Final Thoughts

When we were first informed about the GeForce GTX 560 Ti With 448 Cores, I approached the matter with a great deal of skepticism. 3rd tier products have not been impressive in quite some time, and NVIDIA’s previous effort with the GTX 465 is a very good example of this. So imagine my surprise once we had a card in hand and benchmark results to work with. NVIDIA has both impressed me and disappointed me at the same time.

The hardware is impressive enough. GTX 570 is a good base to work off of both with respect to performance and operational characteristics – it’s well balanced and the GTX 560-448 directly inherits this. Perhaps most importantly NVIDIA didn’t make their 3rd tier product significantly worse than their 2nd tier in terms of its performance targets, and that makes a world of difference. As a result the GTX 560-448 is what we’d happily call a GTX 570 LE or GTX 565 in any other universe, because it’s certainly not as slow as a GTX 560 Ti.

On a larger scale, once we factor in AMD’s products things get a bit more murky. The GTX 560-448 is definitely faster on average, but as with every other GF100 card, this is heavily dependent on the game being tested. Throwing out CivV – a game where NVIDIA has a distinct advantage due to driver features – leaves things much closer between the GTX 560-448 and the Radeon HD 6950. The 6950 is on average $40 cheaper, and this cannot be ignored. As fast as the GTX 560-448 is, unless you’re specifically using it for games NVIDIA has an advantage in or need their ecosystem for, it’s just not $40 faster. AMD has made the 6950 a good value, and this can’t be ignored.

So if we’re generally impressed with the performance, what are we disappointed about? As you can probably expect however, the disappointing aspect is the name. Even if performance really was close to a GTX 560 Ti it still wouldn’t excuse the poor name. GF110 isn’t GF114, the SM layout and superscalar execution features make these distinctly different GPUs whose differences cannot be reconciled. This is particularly evident when it comes to things such as FP64 performance where the GTX 560-448 is going to be much, much faster; or in cases where the architecture differences mean that the GTX 560-448 isn’t going to pull well ahead of the GTX 560 Ti.

NVIDIA is purposely introducing namespace collisions, and while they have their reasons I don’t believe them to be good enough. The GeForce GTX 560 Ti With 448 Cores is not a GeForce GTX 560 Ti. Most of the time it’s much faster, and this is a good thing. But it also requires more power and generates more heat, and this is a bad thing. My greatest concern is that someone is going to build a system around the operational attributes of a GTX 560 Ti, an then pick up one of these cards, ending up with a system that can’t handle the extra load. This is one of the many benefits of a clear, concise, non-conflicting namespace. And it only gets worse once you see the GTX 560 Ti OEM, a much lower-performing GF100 part that nevertheless shares the GTX 560 Ti name. NVIDIA can and should do better by their customers.

Ultimately NVIDIA has thrown us an interesting curveball for the holidays. We have a GTX 560 Ti that isn’t really a GTX 560 Ti but rather is a card trying hard to be a GTX 570.  At the same time it’s a 3rd tier product but unlike other 3rd tier products it’s actually quite good. Finally as good as it is it will only be available for a limited time. It’s a lot to take into consideration, and a name alone doesn’t do the situation justice. The GeForce GTX 560 Ti With 448 Cores isn’t going to significantly shake-up NVIDIA’s product lines – it’s not meant to – but for the budget-minded among us it’s a chance to get performance near a GTX 570 for just a bit less for Christmas, and that’s as good a reason as any to exist.

Finally, to wrap things up we have the matter of Zotac’s GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 Cores Limited Edition. If the regular GTX 560-448 is nearly a GTX 570, then Zotac’s card is a GTX 570’s fraternal twin. It’s close enough in performance that the differences in performance cease to matter, and the power consumption doesn’t suffer for the factory overclock. At $299 there’s a greater risk of running into the actual GTX 570, which is what makes the Zotac card a GTX 570 substitute rather than something immediately more or less desirable than the GTX 570. On the plus side if you're in North America and don’t yet have Battlefield 3, the choice becomes much clearer.

Power, Temperature, & Noise
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  • Transmitthis14 - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - link

    Many would ignore "Value" like that.
    I use Premier and Pshop, (cuda Acceleration) and also like the option of Physx with my Games when coded for.
    So A 6950 then becomes a none option
    Reply
  • Exodite - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    Fringe benefits like those swing both ways though.

    I need three simultaneous display outputs, which render Nvidia options redundant in much the same way.

