When it comes to the noise level or sound output of a graphics card we feel it is important to remain practical. Granted we could use a dB meter and a quiet room to measure the exact noise level of the card but that setting would be atypical of the average usage scenario for a desktop card.
Secondly, the dB scale is not an easy indicator to relate to as each increase is in order of magnitude and not easily comparable. How much more annoying is a graphics card with a sound level of 82dB versus one with 80dB? Its hard to tell.
Therefore we feel it makes more sense to break down the sounds levels into four categories akin to real world experience, and these "measurements" are taken in a standard office or room environment with standard ambient noises such as HVAC present:
- Unnoticeable: At this level the sound of the card is not perceptible. Either completely silent or only perceptible when your ear is place directly next to the card itself
- Noticeable: At this level the sound of the card is perceptible, generally as a low hum. The noise at this level is unobtrusive and generally blends in with other ambient noises, such as case fans, power supply exhaust fans etc. The noise from the card can be heard but you have to listen for it to really hear it.
- Clearly Noticeable: At this level the noise output from the card is clearly evident. The graphics card is discernable as the source of the noise and tends to be of higher magnitude than the ambient noise around it.
- Annoying: This moniker pretty much describes itself. At this level the sound of the card is distracting. The video card is clearly discernable as the source of noise and during gameplay/media enjoyment speaker and/or headphone volume must be increased to overcome the noise of the card.
The GTX 560Ti proved pleasantly quiet easily falling into the noticeable category. If the noise of the card was perceived it was quickly forgotten during any game play or other activity.
Bang for your buck
We mentioned earlier that the GTX 560Ti will carry a street price of around $249.99 and is aimed at the mainstream to performance market. The performance of the GTX 560Ti is well in line with its pricing and in a few instances it comes fairly close to higher-tier cards and consider that is done prior to any overclocking. It goes without saying that some add in board partners will add additional features and bundle packs which may increase pricing but as of today's launch there are at least three board partners selling GTX 560Ti versions at the $249.99 price.
When compared to the MSI N460GTX Hawk, it is easy to fall into the mindset that the GTX 560Ti has replaced it. Such is not the case, the GTX 560Ti is set to officially replace the GTX 470 and therefor should by design offer a performance bump over the GTX 460 and its variants. Additionally the N460GTX Hawk can be found for as little as $199 with some thorough online digging and while saving $50 might not seem like a huge deal, at this price point it reflects roughly a 25 percent price difference which can be a make or break decision maker for buyers in this segment of the market.
The GTX 560Ti has given Nvidia another notch in it's "recovering from Fermi launch" belt. While Nvidia may have floundered with the initial launch of Fermi, they have bounced back in a big way with both the GTX 570 and now the GTX 560Ti. The GTX 560Ti affords gamers the ability to play all of the latest titles with great image quality, all while maintaining solid frame rates and it does so at a great price. It will be interesting to see what board partners like MSI and eVGA can do to increase the performance and value of this card going forward and I have no doubt that this card will continue to impress.
It's good to see heavy hitters like Nvidia stepping away from the video card arms race mentality of more power, more performance and instead launching truly balanced offerings that combine great performance with energy efficiency. If you have been searching for a video card that offers a combination of great performance and awesome value you can stop looking, the GTX 560Ti is your card.
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