clusters with 32 processors in each). This core is also used on the GTX 570 which has one cluster disabled and the GTX 580 with all 16 enabled. Consumers may find it frustrating figuring out which card is which since NVIDIA seems to enjoy mixing things up but this lineup is supposedly a limited run for enthusiasts. Some will appreciate that this card supports 3-way SLI versus the original GTX 560 Ti which could only do 2-way. This GTX 560 Ti 448 should be better than the GTX 560 Ti 384 and both are better than the GTX 560 performance-wise. Since the core is now a GF110 performance should be very close to the level of a GTX 570. Memory and memory bus size has been increased to 1280MB and 320bit just like the GTX 570 while the prior GTX 560 Ti had 1024MB memory and a 256bit memory bus.

MSI has taken this new revision and overclocked it on a custom PCB with 2 extra PWM phases for the core. As well as a total of 6+1 phase PWM and military grade components. Reference clocks are 732 MHz core and 950 MHz memory while the MSI is at 750 MHz core and 975 MHz memory clock speeds. This design is named the Power Edition for the upgraded power delivery methods. The Military Class II components include Super Ferrite Chokes, Solid Capacitors, and High-Conductivity Capacitors. The card is cooled by the MSI Twin Frozr III high density heat sink which has five heat pipes and two 80mm fans equipped. The copper base of the heat sink is nickel coated to improve conductivity and prevent corrosion. With all of these features I can't wait to start overclocking it!

 

Closer Look:

The box is black, blue, and gray primarily. The MSI logo is at the top left and a profile view of the card with frost on it are on every side of the box except the back. The front of the box highlights many of the primary features — 3-year warranty in USA, Canada, and Mexico, triple overvoltage design for use with MSI Afterburner, 6+1 phase PWM design, OC Power Edition, 448 CUDA cores, 1280MB of GDDR5, Military Class II components, and 3D Vision ready. Flipping over to the back side shows the features, product specifications, and minimum system requirements. There are four primary specifications translated into 29 languages on the right half of the box. The features include DirectX 11 support, NVIDIA CUDA technology with CUDA C/C++, DirectCompute 5.0 and OpenCL support, NVIDIA Tri-SLI and 3D Vision ready, and NVIDIA PureVideo HD technology. The card has two dual-link DVI-I connectors and one mini-HDMI with an adapter to full-sized HDMI. The minimum requirements are an open x16 PCI Express slot, two 6-pin PCI Express power connectors, minimum 550W or greater power supply with a minimum 12V current rating of 38A, an Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon XP processor or higher, 200MB of free drive space, 2GB system memory (4GB recommended), Windows XP/Vista/7, and a CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The front of the box is a flap, opening this up gives a glimpse of the card and gives more in-depth information on some of its features. The top flap talks about performance and cooling features while the bottom focuses on the heat sink itself. The card should be capable of strong overclocking due to the triple overvoltage capabilities — the GPU core, memory, and PLL voltage can all be increased for higher overclock speeds using MSI Afterburner. The 6+1 Phase PWM design can provide up to 40% more power over the reference GTX 560 Ti phase design. The Military Class II components provide increased efficiency and stability, lifespan, and lower temperatures. Located on the PCB is a switch that users can toggle to change fan operation from cooling performance- or quietness-focused. The bottom area under the flap shows that the custom propeller blade fans move up to 22.55 CFM and generate up to 20% more airflow in comparison to the traditional fan impeller design. At full load the fans generate only 30 dB and idle around 18.68 dB which is pretty quiet. The heat sink uses five heat pipes connected to a nickel-plated copper base for optimal thermal transfer. In the center of this area is a window showing a glimpse of the fans and heat sink.

 

 

The side flap continues the same decorations as the rest of the box. This side is where most manufacturers put a barcode label that identifies the card by serial, UPC, and EAN codes. Opening the flap up shows the card protected by form-fitted foam, blue plastic caps over the connections, and a standard antistatic bag. A compartment nearby holds a DVI to VGA adapter, one mini HDMI to regular HDMI adapter, and the two 6-pin PCI Express to double male Molex power adapters for those whose power supply doesn't have enough 6-pin connectors stock. Underneath the foam is a quick start guide, user guide, and driver disk. The blue plastic caps help keep the contacts from being accidentally marred and to help against corrosion — certain metals will tarnish even from grease on a finger so these help keep dust and dirt from disturbing their conductivity!

