Review: So, is it a winner?
Geforce GTX 460 is currently pretty popular so many Nvidia partners are trying to lure customers with nonreference designs, factory overclocks or gifts. Today we’re talking about EVGA GTX 460 1GB FTW (For The Win) card that sits among the fastest factory overclocked GTX 460 cards. The GTX 460 FTW’s GPU was pushed from reference 675MHz to 850MHz, with the memory also getting a boost from 900MHz to 1000MHz. Factory overclock usually provides improved performance but of course, this comes at a price.
All the GTX 460 cards we’ve tested so far (regardless of the company or operating clocks) had no trouble running at 800+MHz, which says enough of the GF104’s overclocking potential. Those who dare not risk their warranty or doubt that they’ll manage to hit 850MHz for the GPU can thankfully resort to factory overclocked cards such as EVGA GTX 460 FTW.
GF104 is derived from Fermi architecture so no worries about DirectX 11 support. Unlike the GF100 (GTX480/470/465), the GF104 packs less transistors and runs cooler. GTX 460 will allow for pleasant gaming at 1920x1080 and its main red-team competitor is the HD 5850, although EVGA GTX 460 FTW comes pretty close to HD 5870’s scores. Bear in mind though that AMD will soon announce its HD 6800 series, which doesn’t make the GTX 460’s task of proving itself any easier.
Before we move on, not that Nvidia offers two versions of GTX 460 cards – one with 768MB and the other with 1024MB of GDDR5 memory. However, it’s not only the frame buffer that is different and it ultimately affects performance so the GTX 460 768MB is a bit slower. Furthermore, the 768MB version of GTX 460 cards come with 192-bit memory bus, whereas the 1024MB versin comes with a 256-bit bus. This directly affects ROP units as well, so the 1024MB version of the card comes with 32 ROPs whereas the 768MB version comes with 24. Clocks for the GPU and memory are identical on both cards.
We recieved the card in EVGA's typical packaging. In the box we found a mini-HDMI-to-HDMI cable (about 2m in length), VGA converter, software CD, a large „EVGA Geforce GTX 400 GPUs“ sticker and a small „Powered by EVGA“ sticker.
The card comes with reference dual-slot cooling which does a good job cooling the GF104.
In the center of the cooler is a fan with 11 fins, with the aluminum heatsink and copper heatpipe visible underneath the fan. The fan RPM is controlled via the card's BIOS but we're pretty confident that many users will leave it as it is since the fan is pretty quiet.
EVGA GTX 460 FTW comes with reference set of video outs – two dual-link DVIs and one mini-HDMI out.
Like the reference card, EVGA's GTX 460 FTW requires two 6-pin power connectors.
We already said that this is a reference design, but there is one little difference – passive, black mosfet heatsink, which can be seen on the picture below.
EVGA's GTX 460 FTW 1GB is 2-Way SLI ready as it comes with one SLI connector.
Motherboard: EVGA 4xSLI
CPU: Core i7 965 XE (Intel EIST and Vdrop enabled)
Memory: 6GB Corsair Dominator 12800 7-7-7-24
Harddisk: OCZ Vertex 2 100 GB
Power Supply: CoolerMaster Silent Pro Gold 800W
Case: CoolerMaster HAF X
Fan Controler: Kaze Master Pro 5.25"
Operating System: Win7 64-bit
Aliens vs Predator
EVGA GTX 460 FTW is a factory overclocked graphics card running at 850MHz for the GPU and 1000MHz (4000MHz effectively) for the memory.
Our attempt at additional overclocking without messing with voltages and manual RPM control resulted in 860MHz for the GPU, whereas maximum fan RPM allowed for 870MHz.
After increasing the voltage from 1000mV to 1087mV (fan at AUTO settings) we managed to hit 900MHz, which was good enough for gaming but not FurMark. For the latter test, we had to push the fan to the max.
The highest memory clock we managed was 1040MHz, which is 40MHz (160MHz effectively) higher than the factory overclock. We’re talking about Samsung’s K4G10325FE-HC05 GDDR5 – the same one we managed to push up to 1090MHz in our EVGA GTS 450 FPB review.
Overclocking to 900MHz/4160MHz further improved the results by 4% in Metro 2033 and almost 5% in AvP, as you can see from the following table.
EVGA GTX 460 FTW features the same reference dual slot cooler we find on GTX 460 cards with the exception of a small passive VRM heatsink. The fan’s AUTO operation is pretty balanced so the card will be inaudible in 2D and will not be loud during gaming. FurMark is of course another story and while the card could be heard, we can’t say it was too loud. Naturally, if you push the fan to the max, you’ll probably find it too loud.
Minimum idle temperature was at 28°C. Our factory-clocked EVGA GTX 460 FTW hit 76°C in FurMark whereas playing Aliens vs. Predator resulted in 74°C.
After our overclocking to 900MHz (fan at maximum RPM) we measured 74°C in FurMark. We tried leaving the fan at AUTO RPM mode but the card refused to run stable and the temperatures we measured were at 84°C.
EVGA GTX 460 FTW 1GB is one of the fastest GTX 460 cards around and comes with a 2 year warranty (more on that here). EVGA’s GTX 460 FTW is great for gaming at resolutions such as 1920x1080, and it isn’t too pricey either. This card will set you back about €206 whereas the same company's reference GTX 460 1024MB (675MHz GPU, 900MHz memory) is priced at about €181.
It’s well worth noting that the difference in pricing is at about 14%, here, whereas the performance difference is up to 22%. Although the card comes with reference cooling, we must admit we’ve had no trouble whatsoever – this time around Nvidia seems to have done a good job.
If you prefer the green team and are looking for a DirectX 11 card to satisfy your DX11 gaming urge, the GTX 460 is a good choice. EVGA’s GTX 460 1GB FTW, on the other hand, is an even better choice considering the added performance and you definitely won’t go wrong if it ends up in your arsenal. On the other hand, AMD will soon launch its new cards so it might be wise to wait a bit more, if not for the cards in GTX 460’s range, then for the price cuts that are likely to follow the launch.