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Written by Bruce Normann   
Wednesday, 11 August 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 1GD5/OC Video Card
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 GPU Features
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 1GD5/OC Features
Closer Look: MSI N460GTX Cyclone
MSI N460GTX Cyclone Detailed Features
Video Card Testing Methodology
DX10: 3DMark Vantage
DX10: Crysis
DX10: Devel May Cry 4
DX10: Far Cry 2
DX10: Resident Evil 5
DX11: Battlefield: Bad Company 2
DX11: Unigine Heaven
DX11: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
DX11: Aliens Vs. Predator
MSI N460GTX Cyclone Temps
VGA Power Consumption
GTX 460 Final Thoughts
MSI N460GTX Cyclone Conclusion

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

The Unigine "Heaven 2.0" benchmark is a free, publicly available, tool that grants the power to unleash the graphics capabilities in DirectX-11 for Windows 7 or updated Vista Operating Systems. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode, emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

The distinguishing feature in the Unigine Heaven benchmark is a hardware tessellation that is a scalable technology aimed for automatic subdivision of polygons into smaller and finer pieces, so that developers can gain a more detailed look of their games almost free of charge in terms of performance. Thanks to this procedure, the elaboration of the rendered image finally approaches the boundary of veridical visual perception: the virtual reality transcends conjured by your hand. The "Heaven" benchmark excels at providing the following key features:

  • Native support of OpenGL, DirectX 9, DirectX-10 and DirectX-11
  • Comprehensive use of tessellation technology
  • Advanced SSAO (screen-space ambient occlusion)
  • Volumetric cumulonimbus clouds generated by a physically accurate algorithm
  • Dynamic simulation of changing environment with high physical fidelity
  • Interactive experience with fly/walk-through modes
  • ATI Eyefinity support

MSI_N460GTX_Cyclone_1GD5_OC_Unigine_Heaven_DX11_4xAA.jpg

Starting off with a lighter load of 4x MSAA, we see a steady progression of performance as you move up the ATI 5xxx ladder. Stuck there in the middle of the chart are two results that show a clear distinction between the two competing architectures. Even in the "normal" tessellation mode, this is a graphics test that really shows off the full effect of the new technology. The Fermi architecture has so much more computing power designated and available for tessellation, that it's no small surprise to see the card doing so well here. There is still some jerkiness to the display with all of the cards; now that I've seen the landscape go by for a couple hundred times, I can spot the small stutters more easily. This test was run with 4x anti-aliasing; let's see how the cards stack up when we increase MSAA to the maximum level of 8x.

MSI_N460GTX_Cyclone_1GD5_OC_Unigine_Heaven_DX11_8xAA.jpg

Increasing the anti-aliasing just improved the already convincing performance of the GTX 460, relative to the Radeon HD 5xxx series. It's interesting to note that the HD 5850 doesn't stand out so much with this benchmark; everywhere else, it seems to jump a little higher than its Radeon neighbors. There's no denying that the Fermi chip, in its best interpretation yet: the GF104, is a killer when called upon for tessellation duty.

Let's take a look at one more DX11 benchmark, a decidedly less cheerful scenario in a post-apocalyptic "Zone", which is traversed by mercenary guides called Stalkers.

Graphics Card

Processor
Cores

Core Clock
(MHz)

Shader Clock
(MHz)

Memory Clock
(MHz)

Memory
Amount

Memory
Interface

XFX Radeon HD5750 (HD-575X-ZNFC)

720

700

N/A

1150

1.0GB GDDR5

128-bit

ATI Radeon HD5770 (Engineering Sample)

800

850

N/A

1200

1.0GB GDDR5

128-bit

XFX Radeon HD5830 (HD-583X-ZNFV)

1120

800

N/A

1000

1.0GB GDDR5

256-bit

ASUS GeForce GTX 260 (ENGTX260 MATRIX)

216

576

1242

999

896MB GDDR3

448-bit

MSI GeForce GTX460 (N460GTX Cyclone 1GD5/OC)

336

725

1450

900

1.0GB GDDR5

256-bit

XFX Radeon HD5850 (21162-00-50R)

1440

725

N/A

1000

1.0GB GDDR5

256-bit

MSI GeForce GTX460-OC (N460GTX Cyclone 1GD5/OC)

336

850

1700

1050

1.0GB GDDR5

256-bit

ASUS GeForce GTX 285 (MATRIX GTX285)

240

662

1476

1242

1.0GB GDDR3

512-bit

XFX Radeon HD5870 (HD-587X-ZNFC)

1600

850

N/A

1200

1.0GB GDDR5

256-bit

ASUS Radeon HD5870-OC (EAH5870/2DIS/1GD5/V2)

1600

1000

N/A

1250

1.0GB GDDR5

256-bit



 

Comments 

 
# Has anyone else noticed?Stefan 2010-08-10 22:54
The fins at the base of the heat-sink spiral in the opposite direction to the fan rotation?

