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Written by Olin Coles   
Monday, 12 July 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 768MB Video Card
Features and Specifications
NVIDIA GF104 GPU Fermi Architecture
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 Video Card
GeForce GTX-460 Partner Products
Video Card Testing Methodology
DX10: 3DMark Vantage
DX10: Crysis Warhead
DX10: Far Cry 2
DX10: Resident Evil 5
DX11: Aliens vs Predator
DX11: Battlefield Bad Company 2
DX11: BattleForge
DX11: Metro 2033
DX11: Unigine Heaven 2.1
NVIDIA APEX PhysX Enhancements
NVIDIA 3D-Vision Effects
GeForce GTX460 Temperatures
VGA Power Consumption
GeForce GTX 460 Overclocking
Editor's Opinion: NVIDIA Fermi
GeForce GTX 460 Conclusion

GeForce GTX 460 Overclocking

If there's one particular message this article should impress upon the reader, it would be that the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 is an overclockers dream. The GF104-equipped GTX 460 already comes with an impressive stock clock of 675/1350 MHz, with the GDDR5 running at 900 MHz (1800 DDR). Putting this into perspective, these speed fall between the GeForce GTX 470 and GTX 480 (closer to the latter). Now comes the fun: overclocking the GeForce GTX 460 is as easy as its ever been.

Back in the day, software overclocking tools were few and far between. Benchmark Reviews was literally put on the map with my first article: Overclocking the NVIDIA GeForce Video Card. Although slightly dated, that article is still relevant for enthusiasts wanting to permanently flash their overclock onto the video cards BIOS. Unfortunately, most users are not so willing to commit their investment to such risky changes, and feel safer with temporary changes that can be easily undone with a reboot. That's the impetus behind the sudden popularity for software-based GPU overclocking tools.

NVIDIA offers one such tool with their System Tools suite, formerly available as NVIDIA nTune. While the NVIDIA Control Panel interface is very easy to understand an navigate, it's downfall lies in the limited simplicity of the tool. It's also limited, and doesn't offer the overclocking potential that AIC partners offer in their own branded software tools. For example, using the NVIDIA System Tools utility to overclock the GeForce GTX 460 (1GB version), I was able to set the graphics clock up to 1350MHz (which is way out of realistic range) but the memory clock was limited to 2160. As it turns out, overclocking the GTX 460's GDDR5 from 1800 to well past 2160 MHz was possible.


After hitting a brick wall with the NVIDIA System Tools utility (nTune), I turned to the most popular brand name on the overclocking scene: MSI. While not the biggest company selling motherboard and video card products, they're definitely the most aggressive brand with some of the highest-quality products sold. MSI offers their Afterburner utility (based on Riva Tuner), and also a Kombustor tool (based on FurMark). Knowing that the GeForce GTX 460 would need a wider range of clock speeds, I began overclocking with MSI Afterburner 1.6.1.

My mission was simple: locate the highest possible overclock without adding any additional voltage. Starting with memory, I slowly raised the GDDR5 clock speed... until I once again reached the limit of this tool: 1170 MHz (2340 MHz data rate). While I would have liked to go further, and take the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460's 1GB GDDR5 memory as far as it could possibly go, the jump from 900 to 1170 MHz equaled very little frame rate improvement. Using only a memory overclock, Aliens vs Predator performance jumped from 22.2 to 23.5 FPS at 1920x1200. Far Cry 2 performance was bumped from 57.36 to 58.85. Now it was time to work some magic on the GF104 GPU.


As a best practice, it's good to find the maximum stable GPU clock speed and then drop back 10 MHz or more. While the GeForce GTX 460 was stable in many tests up to 880 MHz, there was an occasional graphics defect. In the end, I decided that 855 MHz with full-time stability is a far better proposition than crashing out midway through battle. Adding the 855/1710 MHz GPU overclock onto the 1170 MHz GDDR5 overclock resulted in some very impressive gains!

Far Cry 2 video frame rate performance increased from 57.36 FPS to 71.67, equaling a 25% bump in performance for this DirectX-10 video game. That's a nice start, but DirectX-11 is really where the market's at these days... so I turned to AvP for another series of test runs.

Aliens vs Predator jumped from 22.2 FPS at stock/default settings to 28.3 FPS, resulting in nearly 28% performance gain. What does that 28% mean to you? For a mere $200~$220, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 just matched the $400 ATI Radeon HD 5870. That right ATI, you read that correctly: NVIDIA's $200 product can perform as well as your $400 flagship video card. Ouch! That's gotta hurt.

In the next section, I offer my opinion on Fermi's updated architecture and add a little salt into ATI's fresh wound...



# RE: NVIDIA GeForce GTX-460 768MB Video CardServando Silva 2010-07-11 21:27
Finally a decent Fermi GPU. Nvidia strikes back after almost 1 year. Thanks for this great Review Olin.
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# First "Gaming" Fermi GPU...?Bruce Normann 2010-07-12 10:00
I can't help but think that the GF100-based Fermi cards were not really optimized for gaming. Engineers don't just throw a bunch of transistors into a rectangular pan and bake at 350F for 45 minutes. The architecture of the GF100 was designed to excel at something, it just wasn't gaming graphics. What I keep wodering is: what is the size and scope of the market that they WERE optimized for?
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# RE: First "Gaming" Fermi GPU...?Servando Silva 2010-07-12 12:56
I think they focused a lot on CUDA and features (3D, Surround, PhysX) instead of performance. This GPUs could really be super fast for other applications, just not gaming. This seems to be their first product "really" targeted to gamers.
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# It's only a matter of timeAvro Arrow 2010-07-14 06:30
We need to keep in mind that ATi's HD 5xxx series has already been out almost a year (wow, has it really been that long?) and that nVidia was supposed to have released Fermi almost exactly 1 year ago. It's unknown what exactly ATi is going to release this year but we can be sure that it's most likely going to make the GTX 4xx series look like the FX 5xxx
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# one questionFederico La Morgia 2010-08-07 05:45
what is written on the RAM chips?
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# RE: one questionOlin Coles 2010-08-07 05:56
Textures are cached and buffered to the video memory. Some games buffer only 100MB, and other buffer up to 1GB.
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