Temperature, Noise, Overclockability
Two out of the five GeForce GTX 560 Ti cards included into this comparative review are equipped with a reference cooler whereas the other three sport original coolers from MSI, Palit and Zotac. We are going to find out which cooler is more effective in practical applications. At an ambient temperature of 24°C we’ve got the following results for 2D and 3D modes:
As you can see, the reference cooler on board the EVGA card is far from impressive. It is about as effective as the reference card's cooler in 3D applications. The Zotac GeForce GTX 560 Ti AMP! is close to a failure in this test although we must make allowances for the factory overclocking. The Palit GeForce GTX 560 Ti Sonic cannot impress us, either, notwithstanding its two 80mm fans. It seems to be let down by its heatsink which has a small surface area. So, it is the ordinary Zotac GeForce GTX 560 Ti and the MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II/OC that deliver the best results. The former card works at the standard frequencies whereas the MSI is pre-overclocked, so it is the MSI card that seems to have the most efficient cooler. With the Twin Frozr II you shouldn’t be wary of overheating when doing some daring overclocking experiments.
Now, let’s see how noisy these graphics cards are. At an ambient noise level of 38 dBA, they have these acoustic characteristics:
The EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti SC has the lowest noise level among the tested cards in 3D mode. Although it is a couple of decibels noisier than the reference card, we shouldn’t forget about its factory overclocking. The Palit GeForce GTX 560 Ti Sonic won’t disturb you with its two fans, either. The Zotac GeForce GTX 560 Ti and the MSI N560GTX-Ti Frozr II/OC are rather quiet, too. The latter has a higher result than the others, but only according to our noise level meter. As a matter of fact, the MSI card is subjectively as quiet as its opponents. The fan management system of Zotac's GeForce GTX 560 Ti AMP! is set up very aggressively, making the card audible in 3D mode. This is due to its factory overclocking (the card has the highest default clock rates among the products included into this review) and the increased GPU Voltage (1.142 V). Here is how the fans of the tested cards behave:
- EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti SC: 1350-2190 RPM
- MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II/OC: 1800-3090 RPM
- Palit GeForce GTX 560 Ti Sonic: 1080-2180 RPM
- Zotac GeForce GTX 560 Ti: 2190-2880 RPM
- Zotac GeForce GTX 560 Ti AMP! 2270-4000 RPM
It is not surprising that the last “hunter” is so noisy in 3D mode. So, if you are looking for a fast but quiet GeForce GTX 560 Ti, you may want to consider the products from EVGA or Palit, yet the MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II/OC seems to be the overall leader to us in terms of its consumer properties.
Now our hunting squad has reached the most difficult trial. Let's see how they perform in terms of overclocking.
Well, the advanced hunting outfit of the MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II/OC shows up in this test, making it the only graphics card to overcome 1 GHz in terms of the main domain frequency at a voltage of 1.075 volts. The shader domain frequency is 2.1 GHz, which is a record-breaking number. We also hoped to reach the rated frequency for the memory chips but the best result was only 1210 (4840) MHz. This is good enough, though. Nvidia’s solutions are not very compatible with high-speed GDDR5 even if they have a 256-bit bus with simpler wiring than the 384 and 320-bit buses of top-end GeForce GTX 580s and 570s.
Second place goes to the EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti SC which boasts GPU clock rates of 975/1950 MHz at a voltage of 1.050 volts. Its memory frequency could only be overclocked to 1200 (4800) MHz, though. The Palit GeForce GTX 560 Ti Sonic is third with GPU clock rates of 950/1900 MHz and a memory frequency of 1100 (4400) MHz. This result is achieved at a GPU voltage of 1.050 volts, too.
The Zotac GeForce GTX 560 Ti could not reach 950/1900 MHz in terms of GPU frequency at the same GPU voltage as the two abovementioned products. On the other hand, it has the best memory overclocking result, 1225 (4900) MHz, which is just a little lower than the desired 5 GHz. Its elder cousin Zotac GeForce GTX 560 Ti AMP! refused to overclock altogether, losing stability as soon as we tried to increase its clock rates. Perhaps we’ve been unlucky with our sample because its core has the highest default voltage, as high as 1.142 volts, among all the tested cards. On the other hand, its default GPU frequency is 950 (1900) MHz. The Palit card could only reach that level through overclocking. Recalling the high noise level of the Zotac GeForce GTX 560 Ti AMP! in 3D applications, we have to name it the worst graphics card among all these in terms of such properties as temperature, noise and overclockability.
Now let’s see what the graphics cards can do in gaming benchmarks at the frequencies they have reached in our overclockability test.