Today we're taking a look at the GTX560 TOP from ASUS. We've recently taken a look at a few of the GTX560 Ti variants, and here we have a pure GTX560, albeit one with a highly modified cooling solution.
The GTX560 is positioned just below the Ti in the nVidia tier list of graphics cards, above the GTX460. The priority in the design has been to enable users to have the joys of 1080p gaming, far and away the most popular resolution in statistics, without causing them to bust the bank to do so. Clock speeds vary wildly amongst available models from about 820MHz up to 950MHz. The ASUS TOP is right near the top at 925MHz. So let's grab a look at the specifications.
The GTX560 is very similar to it's brother the GTX560 Ti. This particular TOP variant though comes with a significant overclock to the GPU.
|Model||ASUS GTX 560 TOP|
|Pixel Fillrate||29.6 GPixel/s|
|Memory Bandwidth||134.4 GB/s|
|GPU Clock||925 MHz|
|Memory Clock||1050 MHz|
|Shader Clock||1850 MHz|
|Extras||DirectCU II Cooler|
nVidia are, as stated above, marketing this right at the heart of the average user who require full HD gaming at a price that is more reasonable than enthusiast level cards. In fact this is aimed as the direct replacement, in popularity terms, of the behemoth that was the GTX9800.
Enough preamble. Let's take a look.
The packaging of the ASUS GTX560 TOP follows the normal ASUS style of a large fantasy Knight adorning the box, with the sturdy black box lurking within. Accessories are standard fare with a driver disk, molex to PCI-E converters, a DVI to VGA converter and a mini-HDMI adaptor.
The card itself is gorgeous. A black PCB holds the Direct CU II cooler which has two PWM fans and some serious heat-pipes. With the black coating and red stripes it should certainly match most peoples internals.
The metal support on the PCB gives the card a tremendous sense of solidity, only aided by the sturdy nature of the cooler itself. It's also good to see that even this TOP variant still only requires two PCI-E 6pin connectors.
Even with such a large heat-sink and fan combination the GTX560 TOP remains a dual-slot cooler. Connectivity is provided by two DVI ports and a mini-HDMI.
ASUS GTX560 TOP
Gigabyte Z68X UD5 B3
Intel Core i5-2500K @ 4.4 GHz
4GB Kingston Genesis 2133 MHz
Be Quiet Dark Power Pro
Windows 7 64 Bit SP1
With the standard voltage we managed to get the GTX560 TOP up to a healthy 977 MHz before it cried enough. However the benefit of the ASUS Voltage Tweak BIOS is that it's very easy to add a little boost to the GPU vCore and with an extra 0.05v bump it pushed up to 1011 MHz. Not bad going at all.
Of course speeds are pointless if the card is a cooker, but like the rest of the GF110 range of cards the GTX560 isn't a great heat-producer. Even better the Direct-CU II cooler is outstanding at remaining cool and quiet. Even with the extremely strenuous Unigine Heaven Benchmark suite running it didn't get its feathers ruffled at all.
3D Mark 11
Even though the benefit of the overclock is only slender as ASUS have already got the card rocking hard out the box, there is still a little extra to be had. Either way the GTX560 nicely slides into the gap between the stock and overclocked Ti variant and is trading punches with the HD6850.
3D Mark Vantage
Vantage places a much greater emphasis on nVidia cards thanks to the PhysX tests, but even still it's clear that the new card has plenty of oomph in the P-score. Differences between the GTX560 and GTX560 Ti become obvious as the image quality is ramped up, with the GTX560 TOP running out of horsepower at the top end.
Similar to the results we saw in 3D Mark, the GTX560 TOP nicely fills the gap just between a stock and overclocked GTX560 Ti in our graph. Out of the box this certainly flies.
We saw in Vantage that when the IQ was increased the GTX560 struggled, and here the performance drop-off is similar. Even pushing the GPU past 1 GHz doesn't really bring any performance rewards.
Let's see how it fairs in gaming.
Alien vs Predator
The lighting-heavy AvP gives us similar results. Although the GTX560 is well ahead of both the HD6850 and HD6790 it hasn't quite got the grunt to challenge the either the next models up in the AMD range nor the overclocked GTX560 Ti.
In Warhead we finally see a decent improvement from our overclock, managing to bring the GTX560 TOP from an already great 55 FPS average, right up to the 60 FPS barrier. 59.25 FPS to be exact.
Far Cry 2
Wow. There is no denying that once freed from the shackles of the DX11 shaders the GTX560 TOP certainly has plenty of get up and go. With the very latest drivers in tow it absolutely spanks nearly everything in the graph. Of course we have to take into account the drivers themselves, now many versions further on from when we tested most of these cards. But still, the result is what it is so if you have a love for Ubisoft's FPS, you'll be well served.
At the opposite end of the technological scale from Far Cry 2, Metro 2033 is a game that unashamedly prefers a multi-GPU setup. Large or small it almost doesn't matter what GPU you throw at it, if there is only one then be prepared for a frame-rate around the 30 FPS mark. Demonstrating how tough it is as a test we see another, relatively, large bump in frame-rates from our overclock when compared to the already blazing speed ASUS extracted.
So how does the latest addition to the Fermi line-up do?
We think surprisingly well. Of course it's a surprise to see the 'standard' version coming out after the Ti, but now it's here there is a lot going for it as a good value card.
Starting with the underlying product it's clear that once the DX11 workload is taken off and you're not applying hefty anti-aliasing the GTX560 TOP comes into its own as a seriously good performer. It would be easy to argue that all graphics cards should be able to handle DirectX 11 shaders and anti-aliasing and the like, and so look down upon the GTX560. However, like the Ti before it, that's expecting too much from what is a good value buy.
After all, it wasn't that long ago that even the serious high-end cards struggled to handle anti-aliasing. Here we're giving it the full beans of 8x and that's asking too much. If you're willing to set your sights a little lower though there is a hell of a lot of performance to be had. Anti-aliasing is like multi-GPU setups in that it gives the biggest image quality improvements at 2x and as you gradually add more and more the benefits are harder and harder to spot.
Away from the card generically to this particular ASUS GTX560 TOP it has so many things going for it. Out of the box it's a great looker, and ASUS have given it a fairly serious overclock by putting the GPU up to 925 MHz. Considering how little extra performance we could squeeze before having to apply a voltage tweak it's obviously the sweet spot of this GPU. If you consider that the expense of hand-picking chips is both prohibitive and near pointless in cards designed for the mass-market, then it's a good figure.
The ASUS Voltage Tweak BIOS does allow us to go further though and, as we didn't want to put so much through that we shorten the life-span of the card because after all this is a card for the everyman rather than the "I don't care if it lasts 10 minutes as long as I see a score" enthusiast crowd, pushing it past 1 GHz is a damn fine achievement.
With the DirectCU II cooler ASUS have produced something that we consider up there with the MSI Twin Frozr II in providing cool and quiet running. Long-term readers of OC3D will know the importance of that statement, but for those newly arrived we consider the Twin Frozr to be probably the finest air-cooling solution on the market, so it's high praise indeed. Even with the overclock the card didn't pass the 70°C mark and at all times remained pretty inaudible. It's certainly no louder than the CPU Cooler we use. Enough said.
So if you're in the market for a new graphics card that provides great performance without breaking the bank, and of course assuming you are sensible in your demands of it, then the ASUS GTX560 TOP comes highly recommended. It's just a shame the better performing Ti is already on the market for only a few pounds more and so remains the better buy. Nonetheless this is easily worthy of our OC3D Silver Award.
Thanks to ASUS for providing the GTX560 TOP for review. Discuss in our forums.