ASUS GTX560 TI DirectCU II Graphics Card Review

Author: Chris Ledenican
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Thursday, July 7th, 2011
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/s/ASUS_GTX560_TI/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

The Nvidia GeForce GTX560 Ti is currently one of the best cards Nvidia has in it's arsenal. This is not to say that it is the most powerful Nvidia based graphics card on the market, but rather that it offers exceptional 3D performance at high-definition resolutions, at nearly half the price of Nividia's flagship products. This grants the GTX560 TI real value for gamers that require high frame rates, but don't have $300 or more to spend on a new graphics card.

At the heart of the GTX560 Ti, and the reason for its excellent performance, is the GF-114 GPU, which is essentially a Fermi based graphics processor with optimized transistors to improve the power efficiency and reduce leakage. The new GF-114 core basically allowed Nvidia to increase the clock speeds of the GTX560 Ti without dramatically altering the total board power. This gives the card a noticeable performance increase over its previous generation counterpart and also improves the performance-per-watt.

Over the last few months we have managed to get our hands on a few GTX560 Ti graphics cards, but the version that arrived at our labs last week seems to be the most promising yet. The model is the ASUS GTX560 Ti DirectCU II, which has premium features such as a high performance thermal solution, super alloy power components and the ASUS Voltage Tweak technology. All of these features should increase the thermal performance, power efficiency and overclocking potential of the DirectCU II in comparison to the reference models.

Currently there are two DirectCU II GTX560 Ti graphics cards available, the GTX 560TI DirectCU II and the DirectCU II TOP. In this review we are going to be examining the standard version, which comes with a slightly lower clock speeds than the TOP, but at $149.98 it also has the lower MSRP of two.

Specifications
Graphics Engine NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti
Bus Standard PCI Express 2.0
Video Memory DDR5 1GB
Engine Clock
830MHz
CUDA Core
384
Shader Clock
1660MHz
Memory Clock
4000 MHz (1000 MHz DDR5)
RAMDAC
400MHz
Memory Interface
256-bit
Resolution
D-Sub Max Resolution : 2560x1600
DVI Max Resolution : 2048x1536
Interface D-Sub Output : Yes x 1 (via DVI to D-Sub adaptor x 1)
DVI Output : Yes x 2 (DVI-I)
HDMI Output : Yes x 1 (via Mini HDMI to HDMI adaptor x 1)
Accessories 2 x Power cable
1 x Mini HDMI to HDMI adaptor
1 x DVI to D-Sub adaptor
Software ASUS Utilities & Driver
ASUS Features DirectCU Series
Dimensions 9 " x 4.4 " Inch

The ASUS GTX560 Ti DirectCU II ships in a stylish box featuring an image of a dark knight riding a war horse into battle as ominous weather fills the background. The image supposedly personifies the gaming power of the GTX560 Ti graphics card. The rest of the box including the back panel highlights the features and specifications of the GTX560 TI DirectCU II.

The inner packaging is a black cardboard box that simply has the words ASUS, Inspiring Innovation, Persistent Perfection. Inside the box ASUS has included the graphics card at the top and the accessories. The ASUS GTX560 Ti DirectCU II comes with the graphics card, installation disc, SpeedSetup guide, DVI to VGA adapter, Mini-HDMI to HDMI adapters and two 4-pin Molex to 6-pin PCIe adapters,

The ASUS GTX560 TI DirectCU II is a custom graphics card that utilizes the GF-114 GPU along with an improved aftermarket thermal solution and additional high-quality components. The heatsink design used on the board features a prominently black color scheme that has three red stripes running along the center, and due to the dual fans the heatsink makes the card occupy two PCI expansion slots on motherboards.

The GF114 GPU used on the GTX560 Ti includes two Graphics Processing Clusters (GPCs) and utilizes all eight Streaming Multiprocessors (SM), with each SM having a total of eight texture units, four ROP units, 48 CUDA cores and a special function unit per SM. The GPU clock speed of the ASUS GTX560 TI DirectCU II is clocked at 830MHz, a mere 8MHz increase, so this model may as well be using the reference specifications. The memory subsystem of the ASUS GTX 560 Ti utilizes a 256-bit interface and includes 1024MB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 1000MHz (4000MHz effective), giving the board a total memory bandwidth of 128.3GB/s.

The back of the PCB very clean aside from some circuity here and there, and includes a single SLI connector, a PCIe x16 2.0 interface and dual solder points for two 6-pin power connectors. Also, from this view you can see that the heatsink shroud actually extends nearly an inch off the back of the PCB. This makes the ASUS model slightly larger than the reference boards, but the difference is less than an inch.

