MSI GeForce GTX 460 Cyclone OC 1 GB Review 16

MSI GeForce GTX 460 Cyclone OC 1 GB Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • MSI's GeForce GTX 460 Cyclone 1024 MB retails for $239, about $10 more than the reference design.
  • Good overclocking potential
  • Overclocked out of the box
  • Low power consumption
  • Quiet in idle
  • HDMI output
  • GDDR5 memory
  • Includes MSI Afterburner, world class overclocking tool
  • Support for DirectX 11
  • Support for NVIDIA 3D Vision Surround
  • Support for CUDA, PhysX and 3D Vision
  • No mini-HDMI adapter included
  • DirectX 11 relevance very limited at this time
  • Memory chips not cooled
NVIDIA's new GeForce GTX 460 is Fermi done right. Whereas the GF100 based products were plagued by excessive power consumption resulting in high temperatures and noise levels, the GTX 460 delivers massive improvements here. Essentially NVIDIA managed to reduce idle power consumption below ATI's HD 5000 levels, and gaming power consumption to slightly higher but similar levels. This improvement in power consumption trickles down to temperatures and cooler noise helping NVIDIA's new card to be able to compete there.
On all our tested cards we have seen awesome overclocking potential going well into the 800 MHz area which equates to around 25% higher clock. Memory overclocks are less spectacular which is partly due to the lack of cooling on the memory, and the selection of 1 GHz chips. I also have a feeling that NVIDIA's memory controller handles high clocks not as well as ATI's implementation. Nevertheless, if you are an overclocker and want to maximize the performance of your investment, the GeForce GTX 460 series is a great choice.
NVIDIA offers two GTX 460 variants at launch time, one with 768 MB and one with 1 GB. Aside from the obvious potential confusion with end users, the differences in actual performance are rather slim. On average we see only 7% performance difference between both cards which is very small considering the 25% difference in specs for memory size, memory bus width and number of ROPs. Essentially this means that the 768 MB version is the one to get unless you have a specific reason you think you need more memory, or speculate on the higher resale value of the card at a later time.
MSI has done a good job with their implementation of the GTX 460. The thermal solution they use does very well and manages to reach low temperatures. Fan noise is decent too, a bit quieter than reference in idle, a bit noisier under load. While this is certainly a pleasing result, my personal opinion is that MSI did not make the maximum out of the temperature/noise optimization potential. It is nice to see that MSI offers a card that is overclocked out of the box which makes it easy for less experienced users. All this comes at the price of $10 though, which is reasonable. On the other hand you could do the overclock yourself and save that money - the maximum overclock seems to be the same no matter if you buy a preoverclocked or reference design card. Thanks to 1 GB of memory and the overclock out of the box, the MSI GTX 460 Cyclone OC 1 GB is the fastest GeForce GTX 460 card that we tested so far. If you want to save some money, MSI has also released a 768 MB version which costs $209.
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