Summer is usually not the season when GPU developers unveil their new products to the public. The sun, the heat, the vacations all combine to prevent the sales of computer components and particularly graphics cards from growing up. Therefore many brands try to keep the demand up by not only lowering their prices for this season but also by releasing nonstandard solutions that have pre-overclocked frequencies, alternative coolers, custom-made PCBs or even all of these. We’ve recently tested two such products, MSI Radeon R6970 Lightning and VTX3D Radeon HD 6970 X-Edition, and today we’re going to take a look at two more that belong to a lower price category. They are offered by Palit Microsystems Ltd. which used to be a second-tier brand but has got much more prominent and expert over the last years, especially in developing non-reference graphics cards.
Palit GeForce GTX 560 Sonic Platinum 1 GB
The first product to be discussed - Palit GeForce GTX 560 Sonic Platinum 1 GB - has been released but very recently. Its small box looks quite eye-catching. You can find such information as the model name, amount of graphics memory, video outputs and supported technologies on the face side of the box. The Sonic Platinum emblem means that the card’s GPU and memory frequencies are pre-overclocked.
Brief specs and system requirements are listed on the back of the box. You can also read a description of Nvidia’s gaming technologies there.
There is a cardboard box inside the external wrapper. The graphics card lies in there, in a soft pack. It is thus protected well enough against any hazards during storage and transportation.
The accessories are far from gorgeous: one power splitter from two PATA to one 6-pin connector (the graphics card has two such connectors), a brief installation guide, and a CD with drivers.
The Palit GeForce GTX 560 Sonic Platinum is manufactured in China and costs about $210 in retail, which is a mere $10 higher than the recommended price of Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 ($199).
The card is surprisingly compact, measuring 188 x 99 x 40 millimeters. So, its PCB is as many 22 millimeters shorter than the PCB of the reference GeForce GTX 560. The PCB is red, its face side being completely covered with the black casing of the cooler.
The Palit GeForce GTX 560 Sonic Platinum has three outputs: HDMI, DVI-I and VGA.
There is also a vent grid in the card’s mounting bracket.
You may be surprised that such a compact card has not one but two 6-pin power connectors but Palit sticks to the reference GeForce GTX 560 design here. After all, the specified peak power consumption of the card is as high as 150 watts.
We can also see one SLI connector for combining two such cards into a SLI tandem. 3-way and 4-way SLI configurations cannot be built out of GeForce GTX 560s.
With its cooler taken off, the Palit GeForce GTX 560 Sonic Platinum looks like this:
The 5-phase power circuit is managed by an ON Semiconductor NCP5395T controller.
The GF114 chip (revision A1) is covered with a heat-spreader.
The GeForce GTX 560 has 336 unified shader processors, 56 texture-mapping units and 32 raster operators. Compared to the GeForce GTX 560 Ti, it lacks 8 TMUs and 48 ROPs. Nvidia does not specify a fixed GPU frequency for its GeForce GTX 560 but rather a frequency range. Thus, the main domain can be clocked at 810 to 950 MHz and the shader domain, at 1620 to 1900 MHz. It’s obviously up to the graphics card maker to decide which exactly frequency to use. Although most GeForce GTX 560s available today have a GPU frequency of 810/1620 MHz, the Palit GeForce GTX 560 Sonic Platinum clocks its GPU at 900/1800 MHz with a voltage of 1 volt. This looks like substantial factory overclocking. The card lowers its frequency to 51/101 MHz and voltage to 0.875 volts in 2D mode.