The current generation of graphics cards has been dominated by nVidia after a couple of generations owned by ATI. The GTX580 easily holds the extreme performance crown, the GTX570 is the best performing high end card, and the GTX560Ti can rock hard in the tightly contested middle-range sector of the marketplace.
Indeed it's the GTX560Ti that is one of our favourite cards. It's exceptional value for money, even in bog standard form, and the performance increases from overclocking are very good indeed.
Of course all GPUs are limited to some degree by their architecture. No matter how high the frequency of the GPU Core can be set eventually the lack of Cores becomes the limiting factor.
Enter the nVidia GTX560Ti with 448 Cores. Yes that is its official name and if ever a product name was 'exactly what it says on the tin', then this is it. It's a GTX560Ti, but with 448 Cores. It is designed to fit directly between the GTX560Ti and GTX570.
This isn't a permanent upgrade to the GTX560Ti, nor a permanent card squeezed into the middle of the nVidia line-up, but rather a special edition released to coincide with a couple of Triple-A titles, namely Battlefield 3, and Batman Arkham City. This goes a long way to explaining why it hasn't received the GTX565 moniker.
In keeping with its positioning as 'better than a stock GTX560Ti but not as good as the GTX570' the GTX560Ti with 448 Cores gains a lot of extra cores, but loses a little in the default core speed. The other big change is that the GTX560Ti has the full GF110 as found in the GTX570 and GTX580, rather than the GF114 we find in the original GTX560Ti.
The card is between a 560 and 570 in length, as we'll see below. This fits with our belief that this really should be a GTX565, rather than yet another GTX560. Even with this smaller PCB Gigabyte have still fitted a full-size tri fan cooler to the GTX560Ti 448.
Looking beneath the fans we can see that this has a vapour chamber as well, so this should be one frosty card.
Thankfully although we have three fans we aren't into triple-slot territory. Up the business end we have the usual selection of video outputs.
Despite the shift to the full-fat GF110 the card still only requires two 6pin PCIe power connectors.
As you can see the PCB is right between the GTX560Ti and GTX570, although the extra cooling on our Gigabyte model extends it beyond the reference GTX570 length.
As there have been a plethora of driver upgrades since we originally tested the reference GTX560Ti and GTX570 cards, we've gone away and retested them both on the latest drivers to ensure that our results are as up to the minute as possible. We've even tested both reference models at stock, and with an overclock, to give the most accurate comparisons available.
Gigabyte GTX560Ti With 448 Cores
Intel Core-i7 950 @ 4GHz
Gigabyte G1 Assassin
6GB Mushkin Redline
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Although the Gigabyte comes out the box at a modest 732MHz, there is plenty of overhead available and we coaxed 800MHz out of the card which is the speed we'll be using for our overclock testing.
The Gigabyte 448 is fair bit cooler than the reference GTX560Ti, and noise levels are easily tolerable too.
3D Mark 11
At stock it's a league ahead of the standard 560Ti, but the overclock, whilst impressive, ends up only a single point ahead in the Extreme test.
3D Mark Vantage
In Vantage we again find the card at stock settings beating out the standard model, but the overclock doesn't come anywhere near to the overclocked standard card.
The extra cores available on this limited model certainly give a boost in Unigine. At both 0xAA and 8xAA settings the Gigabyte is ahead of the overclocked standard card at stock, and knocking on the door of a stock GTX570 when overclocked.
Alien vs Predator
Alien vs Predator gives us a similar picture to Unigine. The extra cores enhance this card greatly when compared to its standard brother, and the overclock heads into stock GTX570 territory.
Thanks to the excellent optimisation of the Dirt3 engine, all the cards are in a tight cluster, with only the stock standard card lagging, relatively, behind.
With the original Crytek engine now rather long in the tooth the extra cores available to the Gigabyte GTX560Ti 448 don't give much of a boost in performance. In Gamer it's actually lagging a little behind and it's only when overclocked, and the settings are ramped up to Enthusiast, that the 448 can match its standard stablemate.
As we would expect with a more modern title, the extra cores available with this upgraded GTX560Ti give a decent performance hike in Crysis 2. In both vanilla and DX11 forms the Gigabyte is right up there with a GTX570.