 

 

 

 

With the card out of the box it is time to move on and get a better look at it.

Closer Look:

The MSI GTX 560 TI 448 is nearly identical to GTX 570s — both have a 320bit memory bus and 1280MB of GDDR5, and are based around the GF110 core except the GTX 570 only has one streaming multiprocessor cluster disabled whereas the GTX 560 has two disabled. The die is fabricated on TSMCs 40nm node and is 520 mm ² in size and packing in roughly 3 billion transistors. Reference GTX 560 Ti 448s are clocked at 732 MHz core and 950 MHz memory and have 4+1 Phase PWM for power delivery. The MSI Power Edition comes with 6+1 for increased load stability and overclocking headroom and is clocked at 750 MHz core and 975 MHz memory right off the bat. The MSI also has high quality Military Class II capacitors and chokes for a higher lifespan and reliability, and improved efficiency both thermally and electrically.

The card is cooled by the Twin Frozr III heat sink design. Five large heat pipes draw heat away from a nickel-plated copper base and dissipate it across the length of the whole card through high density aluminum fins. Air is forced through two 80mm 'propeller' style fans which claim to move up to 20% more air over conventional impeller designs. Heat is pushed out mainly through the back and sides of the card so decent case airflow will help the heat sink prove itself. Some heat does exit through the I/O panel when the fan speeds are cranked up but most of the heat is dumped into the case. All of the major components are sandwiched between the PCB and heat sink. The new GTX 560 Ti can do 3-way SLI now whereas the prior versions were limited to 2-way. Two bar-code stickers are placed on the card to help identify it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The video outputs are two dual-link DVI-I ports and a mini HDMI. Two adapters are included — one to convert from DVI to VGA D-Sub and the other to go from mini HDMI to regular HDMI. The second expansion slot is used to mount the stiffening bar that runs along the side of the card and for ventilation. MSI even had their logo put near-centered in the exhaust vents. The back of the card is where the two PWM fans share a header, and opposite of them are the two 90° mounted 6-pin PCI Express power connections.

 

 

The side view from the x16 slot gives the best glimpse of the heat pipe layout. They are spaced out fairly well with each of the fans sharing 2½ heat pipes between each other. You can also see some of the high grade solid capacitors and ferrite chokes if you stare hard enough. The other side has the SLI and power connections, and fan profile switch. The switch is above and slightly to the right of the Twin Frozr III logo and can be toggled between cool temperatures or quiet operation as the goal. You can also see the card stiffening bracket that runs from the I/O expansion slots to nearly the 6-pin power connections.

 

 

The new GTX 560 Ti can support 3-way SLI where the past cards could only handle 2-way SLI. This card definitely needs both 6-pin power connections considering how big the core is! Having the power connectors exit out of the side is a wonderful convenience as it makes it so much easier to attach and remove the power cables, the only other problem is pulling off stealthy wire management.

 

 

MSI has opted for a two-piece heat sink this time, the main piece cools the core directly. The base is flat but still shows machining lines. The nickel-plating helps fill the grooves. Underneath the main heat sink is the combination stiffening plate and memory cooler. This design will adequately cool the memory and MOSFETs while also keeping the PCB from flexing. Overall a good improvement.

 

 

The core is surrounded by ten 128MB density Samsung ICs. The power circuitry is easily identifiable and begins with the red column of capacitors and goes all the way to the back of the PCB. The core is protected by an integrated heat shield with information engraved on the lid. The core is a GF110-270-A1 to be precise, and the core is fabricated at TMSC on their 40nm node. The Samsung K4G10325FG-HC04 memory is supposed to be rated for less than 1000 MHz up to 1250 MHz operation. The fan speed switch can best be seen when the heat sinks are removed, it sits right above the column of pink capacitors.

 

 

 

Next up is the specifications and features page.

