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Written by Bruce Normann   
Saturday, 04 September 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
EVGA GTX 460 SC Superclocked Video Card
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 GPU Features
EVGA GeForce GTX460 SC Features
Closer Look: EVGA GeForce GTX460 SC
EVGA GeForce GTX460 SC Detailed Features 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
EVGA GeForce GTX460 SC Temps
VGA Power Consumption
NVIDIA GTX460 Final Thoughts
EVGA GeForce GTX460 SC Conclusion

Closer Look: EVGA GeForce GTX460 SC

The EVGA GeForce GTX460 Superclocked model is physically based on the NVIDIA reference design. The unique graphics are applied via adhesive labels, and they stay with a fairly dark theme that matches up well with the black fan and shroud, and don't go overboard with garish graphics. My personal preferences are right in line with this design style; although I generally prefer more angular treatments, I can't argue with the neat, compact lines on what I call the "Little Black Barchetta."

EVGA_GeFORCE_GTX460_SC_End_Top_34_01.jpg

The first thing I noticed with this video card is the nearly closed construction of the fan shroud. Although it isn't a sealed-off design, it is as close as you can get with a central fan location. A certain amount of air flows out the back end of the card, past the voltage regulator modules and other power supply components. After the GPU itself, these are the things that benefit the most from active cooling. My experience with GDDR5 memory so far, is that it runs awfully cool all by itself, and it doesn't need or benefit from additional cooling. That being said, the central fan does blow a good portion of air down in the direction of the eight DRAM chips arrayed around the perimeter of the GPU.

EVGA_GeFORCE_GTX460_SC_FAN_Close_01.jpg

The fan itself carries the distinctive EVGA logo and is an eleven-blade affair that sits a bit higher than the edges of the shroud. It is a full-fledged PWM controlled design, and the board supports the required 4-wire electrical connection. One of our sharp-eyed readers, while looking at my recent MSI N460GTX Cyclone review, picked up on the fact that the fins on that heatsink face the opposite direction of the fan blade rotation. Here on the reference design, the spiral of the fins matches the fan rotation. Given the completely open design of the MSI, and the relatively closed shroud design shown here, I'm not surprised that the engineers chose different orientations for the fins. My thanks to Stefan for pointing that out. We'll take a look at the underside of the heatsink later, and show you some more differences.

EVGA_GeFORCE_GTX460_SC_Power_Section_01.jpg

The power section features a dense array of state-of-the-art components: solid polymer capacitors, solid construction of the surface-mounted chokes, and on the back side of the board are tantalum capacitors, mounted right next to the GPU. Their small size, high capacity, and low profile are particularly useful in this demanding application. The VRM implementation is a three-phase design and uses discrete MOSFETs for all three positions: Low side, High side and Driver. The DRAM power section on the left uses a similar discrete design, but only a single phase.

EVGA_GeForce_GTX460_SC_Power_Choke_Closeup_01.jpg

The first two power supply chokes, mounted right at the PCI-E power connectors, are open frame units with a lower inductance than the units seen downstream in the current flow. Their purpose here is really to filter out very high frequency noise and transients at the input to the card. The downstream chokes are there to convert a couple million square waves into a very close approximation of direct current (DC), so they have a higher inductance and smaller gauge wire.

The board is fed from two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors exiting the rear of the fairly short card. There should be no problems fitting this card, and its connectors, in any standard ATX style chassis. The 6-pin PCI-E connection is highly underrated, at 75W each. The real capacity of a 6-pin connector is at least 100W, so there is approximately 275 W available from the standard connector arrangement (including the X16 PCI Express connector on the motherboard), well above the card's rated 160W maximum requirement.

EVGA_GeFORCE_GTX460_SC_SMD_Solder_GPU_01.jpg

The PC board had excellent solder quality and precise component placement, as can be seen here. The component placement is quite good; this is the area on the back side of the board, directly below the GPU, and is one of the most crowded sections. On my LCD screen, this image is magnified 20X, compared to what the naked eye sees. The small SMD resistors located side-by-side in this view are placed on 1mm centers. This is one of the most critical sections of the PCB for build quality, as variations in stray capacitance here could impact the performance of the GPU, and certainly its overclocking ability.

This board was also much cleaner than several samples I've looked at recently. There were some very minor traces of residue in a few places, but the comparison was like night and day. Once you start looking at macro photographs like this, there's no place for any manufacturing shortcuts to hide. All manufacturers are under intense pressure to minimize the environmental impact of their operations, and cleaning processes have historically produced some of the most toxic industrial waste streams. The combination of eco-friendly solvents, lead-free solder, and smaller SMD components have made cleaning of electronic assemblies much more difficult than it used to be.

