The Asus ENGTX 560 Ti DirectCU II is that once-rare bird: a factory-overclocked card at the beginning of a GPU's life cycle. Once upon a time, you wouldn’t ever see an overclocked graphics card. Then they started to appear—usually when a particular generation of GPUs neared the end of its run. Today’s hyper-competition between AMD and Nvidia now dictates that overclocked cards come out of the woodwork as soon as a product launches. If it’s an epidemic, it’s one we like, because manually overclocking graphics cards is a headache and generally more perilous than CPU overclocking.
With its iteration of Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 560 Ti, Asus decided to revamp its DirectCU cooler. Like previous iterations, this second generation DirectCU II runs the heat pipes in direct contact with the GPU, rather than relying on a dissipation plate to transfer heat to the pipes. Asus suggests this is a more efficient way to move heat away from the chip’s hotspots. As with most modern premium graphics cards, Asus uses high quality components throughout, which increase the longevity of the card while minimizing electronic noise that can interfere with image quality.
Two fans, higher clocks and great performance? What’s not to like, other than a little fan noise?
The new cooling design allows Asus to push the out-of-box clocks to 900MHz for the core and 1050MHz for the GDDR5 clocks. That’s 9.5 percent and 5 percent faster respectively. Faster clocks and new cooling designs are good things, but at the end of the day, performance in games is what matters. Asus wants $269 for its souped-up design, a little more than the average 560 Ti card. Let’s see what an additional sawbuck or two delivers in actual frame rates. We compared the Asus card to the MSI N560GTX-Ti, as well as some older cards.
For ten bucks more, you don’t get a lot more out-of-the-box performance. It’s possible that you can manually overclock the Asus card more than the MSI card, but that’s risky at best. On top of that, the Asus card was just a tad noisier and used just a little more power than the MSI card. We do like the top-mounted power connectors a little more. But overall, the performance bump isn’t really noticeable.
But let’s not get too negative; this is still a great graphics card. XFX’s higher-end Radeon HD 6950 manages only a thin lead despite its 2GB of video RAM, and the Asus GTX 560 Ti outdistances a sibling Asus card using an overclocked HD 6870. The ENGTX560 Ti DCII gives you impressive performance for the dollar—and a card built with premium components, too.
Asus ENGTX560 Ti DCII
Polished cooler design; good performance per buck; power plugs on top
A little more money, a little more power and a little noisier than the competition
Asus ENGTX 560 Ti DCII
MSI N560GTX Ti
Asus ENGTX 460 TOP 1GB
Asus Radeon HD 6870 DirectCU
XFX Radeon HD 6950
3DMark Vantage Perf
Unigine Heaven 2.1 (fps)
BattleForge DX11 (fps)
Far Cry 2/Long (fps)
HAWX 2 DX11 (fps)
STALKER: CoP DX11 (fps)
Just Cause 2 (fps)
Aliens vs. Predator (fps)
F1 2010 (fps)
Metro 2033 (fps)
Power @ idle (W)
Power @ full throttle (W)
Our test bed is a 3.33GHz Core i7-975 Extreme Edition in an Asus P6X58D Premium motherboard with 6GB of DDR3/1333 and an 850TX Corsair PSU. The OS is 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate. All games are run at 1920x1200 with 4x AA. Note that lower numbers are better for power consumption.