Specifications:

Marketing Name
N560GTX-448 Twin Frozr III Power Edition/OC
Model Name
V257
GPU
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 cores
Codename
GF110
CUDA Cores
448 Units
Core Clock
750 MHz
Processor Clock
1500 MHz
Memory Clock
3900 MHz
Memory Size
1280MB GDDR5
Memory Bus
320 bits
Output
Dual DVI-I + mini HDMI
TDP
230W
Card Dimension
243*115*42mm
Form Factor
ATX
DirectX
11
OpenGL
4.1
CUDA
Y
SLI
Y 3-way
PhysX
Y
PureVideo HD
Y
HDCP
Y

 

Features:

 

 

 

All Information courtesy of MSI

Testing:

Testing of the MSI GTX 560 Ti 448 Power Edition will consist of running it and comparison cards through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors. Comparisons will be made to cards of equal and greater capabilities to show where they fall on the performance ladder. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles to give you an idea of how the cards perform relative to each other.

The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustment will be made to the respective control panels during the testing, with the exception of the 3DMark 11 testing, where PhysX will be disabled in the NVIDIA control panel where applicable. I will test the cards at stock speeds, then overclocked in order to see the effects of any increases in clock speed. The cards are placed in order from highest to lowest performing in the graphs to show where the cards fall by comparison. The drivers used are the 11.7 Catalyst drivers for AMD-based cards and the 275.27 for NVIDIA-based cards.

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

 

Overclocking:

I had great expectations of this card when it came time to overclock. The last card from MSI that I reviewed was similar and did extremely well. Since the core is a GF110 we know roughly what to expect from it and since it was already slightly overclocked I started at 875 MHz core speed. MSI Afterburner v2.2.9 Beta can adjust the core, memory, and auxiliary (PLL) voltages so I cranked the core up to 1.15V from 1.0V, and gave the memory +35mV roughly. For the PLL I didn't give it much since the clock speeds weren't getting too extreme. With 1.15V at the core it would game reliably at 950 MHz core and 1138 memory but would freeze occasionally so I backed both down to 945 MHz core and 1130 memory and achieved stability. It may be possible to unlock the core to a GTX 570 since both cards have the same memory capacity and bus — I was unable to find out if the streaming multiprocessors have been laser cut in time for this review but if they haven't been there is a decent chance for unlocking more power. The card still had more thermal headroom left but the voltage limits in Afterburner wouldn't allow it to go any higher. Reference GTX 560 Ti 448s have a stock core clock of 732 MHz and a memory clock of 950 MHz, the MSI came overclocked to 750 MHz core and 975 MHz memory. In the end we have the core at 945 MHz and the memory at 1130 MHz, both are remarkable gains of ~29% and ~19% over reference speeds!

 

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

Testing for the maximum clock speed consists of looping Crysis Warhead and Unigine 2.5 for 30 minutes each to see where the clock speeds will fail when pushed. If the clock speed adjustment fails, then the clock speeds and tests are re-run until they pass the full one hour of testing.

   

 

Gaming Tests:

Usage:

Aliens vs. Predator, developed by Rebellion Developments, is a science fiction first-person shooter and is a remake of its 1999 game. The game is based off the two popular sci fi franchises. In this game, you have the option of playing through the single player campaigns as one of three species, the Alien, the Predator, and the Human Colonial Marine. The Game uses Rebellion's Asura game engine that supports Dynamic Lighting, Shader Model 3.0, Soft Particle systems, and Physics. To test this game I will be using the Aliens vs. Predator benchmark tool with the settings listed below. All DirectX 11 features are enabled.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The GTX 560 Ti 448 managed to tie with the GTX 570 at stock and even beat it out slightly when overclocked in Aliens vs. Predator.

Testing:

Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro 2033 is based on the novel of the same name, written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, where you'll spend most of your time traversing the metro system, with occasional trips to the surface. Despite the dark atmosphere and bleak future for mankind, the visuals are anything but bleak. Powered by the 4A Engine, with support for DirectX 11, NVIDIA PhysX and NVIDIA 3D Vision, the tunnels are extremely varied — in your travels, you'll come across human outposts, bandit settlements, and even half-eaten corpses. Ensuring you feel all the tension, there is no map and no health meter. Get lost without enough gas mask filters and adrenaline shots and you may soon wind up as one of those half-eaten corpses — chewed up by some horrifying manner of irradiated beast that hides in the shadows just waiting for some hapless soul to wander by.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The GTX 560 Ti did well again, the high overclocking gave it a big advantage.

Testing:

H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight game and is the sequel to H.A.W.X.. The game is published by Ubisoft and was released in late 2010.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

At stock the GTX 570 and GTX 560 Ti are about on par but they duke it out in the overclocked section. The GTX 580 has left them both in the dust in every test.

