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Zotac GeForce GTX 560 1GB Amp! Review

Zotac GeForce GTX 560 1GB Amp! Review

Manufacturer Zotac
UK price (as reviewed) £180.67 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed) TBC

No, the title of this review isn’t a typo; Nvidia’s newest GPU is somewhat confusingly named the GeForce GTX 560 1GB, the Ti suffix of the GeForce GTX 560 Ti 1GB has been dropped to indicate that the new GPU has fewer stream processors. Nvidia claims that the Ti tag indicates to buyers that the card is faster, in what is becoming an increasingly crowded portfolio.

Zotac GeForce GTX 560 1GB Amp! Review  Zotac GeForce GTX 560 1GB Amp! Review
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Regardless of the confusion wrought by Nvidia’s crazed branding department, the GTX 560 1GB certainly has an impressive pedigree. Last year the GeForce GTX 460 1GB saw Nvidia take the disappointing first-generation Fermi architecture and produce the GF104 GPU. This was fast for the price, typically quiet and very overclockable. The changes to Nvidia’s Fermi architecture that resulted in the much improved GeForce GTX 570 1.3GB and GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB were then applied to the GTX 460 1GB, resulting in the GF114 GPU and the full-spec GTX 560 Ti 1GB.

While the GTX 560 Ti 1GB had all eight SMs enabled for a total of 384 stream processors, the GF114 GPU of GTX 560 1GB cards has reverted to the stream processor count of the GTX 460 1GB. This means only seven SMs, and a total of 336 stream processors, are enabled - this is a 12.5 per cent drop from the GTX 560 Ti 1GB. The loss of an SM also means that the GTX 560 has one less tessellation unit (only seven). TheROP count remains at 32 however, and memory interface is still 256 bits wide, offering 1GB of GDDR5.

Zotac GeForce GTX 560 1GB Amp! Review  Zotac GeForce GTX 560 1GB Amp! Review
Click to enlarge

However, the improved efficiency and use of low leakage transistors on non-performance critical areas of the GPU mean that, like the GTX 560 Ti 1GB, the GTX 560 1GB is capable of much higher clock speeds than the GTX 460 1GB. Oddly, just how much higher the frequency of the new GPU is isn’t exactly set in stone.

In an unprecedented move, Nvidia has decided not to set stock clock speeds for the GTX 560 1GB. Instead, board partners have been given free rein to use a GPU frequency of between 810MHz and 950MHz, and an effective memory frequency of 4-4.5GHz. There's not even a reference design, so all GTX 560 1GB cards are different. However, all GTX 560 1GB cards will require two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors

Zotac’s GTX 560 1GB Amp! is one of the fastest GTX 560 1GB cards available at the moment, boasting a GPU frequency of 950MHz and a memory frequency of 1.1GHz (4.4GHz effective). This compares favourably to a standard GTX 560 Ti 1GB, which has a GPU frequency of 820MHz and a memory frequency of 1.25GB (5GHz effective). Despite the 12.5 per cent fewer, the 16 per cent higher frequency of the Zotac could be a match for the supposedly superior card. This is an odd situation given that the Zotac is still within Nvidia's range of reference frequencies for the GTX 560 1GB.

Zotac GeForce GTX 560 1GB Amp! Review  Zotac GeForce GTX 560 1GB Amp! Review
The GPU of the GTX 560 (left) has one less SM than the GTX 560 Ti (right)

To achieve this high speed, Zotac has had to use an unusually high vcore of 1.14V, much higher than the 1V vcore typically used on even an overclocked GTX 560 Ti 1GB card. This has necessitated a dual-fan, dual-slot cooler, with three copper heatpipes running from the GPU contact plate and into the stack of cooling fins. As both fans blow air directly onto the card, air is exhausted all around the card’s plastic shroud rather than out the rear of your case.

At 23cm (9in) long, the Zotac is the same length as many of the GTX 560 Ti 1GB cards we’ve seen, and requires the same pair of 6-pin PCI-E power connectors. The card is bundled with a digital download voucher for Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood (redeemable through Ubisoft’s online store) as well as a pair of Molex to 6-pin PCI-E power connectors, a DVI-to-VGA adapter, and a mini-HDMI to HDMI adapter.

Specifications

  • Graphics processor Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 , 950MHz
  • Pipeline 336 stream processors (1,900MHz), 28 ROPs
  • Memory 1GB GDDR5, 4.4GHz effective
  • Bandwidth 140.8GB/sec, 256-bit interface
  • Compatibility DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.1
  • Outputs/Inputs DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort, 1 x SLI
  • Power connections 2 x 6-pin, side-mounted
  • Size 230mm long, dual-slot
  • Warranty Two years