Palit GeForce GTX 260 Sonic 216SP 55nm Graphics Card

Palit has created a Sonic version of the 55nm 216SP GTX 260 and we take the time to check it out.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Sun, Mar 1 2009 11:00 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:04 PM CST
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: Palit

Introduction


Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card



The latest incarnation of the GTX 260 not only packs the upgraded 216 stream processors, but it also carries with it a 55nm core. What this means is that the card can run cooler, which in turn means it can run faster. While NVIDIA chose not to do anything with the clocks of the card, it doesn't mean companies out there won't!

Today we're looking at the Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP. The Sonic means the card is overclocked and the 216SP means that we have the upgraded stream processors. This is our first 55nm GTX 260, but I think we've picked out a good one.

Let's just have a quick look at the package to see what Palit has included before we have a closer look at the card to see if there's anything that stands out. From there we will get stuck into the benchmarks and see how it compares to some of the other cards we have floating around.

The Package




Looking at the box, there isn't anything we haven't seen before. FroBot manages to take up most of the package with the big GeForce logo going across the middle. Being an NVIDIA card the green theme is also used in this case, versus the red one we see on ATI offerings.

Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Apart from a few logos, the bottom right corner has a sticker that gives us all the important information we need. As we've mentioned, this card is the GTX 260 Sonic 216SP. We can also see it comes with 806MB of GDDR3 memory on a 448-bit bus. Below that we can see some of the other features like dual Dual-Link DVI, HDMI and more.

Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Turning the box over, we have a small amount of information on some of the features the card offers and in a number of languages. Across the bottom of the box we have the Palit logo alongside the website and contact email address.

Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Looking at the paperwork, there isn't a whole lot to see here. Palit has included a quick installation guide along with a driver CD. As always, though, we recommend that you take the time to head over to the NVIDIA site and grab the latest driver for your operating system and card.

Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


As far as cables go, we have our S/PDIF loop-back cable, dual molex to 6-Pin PCI Express, component / RCA TV-Out dongle and a DVI to VGA and DVI to HDMI connector.

The Card




With the package out of the way and now moving onto the card, we can see straight away the massive heatsink/fan that takes up the majority of the card. This cooler might look familiar; the reason for that is due to the fact it is the same design we saw on the Palit Revolution 700 HD 4870 X2 we looked at a few months back.

Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


We can see that on each fan we have the Palit logo, while at the top of the cooler we have the mention of the card being part of the GTX200 series. With the cooler taking up the majority of the card, there isn't a whole lot to see.

Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Moving towards the back of the card we can see not only our two 6-pin PCI Express power connectors, but also another connector which is used to get sound through the HDMI connector.

Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Closer to the front of the card we have two SLI connectors which gives us the ability to run up to three of these cards together. Unfortunately due to the massive cooler that Palit has opted for, this is probably not only going to be a hard task, but likely impossible.

Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


The I/O side of things doesn't hold any surprises with two Dual-Link DVI connectors present and a single TV-Out port. We can also see some vents here that let the hot air escape, keeping the GPU as cool as possible.


Specifications

With the card being part of the Sonic series, it does come out of the box overclocked. As you can see below, the core has moved from 576MHz to 625MHz. The memory has also been increased from 1998MHz to a more even-sounding 2200MHz.

Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Finally, we have the shader clock and this has also gotten a bump. We see it's been moved from 1242MHz to a much more hardcore sounding 1348MHz. We can also see in the top left corner that this card is based on 55nm technology, as we had already mentioned.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage


Test System Setup

Processor(s): Intel i7 920 @ 3.8GHz (190MHz x 20)
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P (Supplied by Noctua)
Motherboard(s): GIGABYTE EX58-UD5 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)
Memory: 3 X 2GB OCZ Technology PC-12800 DDR-3 8-8-8-24 (OCZ3G1600LV6GK)
Hard Disk(s): Western Digital 300GB Velicorapter (Supplied by Western Digital)
Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista SP1 64-Bit
Drivers: Catalyst 9.1, ForceWare 182.06


Today we'll take the time to see how the Palit GTX 260 goes up against the single GPU HD 4870. We will also see how it goes against the Leadtek GTX 260 EXTREME+ we looked at just the other day which is also overclocked, though not as high as the one we have here.


3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here




3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.


Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Straight off the mark we see the GTX 260 from Palit perform well with it really giving the HD 4870 a good beating, while also nudging out ahead over the Leadtek GTX 260 EXTREME+.

Benchmarks - PT Boats: Knights of the Sea


PT Boats: Knights of the Sea

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Developer Homepage: http://en.akella.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.pt-boats.net/





PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a naval action simulator that places gamers in charge of a mosquito fleet of the Allied Forces, Russia or Germany during the height of World War II.

Using the latest Direct X 10 technology PT Boards - Knights of the Sea manages to apply a lot of stress to the components of today which in turn gives us quite an intensive benchmark.


Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Looking at PT Boats, it doesn't come as a surprise that the HD 4870 falls way behind the GTX 260 Sonic, since this benchmark has always favored the green team. We again see that the extra MHz on offer from Palit gives us a nice little bump in performance when compared to the EXTREME+ version from Leadtek.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10


CINEBENCH R10

Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net




CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).


Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Under CINEBENCH we see the ATI offering really shine here. As for the GTX 260s, we can see that the Palit offering has a slight edge.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.massive.se
Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com





World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.

The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.


Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


At the lower resolution we see the cards perform quite close, but as we move higher and higher, the GTX 260s begin to shine. At the highest resolution we continue to see the higher clocked Sonic beat out the EXTREME+.

