Overclocking and Conclusions
Overclocking

While stock overclocks are great, we wanted to see how far we could push the new GTX 560 Ti GPU with a little manual tweaking.  We used the latest version of the MSI Afterburner software (probably our favorite overclocking software for GPUs) to push all three retail cards and see how high we could get the core clock to run.

GeForce GTX 560 Ti Review Roundup - Galaxy, MSI and Palit Compared - Graphics Cards  1
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The top speed we were able to hit was 975 MHz core / 1950 MHz shader without adjusting the voltages, etc.  Interestingly, we topped out at this speed on all three cards, regardless of the cooler used.  Now, temperatures varied quite a bit depending on the cooler and both the MSI and the Galaxy options ran cooler (with lower fan speeds) at that 975 MHz speed. 

GeForce GTX 560 Ti Review Roundup - Galaxy, MSI and Palit Compared - Graphics Cards  2

With that increased overclock, the performance difference between the reference speeds and our 975 MHz cards was nearly 10% in Bad Company 2 – pretty impressive for a free upgrade. 

Yes, I do know of the existence of the Gigabyte 1.0 GHz clocked GTX 560 Ti – we haven’t seen it in house and based on our testing of these three cards I am really hesitant to believe that they will be able to produce them en mass.  Expect shortages or price hikes as the GTX 560 Ti looks like it can’t quite stand up to the overclocking prowess that the previous generation GTX 460 had. 

Performance and Features

Even though the overclocked cards had as much as a 9.3% edge in terms of the raw clock rate (900 MHz vs. 823 MHz), the performance gains more or less topped out at 8.5% or so in our various testing.  That is actually pretty good – we got close to a 100% return on overclocking settings in some games and much less than that on others like Civ V.  The Palit GTX 560 Ti Sonic card was obviously the fastest out of the box as we expected with the highest clock speed by default.  The MSI GTX 560 Ti Twin Frozr II was close behind it while the Galaxy GTX 560 Ti GC was actually only slight faster than the reference speed with its really modest 12 MHz clock speed increase.  At that point, why bother, really?

That being said, if you are at all comfortable with the manual overclocking, all three of these cards can reach about the same levels of performance so we need to look at other differences.  Both the MSI and Galaxy card has custom coolers that really showed an improvement over the standard reference design with the MSI Twin Frozr II card taking the strongest lead.  All three cards, including the Palit, were quieter than the reference design – a benefit of a dual-fan design that all the competition seems to have adopted. 

GeForce GTX 560 Ti Review Roundup - Galaxy, MSI and Palit Compared - Graphics Cards  3

If you are looking for two dual-link DVI ports, then you’ll have to avoid the Palit card (one of its DVI ports is single-link) though if you want a full-size HDMI port (so you don’t have to use an adapter) or like the idea of having the most display connection flexibility, Palit takes the lead there.  In the end, these cards all have more in common than they want to admit, so the final decision is a lot of personal preference. 

Pricing and Availability

Pricing on these three cards, as we write this are:
The issue for Palit is that with a $20 premium on its card, it is only running 20 MHz faster than the MSI card – kind a stretch on the wallet.  And, as I mentioned above, if you are comfortable with tweaking your card’s clock speeds on your own, then even the Galaxy card with its fold-out fan heatsink design can basically match the performance of any overclocked options.  For a lot of consumers that are interested in getting a warrantied, guaranteed overclocked graphics though, Galaxy might fall off the list with such a small increase in clock rate out of the box. 

Final Thoughts

With three retail NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti offerings behind us, we know that picking one is going to be a difficult choice for some.  Some users will really want the highest out-of-the-box overclocked settings and that would be where the Palit Sonic offering falls.  Others will want the coolest running card and the MSI Twin Frozr II design definitely takes the win there.  Galaxy’s card offers some great temperatures as well as a unique “spin” on the fan design with a fold-out feature that allows for easy cleaning.  All three cards are overclocking competitively with each other in our testing so if you are able to use some tweaking software you’ll likely be able to put all three of these cards on an equal playing field.  MSI and Galaxy also take the edge in pricing – a $20 gap can be pretty tempting when it comes to graphics cards in the price range. 



GeForce GTX 560 Ti Review Roundup - Galaxy, MSI and Palit Compared - Graphics Cards  4
MSI GeForce GTX 560 Ti Twin Frozr II – Lowest temps and Lowest price

GeForce GTX 560 Ti Review Roundup - Galaxy, MSI and Palit Compared - Graphics Cards  5
Galaxy GeForce GTX 560 Ti GC – Cool temps, unique fan design

GeForce GTX 560 Ti Review Roundup - Galaxy, MSI and Palit Compared - Graphics Cards  5
Palit GeForce GTX 560 Ti Sonic – Fastest out of the box


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