The ASUS GTX560 Ti has a total design power rating of 170W, and includes dual 75W 6-pin PEG power connectors. The connectors are found at the back of the PCB and face outward toward the side of the case.

The video outputs on the GTX 560 Ti are the same as the reference models. This gives the baord two dual-link DVI outputs and a single mini-HDMI connector. The video card supports resolutions up to 2560x1600 pixels through the DVI ports, as well as NVIDIA 3D Vision. 3D Surround is supported, but dual graphics cards are needed to use this function. The HDMI port utilizes the 1.4a standard which features bitstreaming support for Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master audio.

The ASUS DirectCU II architecture utilizes heatpipe cooling technology, along with dual 80mm PWM fans. The fans are physically attached to the heatsink shroud and work by pulling air in from underneath the graphics card, and exhausting it throughout the heatsink.

Both the fans are secured to the shroud by a metal mounting system that extends along the underside of the cover. Under the shroud is a 6-pin PWM fan that is connected directly into the PCB. This connector powers the fans through a single connection, and will maintain optimal RPM level during operation.

Under the shroud is a surprisingly small heatsink that has three 6mm copper heatpipes along with an aluminum fin array and base. The heatpipes run through the base and make direct contact with the GPU. The heat from the graphics processor is first transferred through the pipes and then it rises to either the attached heatsink or fin array. Since the heat is isolated into two separate areas, the fans can easily exhaust it away from the core.

The PCB of the ASUS GTX560 TI DirectCU II has a nice layout that sees the memory modules and VRM in their standard positions, but there are some major differences between this model and the reference boards. These consist of an onboard heatsink that is positioned over the vital VRM components, and the use of Super Alloy Power (SAP) technology. The SAP components uses a special alloy formula which is highly-magnetic, heat-resistant and anti-corrosive. Additionally, the SAP components include a Super Hybrid Engine acts as an intelligent controller that dynamically switches between high and low intensity power profiles in real time. The Super Alloy Power design is results in a 15% performance increase via the Super Hybrid Engine, while the improved component material reduces the operating temperature while increasing the graphics cards total lifespan.

 

Overclocking:

The ASUS GTX560 TI DirectCU II utilzes the ASUS Voltage Tweak technology, which gives the user direct control over the voltage level supplied to the graphics card. The over-voltage feature can be accessed by using an overclocking utility such as the ASUS Smart Doctor utility or MSI Afterburner. We decided to use the MSI software because it was already installed on our computer, and like Smart Doctor allows us to increase the maximum voltage level to 1150mV.

While overclocking we took a slow approach by adjusting the GPU and memory clocks separately and only raising the frequency by 10MHz at a time. Using this method we were able to increase the total clock speed of the ASUS GTX560 Ti DirectCU II to an impressive 1015MHz, which is an increase of over 22%. The memory was also able to overclock quite well, and didn't show any signs of instability until around 4.4Gbp/s. Our final results for the memory set the frequency at 4.35Gbp/s, a 350MHz increase.

Hardware Configuration:

Drivers:

Benchmarks DX11:

Benchmarks DX10:

Test Settings:

All in game benchmarks were performed at resolutions of 1680x1050, 1920x1200 and 2560x1600. Vsync is disabled in the control panel, AA is set to x4 with AF set to x16 and all the in-game settings are turned up to high.

Usage:

(Note: All models might not be included in this review. The table below is to be used for comparison purposes)
AMD Specifications
Model
AMD Radeon HD 6870 AMD Radeon HD 6850 AMD Radeon HD 6750 AMD Radeon HD 6770 AMD Radeon HD 5830 AMD Radeon HD 5870 AMD Radeon HD 6950 AMD Radeon 6970
Processing Cores
1120 960 720 800 1120 1600 1408 1536
Core Clock
900MHz 775MHz 700MHz 850MHz 800MHz 850MHz 800MHz 880MHz
Memory Clock
1050MHz 1000MHz 1150MHz 1200MHz 1150MHz 1200MHz 1250MHz 1375MHz
Memory Interface
256-bit 256-bit 128-bit 128-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Memory Type
1GB GDDR5 1GB GDDR5 1GB GDDR5 1GB GDDR5 1GB GDDR5 1GB GDDR5 2GB GDDR5 2GB GDDR5
Fabrication Process
40nm 40nm 40nm 40nm 40nm 40nm 40nm 40nm
NVIDIA Specifications
Model
Nvidia GTS 450 Nvidia GTX 460 Nvidia GTX 470 Nvidia GTX 480 Nvidia GTX 560 Nvidia GTX 560 Ti Nvidia GTX 570 Nvidia GTX 580
Processing Cores
192 336 448 480 336 384 480 512
Core Clock
783MHz 675MHz 607MHz 700MHz 810MHz 822MHz 742MHz 782MHz
Memory Clock
900MHz 1100MHz 837MHz 924MHz 1002MHz 10002MHz 1250MHz 1002MHz
Memory Interface
128-bit 256-bit 128-bit 320-bit 256-bit 256-bit 320-bit 384-bit
Memory Type
1GB GDDR5 1GB GDDR5 1.25GB GDDR5 1.5GB GDDR5 1GB GDDR5 1GB GDDR5 1.25GB GDDR5 1.5GB GDDR5
Fabrication Process
40nm 40nm 40nm 40nm 40nm 40nm 40nm 40nm

