Synthetic benchmarks often prove to be some of the most popular. They allow for direct comparisons between different cards by offering the same exact conditions during each test. These repeatable and consistent tests do not necessarily reflect exact real world usage scenarios but they do offer a glimpse into the hardware's performance and are often able to illustrate subtle performance differences between varying hardware components and performance tweaks.
The latest benchmark in Futuremark's long line of synthetic benchmarking tools is 3DMark11 (check out our review). The introduction of 3DMark11 now gives us the ability to test Tessellation, Direct Compute Physics and more. As this is one of the newest full featured benchmarks on the scene, it is proving to be somewhat of a system crusher and lower frames per second and the resulting lower 3DMark score is to be expected for the time being.
In our 3DMark testing we run the hardware through two testing cycles. The first test is Performance Mode which offers a moderate test load designed to simulate modern gaming commensurate with most gaming PCs. The second test is Extreme Mode which pushes the hardware even further with a heavy load designed to stress even the highest end gaming PCs.
In the performance run of 3DMark11 the GTX 560Ti posts up some a score of 4124 landing it right in between the 5870V2 and the MSI N460GTX HAWK and trailing behind its bigger brother by around 1000 points. A fairly admirable showing for a card in this price range and it clearly shows an improvement over its previous generation's counterparts.
Here we see the 560Ti checking in with a score of 1411, an illustration of just how demanding the Extreme test truly is.
Unigine Heaven (DirectX 10 and DirectX 11)
Unigine was one of the first to offer a true DX11 benchmark and really showcase a graphics card's DX11 ability. As DX11 cards are just now becoming more common, we still test performance in DX10 as well to give a greater overview of performance.
DirectX 10 and 11
The results from the DX11 test are a bit surprising as the GTX 560Ti offered up a score of 550 with an average FPS of 21.9. This falls behind the MSI N465GTX and although the test was repeated to check for accuracy, results were similar. This could possibly be attributed to the pre-release drivers and lack of optimization.
In the DX10 incarnation of the Heaven test, seen in the above chart, observe that the GTX 560Ti gets its feet back under itself with a score of 999 and an average FPS of 39.7 clearly outpacing the MSI N465GTX.
Synthetic game benchmarks hit a little closer to the core usage scenario of a graphics card. These benchmarks are built upon the game itself and generally run a scene or series of scenes from the game in order to garner a performance score. As these benchmarks are built upon current popular gaming titles, they offer a better picture of the video cards real world performance.
Stalker Call of Pripyat is set in the area around the Chernobyl incident. The test can implement both DX11 and DX10 elements during a run though of separate game scenes and as we have done in the past, we have sorted this test by the Sun Shafts test as this has proved to be the most taxing on the GPU's.
In the Stalker tests, the GTX 560Ti appears to gain some ground on the competition. In the Sun Shafts test the GTX 560Ti actually beats the GTX 570, however there seems to be a larger delta in the other tests placing it more in line with the performance of the MSI N460GTX Hawk.
When it comes to gaming, the GTX 560Ti certainly holds its own. We noticed that while the results generally tended to follow a pattern there were a few surprises placing the GTX 560Ti higher than expected in the performance charts. Throughout our gaming tests and real world gameplay we noticed that the image quality remained constant, an important fact as neither FPS or image quality alone makes a great gaming experience, instead it is the balance of the two that provides the best experience. When compared to the MSI N460GTX Hawk the GTX 560Ti came out on top every time, although in a few tests it barely managed to eek out that victory. Both cards are solid performers and the GTX 560Ti's performance is proof of its advanced technology.
A common consideration when looking at video cards is noise and heat output, after all if you are like most of us, you are going to have to live with this video card operating a few feet from you on a daily basis. As we are more concerned with the real-world attributes of a cards temperature and acoustic characteristics that is what we test for.
Temperature is easy enough to discern and in order to create a level playing field we run each card through our own in house temperature test designed to simulate normal gameplay usage. If we wanted to max out the temperature on the cards we could easily fire up Furmark and set it to the Xtreme Burning Mode selection and watch the card fry, but seeing as even the most extreme normal usage scenario would not heat a card to that level we do not feel it is a fair representation of a video cards thermal attributes.
The GTX 560Ti fared well in our temperature test, idling at roughly 33°C. Under our temperature test that number rose to 61°C, still leaving a more than comfortable buffer against the card's 100°C thermal threshold. The translation here is that there is still plenty of room for overclocking including voltage increases.
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