NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 Review

Today NVIDIA is answering the demands of money conscious gamers by introducing the new GeForce GTX 460. The GTX 460 is a refinement of the Fermi architecture, designed to land significant performance improvements for gamers resting in the $200 USD sweet spot. We will find out if this truly does deliver gaming bliss on the cheap and why NVIDIA is calling the GTX 460 an "Overclocker’s Dream."

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Overclocking

To overclock these GeForce GTX 460 video cards, we used NVIDIA System Tools version 6.06. To test our overclocked stability, we used FurMark and our game suite.

Keep in mind that every video card is different and the overclocks we achieve here are not necessarily what you will be able to achieve.

Out of the Box

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Out of the box, both of our reference cards reflect the standard NVIDIA reference specification. The GPU core is clocked at 675MHz, the shader core at 1350MHz, and the memory at 3.6GHz. The Galaxy GTX 460 1GB card came out the box with the GPU overclocked to 810MHz, the shader core clocked to 1620MHz, and the memory at 4.0GHz.

Overclocked

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The Galaxy video card came out of the box with a high clock rate already, so we weren't able to push it much higher. We gained 60MHz on the GPU core, bringing it to 870MHz and the shader core to 1.74GHz. We only gained another 25MHz on the memory, bringing it to 4.1GHz DDR.

The reference video cards overclocked very well. We brought the GPU clock on the 1GB GTX 460 reference card up to 870MHz, so it came out with a shader core at 1.74GHz as well. The 768MB reference GTX 460 GPU core went up to 845MHz, bringing its shaders up to 1.69GHz. We increased the memory on the 768MB video card to 1050MHz, or 4.2GHz DDR.


Overclocked Performance Comparison

The following apples to apples comparisons demonstrate the performance gains we experienced from overclocking.

Splinter Cell: Conviction

For this test, we ran the Galaxy GTX 460 1GB video card in Splinter Cell at 2560x1600 with no AA and 16X AF. This configuration is not playable on the reference speed cards, and is only borderline on the out-of-the-box Galaxy GTX 460 1GB.

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We gained about 2.5 frames per second average, which is about a 7.5% increased, but we also made the game actually playable. Before the overclock, the game had some choppy moments which were almost eliminated by overclocking.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

For this comparison, we ran the reference GTX 460 1GB video card at 1920x1200 with 16X CSAA and 16X AF. This was our highest playable configuration for this video card in this game, and we were interested to see how it could be improved.

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We gained an impressive 23% on top of our average framerate from overclocking. We couldn’t quite use 16xQ CSAA after the overclock, but it did allow us to play at 2560x1600 with no AA, which was not playable before.

Singularity

Our 768MB GTX 460 could not play Singularity at 2560x1600 with 2X MSAA, thanks to a huge performance hit just for turning AA on in that game. So, since our overclocking efforts turned out to be so successful, we wanted to see if it could render the game playable.

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And yes it sure did. We saw an impressive 43% performance boost from overclocking this little 768MB GeForce GTX 460 reference card. It certainly made 2X MSAA playable at 2560x1600, but 4X MSAA remained just out of our reach.