Testing:

Published by Capcom, Lost Planet 2 is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition and uses the MT Framework 2.0 engine. The storyline takes place on the fictional planet E.D.N. III some 10 years after the events of the first game. This time, the snow cover is gone and has been replaced by a tropical landscape. With this new rendition of the game comes the ability to run it using either DirectX 9 or 11. Along with this ability comes the chance to use that new DX 11 hardware to effect. DX11 features in this game include tessellation, displacement mapping on water, bosses and player characters, soft body compute shaders on “Boss” characters, and wave simulation by way of DirectCompute. This gives you smoke that is lifelike and reacts to inputs, water that looks and reacts how you would expect it to in a "real life" situation, and "Boss" characters rendered with more depth and detail. If the latest graphics quality settings are not enough, NVIDIA has included support behind this game for both 3D Vision and 3D Vision Surround, which gives you 3D effects over multiple screens. There is no better way to see how a game will perform than to test it out. Capcom has made this easy with a downloadable benchmark that we will be using to test out a cross section of today's currently available performance video cards.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The two cards are neck and neck again except in the highest resolution, the higher clocks make up for the 32 less CUDA cores on the highest resolution.

Testing:

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.5 is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on the Unigine engine.  This was the first DX 11 benchmark out to allow testing of  DX 11 features. What sets the Heaven Benchmark apart is the addition of hardware tessellation, available in three modes — Moderate, Normal and Extreme. Although tessellation requires a video card with DirectX 11 support and Windows Vista/7, the Heaven Benchmark also supports DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.0. Visually, it features beautiful floating islands that contain a tiny village and extremely detailed architecture.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The two cards are neck and neck, the only other card in the neighborhood is the GTX 480 and occasionally a 6970 during the stock portions

Testing:

Just Cause 2 is a third-person shooter that takes place on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. In this sequel to 2006's Just Cause, you return as Agent Rico Rodriguez to overthrow an evil dictator and confront your former boss. When you don't feel like following the main story line, you're free to roam the island, pulling off crazy stunts and causing massive destruction in your wake, all beautifully rendered by the Avalanche Engine 2.0. In the end, that's what the game basically boils down to — crazy stunts and blowing things up. In fact, blowing things up and wreaking havoc is actually necessary to unlock new missions and items.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The GTX 560 Ti and GTX 570 take turns beating each other throughout the charts. The GTX 480 and HD 6970 both take turns trying to catch up with them as well.

Testing:

Mafia II is a third-person shooter that puts you into the shoes of a poor, Sicilian immigrant, Vito Scarletta. Vito has just returned home from serving overseas in the liberation of fascist Italy — to avoid serving his jail sentence — to find his family in debt. The debt must be repaid by the end of the week, and his childhood friend, Joe Barbaro, conveniently happens to have questionable connections that he assures will help Vito clear the debt by that time. As such, Vito is sucked into a world of quick cash. Released in North America for PC in August of 2010, the game was developed by 2K Czech published by 2K and uses the Illusion 1.3 game engine.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The AMD cards start working their way up in Mafia II, the GTX 480 stays pretty close to the MSI GTX 560 Ti 448 and the GTX 570 too.

Testing:

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a first-person shooter developed by EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) and published by Electronic Arts for Windows, PS3 and XBox. This game is part of the Battlefield franchise and uses the Frostbite 1.5 Engine, allowing for destructible environments. You can play the single player campaign or multiplayer with five different game modes. Released in March 2010, it has so far sold in excess of six million copies.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The GTX 560 Ti 448 puts up a great fight with the GTX 570, frame rates are excellent even in the high resolutions.

Testing:

3DMark 11 is the next installment for Futuremark in the 3DMark series with Vantage as its predecessor. The name implies that this benchmark is for Microsoft DirectX 11 and with an unintended coincidence, the name matches the upcoming date in number (which was the naming scheme to some prior versions of 3DMark nonetheless). 3DMark 11 is designed solely for DirectX 11 so Windows Vista or 7 are required along with a DirectX 11 graphics card in order to run this test. The Basic Edition has unlimited free tests on performance mode whereas Vantage only allowed for a single test run. The advanced edition costs $19.95 and unlocks nearly all of the features of the benchmark and the professional edition runs $995.00 and is mainly suited for corporate use. The new benchmark contains six tests, four of which are aimed only at graphical testing, one to test for physics handling and one to combine graphics and physics testing together. The open source Bullet Physics library is used for physics simulations and although not as mainstream as Havok or PhysX, it still seems to be a popular choice.

