When we reviewed the reference GTX560Ti a month ago we found it completed the nVidia dominance of the major gaming GPU market. Hugely overclockable, quiet, great performance. It really was all things to all men.
Today we're taking a look at the high-end Gigabyte Super Over Clock (SOC) variant which comes with a big overclock out of the box and a twin-fan cooler compared to the single fan of the reference design.
How does this fare when compared to already brilliant reference design? Let's find out.
The easiest thing to spot as the major upgrade is that GPU Core speed. 1000MHz. This is, by 50MHz, the fastest GTX560Ti available to purchase. Obviously that's a serious selling point.
|Series||Super Overclock Series|
|GPU||GeForce GTX 560 Ti|
|Core Clock||1000 MHz|
|Memory Clock||4580 MHz|
|Shader Clock||2000 MHz|
|Memory Size||1GB GDDR5|
|Bus Type||PCI Express 2.0|
|DVI Port||DVI-I*2 (Support Dual-link DVI-I)|
|HDMI||Yes (via mini HDMI to HDMI cable)|
|D-sub||Yes (by adapter)|
Time to grab a shuftie at it in the flesh.
The reference design cooler has a single mid-mounted fan in a shroud. The standard Gigabyte card has two fans and heatpipes but with just a cover. This is the best of both worlds as we have two PWM fans and four heatpipes enclosed in a shroud to help keep the SOC as cool as possible.
Just above the green sticker on the reverse you can see a NEC Capacitor which really helps keep the power delivery smooth and stable to this 1GHz beast.
The combination of the blue PCB and very shiny heatpipes really make the Gigabyte GTX560Ti SOC stand out. It's an attractive card that's for sure.
The heatsink has loads of fins to help give as much surface area as possible for heat dissipation.
At the business end we have a mini-HDMI and the standard twin DVI ports. Power is provided by two PCIe 6pin inputs. Whilst this naturally draws more than the reference design it's still much easier on your electric bill than a very high-end card.
As always when testing graphics cards we try and keep our system as identical as possible to ensure that, driver improvements aside, results are always comparable.
Gigabyte GTX560Ti SOC
Intel Core i7-950 @ 4GHz
ASUS Rampage III Extreme
Muskin Joule 1200w
6GB Mushkin Redline
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
With Gigabyte pushing the nVidia silicon about as far as it can to reach the magnificent 1000MHz "stock" speed of the SOC there isn't much left extra to squeeze out. We managed just another 25MHz and bumped the memory up to 2400MHz. This is definitely one for the plug and play generation.
I know I've been lax in giving the Folding results for the latest GPUs. So here is the Gigabyte GTX560Ti SOC in full flow. If Folding@Home is something you enjoy, join our Redline folding team - 98860
3D Mark Vantage
As resolution and image quality increase all the cards gradually close up. In the Performance test (1280x1024x0AA)the SOC just comes in behind the GTX570, whereas at High (1680x1050x2AA) it's on a par with the overclocked reference GTX560 and overclocked HD6970. As things move into Extreme (1920x1200x4AA) the power of the GTX570 takes over even at stock and the SOC matches the overclocked GTX560Ti and HD6970 again.
3D Mark 11
Such is the shader intensity of the latest 3D Mark 11 the SOC goes from being with the HD6970 OC to neck and neck with the HD6950 OC. Surprisingly the overclocked reference card actually performs better.
Unigine relies heavily on two things. Incredible GPU power, and as many driver tricks and tweaks as you can employ. For power it's clear that the GTX570 has things well under control and dominates proceedings for nVidia. AMDs focus on achieving incredible scores when Tessellation is employed clearly reaps massive benefits here. Between the two GTX560s the SOC is once again kept at bay by the overclocked reference design.
With the anti-aliasing set to 8x the results from above are mirrored, such is the robustness of the Unigine benchmark.
We do see the first occurrence of that strange phenomena where you're at the silicon limits and things perform worse from the overclocked SOC though, dropping down to 6.8FPS minimum.
Alien vs Predator
As we saw from 3D Mark 11 when the stress is really laid down hard the GTX560Ti SOC tends to end up around the HD6950 mark rather than the HD6970 we saw in Vantage. The manual overclocked reference and factory overclocked SOC are inseparable.
The ageing Crysis Warhead shows how poorly optimised it is as it gives roughly the same results across all cards. The odd frame here and there is all that keeps the cards apart, but they can all do the 60FPS needed for smooth gameplay.
Far Cry 2
There isn't much between the reference and Gigabyte GTX560Ti's. Both of them are a way behind the rest of the cards, even the HD6950. Not everything can be overcome with just clock speed.
Such is the single GPU performance of Metro 2033 that the nVidia architecture regains a lot of the losses we've seen in previous benchmarks but there still isn't anything between overclocking a reference one yourself and the Super Over Clock from Gigabyte.
It would be very easy to look at our results and come to the conclusion that whilst the Gigabyte GTX560Ti SOC promises much, it doesn't really deliver enough to make it a worthwhile purchase over a stock card, especially as all highly factory overclocked cards come with a suitably large price-premium.
That isn't actually the case here, and Gigabyte have cleverly positioned the SOC at the perfect price-point.
A reference GTX560Ti card is a penny shy of £200, whereas the SOC is only £30 more. For that extra £30 you're getting a couple of key things, which you can judge upon their importance and decide for yourself.
Firstly there is that overclock. Whilst the SOC doesn't outperform a manually overclocked reference card there are a some clear benefits to buying one at 1000MHz rather than trying to push a stock one to those heights. Firstly as we all know not every chip can make it up to 1000MHz. While all those we've tested can, it's still possible that there will be some that cant thanks to the wonder that is the 'Silicone Lottery'. Secondly you're getting that overclock out of the box. No messing about with stability testing and the like, plus it's all under warranty.
The other big thing you're getting is that cooler. The reference cooler wasn't exactly hot or loud at stock but when running a 1GHz clock it was a completely different matter. The Gigabyte twin-fan design is as good as silent as any you're likely to find. It's genuinely whisper quiet in pretty much everything but extended day long romps of F@H and even then its quieter than most.
*Video will be added once YouTube stops messing about!*
So the choice is yours. If you're willing to have a single fan and take your chances manually overclocking, you can save £30 and buy a reference. If you want the reassurance of a card guaranteed to hit 1000MHz, under warranty, and with a very effective and attractive cooler, the extra thirty notes isn't such a difference to break the bank.
If it's our money, we'd get the Gigabyte. There might not be any headroom left over, but it's a small price to pay for the comfort of knowing that you've got a great chip kept cool and quiet.
Thanks to Gigabyte for providing the GTX560Ti SOC for review. Discuss it in our forums.