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Written by Bruce Normann   
Friday, 24 September 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
MSI N460GTX HAWK GeForce GTX 460
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 GPU Features
MSI N460GTX HAWK Features
Closer Look: MSI N460GTX HAWK
MSI N460GTX HAWK 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 HAWK Temperatures
VGA Power Consumption
NVIDIA GTX460 Final Thoughts
MSI N460GTX HAWK Conclusion

Video Card Testing Methodology

With the widespread adoption of Windows7 in the marketplace, and given the prolonged and extensive pre-release testing that occurred on a global scale, there are compelling reasons to switch all testing to this highly anticipated, operating system. Overall performance levels of Windows 7 are favorable compared to Windows XP, and there is solid support for the 64-bit version, something enthusiasts have anxiously awaited for years. After several months of product testing with Win7-64, I can vouch for its stability and performance; I can't think of any reasons why I would want to switch back to XP.

Our site polls and statistics indicate that the over 90% of our visitors use their PC for playing video games, and practically every one of you are using a screen resolutions mentioned below. Since all of the benchmarks we use for testing represent different game engine technology and graphic rendering processes, this battery of tests will provide a diverse range of results for you to gauge performance on your own computer system. All of the benchmark applications are capable of utilizing DirectX 10 or DirectX 11, and that is how they were tested. Some of these benchmarks have been used widely for DirectX 9 testing in the XP environment, and it is critically important to differentiate between results obtained with different versions. Each game behaves differently in DX9 and DX10 formats. Crysis is an extreme example, with frame rates in DirectX 10 only about half what was available in DirectX 9.

At the start of all tests, the previous display adapter driver is uninstalled and trace components are removed using Driver Cleaner Pro. We then restart the computer system to establish our display settings and define the monitor. Once the hardware is prepared, we begin our testing. According to the Steam Hardware Survey published at the time of Windows 7 launch, the most popular gaming resolution is 1280x1024 (17-19" standard LCD monitors) closely followed by 1024x768 (15-17" standard LCD). However, because these resolutions are considered 'low' by most standards, our benchmark performance tests concentrate on the up-and-coming higher-demand resolutions: 1680x1050 (22-24" widescreen LCD) and 1920x1200 (24-28" widescreen LCD monitors).

Each benchmark test program begins after a system restart, and the very first result for every test will be ignored since it often only caches the test. This process proved extremely important in several benchmarks, as the first run served to cache maps allowing subsequent tests to perform much better than the first. Each test is completed five times, the high and low results are discarded, and the average of the three remaining results is displayed in our article.

A combination of synthetic and video game benchmark tests have been used in this article to illustrate relative performance among graphics solutions. Our benchmark frame rate results are not intended to represent real-world graphics performance, as this experience would change based on supporting hardware and the perception of individuals playing the video game.

Intel P55 Express Test System

  • Motherboard: ASUS P7P55D-E Pro (1002 BIOS)
  • System Memory: 2x 2GB GSKILL Ripjaws DDR3 1600MHz (7-8-7-24)
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-750 (OC @ 4.0 GHz)
  • CPU Cooler: Prolimatech Megahalems (Delta AFB1212SHE PWM Fan)
  • Video: MSI N460GTX HAWK (V238 - Forceware v258.96)
  • Drive 1: OCZ Vertex SSD, 32GB
  • Drive 2: Western Digital VelociRaptor, 150GB
  • Optical Drive: Sony NEC Optiarc AD-7190A-OB 20X IDE DVD Burner
  • PSU: Corsair CMPSU-750TX ATX12V V2.2 750Watt
  • Monitor: SOYO 24"; Widescreen LCD Monitor (DYLM24E6) 1920X1200
  • Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate Version 6.1 (Build 7600)

DirectX 10 Benchmark Applications

  • 3DMark Vantage v1.02 (Extreme Quality, 8x MSAA, 16x Anisotropic Filtering, 1:2 Scale)
  • Crysis v1.21 Benchmark (DX10, Very High Settings, 0x and 4x MSAA, Island Demo)
  • Devil May Cry 4 Benchmark Demo (DX10, Ultra Quality, 8x MSAA)
  • Far Cry 2 v1.02 (DX10, Very High Performance, Ultra-High Quality, 8x MSAA, Small Ranch Demo)
  • Resident Evil 5 Benchmark (DX10, 8x MSAA, Motion Blur ON, Quality Levels-High)

DirectX 11 Benchmark Applications

  • BattleField: Bad Company 2 (High Quality, HBAO, 8x MSAA, 16x AF, Single-Player Intro Scene)
  • Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.0 (DX11, Normal Tessellation, 16x AF, 4x and 8x MSAA)
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat Benchmark (Ultra-Quality, Enhanced DX11, 4x MSAA, SSAO-HDAO,Ultra)
  • Aliens vs Predator (Very High Quality, 4x MSAA, 16x AF, SSAO, Tessellation, Advanced Shadows)

I tested this video card in two configurations: first with its moderate 105 MHz factory overclock (780 MHz core), and then with the biggest overclock I could manage, with all the stops pulled out (950 MHz core). I had to raise the core voltage to its maximum setting order to achieve stability at this speed, but I also suspect that this chip is capable of more. My goal was to show what performance levels could be reached without extreme measures. Anyone who buys this card should be able to achieve this result, not just the mad scientists with dry ice and liquid nitrogen that you read about on overclocking forums. The fact that MSI supplies the software to make it not just possible but easy, is icing on the cake. While I was at it, I bumped up the memory clock to 50 MHz above their rated speed, to 1050 MHz (4.2 Gbps data rate). While I didn't crack the magic 1.0 GHz barrier on the GPU, the results were still very impressive in terms of performance gain.