With the new benchmark comes two new demos that can be watched, both based on the tests but unlike the tests, these contain basic audio. The first demo is titled "Deep Sea" and have a few vessels exploring what looks to be a sunken U-Boat. The second demo is titled "High Temple" and is similar to South American tribal ruins with statues and the occasional vehicle around. The demos are simple in that they have no story, they are really just a demonstration of what the testing will be like. The vehicles have the logos of the sponsors MSI and Antec on their sides with the sponsorships helping to make the basic edition free. The four graphics tests are slight variants of the demos. I will use the three benchmark test preset levels to test the performance of each card. The presets are used as they are comparable to what can be run with the free version so that results can be compared across more than just a custom set of test parameters.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

3DMark 11 differentiates the cards greatly. When comparing the overclocked GTX 560 Ti 448 to stock cards though it almost catches up to a stock GTX 580 and even passes it on the Extreme charts! As quality increases the cards start scoring similarly.

Testing:

Temperature testing will be accomplished by loading the video card to 100% using MSI Kombuster, which is paired with MSI's Afterburner overclocking utility for temperature monitoring. I will be using the stability test set to a resolution of 1920 x 1200 using 8xAA. I will use a 15 minute time frame to run the test, ensuring that the maximum thermal threshold is reached. The fan speed will be left in the control of the driver package and video card's BIOS for the stock load test, with the fan moved to 100% to see the best possible cooling scenario for the overclocked load test. The idle test will be a 20 minute cool down with the fan speeds left on automatic in the stock speed testing and bumped up to 100% when running the overclocked idle and load testing. For load testing, the GTX 500 series, I will use Crysis Warhead running at 2560 x 1600 using the Gamer setting with 8xAA looping the Avalanche benchmark scenario, as I have found this to put a load close to that of Kombuster on a video card. This is needed as a way around the current limiting ability of the GTX 500 series when it detects programs that put an unrealistic load on the GPU, which Kombuster does.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

Lower = Better

 

Stock temperatures are terrific, 33°C idle with the fans on auto and running extremely quietly and noticeable but not annoying when it was at stock load. Even overclocked it was running with the coolest cards!

Testing:

Power Consumption of the system will be measured in both idle states and loaded states and will take into account the peak voltage of the system with each video card installed. I will use MSI Kombuster to load the GPU for a 15 minute test and use the peak load of the system as my result for the maximum load. The idle results will be measured after 15 minutes of inactivity on the system. For load testing the GTX 500 series, I will once again use Crysis Warhead run at 2560 x 1600 using the Gamer setting with 8xAA looping the Avalanche benchmark scenario.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

Lower = Better

 

Power consumption was astounding at idle stock, the high quality components truly make a difference as was also shown on a prior review when I tested a MSI N 560GTX-Ti Hawk. Load consumption was higher than that of the GTX 570 but both idle consumption results beat the rest of the group out.

Conclusion:

The MSI GTX 560 Ti 448 Power Edition is an astounding graphics card that provided extreme performance for less money. The cooling is top of the line and its idle power consumption was the lowest out of both groups — even overclocked it used less power idling than the stock competitors! The MSI Afterburner software is extremely handy and makes it incredibly easy to push this card to its potential. The GF110 core supports 3-way SLI so there is no reason to complain about SLI limitations. The fans operate very quietly unless they are set to full speed and even then are nothing compared to the sound of a blower motor. The box is a nice clean design and the card is well protected inside. Overclocking the GTX 560 Ti was very enjoyable with a 29% gain over reference core clocks and a 19% gain over reference memory clock speeds and the temperatures were still well within the safe range

The only real con that could be mentioned and is mostly nitpicking is that a lot of the heat generated is vented back into the case. This isn't really a big problem especially if the case has good airflow but this is worth noting.

The MSI GTX 560 Ti Power Edition managed to keep up with and beat a GTX 570 in most of the testing while costing far less and still managing to have top notch temperatures, performance, power consumption at idle, and overclocking capability!

 

 

Pros:

 

Cons: