|MSI N460GTX Cyclone 1GD5/OC Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Wednesday, 11 August 2010|
Page 16 of 19
MSI N460GTX Cyclone Temperatures
It's hard to know exactly when the first video card got overclocked, and by whom. What we do know is that it's hard to imagine a computer enthusiast or gamer today that doesn't overclock their hardware. Of course, not every video card has the head room. Some products run so hot that they can't suffer any higher temperatures than they generate straight from the factory. This is why we measure the operating temperature of the video card products we test.
To begin testing, I use GPU-Z to measure the temperature at idle as reported by the GPU. Next I use FurMark 1.8.2 to generate maximum thermal load and record GPU temperatures at high-power 3D mode. The ambient room temperature remained stable at a very high 29C throughout testing. I know this is much higher than the average American household, but we had a massive heat wave this summer and my testing is done in an upstairs room that doesn't get as much of the central A/C as I would like... Besides, I know some of you are not living in iceboxes and would be interested in how well the GTX 460 handles high ambient temps. I do have a ton of airflow into the video card section of my benchmarking case, with a 200mm side fan blowing directly inward, so that helps alleviate the high ambient temps.
The MSI N460GTX Cyclone 1GD5/OC video card recorded 33C in idle 2D mode, and increased to 60C after 20 minutes of stability testing in full 3D mode, at 1920x1200 resolution, and the maximum MSAA setting of 8X. With the fan set on Automatic, the speed rose from 40% at idle to 70% under full load. Before we talk about the temps under load, it's worth it to pay notice to the idle temperatures. I have never seen idle temps this low above ambient, but if you follow along into the next section on power consumption, I think you'll see the explanation.
60C is an excellent result for temperature stress testing, especially with such a powerful GPU, stock fan settings, a high ambient of 29C, and fan speeds controlled by the card. I'm used to seeing video card manufacturers keeping the fan speeds low and letting GPU temps get into higher temperature regions than this. I applaud MSI for keeping the fan speeds up and the temps low with their stock automatic fan settings. I rarely do my benchmarking tests with fans set on Automatic, preferring to give the GPU or CPU the best shot at surviving the day intact. With an integrated temperature controller in play though, I want to show how the manufacturer has programmed the system. This is one of the few video cards where I like the manufacturer's settings, right out of the box.
Load temps never got higher than 57C when running continuous gaming benchmarks with automatic fan speeds, so the cooling system definitely does the job, and there is a lot of temperature headroom left for the GPU. The noise at 100% speed was much lower than some other products I've tested recently that had squirrel cage blowers. For me, this type of fan noise is less irritating than what a radial fan produces, but I still prefer a design that pushes all the heated air out the back of the case. For normal usage patterns including gaming, I'd leave the fan settings on Auto. For benchmarking, it's worth it to put up with a little more noise, and drive the fan at 100%.
FurMark is an OpenGL benchmark that heavily stresses and overheats the graphics card with fur rendering. The benchmark offers several options allowing the user to tweak the rendering: fullscreen / windowed mode, MSAA selection, window size, duration. The benchmark also includes a GPU Burner mode (stability test). FurMark requires an OpenGL 2.0 compliant graphics card with lot of GPU power!
FurMark does do two things extremely well: drive the thermal output of any graphics processor higher than any other application or video game, and it does so with consistency every time. While FurMark is not a true benchmark tool for comparing different video cards, it still works well to compare one product against itself using different drivers or clock speeds, or testing the stability of a GPU, as it raises the temperatures higher than any program. But in the end, it's a rather limited tool.
In our next section, we discuss electrical power consumption and learn how well (or poorly) each video card will impact your utility bill...