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So why the Ti?
If you know the history of the GeForce GTX 460, then Nvidia's decision to bring back the Titanium designation just might make some sense to you. The GTX 460 started life at a rather modest 675MHz clock speed last July, but later versions crept up to well in excess of 800MHz last fall when Nvidia needed an answer to the Radeon HD 6870.

The fact that such a wide range of performance was available under a single product name caused some consternation in various quarters, a problem that was compounded by video card makers' tendency to refer to these higher-clocked parts as "overclocked," a word that does not truly apply. After all, the chips have been through a rigorous binning process, qualified for the speed used, and shipped in a boxed product with a full warranty. Those cards are approximately as much overclocked as I am a potential Chippendale's dancer, which is to say not at all.

Anyhow, the tweaks to the GF114 have given Nvidia some additional performance headroom in several ways. All units on the chip are enabled, whereas one of the eight SM cores on the GF104 is disabled in the GTX 460. Thus, clock for clock, the GTX 560 Ti has more shader and texturing power and more polygon throughput than the GTX 460. Also, clock speeds are up. The GTX 560 Ti's stock baseline frequency is 822MHz, and its gigabyte of GDDR5 memory runs at 4 GT/s, versus 675MHz and 3.6 GT/s in the original GTX 460.

Peak pixel
fill rate
bilinear texel
filtering rate
Peak shader
GeForce GTX 460 1GB 16.8 39.2 941 1400 88.3
GeForce GTX 560 Ti 26.3 52.6 1263 1644 128.3
GeForce GTX 570 29.3 43.9 1405 2928 152.0
GeForce GTX 580 37.1 49.4 1581 3088 192.0

All in all, the new card is a higher class of product than the GTX 460, and Nvidia wanted to make that clear. But apparently, you know, not too clear. Rather than grabbing the obvious next number in the series, say GeForce GTX 565, to indicate higher performance, Nvidia somehow decided to reach deep into its bag of tricks and brush off the Titanium name.

Which is, after all, shiny.

GeForce GTX 460 1GB 675 336 56 32 3.6 256 160W $199.99
GeForce GTX 560 Ti 822 384 64 32 4.0 256 170W $249.99
GeForce GTX 570 732 480 60 40 3.8 320 219W $349.99
GeForce GTX 580 772 512 64 48 4.0 384 244W $499.99

Interestingly enough, the GTX 560 Ti doesn't directly replace the GTX 460. The 560 Ti will list for $249.99 at online retailers, while the 460 will soldier on at a lower price point with lower performance. My sense is that eventually Nvidia will introduce a GTX 560 non-Ti based on the GF114 that properly replaces the 460.

Although GTX 560 Ti clocks start out much higher than the 460's, Nvidia claims it's not just eating up overclocking margin because this is a substantially re-engineered product. In keeping with its usual practice, the company says it has left ample room for board makers to produce higher-clocked variants of the 560 Ti—and for enthusiasts to overclock their own cards, if they wish. Leaving such headroom has been part of Nvidia's business model for some time now, and that tradition apparently continues.

Pictured above is a card based on Nvidia's GeForce GTX 560 Ti reference design. Although it may look similar to the GTX 460, this is in fact a new, longer PCB (now 9") attached to a larger, heavier cooler with a trio of heatpipes embedded. The output ports are standard Nvidia for this generation: two dual-link DVIs and one mini-HDMI connector. As you can see, the board requires two 6-pin aux power inputs. Max power draw is rated for 170W, and Nvidia recommends a 500W power supply unit.

We'd expect to see some cards based on this reference design selling at online retailers today for right around the $249.99 suggested price. As with the GTX 460, though, we can expect higher clocks and tremendous variety in board and cooling designs very soon. For instance....