Gigabyte GeForce GTX 560 1GB OC Review (Page 3 of 13)

Page 3 - A Closer Look, Test System

The GV-N56GOC-1GI GeForce GTX 560 1GB features the company's Windforce 2X cooler. As its name suggests, this graphics card has a large heatsink with two PWM cooling fans; used to dissipate the heat away from the graphics processor core by direct contact. This process is accelerated by four copper heatpipes leading away from the center block to the large array of fins on both sides. What is different about this Windforce 2X cooler compared to one found on the Gigabyte Radeon HD 6850 1GB OC, however, is the one installed on the GTX 560 has two significantly larger 100mm fans, and the heatsink does not make any contact with the memory chips. The fins are organized with optimized angles to reduce air turbulence noise (Such a phenomenon is usually caused by straight perpendicular fins), which is essential to designing a silent cooling solution in addition to using quiet fans. The fans itself are also perpendicular to the fins. Meanwhile, as shown in our photo above, the cooler covers the entire length of the custom blue printed circuit board measured at 23.8 cm (About 9.5 inches). The black heatsink has a glossy plastic finish with Gigabyte's logo on both fans. The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 560 is manufactured in Gigabyte's facilities in Taiwan.

Turning the graphics card around, Gigabyte's signature blue PCB can be seen more clearly. From an aesthetics point of view, I have never really liked Gigabyte's blue motherboards in my windowed case, but as far as graphics cards are concerned that has never really been a problem for me. All connectors come with a blue cap out of the box for extra protection. Like all modern midrange to high performance video cards, the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 560 1GB occupies two slots, but the lower bracket is used for ventilation only. Two DVI ports can be found next to each other, with a mini-HDMI port on the very right. A mini-HDMI to HDMI adapter is included out of the box. Internally, its SLI bridge connector is located on the left side of the outer edge. And finally, I don't think I need to mention this, but just in case, the connection interface is PCI Express 2.0.

Four spring loaded screws with clear plastic washers and two plastic clips at the top of the board attaches the heatsink to the card. Once the four screws were unscrewed, and the two plastic clips dislodged, I still could not disengage it from the board. A quick, forceful tug made this happen, because all the thermal paste Gigabyte used pretty much glued the heatsink on. Something made me wonder why they used so much thermal interface material, because by doing so, it might negatively affects cooling performance -- it actually took a lot of 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol and two sheets of paper towels to clean it all off.

With its quad heatpipe and dual fan configuration, Gigabyte promises its Windforce 2X cooler creates a more effective airflow system in your system. We will post actual temperature results shortly. Our photo above should provide a little more insight into the hardware used on Gigabyte's GeForce GTX 560 1GB OC card. Two 6-pin PCI Express power connectors are located on the outer edge of the board facing towards the front of the chassis. For its custom board design, Gigabyte has 100% Japanese made solid state capacitors, ferrite core/metal choke, and lower RDS(on) MOFSET for improved reliability, lower power consumption, and lower heat output. Combined with its 2oz copper PCB, Gigabyte markets this as its Ultra Durable design. One of my previous video cards is a Gigabyte Radeon HD 4850 with Gigabyte's custom passive cooler, and I have had absolutely no complaints with regards to their reliability using the card every day for two years straight; not to mention the Gigabyte Radeon 6850 1GB OC and Gigabyte Radeon HD 6870 1GB SOC I have reviewed back in January and May, respectively, is still top notch as always.

Unlike other Gigabyte video cards I have reviewed in the past, the custom heatsink on the GTX 560 does not provide any cooling to the memory ICs. On the other hand, the copper heatpipes actually makes direct contact with the integrated heatspreader on the GF114 core, so we can probably expect better cooling performance than other iterations of the Windforce series cooler without direct heatpipe contact. I am also pleased to find that the fan speed is also programmed appropriately to accelerate according to load. We will discuss this in more detail later on in this review.

In the center of it all is NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 560 GF114 graphics processor unit, which we have discussed in detail in the preceding page. Since NVIDIA left it up to its board makers to decide how fast they want to run their cards, Gigabyte chose to run it at 830MHz core, 1660MHz shader, and 1002MHz memory. This is only marginally faster than NVIDIA's minimum recommended speeds, and knowing how well the GF114 core overclocks, something makes me think it is clocked a little bit too conservatively. We will see how much potential is available waiting to be unlocked by the end user. Our card came with eight Hynix H5GQ1H24AFR memory ICs for a total of 1GB GDDR5 graphics memory, which is a popular model used on pretty much every Gigabyte video card that came across our labs. That is 128MB per chip, running at 1002MHz (4008MHz effective). Again, we will see how well it goes above that later on in our review.

Our test configuration as follows:

CPU: Intel Core i3-2120
CPU Cooling: Thermaltake Frio (Noctua NF-P12)
Motherboard: ASUS P8P67 PRO
RAM: Kingston HyperX KHX1600C9D3X2K2/8GX 2x4GB
Storage: OCZ Vertex 2 160GB 25nm; Western Digital Scorpio Blue 320GB
Chassis: Cooler Master Silencio 550 (Noctua NF-S12B ULN)
Power: FSP AURUM CM Gold 650W
Sound: Auzentech X-Fi Bravura
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional x64

Compared Hardware
- AMD Radeon HD 6850 1GB (Stock reference)
- AMD Radeon HD 6870 1GB (Stock reference)
- Gigabyte Radeon HD 6870 1GB SOC (950MHz core/4400Mz memory)
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 560 1GB OC (830MHz core/1660MHz shader/4008MHz memory)

Page Index
1. Introduction, Specifications, Bundle
2. NVIDIA GTX 560 Series Architecture
3. A Closer Look, Test System
4. Benchmark: 3DMark 11
5. Benchmark: Battlefield: Bad Company 2
6. Benchmark: Call of Duty: Black Ops
7. Benchmark: Colin McRae: DiRT 2
8. Benchmark: Far Cry 2
9. Benchmark: Just Cause 2
10. Benchmark: Metro 2033
11. Benchmark: Unigine: Heaven v2.5
12. Power Usage, Temperature, Noise
13. Overclocking and Conclusion