|MSI N460GTX Cyclone 1GD5/OC Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Wednesday, 11 August 2010|
Page 19 of 19
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 1GD5/OC Conclusion
From a performance standpoint, it's impossible to argue with the numbers this card puts up, at its price point. As I hypothesized in my Final Thoughts, this is really a 5850-class card from a technology standpoint, and it performed like one. Overclocked up to what seems like its natural operating point, at 850 MHz on the core, it swept the field in its market segment. The cooling performance was first rate, including the noise required to achieve it, which was quite low. This is also one of the few cards where I would leave the fan settings on factory automatic; the default curve is aimed at performance users. The combination of a new low-power Fermi GPU, a well designed, oversized cooler, and a performance oriented fan profile kept operating temperatures quite low during both intensive gaming and brutal stress testing.
The appearance of the MSI N460GTX Cyclone video card is excellent in my opinion, and also somewhat unique. That's always a plus in my book; I hate the same-old, same-old. The larger fan works well even without a full shroud to direct the airflow. While not a subtle design, the Cyclone avoids the garish themes that often show up on products marketed at gamers.
The build quality of the MSI Cyclone card was excellent. Everything is assembled well, the overall impression of the card was solid, and the packaging was also first rate. I was also impressed by the manufacturing quality of the PC board, especially compared to some recent samples I've seen. The nickel plating on the cooler components doesn't help the thermal performance in the short term, but it eliminates corrosion which would eventually take its toll in the long run. The GTX 460 is a relatively easy card to make because of its simplicity, and MSI chose to execute a simple design, well. Good choice, IMHO. I also have to give very high marks to MSI for the quality of their monitoring and control software, MSI Afterburner. It is one of the leading utilities in the enthusiast community for good reason, in that it is full featured, has an unusually wide application base, can be customized for individual cards, has very strong factory support, and is reliable. It has very few real competitors.
The features of the N460GTX are fully comparable with the latest offerings from both camps. It has: Microsoft DirectX 11 Support, PhysX Technology, is 3D Vision Ready, also 3D Vision Surround Ready, CUDA Technology, SLI, 32x Anti-aliasing, PureVideo HD, and HDMI 1.4a support. We've been using some of these same, or competitive, technologies on a whole host of Radeon 5xxx cards since last September. Still, it's good to finally have rough parity in the features and functions arena.
As of August 2010, the price for the MSI N460GTX CYCLONE 1GD5/OC is $234.99 at my favorite PC component supplier, Newegg. This is a little bit higher than the lowest price GTX 460 boards, the lower spec cards are going for just under $200. It's hard to find a bad deal for any of the GTX 460 cards; even if you are paying a premium for certain features, more memory, or a software bundle, the price-to-performance ratio is so good, there's not a lot of downside anywhere. For people who are interested in exploring the overclocking potential of the GF104 chip, the "extra" $15 or so that these Cyclone models go for is a good investment.
Let's face it, almost any GTX 460 card is going to get high marks at this stage of the game. NVIDIA has priced it very aggressively, and until ATI responds with some serious price cuts, or releases its next generation of video cards, this is the card to beat in the $200-$250 price range. It's pretty obvious from all the reporting that has been done already, that early production units of the GF104 have tons of overclocking headroom. I got +25% on the core clock with no trouble at all, and that seems to be a typical result if you read through the enthusiast forums. MSI has leveraged that capability by providing better cooling, and one of the best software overclocking utilities on the market. While it's not a full-on assault on the top performance crown, it's hard to argue with a product that's (better) X (better) X (better). Highly recommended.
+ Attractive and effective cooling system
- Military Class Components = Mostly Marketing Speak
Final Score: 9.3 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
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