EVGA_GeFORCE_GTX460_SC_Full_Front_No_Shroud_02.jpg

The layout on the front and back of the printed circuit board is identical to the NVIDIA reference card. It's a fairly simple design, and there are fewer components mounted on the back side than on a full-bore high end card. The only interesting things mounted on the rear of the board are several tantalum capacitors near the GPU, and the main PWM controller IC. The GPU cooler is mounted with four spring-loaded screws, along with the aid of a skeleton back plate. There are no additional cooling considerations for any of the power supply components or the GDDR5 RAM chips. However, all of them benefit somewhat from the airflow of the centrally located cooling fan.

What I like about this card is how it does so much with so little. It's a simple design, without a lot of excess, whiz-bang components, yet it dares to compete with some pretty sophisticated Cypress and Fermi-based products. It's relatively compact, runs cool and doesn't use as much power as its competitors. It's all down to the design of the GF104 GPU really, which is actually a relief. After the first round of nuclear powered GF100-based cards came out, I was wondering if NVIDIA had completely lost the bubble. Now I know they haven't.

Let's take a more detailed look at some of the components on the board. I did a full tear-down, so we could see everything there is to see...



 

Comments 

 
# RE: EVGA GTX 460 SC Superclocked Video CardDoug 2010-09-06 21:52
You've probably been asked this before, but how would a stock 460 in SLI mode compare to the 480 series top of the line with turbo and supercharger? I'm asking because this card right now is 179.00 at Amazon:
EVGA GeForce GTX460 768MB DDR5 PCI-Express 2.0 Graphics Card 768-P3-1360-TR

And this one is 189.00
EVGA 768-P3-1362-TR GeForce GTX460 768 MB Superclocked DDR5 PCI-Express 2.0 Graphics Card

So for under 380.00US you can have two 460s. Also, would it help to have a MB with two PCIE x16 slots instead of 1 x16 and 1 x8?
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# EVGA GTX 460 SC Video CardRobert Johnson 2010-09-06 22:22
Doug, I think you'll find an SLI of two EVGA GTX 460 SC video cards will perform better than a GTX 480. However than difference might narrow or go away altogether if you are using very high resolution monitors, let's say beyond 1920 x 1080 with anything beyond 24 inches. This is well worth the money. Two of these video cards should run relatively cool inside your chassis.
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# RE: EVGA GTX 460 SC Superclocked Video CardDoug 2010-09-06 23:10
That's nice. My mother board, the Gig x58 UD5 rev.1, is laid out so I can plug them both into x16 PCI slots. I have three monitors. One 23" 1900 x 1080; one 23" at 1920 x 1200; and a 26" at 1920x1200. But I don't need all three to play games. I do need all three for graphics and work. I'm running all three right now with a single GTX 295, and I can play Eve on the 26" windowed with no slowdown. But Eve isn't a graphics intensive game.
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# RE: RE: EVGA GTX 460 SC Superclocked Video CardOlin Coles 2010-09-07 07:27
Sorry, but we're not 'big enough' for a manufacturer to send two of each card. The best we could do is two 768MB GeForce GTS 460's in SLI: benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=576&Itemid=72

You'll see about 10% better performance with two 1GB versions in SLI, and maybe 15% better with two overclocked versions.
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# Bang For The Buck, Chuckrealneil 2010-09-07 04:51
These things seem to be golden in their segment right now. I'll be building another gaming computer at the end of the year, so I have some time to see if ATI responds in a meaningful way to this threat. If they don't then I'll be buying two GTX460's to SLI in that Box. Thanks for the concise reviews of all of the different GTX-460's, helping me in choosing the ones that are right for my circumstances.
I like the price performance ratio of this card and two together should do what I want them to handily.
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# Price Drop Already...?!?BruceBruce 2010-09-07 15:56
I'm heairing that NVIDIA is already dropping the price on these. They can't be making much money on 'em.....
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# Lower power usage than the PNY?Jeff 2010-09-14 21:34
With almost identical overclocks the EVGA consumes 176w vs 199w for the PNY GTX 460 you recently reviewed. Fairly sizable difference. Looks like they were tested on different PCs, but do you try to isolate the GPU power usage regardless of the test rig?
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# RE: Lower power usage than the PNY?Olin Coles 2010-09-15 06:32
You're correct: they were tested on different machines (and by different people). We do TRY to isolate power, but it always works out differently. My suggestion is that you look around for a median reading... not everyone tests using FurMark (I do).
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# Other factors, too...BruceBruce 2010-09-15 13:42
The Fermi cards all seem to be shipping with differing GPU core voltages. I'm not sure what the default GPU voltage was for the PNY card, but it definitely has an influence on temperature and power draw. Temperature by itself also has an effect on power. When doing the power tests, I see a gradual increase in current as the GPU heats up. I always wait for the temps to reach steady state before I take the power measurement. So, there are a couple factors, including ambient temps, that have too much influence for my liking.
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# Mines hot?James 2010-09-19 09:14
I got the 768M SC version of this card but my idle temp is 36C? Using a Thermaltake Armor 90 Case so have plenty of fans and air flow.

