Sneak Peak of GeForce GTX 560 with Duke, Alice Madness Returns, and Dungeon Siege III

Previous Page


Because neither the GTX 560 nor the three titles are released, to give you a frame of reference for our benchmarking figures, we will compare the card to three existing in-use GPUs. The first of which is the popular 9800 GT. The second graphics card is the GeForce GTX 460, which is the predecessor to the 560. Finally, we'll also be comparing the card to its bigger brother, the GeForce GTX 560 Ti.

In creating our standardized benchmarking settings, we used the GTX 560's respective Optimal Playable Settings (OPS) for each of the three games previewed. OPS are a GPU's specific game configuration which would produce the sweet spot between delivering the highest quality visuals and "smooth, playable" framerates. As the average human eye can detect framerate drops below 30 frames per second, we define smooth playable framerates as anything averaging 35 FPS and above.

Disclaimer: It is important to note that because the three games previewed below are currently unreleased, performance data is subject to change.

In an attempt to remove any technical inaccuracies, we used the same gaming rig to test both cards. Our PC components consisted of:

Motherboard: ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution

CPU: Intel Core i7 2600K @ 3.4GHz

Ram: 8GB DDR3 1333MHz, 9-9-9-24

Operating system: Windows 7 64bit

Duke Nukem Forever

The first game we're previewing is Duke Nukem Forever. Currently scheduled to launch internationally on June 10, the title has been in development since 1997 and is widely considered the most long-awaited game of all time. Like the beloved Duke Nukem 3D before it, Duke Nukem Forever retains the franchise's fun and raunchy sensibilities. A major benefit for GTX 560 owners with 3D monitors is that they'll be able to take advantage of the fact that it's an "Excellent" rated NVIDIA 3D Vision title. This essentially means the game was meticulously tweaked to look gorgeous in stereoscopic 3D, so if you're looking to flaunt your 3D setup to your friends, Duke Nukem Forever would be the game to showcase, and if you already have access to a 3D Vision setup, click on the images below to be redirected to 3D Vision, NVIDIA's 3D multimedia website, to see some of the first public 3D screenshots of the game."

The juxtaposition between this soldier in front of the whiteboard provide a greater sense of depth in 3D.

A soldier stands in front of a stairway and asks you if you're going to save the world. The effect of him juxtaposed in front of the concrete background creates an amazing sense of depth in 3D.

The game's first boss is a big one. As you guys exchange rocket blasts, all sorts of missiles and explosions whiz back and forth through the air. The 3D effects do a great job of intensifying the action.

While the added depth does a lot to draw you in as a player, enabling 3D is a very GPU-intensive feature. Let's examine what kind of Optimal Playable Settings the GTX 560 is able to muster at 1920x1080:

GeForce GTX 560 OPS for Duke Nukem Forever

Resolution: 1920x1080

Texture detail: medium

Shadow detail: medium

Shadows: World and Characters

Motion Blur: On

AA: Off

Film Grain: On

Post Special Effects: On

Stereoscopic 3D: On

With these settings, we benchmarked the first 60 seconds of the first level of Duke Nukem Forever and found the average FPS to be 35. Performance here is smooth enough to avoid any gameplay hiccups while not being unnecessarily high as to compromise graphical settings. To give you a frame of reference for what this means, let's see how the other GeForce graphics cards handle these OPS settings.

While the 9800 GT has been a faithful workhorse for the GeForce family for a wide number of years, as you can see from the data above, it is simply not practical to play Duke Nukem Forever in 3D. Running the 560's OPS, its average framerate dipped down to 21 which runs very choppy. Moving on to the 460, we can see that it fairs better with an average FPS of 29; however, as this is just below 30 FPS, it would be wise to turn down some settings to get a smoother performance. Finally, the GeForce GTX 560 Ti runs the game well with an average FPS of 41. This suggests the card is capable of raising graphical features.

Alice: Madness Returns

The next anticipated game that we'll a look at is action/adventure platformer Alice: Madness Returns. Developed by Spicy Horse and scheduled to release on June 14, the game is the sequel to the beloved 2000 hit, ‘American McGee's Alice.’ The Electronic Arts-published title is arguably the most impressive GPU PhysX game thus far. Setting PhysX to "High" brings the deranged version of American McGee's Wonderland to life through added volumetric particle effects and realistic destructible environments.

Using the 560, let's see what GPU PhysX enables:

(Click image to view full side-by-side)

GPU PhysX On: Alice uses her knife to break open a large circular container. Tons of particles break and shatter as they should.

GPU PhysX Off: With PhysX on low, the broken shards are not rendered.

(Click image to view full side-by-side)

GPU PhysX On: When Alice does a double jump, tons of leaves and butterflies shoot out of her skirt. It creates a gorgeous effect that adds to the wonderment of Wonderland.

GPU PhysX Off: When PhysX is set to low, butterflies and leaves do shoot out, but the effect is greatly minimized.

(Click image to view full side-by-side)

GPU PhysX On: Upon shooting a floating oil-like foe with a ranged weapon, Alice becomes drenched from the goo that gets blasted off the enemy. PhysX then allows Alice to walk over and realistically contort the oily substance below.

GPU PhysX Off: When GPU PhysX is turned off, the vibrant spills and splashes of oil are not rendered.

(Click image to view full side-by-side)

GPU PhysX On: When Alice hits enemies with her hobby horse, the floor beneath her breaks and crumbles, realistically shooting hundreds of concrete shards into the air.

GPU PhysX Off: When GPU PhysX is turned off, the ground remains intact upon impact.

While PhysX certainly adds an immersive dimension to the game, because the feature is GPU-intensive, let's see what kind of Optimal Playable Settings the GTX 560 allows for:

GeForce GTX 560 OPS for Alice: Madness Returns

Resolution: 1920x1080

Anti-aliasing: On

PhysX: High (GPU PhysX)

Post processing: On

Dynamic Shadows: On

Motion Blur: On

Testing these settings on the game's benchmarking tool, we were essentially able to max out the game while maintaining a silky smooth average framerate of 50.9. Here the game looked stunning and there were no performance hiccups.

Running the GeForce 9800 GT under the same conditions, the same could not be said. The graphics card yielded an average FPS of 18.5 which resulted in an extremely choppy game experience. While it would be more practical to disable GPU PhysX on the 9800 GT for increased performance, the board could still be used as a standalone PhysX GPU for dual-card setups. Moving on to the GTX 460, the 2010-released card garnered a highly-playable 44.2 average FPS. Finally, the GeForce GTX 560 Ti achieved an ultra smooth 53.6 average FPS.

Continue to page 3