Palit GeForce GTX 560 Ti Sonic £208
11th Feb 2011 | 14:03
A little card with a lot to offer
Palit GeForce GTX 560 Ti Sonic: Overview
Affordable and factory overclocked, Palit's GeForce GTX 560 Ti Sonic could be the ideal iteration of Nvidia's latest mid-range Fermi.
The GeForce GTX 560 Ti caused a bit of a stir last month when it first hit our test benches. We were, and still are, fans of the GTX 460 and were hoping for more of the same graphical goodness in this next generation.
Unfortunately though it doesn't hold as special a place in our heart as the GTX 460 though, but that's actually nothing to do with the card itself. It's still a speedy little daemon, and it's still coming in at the price/performance sweetspot of £200.
The issue here is that the market has moved onwards since the inception of the GTX 460, or more specifically the competition has moved on.
There was nothing to touch the original mid-range Fermi when it came out, only Nvidia cards were competing. Now the spectre of the Radeon HD 6950, with its dual-BIOS, almost risk-free, unlocking, looms large over the field.
One thing the GF 114 GPU can do though is overclock, and is another factory-assured overclocked card to give that chip a shot in the arm.
Palit GeForce GTX 560 Ti Sonic: Benchmarks
As you can tell from the benchmark results the Palit GTX 560 Ti Sonic is faster than its reference-designed brethren, but lacks the raw power of the Zotac GTX 560 Ti AMP! edition's extra 50MHz clock speed.
The Zotac card represents the same boost over the Palit card as that Sonic edition does over the reference design.
What isn't shown here though is the performance of the competing Radeon cards, especially at the high-end, tessellation-heavy DirectX 11 benchmarks. The Nvidia and AMD cards trade blows across most of the suite, but the dual-tessellation engines of the Cayman GPU gives it the edge in the likes of Heaven 2.0 and with Metro 2033's tessellated character models.
DirectX 11 tessellation performance
DirectX 11 gaming performance
Palit GeForce GTX 560 Ti Sonic: Verdict
One of the things that Palit brings to the overclocking market is the ability to not only drop superior cooling onto their cards, thanks to the scale of its operation it can redesign the reference PCB and produce its own versions of the cards rather than relying on rebadged, bin-sorted reference cards.
The first thing you'll notice about the Palit GeForce GTX 560 Ti Sonic is the fact that it is so very teeny-tiny.
Compared to the increased scale of Zotac's GeForce GTX 560 Ti AMP! card's redesigned PCB it looks for all the world like a low-end card with an unnecessary cooler strapped to it.
It's still a dual-slot card, but is significantly shorter than even the reference design. Still though Palit has managed to fit a dual-fan cooler onto it to give that stressed GPU some much-needed chilling.
It does come with a pretty healthy overclock on it too. Compared to the 822MHz core clock of the reference design you're looking at 900MHz straight out of the box.
That's not as crazy as the 128MHz boost you get on the Zotac GeForce GTX 560 Ti AMP! but it's still a pretty hefty performance hike.
That's born out by the increased performance in the benchmark tests.
You're looking at around a 10% increase on average across the suite, and considering the GTX 560 Ti Sonic is less than a tenner more expensive than the £199 MSRP of the reference designed cards that's pretty good.
We were hoping that the redesigned PCB and improved cooling solution might enable us to reach the sort of speeds the Zotac AMP! edition is capable of out of the box, unfortunately though the GTX 560 Ti Sonic while operates at 950MHz it is a trifle flaky.
That's a shame for Palit, but it does mean the Zotac card still rules the roost as the best example of the GTX 560 Ti, and almost justifies the price premium it is charging for the privilege.
The Radeon HD 6950 is still a fly in the GTX 560 Ti's overclocked ointment, and it's all down to the BIOS flash that gives the reference Radeon's a transformation into fully fledged HD 6970s.
I've got a feeling AMD might be starting to phase out the dual-BIOS on the Cayman cards to call a halt to the BIOS flashing, but for the moment it's still very much a possibility.
And one hell of a selling point.
The size of the Palit GeForce GTX 560 Ti Sonic is also a selling point. For those with a paucity of space in their chassis this reduced footprint could be a godsend, and should make a good base for a portable LAN rig too.
It's also a very competitive price for an overclocked version. If you can't afford to stretch for the HD 6950 this Sonic edition is a good bet.
It was a bit of a disappointment that we couldn't push it to what seems to be the GTX 560 Ti's maximum of 950MHz, but realistically that's not a huge issue considering the relative price.
For just a little more than the price of the vanilla GTX 560 Ti the Palit Sonic edition represents good value and excellent performance. That said for another tenner you can pick up a Radeon HD 6950 that's ripe for a good ol' flashing.