Was wondering if anyone could post some of their Overclock settings for this card as I've never tried overclocking before. Everything is running good but I'm hoping to squeeze more power out of FFXIV.

Running a single card, not SLI.
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# RE: Mines hot?Olin Coles 2010-09-19 09:25
Hello James:

That temperature is fine, very low in fact. As for overclocking, take a look here: benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=416&Itemid=72&limit=1&limitstart=21
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# RE: RE: Mines hot?James 2010-09-19 09:42
Thanks! I went to check that link and that is for the 450? I have the 460 768 SC
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# RE: RE: RE: Mines hot?Olin Coles 2010-09-19 10:35
I pointed you there so you could read about the software options, how they work, and which one is better. You can use the same technique with the GTX 460, but if you want our results take a look here: benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=559&Itemid=72&limit=1&limitstart=19
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: Mines hot?James 2010-09-19 12:27
Oh ok! Thanks for the help. First time overclocking so kind of nervous of course ;)
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Mines hot?Olin Coles 2010-09-19 12:29
The good news is that the worst that can happen is you overclock too much and your video driver crashes. It will either recover, or you'll restart the computer and try again.

I suggest overclocking the GPU first, and worry about the video RAM last.
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# Unfair Review - Driver Favouritsm!!!Bob 2010-09-29 18:41
nVidia KISSER-UPer => LOOK @ the nVida (latest & ATI (old) driver versions used in the benchmarks. FFS grow up >:o|
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# Get a grip time.Jeff 2010-09-29 19:36
I doubt they still have all those cards and it isn't feasible for them to retest them all for every new review. As with most sites older benchmarking gets recycled for new reviews. Add 10% to the ATI/AMD cards (and older Nvidia for that matter) if it salves your bruised sense of justice or whatever.
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# RE: Unfair Review - Driver Favouritsm!!!Olin Coles 2010-09-29 19:59
Bob: you should visit AMD's website and read-up on the change log between 10.5 and 10.8 (latest available at the time this article was published). There's no difference in performance for these games, and I can personally tell you that my re-tests have shown less than 3% difference (in both directions).
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# 10.5 vs. 10.8BruceBruce 2010-09-30 04:12
I also took the extra step to personally verify that there was no change in performance between Catalyst 10.5 and 10.8 on my system. I retested every single benchmark with an HD5870 card and saw no reason to retest any other cards or update the benchmark scores.
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# GTX 460 SSC+Emil Tovar 2011-02-13 07:46
Viewing your resume with a clock of 763 and 900MHz memory is almost comparable with the ati 5850, if the SSC is a clock of 850 MHz and memory at 3900 mhz overlokeado would be less than the ati 5870?

Viendo tu resumen con un reloj de 763 y memoria de 900mhz practicamente es comparable con la ati 5850, si la ssc viene con reloj de 850 mhz y memoria overlokeado a 3900 mhz estaria igual o superior a la ati 5870?
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# GTX 460 SSC+Emil Tovar 2011-03-21 05:52
I have received no response, it will be because no one knows? that card is already super overclok, you can climb over or is not advisable to do so? that people say benchmarkreviews?
no he recibido ninguna respuesta, sera porque nadie sabe? esa tarjeta ya viene super overclok, se puede subir mas o no es aconsejable hacerlo? que dice la gente de benchmarkreviews?
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# OverclockBruceBruce 2011-03-21 07:48
The GTX 460 chip is generally capable of some extreme overclocks. There have been several reviews on this site that demonstrate that. I got the MSI Hawk up to 950 MHZ, IIRC. Take a look at that review to see how it compares to the HD 5870 at super high clocks. YOUR card may not overclock that high, but it's worth trying.....
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