|A member of the Funky Media Group|
|Review: Gigabyte Geforce GTX 460 SOC (1Gb GDDR5)|
|Posted by Winston|
|Tuesday, 18 January 2011 23:00|
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Nvidia's Geforce GTX 460 was released around the middle of last year, and it surprised everyone with its excellent performance. It was definitely one of the best graphics on the market in terms of price/performance, and still is. During that time, numerous manufacturers introduced their new Geforce GTX 460 graphic cards, which were all based on Nvidia's reference designs. The performance and the price was more than good enough to pull in the consumers. But wait, we've not finished yet ... to take advantage of the enthusiast gaming market, several manufacturers decided to produce custom VGA cards based on an overclocked Geforce GTX 460 GPU. Now this is nothing new, and normally happens around 1-2 months after initial launch of the reference designed VGA cards.
One of the good things about custom VGA cards, is the ability to take Nvidia's seemingly boring reference designs, and take them beyond its specifications. This is typically done by using an overclocked GPU and memory. Higher overclocked GPU and memory means better performance, and this has meant great value for the mainstream gamer. In our past reviews, we've tested a Geforce GTX 460 OC from Gigabyte, and it produced results that were similar to a Geforce GTX 465, which incidently was meant to be the next card up in terms of performance. In fact, in some of our tests, the overclocked Geforce GTX 460 OC had performed better than the Geforce GTX 465.
According to Gigabyte, for their overclocked custom VGA cards, they "cherry-pick" their GPUs from Nvidia and put them through a process called "GPU Gauntlet Sorting" ... only the strongest and most stable GPUs are used. LOL! where do they come up with these terms?
The table below shows a quick comparison between the standard GTX 460 and Gigabyte's GTX 460 SOC. As you can see, there's only a big difference in the GPU core clock speed, an increase of 140Mhz, while the memory runs at an increased speed of 4000Mhz. This increase in speed also means the increase in the shader clock ... now running at 1630Mhz. As for everything else, it's more or less the same, which includes all of Nvidia's innovative 3D/graphic technologies ... CUDA, PhysX, OpenGL 4.0, as well as support 2-way SLI, DX11, HDMI 1.4, HD movie playback and Nvidia's 3D Vision.
The are a few concerns with an overclocked GPU. Cooling is definitely an issue, and the card must also have higher quality components to cope with the extra power required. So who has the expertise to satisfy these requirements? Well, Gigabyte is one manufacturer who has this expertise. To cope with the heat and stability of an overclocked GPU, they've included their innovative Ultra Durable VGA feature, as well as WindForce x2 with their custom VGA cards. These include things like 2oz Copper PCB, Japanese solid capacitors, 1st Tier memeory, Ferrite Core Chokes, Low RDS (on) Mosfets, as well a large in-house designed heatsink with copper heatpipes.
In this review, we'll be taking a look at the Gigabyte Geforce GTX 460 SOC 1Gb GDDR5 graphics card. The SOC stands for Super OverClock, and as the name suggests uses an overclocked GPU running at 815Mhz (default is 675Mhz). The 1Gb GDDR5 memory is also running at a slightly higher frequency of 4000Mhz (default is 3600Mhz). The card includes Gigabyte's innovative Ultra Durable VGA features, which we mentioned above. They've also added something new called "Proadliser" ... NEC Proadliser is also know as film capacitor. It offers excellent noise absorption performance at frequencies beyond 1Ghz, as well as high current capability and high frequency switching. It also provides pure electric current and transmit more stable power even during heavy load.
One of the most striking feature of the card is the large in-house designed heatsink with the twin cooling fans. It's all part of Gigabyte's WindForce x2 feature. The fans consists of anti-turbulence inclined fins which produces excellent air-flow and doubles the cooling capability. While the large in-house designed heatsink has 4 chunky copper heatpipes, which effectively dissipate the excess heat. According to Gigabyte, it amounts to approximately 19% cooler than Nvidia's reference heatsink design. That's pretty impressive.
To monitor the health and performance of the Geforce GTX 460 SOC, Gigabyte have included their OC Guru software. It allow users to adjust a range of options including GPU and memory voltages, GPU and memory frequencies, fans speeds, power saving and OSD. There are upto 5 different profiles which you can save your settings, which is pretty handy.
For the extreme enthusiast who's loves voltage modding, there's an interesting and unique feature found on the PCB. There are voltage read points which are located near the top of the card, and gives the hardcore overclockers the ultimate benching experience at overclocking competitions. Now that's extreme!
We're expecting the Gigabyte Geforce GTX 460 SOC to produce excellent results in all of our tests. It should easily beat the Geforce GTX 465 and of course Gigabyte's other model ... the Geforce GTX 460 OC. It is the "Super OverClock" version after all. We'll also compare it against the Geforce GTX 570 from Zotac, which we reviewed a few weeks ago and see where it stands in terms of performance.
We'll be testing the Gigabyte Geforce GTX 460 SOC (1Gb GDDR5) on our test rig, which consists of the following ... Intel Core i5 - 650 (LGA 1156), Gigabyte P55 USB3 motherboard, 4Gb Crucial Ballistix DDR3-2133, Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler and a Thermaltake ToughPower XT 875W power supply. It's the same system we've been using to test all our graphics card.