Whoops.
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# RE: Has anyone else noticed?Olin Coles 2010-08-11 06:56
That removes laminar air flow through air friction, and delivers better cooling performance.
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# Good Heat TransferBruceBruce 2010-08-11 07:07
For good heat transfer, you basically want the air banging into the surface of the heatsink. Turbulence is good, impingement is even better.
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# I stand corrected!Stefan 2010-08-12 23:35
Well, I guess I should have taken an engineering class :)

I consider myself now a little more educated from your remarks, thanks ;)
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# :DFederico La Morgia 2010-08-11 02:12
same question as always: D this video card and RAM chips mounted?
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# RE: :DServando Silva 2010-08-11 04:49
You really want to read the "Detailed Features" section before asking.
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# RE: RE: :DFederico La Morgia 2010-08-11 06:06
the code :)
Olin know what I mean to ask
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# Yeah, but...BruceBruce 2010-08-11 07:22
All the information is right there, beautiful pictures of the RAM chips and everything.... Just click on the "Detailed Features" page in the table above.
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# RE: Yeah, but...Servando Silva 2010-08-11 08:29
Thanks Bruce... Unless Federico and Olin are talking different things, I think you did a great job about the ICs in the detailed section. Great review!
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# RE: MSI N460GTX Cyclone 1GD5/OC Video Cardmascotzel 2010-08-11 02:16
Mini-HDMI is there on the board because of space constraints. You can't put anything else next to 2 DVI's on a single slot bracket.
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# RE: MSI N460GTX Cyclone 1GD5/OC Video CardAdam 2010-08-11 08:10
Favourite benchmarks so far! Uses an almost identical system to me and includes the GTX260 (my current card), great stuff for working out if I want to upgrade yet or not.
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# RE: MSI N460GTX Cyclone 1GD5/OC Video CardDavid Ramsey 2010-08-11 16:42
FWIW, the Porsche 911 has been water cooled for more than a decade, and the tighter temperature regulation afforded by water cooling led to major increases in power and efficiency (parts could be machined to tighter tolerances since the narrower temperature envelope limited expansion of the parts). Still, for the time, the air cooled 911 was pretty good.
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# ImagineBruceBruce 2010-08-12 19:38
Just think what the engineers could have done with heatpipes...LOL

Seriously, you don't want to get into a discussion of air cooled vs. watercooled Porsches, do you? That's just begging for an invasion of the body-snatchers! Don't you think the comment section has suffered enough lately?
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# MSI N460GTXWayne Manor 2010-08-14 00:29
Thanks for the review, very informative! I currently have 2 of these puppies in SLI. I'm curious how the Gainward 2GB version compares with the 1GB versions
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# Excellent reviewDr_b_ 2010-08-18 18:53
excellent review. glad you added the older 200 series in for comparison, there doesn't seem to be a reason to keep using the old 285 that i have now. going to SLI two of these.
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# It was a great card in its day...BruceBruce 2010-08-18 19:05
I'm sure you got lots of good use out of it, but time and progress marches on. One of the things I like about the GTX 460 cards is that there is a variety of implementations. The ASUS that was reviewd here is another example of a solid non-reference design (4 phase PWM, etc...).
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# Question for a purchaseKaelin 2010-08-23 03:58
Thank you for your very interesting article. I must change my graphics card but i hesitate between the MSI N460GTX Cyclone 1GD5/OC and the Asus ENGTX460 DirectCU TOP/2DI/1GD5... I don't know which one to choose =( Which one do you advise ?

(Sorry for my english level)
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# Tough Choice...Bruce Bruce 2010-08-23 07:44
They each have larger fans and bigger HSF assemblies that both improve cooling and reduce noise levels. ASUS rolled their own PC board design, and it looks like they increased the PWM from 3-phase to 4-phase. MSI stuck with the reference design. I can't tell where you are located, but you may want to consider the support services that are available in your location, as well as local warranty provisions.
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# Asus or MSI...Kaelin 2010-08-23 10:03
Thank you for your reply
I am French so the support service is not a problem (usually)
to help me to decide I would like to know wich graphic card has the cooling system more efficient and wich one has the best resistance to a higher overclocking. And to finish wich one do you prefer ^^

Thanks in advance
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# RE: Asus or MSI...sportwarrior 2010-08-24 16:56
I'm also interested in the questions above... it seems that the two cards are quite similar in performance capability, though, so ultimately I'm guessing it doesn't really matter which I would select (I live in SoCal, for what it's worth). I will say I like the look of the ASUS quite a but more than the MSI, but Amazon is making me wait a ridiculously long time to get my card and I NEED to build my new rig very very soon.
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# RE: RE: Asus or MSI...Olin Coles 2010-08-24 17:00
Research the warranty support for each, and go from there.
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# French Pricing?BruceBruce 2010-08-24 18:47
What are the prices for each, locally? I don't want to say that the two cards are the same, because they are not. But.....they both do an admirable job supporting the GF104 chip, in slightly different ways. I like MSI Afterburner better than ASUS Smart Doctor, so that's how I would go... If the ASUS card supported the ASUS iTracker2 software, it might be a different story.
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# The choice is madeKaelin 2010-08-24 23:39
In France, the price difference is about 1 euro for the Asus graphics card. Moreover the Asus ENGTX460 DirectCU TOP/2DI/1GD5 is guaranteed 3 years against 2 for the MSI, that's the reason for why I chose the Asus.

thank you for your help =)
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# RE: The choice is madeWayne Manor 2010-08-25 00:58
I would have gone with the Asus version too if it had come out earlier as it is $35 cheaper here than the MSI cyclone, both with 3 yr warranty.
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# RE: RE: The choice is madeWayne Manor 2010-08-25 01:00
Here in Australia that is :p
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# Wacky PricesBruceBruce 2010-08-25 17:45
That's a major difference Wayne. This is exactly why I asked Kaelin about the pricing in France. You just never know.....
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# RE: MSI N460GTX Cyclone 1GD5/OC Video Cardnax 2010-08-25 23:07
i like asus look kool and my mb is asus also i will go wit asus
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# RE: MSI N460GTX Cyclone 1GD5/OC Video Carddon 2011-01-03 21:27
agree

Oh, and I like your writing (style).
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