ASUS ENGTX460 TOP 768MB Video Card Review

The ASUS ENGTX460 TOP 768MB delivers boosted frequencies, a unique cooling solution with large 8mm heat-pipes, and Voltage Tweak. However, is that enough to best a reference GTX 460 768MB and an ATI Radeon HD 5770 1GB?

Introduction

ASUSTeK Computer Inc. is one of the largest and most successful computer hardware manufacturers in the world. A Taiwan-based company that manufactures a wide variety of computer hardware, including motherboards, video cards, optical drives, notebooks, networking equipment, barebones desktop, and server systems, among many others. In 2008, it sold over 24 million motherboards, grossed $8.1 billion U.S., and won 3,056 awards from various enthusiasts and IT related outlets.

Today we are going to be taking a look at ASUS’ premium GeForce GTX 460 768MB video card; the ASUS ENGTX460 TOP/2DI/768MD5. From now on we will simply refer to it as the ASUS ENGTX460 TOP.

ASUS Exclusive Voltage Tweak Technology for up to 50% performance -- ASUS Exclusive DirectCU Thermal Solution: Two 8mm flattened copper heat-pipes to contact GPU directly for up to 20% COOLER than generic GeForce GTX460

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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460

NVIDIA released the GeForce GTX 460 on July 12, 2010 and referred to it as "A New Class of Fermi." It is a smaller, leaner, and less complicated, version of the GF100 GPU architecture that the other video cards like the GTX 480/470/465, are based upon. Which at first may sound like a negative but these give it a power; noise, heat, and price advantage over the other Fermi based video cards.

Do to the leaner nature of the video card however a lot of the hardware has been trimmed away. For instance the GTX 480 has 480 CUDA Cores while the GTX 460 has only 336. The number of polymorph (tessellation) engines has also been cut down to 7 vs. the 15 found in the GTX 480. The GTX 460 also comes with either 768MB or 1GB of video memory. A lot less than the 1.5GB of video memory found on a GTX 480. On the brighter side the board length has been cut by 2.25 inches and the max board power has been reduced by 90 Watts. The best news however is the price which MSRP states to be between $199 and $229.


ASUS ENGTX460 TOP

The ENGTX460 TOP is among ASUS’s latest offering of video cards. While today we have here the 768MB version, ASUS also produces a TOP 1GB version. The GPU on the ENGTX460 TOP is clocked at 700MHz, or to put it in a better perspective, only 25MHz higher than reference specifications. The boost given to the shader and memory frequencies are equally unspectacular. The shader is clocked at 1400MHz (vs. 1350MHz) and the memory a pitiful 3680MHz (vs. 3600MHz.) Overall not what comes to mind when we think of a TOP quality overclock.

What could be the saving graces of the ENGTX460 TOP though is its unique cooling solution and Voltage Tweak ability. The cooling solution is set apart from others with its two huge 8mm heat-pipes that are directly touching the GPU. With it ASUS is claiming up to 20% cooler temperatures. The ENGTX460 TOP Voltage Tweak ability allows us to adjust the Vcore of the video card through ASUS’s SmartDoctor utility. Here they claim to be able to achieve up to a 50% performance improvement. We will take a look at both claims in our overclocking and temperature testing however with these two features we could fix the paltry boosted frequencies.

Box Shots

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The front of the box follows the standard practice of showing an avatar that has nothing to do with the video card. It does however show two key features of the video card for anyone trying to compare two GeForce GTX 460s. First on the bottom is the badge showing that it is the 768MB version. Second it shows that it is "Overclocked" or factory boosted to a frequency of 700MHz. While we are always happy to see when the GPU frequency is given we also would have wished to see the shader and memory frequencies.

The back of the box goes over the standard rhetoric of "Powerful Features" and recommend system requirements. We however are glad to see that a large portion of the back is devoted to an actual picture of video card. It also goes over some of the specifications again along with the marketing for Voltage Tweak and the cooling solution.

The Video Card Pictures

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ASUS has chosen to stick with a more reserved theme on the ENGTX460 TOP which suits us perfectly well. Underneath the black plastic shroud is an aluminum heatsink and of course two of ASUS’s 8mm heat-pipes. The memory modules aren’t attached to the heatsink or even a heat spreader which is a disappointment to us. That lack does however make it easy to see the two missing memory modules in the picture above which are both filled in 1GB version. Our final minor gripe is that this video card will dump a large majority of its heat inside your case. The shroud itself isn’t connected to the PCI cover vent and the hot air isn’t directed only towards this vent either.

The ASUS ENGTX460 TOP is the standard 8.25" long and takes up two PCI slots. The front of the video card has a mini HDMI connector along with two DVI ports. The tail end of the video card has the two six-pin auxiliary connectors pointed straight up which is an improvement over the reference design for people who have small cases.

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The back of the ENGTX460 TOP is uncovered except for a heat spreader that is meant to keep cool one of the power chips. It comes with a Speed Setup Guide, a Driver and Manual CD, a DVI to D-Sub adapter, a DVI to min HDMI adapter, two 2 4-pin to 6-pin power adapter, and a cheesy feeling binder for CDs.