DirectX 11 with Hi-Res Texture pack
Far Cry 2
On to Far Cry 2 where the GTX560Ti with 448 Cores slots very neatly into its position between the standard GTX560Ti and GTX570. It's odd to see that, again, the overclock mainly increases the minimum frame-rate with no increase on the average.
It's interesting to see how different games utilise either cores or pure speed. The 448 is right on par with the GTX570 in Mafia 2, and the standard GTX560Ti is left a fair way behind.
Despite the performance difficulties of Metro 2033 when run on a single GPU the 448 again runs the GTX570 very close indeed.
The Witcher 2
Being the most strenuous game available at the moment, The Witcher 2 really makes the most of the Gigabyte GTX560Ti 448. It not only makes the standard GTX560Ti look very average, but when overclocked it edges ahead of the GTX570.
Resident Evil 5
Although all of the cards are capable of rocking Resident Evil 5 very hard indeed, the GTX560Ti 448 slots very tidily in between the standard GTX560 and GTX570. Considering how tight these scores are it's almost too precise on nVidia's part.
Being one of the two main games that the 448 model has been released for, Battlefield 3 definitely responds well to the additional cores. Although it's worth noting that you definitely need to overclock the card to get the most out of it. Indeed with a suitably hefty overclock the GTX560Ti 448 just edges ahead of an overclocked GTX570.
Batman Arkham City
At stock the 448 curiously suffers quite a lot when compared to the original GTX560Ti. Considering that this game is largely the whole point of this particular cards release, it's surprising at least. The overclock redresses this somewhat, but 2 extra FPS on average isn't exactly a stunning improvement.
This is a curious beast indeed.
On paper it should be fantastic. It's a slightly cut down version of the epic GTX570, or a slightly enhanced version of the brilliant GTX560Ti depending on your outlook. We've moved from the GF114 GPU to the full GF110 that we know powers two of the finest cards around. Hell we know the GTX560Ti is brilliant and this is that but with a better GPU and more cores. It should become the default graphics card for all but the most well heeled.
It's been designed to fulfil the requirements of two very popular games, namely Battlefield 3 and Batman Arkham City. Certainly the extra cores will assist with the hefty levels of PhysX in those titles. nVidia have aimed this squarely at the tiny gap in performance between the standard GTX560Ti and the GTX570, and they've certainly hit that rather tiny target.
In fact it's difficult not to look through the results of this card against the ones that bracket it and not come away with the feeling that it's been engineered a little too well to hit that exact marker, but not be any better so as to take sales away from the GTX570.
Performance is right where you'd expect it to be. Both the plain GTX560Ti and GTX570 are two of our favourite cards and this hits those sweet spots, so you're definitely not lacking in gaming potential. It's just that the gap in the marketplace, and in performance of those two cards, is so tiny that if you've got a GTX560Ti you are missing out on a handful of frames-per-second. Certainly nothing to provoke wailing and gnashing of teeth.
It's an excellent card, but rather pointless. If those last couple of FPS really mean that much to you then you'll go for the GTX570. Indeed by introducing this card into that tiny gap nVidia have assured that the prices of the GTX570 and GTX560Ti remain competitive. We all know about speed binning, where the silicon that doesn't quite hit the targets gets parts disabled or set to run slower for the lower models. It makes perfect sense because it keeps prices low. Its quite amazing how few lines manufacturers really make, the different models within the range are pretty much all binned products.
If you've got a couple of hundred notes hanging about and are in need of a new GPU, look no further. The performance of this is excellent, it overclocks well and it's pretty cool too. We love the GTX560Ti, so naturally we love this because it's barely different out in the real world. The lower clockspeed balances the extra cores and you end up about where you started. It's only when overclocking that the extra performance becomes apparent.
So of course it is an award winning card. Both the GTX560Ti and GTX570 are Gold Award winners here at OC3D. But by virtue of trying to squeeze into a gap in the market that doesn't really exist, and because of the rather obvious profiteering on the part of nVidia, we can only award this our Silver award.
Since this review was written the pricing information has been released, and it looks as if this card is about £30 more expensive than we were expecting at about £250. This is frankly too expensive and you'd be far better served still staying with the excellent GTX560Ti if you are on a budget, or the GTX570 if you want the performance.
**VIDEO UPLOADING NOW**
Thanks to Gigabyte for supplying the GTX560Ti 448 for review. Discuss in our forums.