3DMark Vantage is the stunning sequel to 3DMark 06. Futuremark's benchmarking programs have always been at the center of every bragging match. The best way to show that you've got the greatest gaming rig, is to show that you've got the highest 3DMark score. Vantage does just that. It puts your system through a series of strenuous tests, and provides you with a score to brag about!

The ASUS GTX560 Ti DirectCU II puts up some impressive numbers in 3DMark Vantage, and once overclocked it even manages to compete with the GTX 570.

Futuremark's latest 3DMark 2011 is designed for testing DirectX 11 hardware running on Windows 7 and Windows Vista the benchmark includes six all new benchmark tests that make extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading.

The GTX560 Ti DirectCU II again has excellent results at both the stock and overclocked settings.

Unigine Heaven became very popular very fast, because it was one of the first major DirectX 11 benchmarks. It makes great use of tessellation to create a visually stunning...heaven.

While the GTX560 Ti continues to produce excellent results in our synthetic benchmarks. the real test is how it will perform during our in-game benchmarks.

Aliens vs Predator is a DX11 Benchmark that runs though a scene straight out of the classic 80%u2019s movie, Aliens. Since it uses DX11, it can often be more than a graphics card can handle.

In AvP the stock results of the ASUS graphics card were not all that impressive, as the overall performance was on par with the HD 6870. However, once we overclocked the GPU to 1015MHz it really took off and was able to surpass the performance level of the HD 6950.

DiRT 3 is the third installment in the DiRT series and like it's predecessor incorporates DX11 features such as tessellation, accelerated high definition ambient occlusion and Full Floating point high dynamic range lighting. This makes it a perfect game to test the latest DX11 hardware.

The stock performance of the ASUS GTX560 Ti was slightly above the HD 6870 in our DiRT 3 benchmarking, but after we overclocked the memory and GPU the performance level was above that of the HD 6950.

Lost Planet 2 is a sci-fi action-adventure game from CAPCOM that puts players on a fictional planet called E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. Like the other new games added to our reviews, Lost Planet 2 includes support for DX11 features to enhance the lighting, charters and environments.

The performance in Lost Planet 2 was excellent across the board, but it really stood out at the lower two resolution settings.

Metro 2033 puts you right in the middle of post apocalyptic Moscow, battling Mutants, rivals and ratio-active fallout. The game is very graphics intensive and utilizes DX11 technology, making it a good measure of how the latest generation of graphics cards performs under the latest standard.

The GTX560 Ti takes a hit in Metro 2033 due to memory bandwidth, but overclocking did improve the performance substantially.

Total War: Shogun 2 is a game that creates a unique gameplay experience by combining both real-time and turn-based strategies. The game is set in 16th-century feudal Japan and gives the player control of a warlord battling various rival factions. Total War: Shogun 2 is the first in the series to feature DX11 technologies to enhance the look of the game, but with massive on-screen battles it can stress even the highest end graphics cards.

The GTX560 Ti was able to maintain a smooth frame rate all the way up to 2560x1600, and showed excellent scaling with the overclocked settings. The GTX560 Ti DirectCU II should have no issues rendering Shogun 2's massive battle scenes even on the largest displays.

F1 2010 is a video game based on the 2010 season of the Formula One world championship and is a mutli-console port. It was developed by Codemasters and released released in September 2010 for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, with the PC version including DX11 features.

We would have liked to see better performance in F1, but we really can't complain when a game is getting 30FPS at 2560x1600.

Dragon Age II is a role-playing video game created by Bioware's Edmonton studios and is a follow up to the highly successful original Dragon Age: Origins. In this game players take the role of Hawke, who has just fled fled the nation of Ferelden with his family after it was destroyed. The PC version of Dragon Age II includes DX11 features such as tessellation for enhanced geometric detail and Compute shader for post process rendering like blur, bloom, film effects.