Benchmarks - Crysis Warhead


Crysis Warhead

Version and / or Patch Used: unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Airfield
Developer Homepage: http://www.crytek.com
Product Homepage: http://crysiswarhead.ea.com/
Buy It Here




Crysis Warhead updates and refines the gameplay of the original game through a sidestory plot involving Psycho, one of previous protagonist Nomad's allies. The game is a parallel story that follows Sergeant Michael "Psycho" Sykes, a character from the original Crysis, as he faces his own trials and challenges on the other side of the island during the time period of the first game.

It also showcases a new, enhanced and optimized version of CryEngine 2 using full DX10 extensions and is the first game developed by Crytek's Budapest studio.

Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Firing up the intensive Warhead, we continue to see the GTX 260 from Palit take out top honors across the board.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2


Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/
Buy It Here




The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.


Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Looking at Far Cry 2, we see the Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP again performing well, coming out in front at all resolutions. At 2560 x 1600 we almost have that 30 FPS minimum we like to see and changing from very high to high will give us that extra FPS we need.

Benchmarks - S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky


S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.5.07
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.gsc-game.com/
Product Homepage: http://cs.stalker-game.com/en/
Buy It Here




S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, is the stand-alone prequel for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, a first-person shooter computer game by Ukrainian developer GSC Game World.[3] The game consists of a roughly 50/50 mix of new areas and old, remodeled areas from the previous game. The X-ray graphics engine has been updated to version 1.5 and includes DirectX 10 support (later patch 1.5.06 included DirectX 10.1). Additionally, the AI received an overhaul to accommodate the new faction wars feature.

Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Under Clear Sky we see that the HD 4870 comes out ahead. This isn't a surprise as this game really does favor ATI offerings. Looking at the GTX 260s, though, we again see the Palit has the edge.

Benchmarks - Left 4 Dead


Left 4 Dead

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.l4d.com/
Buy It Here




Left 4 Dead uses the latest version of Valve's Source engine, with improvements such as multi-core processor support and physics-based animation to more realistically portray hair and clothing, and to improve physics interaction with enemies when shot or shoved in different body parts. Animation was also improved to allow characters to lean realistically when moving in curved paths.

Rendering and artificial intelligence were scaled up to allow for greater number of enemies who can navigate the world in better ways, such as climbing, jumping or breaking obstacles. Lighting has been enhanced with new self-shadowing normal mapping and advanced shadow rendering that is important to convey information about the environment and player actions.

Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Across the board we continue to see the Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP come out ahead of the pack.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF


High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.


Far Cry 2

Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


With the detail volume set to 11, we see the NVIDIA cards really shining here. Again, though, the overclock Palit offers gives it the edge over an already overclocked GTX 260 from Leadtek.


World In Conflict

Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


WIC shows both GTX 260 cards offer very similar performance, with the average on the Palit being 1FPS better.


Left 4 Dead

Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Under Left 4 Dead we continue to see the GTX 260 from Palit come out with a win. In this case, however, it's only just in front.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict - XP


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.massive.se
Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com




World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.

The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.

Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Under XP nothing changes with the Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP performing very well and ahead of the competition.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2 - XP


Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/
Buy It Here




The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.


Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


As we've seen all along, the Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP has an edge on the competition and here is no different.

Benchmarks - S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky - XP


S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.5.07
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.gsc-game.com/
Product Homepage: http://cs.stalker-game.com/en/
Buy It Here




S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, is the stand-alone prequel for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, a first-person shooter computer game by Ukrainian developer GSC Game World.[3] The game consists of a roughly 50/50 mix of new areas and old, remodeled areas from the previous game. The X-ray graphics engine has been updated to version 1.5 and includes DirectX 10 support (later patch 1.5.06 included DirectX 10.1). Additionally, the AI received an overhaul to accommodate the new faction wars feature.

Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Finally we leave with Clear Sky and as you would expect the ATI offering does have the edge here. Comparing the two GTX 260s shows the Palit in front once again with its higher overclock.

Temperature and Sound Tests


Temperature Tests



With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).

There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.


Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


The 55nm core and hardcore cooling solution on the Palit GTX 260 Sonic SP216 help keep temps pretty cool


Sound Tests



Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).


Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Noise levels are also in a pretty standard range at around the 65 - 68 dB area.

Power Consumption Tests






Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.


Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP Graphics Card


Power draw levels are similar to the Leadtek offering; a little lower at idle, little higher at load. We can see that the GTX 260s, though, are a fair bit lower at load when compared to the HD 4870. But with that said, 350 Watt isn't really a worrying figure.

Final Thoughts




The GTX 260 really has had some good development since its release and it's nice to see that Palit has moved with the card. The Sonic version of this 55nm, 216 stream processor GTX 260 is great. Performance is great and the overall design with the choice of cooler is also great; the card really is just, great!

It helps fill a price gap that ATI currently don't have. If you want to spend more than a HD 4870, but not as much as a HD 4870 X2, get a GTX 260. If you want something that packs a bit more punch, though, and you're willing to spend a few extra dollars, get yourself the Palit GTX 260 Sonic SP216.

While on the topic of the SP216, this is an extremely important part to look for, otherwise you could well end up with a card based on the original 65nm design with 192 stream processors.

As we have just mentioned, the Palit GTX 260 Sonic 216SP is a great card; there's not really anything wrong with it and while the bundle might not include a full version game, it's one of the cheaper overclocked GTX 260s on the market which is a more important feature to most.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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