    Looking strictly at price/performance, which is the metric most consumers would use in this case, the 2GB 6950 is indeed an excellent option.
    Reply
  • grammaton.feather - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    Oh really?

    http://www.overclock.net/t/909086/6950-shaders-unl...

    I also agree with the CUDA argument. I have used Nvidia for years because of stereoscopic 3d support, more recently CUDA and PhysX and because I don't have driver crashes with Nvidia.

    ATI may be better value for money at the cheap end of the spectrum, so long as u don't mind driver crashes.

    A friend who used his high end PC for business had 170 plus ATI driver crashes logged by windows. I chose an Nvidia GPU for him and the crashing stopped.
    Reply
  • rum - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    I have had nothing but ATI cards since the 3870, and have NOT experienced these driver crashes you are speaking of.

    I use my computers for gaming and computer programming, and sometimes I do actually stress my system. :)

    I am in the process of evaluating my video needs, as I do need a new video card for a new PC. I won't blindly go with ATI, I will EVALUATE all aspects and get the best card for the MONEY.

    I don't need cutting edge, neither do most people, and we do evaluate things on most bang for the buck.
    Reply
  • VoraciousGorak - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    Funny, since I Fold on a GTX275, GTX460, and 9800GT on two different systems, and pretty often have NVIDIA's drivers lose their minds when finishing a WU, shutting down the system, or while simply processing a WU. I've tried multiple WHQL and beta drivers and settled with these being the least of my problems (the worst being total system unresponsiveness while Folding and a hard reset after a client stopped.) However, when I folded on my 6950 (granted, different client, but I Folded on it with the Beta client too) it never had a driver freakout, screen blank, or even a flicker when turning on or shutting off WUs.

    It seems to me that people that have major driver issues with AMD (not ATI anymore, by the way) cards are outliers, relative novices, and/or are using very outdated drivers or are recounting stories back from when the ATI 9700 series were new. I'm probably an outlier as well with my NVIDIA gripes, but characterizing a major modern GPU manufacturer with constant widespread driver issues or stating that any GPU is guaranteed to have problems is just silly.
    Reply
  • silverblue - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    Oddly, those people who slate AMD are the ones who never ever seem to have an NVIDIA crash, or at least won't admit to one. Reply
  • Gorghor - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    I know this has no technical relevance, but I thought I'd share since my first reaction when I saw the article title, was "did I make a mistake buying an ATI6950?"

    For some reason I have been sticking to nVidia cards since the days of the Geforce 2. I made an exception with the ATI 9800 and although the performance was good back then, I had many problems with the drivers and really didn't approve of the catalyst control center.

    When I upgraded my mainboard to the Sandy-bridge generation, I left my "old" GTX285 in the system and had several daily crashes related to the nVidia drivers (even after several months and driver updates).

    About a month ago I decided it was time for me to upgrade the graphics. I wanted to stick to nVidia albeit the problems with my GTX285, but the price/performance ratio was just unacceptable when compared to AMD cards. I chose the ATI6950 2GB considering the same money would barely get me a GTX560.

    I have to say I'm impressed. The performance is truly exceptional, even with no shader unlock, the catalyst interface has really matured over the years and my crashes are completely gone. So as far as I'm concerned, blindly going for nVidia is not an option anymore.
    Reply
  • Golgatha - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - link

    what I take away from this review is the 560-448 is pretty much on par with a stock 570, but it will only be manufactured for roughly 2 months, and then be discontinued. Why would any gamer buy this card when they can get a superior card within $20 of this one and pretty much be guaranteed availability if they want to run SLI? Also, what's with the power connectors on the rear of the card. All of these long cards should situate those connectors on the top of the card. Reply
  • jigglywiggly - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - link

    I'd avoid it, you will probably be screwd with drivers in the long run. Reply
  • Samus - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - link

    As far as drivers and modern games go, people with ATI hardware have been having substantially more problems in Battlefield 3. Then the issue of microstutter arises which barely affects nVidia hardware, for what can only be presumed to be a ATI driver problem. Lastly, many people have experienced PowerPlay problems with Radeon 4000-5000 series cards running newer drivers due to clockspeed changes in-game, sometimes causing BSOD's, but always causing performance problems.

    nVidia has been, and always will be, the kind of drivers. The days of Mach64 still plague ATI's driver developement team. nVidia invented unified drivers and changed the game for the industry. They update their SLI profiles more than twice as often as ATI does for Crossfire, which alone shows their loyalty to their SLI users.

    ATI has the hardware engineering team. That's clear. They can produce faster cards that use less power at lower prices. But you will NOT get superior drivers by a longshot.
    Reply

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