The ASUS GTX560 Ti lags considerably behind the AMD HD 6870, but again the overall performance is still quite good. However, its performance scaling with overclocked settings was huge in this game, as we were able to reach 66FPS at 1050p.

Batman: Arkham Asylum mixes extraordinary visuals with great gameplay, in order to make an excellent benchmark. It's not a stressful as Crysis, but it can still push cards to their limits.

The GTX560 Ti had no issues with Batman Arkham Asylum, and even at 2560x1600 it was able to achieve a high frame rate of 78FPS.

Crysis Warhead is one of the most graphically intensive games on the mainstream market. It's graphically breathtaking, and can bring any system crashing to it's knees.

In Crysis Warhead the ASUS GTX560 Ti slipped about in terms of performance, but it still managed to achieve good FPS up to 1920x1200. After that the memory bandwidth became the limiting factor, but overall the Nvidia cards performed better at the lower resolutions.

Just Cause 2 places you in Panau, Southeast Asia as Agent Rico Rodriguez. The game is a third-person shooter that pits you against countless enemies with the opportunity for plenty of environment destruction. With explosions and gun fire galore, this game is perfect for testing out the latest hardware.

Once again, we can see that the sweet spot for the GTX560 Ti is really found at or below 1920x1200. So, if you are playing your games on a 30" display a more robust graphics card will be needed.

Temperature:

To measure core GPU temperatures, we run three in-game benchmarks and record the idle and load temperature according to the min and max temperature readings recorded by MSI Afterburner. The games we test are Crysis 2, Lost Planet 2 and Metro 2033. We run these benchmarks for 15 minutes each. This way we can give the included thermal solution and GPU time to reach equilibrium.

During our testing the DirectCU II thermal solution proved to be a very efficient design. All in all it's performance was 19% better than the reference design, but even while it was more efficient it also had quieter noise levels. However, we did find that it was louder than anticipated when the fans were at high RPM.

Power Consumption:

To measure power usage, a Kill A Watt P4400 power meter was used. Note that the numbers represent the power drain for the entire benchmarking system, not just the video cards themselves. For the 'idle' readings we measured the power drain from the desktop, with no applications running; for the 'load' situation, we took the sustained peak power drain readings after running the system through the same in-game benchmarks we used for the temperature testing. This way we are giving the real-world power usage, as opposed to pushing a product to it's threshold.

The power consumption for the ASUS GTX560 Ti was right were it should be, and when taking the performance into account the 354W maximum power rating is not too bad.

The GTX560 Ti is already an outstanding graphics card that can achieve excellent frame rates in DirectX 11 games on high-definition displays. However, beyond just gaming the GTX560 Ti also utilizes advanced technologies such as CUDA core processing and comes with support for 3D Vision, and 3D Vision surround when dual cards are available. So, in itself the GTX560 Ti is already a strong graphics card. Yet since today's graphics market is such a high stakes game with many companies vying for the top spot, good is just not good enough.

For this reason ASUS didn't release just another reference style board with its GTX560 Ti DirectCU II, but instead incorporated premium components and features into the design to improve the overall quality, performance and overclocking headroom. ASUS achieved this by adding high quality parts that are part of their Super Alloy design, utilizing premium grade capacitors, phase units and chokes. The design can increase operation lifespan by over 2 times the reference design, and decrease the onboard temperature by up to 35°C. Additionally, the Super Alloy design utilizes a Super Hybrid Engine technology that acts as an intelligent power consumption optimizer by switching between a high and low intensity setting in real-time for a 15% performance boost when needed.

The ASUS model also includes a DirectCU II thermal solution that can reduce the GPU temperature by up to 20% in comparison to the reference design. The DirectCU II solution includes three 6mm direct contact heatpipes, dual 80mm intake fans and a relatively large surface array. All in all, the Direct CU II design was able to decrease the temperature of the GF-114 GPU by an impressive 19% over the reference model, which was just one percentage shy of the estimate supplied by ASUS.

With the improved thermal performance of the DirectCU II heatsink, we were able to push the GPU voltage level to the max, which allowed us to increase the clock speed by 185MHz, or just over 22%. With the overclocked settings, the ASUS GTX560 Ti demonstrated excellent performance scaling across all of our benchmarks, and at times could nearly match the FPS level of the GTX 570.

Overall the ASUS GTX560 Ti DirectCU II is one of the best GF-114 based graphics cards currently available, and at $249.99 is a real steal. However, if you require more power and are not into overclocking the GPU manually, ASUS also offers a TOP version of this model, which comes with a GPU frequency of 900MHz straight out of the box.

»Neoseeker.com

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