The Zotac GeForce GTX 560 Ti graphics card is reasonably affordable but sufficiently powerful to run games with full visual effects enabled at pretty decent screen resolutions.
The year 2011 has seen nVidia and AMD trade blows thick and fast, in the form of multiple graphics card releases at different price segments. While the budget and high-end segments certainly have new products on offer, the prime ground (and mindshare) to occupy is the mainstream space - the one that most early-adopter gamers buy into.
With the GeForce GTX 560 Ti, nVidia has a juicy product that is sufficiently powerful to run games with full visual effects enabled at pretty decent screen resolutions, yet is affordable at the upper-midrange price spectrum. It offers a reasonable performance upgrade over the older GeForce GTX 460, and gives AMD's top-end single-GPU graphics card a fair run for its money, which is great for nVidia fans.
The resurrection of the 'Ti' suffix (last seen in GeForce 4000 series), along with the 'GTX' prefix is seemingly meant to indicate the positioning of this GPU. But this added layer onto the naming pattern also ensures nVidia gets enough leeway to confuse those who do not fully know their way around the current GeForce naming pattern.
Zotac GeForce GTX560 Ti: Specifications and design
The GPU of the GeForce GTX 560 Ti, codenamed GF114, is a so-called second generation Fermi GPU (the GeForce 400 series was the first). It claims better temperatures and output per shader, besides higher clock speeds. This graphics card from Zotac has 1GB of GDDR5 video memory clocked at 1002 MHz and a GPU core clocked at 822MHz. It has a 256bit memory interface and 384 unified shaders that support DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.1, OpenCL and CUDA/PhysX.
Zotac has used a colour scheme of black sheath and dark-yellow grills on this card's cooler, in keeping with its brand logo. The fan feels plasticky, but that is to keep it light enough to do the job well. Beneath the fan, there is a large chunk of metal (heatsink) and even two cooling pipes. This card utilises a dual-slot cooler and stays within manageable temperature limits.
As with any current graphics card, the cooler is geared to exhaust heat through the heat vent/grill at the back (positioned alongside the display outputs). Of course, the fact that the cooler is not closed on the inside-facing surface means a bit of heat may escape occasionally, so having at least a midsized ATX cabinet would be a good thing.
It's particularly nice that the Zotac card is as short as any other mainstream one, and thus will fit into smaller desktop PC cabinets without causing a space crunch.
Make sure to use a good power supply, to feed this card's two 6-pin PCI-E power input slots
Display outputs at the rear consisted of the standard formula - one port each of HDMI and DisplayPort, and two DVI ports.
We're glad that Zotac cared to keep the DisplayPort output, since that will allow you to connect a third monitor
Zotac GeForce GTX560 Ti: Package Contents
The Zotac GeForce GTX560 Ti graphics card's package contents included one DVI-to-VGA port adaptor, two 6-pin PCI-E power input connectors (each connecting to two 4-pin molex connectors), a quick installation guide, and a user manual.
The mandatory CD offered the nVidia ForceWare drivers, manual, and an application called FireStorm, besides a software bundle that was called "Zotac Boost Premium". This bundle is claimed to offer apps to enhance (vReveal), edit (Nero Vision Extra), experience (Cool Iris), entertain (XBMC) and enjoy (Kylo) your multimedia content.
Zotac GeForce GTX560 Ti: Performance and benchmarking
Our colleagues at PC World India tested out the Zotac GeForce GTX560 Ti in their labs. Here's how the Zotac got on.
To eliminate bottlenecks as much as possible, the test-bed consisted of an Intel Core i7 965 processor, Intel DX58SO motherboard, Intel X25-M 80GB SSD, 12GB of Silicon Power DDR3 RAM, Tagan BZ-1300W PSU and Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64bit edition. We used the latest driver for the GeForce GTX 560Ti available at the time of testing - nVidia ForceWare 266.66. Note that PhysX was enabled wherever supported by the benchmark or game.
The graphs here show performance numbers selected from a wider set of tests conducted. To put the results in context and help you compare, we juxtapose the benchmark scores of the card being tested, against other similar graphics cards. In addition, to enable you to see its price/performance in context, graphics cards positioned one level below and above this one are also included in the graphs.
Below is a graph of how the Zotac GTX560 Ti fared in synthetic benchmarks:
Benchmarks: 3D Mark 2006 (DirectX 9.0c) and 3D Mark Vantage (DirectX 10)
Benchmark: 3D Mark 11 at all presets (to test DirectX 11 performance)
Benchmark: Unigine Heaven 2.1 (DirectX 11) at Full-HD resolution with 7 GPUs in the race
Below is a graph of gaming performance showing frame-rates, to reflect what you would see in real-world usage patterns:
Benchmark: Crysis and Far Cry 2
Benchmark: Metro 2033 (DirectX 11) at three different resolutions
At any chosen resolution (1920x1080 or Full-HD in the case above), averaging 30 fps (frames/second) or higher is a good sign that the game would be fluid on-screen, without choppy play. Across all benchmarks and games, the GeForce GTX 560 Ti consistently trumped the older generation GTX 460. Also, the GTX 560 (mid-range GPU) kept harassing AMD's Radeon 6970 (high-end GPU), sometimes managing to even beat it. In brief, the GTX 560 put on an admirable show.
Heat DissipationThe cooler on this card may not be a custom-designed high end one, but it did manage to keep the heat down. This was important, because the claimed TDP on the GTX560 is 170W, as against the 150W of the GTX460, an increase of 20 Watts.
Temperature load tested using FurMark
Notice the 10°C temperature drop at idle, going from the GeForce 460 to the 560. At full blast, the 560 lost its edge to the 460. That is not a problem, considering that the true comparison of the GTX560 has got to be with the GTX570 and Radeon 6970, and the GTX560 wins that contest hands-down, on both idle and full-load counts. Moreover, the Radeon 6850 that ran at about the same temperature, performed a fair bit lower than the GTX560.