A note on driver configurations: I tested this card with the Forceware v258.96 drivers because I wanted to show directly comparable results with the last few GTX 460 cards I tested. This was a conscious decision on my part, to offer you the best set of data to make apples-apples comparisons with the existing body of test data available, here and elsewhere. The latest drivers from NVIDIA are a radical step forward for them, and they probably deserve their own article to highlight the improvements in usability. The ATI drivers seem to have reached a plateau recently, in terms of improved gaming performance, so I didn't re-run those test results.

Video Card Test Products

Graphics Card

Cores

Core Clock

Shader Clock

Memory Clock

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

NVIDIA GeForce GTX460-768 (Engineering Sample)

336

675

1350

900

768 MB GDDR5

192-bit

XFX Radeon HD5850 (21162-00-50R)

1440

725

N/A

1000

1.0GB GDDR5

256-bit

MSI N460GTX HAWK (V238)

336

780

1560

900

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 

 
# RE: MSI N460GTX HAWK GeForce GTX 460Doug 2010-09-26 23:26
No doubt, the GTX 460 is the price to performance winner, and is a nice, tight little package. What vexes me is that the 460 isn't even as fast as the old 285 series cards in DX10 applications. If the 285 was OCed, along with the 460, I wonder if it would outperform the OCed 460s? If so, that further confuses me.

On the other hand, the 400 platform is Fermi/PhyX/Cuda and DX11 of course--being that the 285 isn't all that! It seems like what we're getting is a great DX11 Fermi/Cuda PhysX card that runs DX11 games, but doesn't give us more speed than the old cards of yesteryear, and even less in DX10 games.
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# RE: RE: MSI N460GTX HAWK GeForce GTX 460RealNeil 2010-09-27 03:40
Hi Doug,
Comparing old to new is frustrating at best, because they are so different. But maybe you should also consider the price point,........
My 2GB EVGA GTX-285 card was well over $500.00 when it was new, and these GTX-460's are well under half of that price. So I'm about to order two of these for SLI performance that will destroy my GTX-285's capabilities and also get all of the latest technology in rendering eye candy as well. (for less money)
I think that these cards, (especially two of them together) will amount to a definite 'Win-Win' in the consumer marketplace.
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# RE: MSI N460GTX HAWK GeForce GTX 460Jason 2010-09-27 03:52
Not sure if we were looking at the same review but the 1 GB GTX 460 (MSI HAWK) beat the 1 GB GTX 285 in every DX10 benchmark they ran. Plus you have the added bonus that it can run DX11 which the GTX-285 can't do, it overclocks like a gem, and the SLI on the 460 is super efficient (in the 80-95% range). I'm not sure what else you're looking for in a midrange video card but as far as i'm concerned thte GTX 460 has it all.
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# RE: MSI N460GTX HAWK GeForce GTX 460dlb 2010-09-27 08:51
It was nice to see some older cards in the comparison graphs. I have a pair of GTX260s in SLI, and have been looking for some benches that included both the GTX260 and the newer GTX460. I was actually surprised to see how well the GTX260 did in the DX10 tests when compared to the Radeon HD5830. I'd REALLY like to see how a pair of GTX260s in SLI compares to a single stock GTX460, and maybe OC and SLI the GTX460 also and compare it to the GTX260s in SLI. All of this aside- a great review of a great card! The GTX460 is on my "must have" list, and this "Hawk" version from MSI not only looks great, but has some juice too!
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# RE: MSI N460GTX HAWK GeForce GTX 460Gorham4 2010-09-27 09:32
I think Doug's point was more along the lines that owner's of the Nvidia 200 series don't have a compelling reason to upgrade until DX11 becomes more common. At least if you're running DX10 games at 1920x1200 .

On the other hand if your card is older than the 200 series you've got a reason and price point that says upgrade now. The 460's will have you kicking butt and taking names at a much lower price point that those who recently bought the 260's or 285's
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# Stock Clocks....BruceBruce 2010-09-27 19:31
It's always a struggle to make comparisons when the clock rates are all over the place on factory cards. The ASUS Matrix GTX285 I used is certainly capable of higher clock rates, but all the Matrix cards come from the factory with very minimal overclocks.

The issue really comes to the forefront because GTX460 cards are almost universally wicked overclockers. Just about every single card sold since day one will take a 25% overclock in stride, with very little additional voltage, or none at all if you're lucky.

For me, I love the DX11 eyecandy, and it's only going to get better with newer titles, IMHO.
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# RE: MSI N460GTX HAWK GeForce GTX 460Servando Silva 2010-09-27 09:37
It's so sad you didn't break the magic 1GHz barrier, as MSI is showing off those numbers everywhere they can. But 950MHz are quite good for any GTX460 GPU. Most of them reach 100MHz less (850MHz aprox.).
Nice Review!
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# Very Impressed NonethelessBruceBruce 2010-09-27 19:18
I was very impressed with the 950 MHz performance, as well. This is really "The Little (Graphics) Engine That Could"!

Until someone comes out with a water cooled model, every hardcore overclocker is going to want this card.
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# RE: Very Impressed NonethelessServando Silva 2010-09-27 19:26
I think I fall into that category. Maybe you could put your hands on the new Colorful 900MHz OC GTX460 GPU and see how it does against this one.
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