In our Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti 1GB review, we pointed out that the card's incredibly impressive overclocking headroom might be due to its relatively conservative stock frequencies. Having found that a reference card could happily reach a GPU core frequency of 950MHz from a standard speed of 820MHz (a 15 per cent increase), we were convinced that pre-overclocked GTX 560 Ti 1GB cards would appear at launch.
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While factory overclocked cards in the past have meant small improvements for big price increases, early signs are that Nvidia partners are being competitive when it comes to the GTX 560 Ti 1GB. MSI’s snappily titled N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II/OC manages to combine a factory overclock with a custom PCB and cooler for the same price as many reference cards. That’s the graphics equivalent of having your cake, eating it and then finding it was served on a plateful of tenners. We wanted to see if the card delivered on all this promise.
Eagle-eyed readers might think that they’ve seen this card before, though, and they’d be almost right. The MSI is actually built on the same PCB and uses the same after-market Twin Frozr II cooler as the MSI N460GTX Hawk that we looked at last year. Our card even arrived with a not-exactly-subtle sticker covering up the Hawk branding. This is no bad thing, though, as we found the GTX 460 Hawk to be an overclocking monster that could have its GPU cranked all the way up to 900MHz.
Note the solid ferrite capacitors
The MSI isn’t just a Hawk with a GTX 560 Ti GPU slapped on instead of a GTX 460, though. Some power delivery and overclocking features have been disabled – you can only overvolt the GPU of this card, for example – but the card retains its 7+1-phase power delivery. This theoretically enables the card to deliver significantly more power to the GPU, allowing for aggressive overvolting using MSI’s excellent Afterburner overclocking utility. Some of the more superfluous features such as the manual voltage readout headers have also been removed from this card compared to the Hawk, but the vast majority of people won’t miss them. As the MSI uses a custom PCB, full-cover waterblocks won't be compatible either.
Alongside the upgraded PCB, MSI has also chosen to top this card with the excellent Twin Frozr II cooler. Two 6mm and two 8mm nickel-plated copper heatpipes emanate from the GPU contact plate and run through a huge and tightly packed aluminium fin stack that runs the length of the card.
Four nickel-plated copper heatpipes deliver plenty of cooling
Recessed into the heatsink are two 80mm fans, blowing air down through the fins and over the card’s PCB and 1GB of GDDR5 memory. This is a similar, but expanded, setup to the reference GTX 560 Ti 1GB cooler, but still has the downside that it exhausts waste heat into your case rather than out of it. The Twin Frozr II cooler also lacks the aluminium cooling plate for the memory and power circuitry. In the past we’ve found the Twin Frozr II cooler to be effective as well as quiet, so we’re not overly concerned by this omission.
Under the hood (or inside the vBIOS, to be more accurate) MSI has cranked up the clock speeds, but not to the ludicrous levels you might have expected. The GPU core and stream processor clocks have been upped to 880MHz and 1,760MHz respectively, a mere 7 per cent increase over the stock-speed card. Meanwhile, the memory has seen an increase in frequency of 5 per cent, as it runs at 1.05GHz (4.2GHz effective). Needless to say, we’ll also be dabbling with overclocking the card further, with the prospect of overvolting the GPU and pushing clock speeds beyond that fanciful 1GHz barrier.