GeForce GTX 460 review (roundup) -
Setup | Noise | Power consumption | Heat levels
Installation of any of the GeForce GTX 460 cards is really easy. Once the card is installed and seated into the PC we connect the two 6-pin PEG power connectors to the graphics card. Preferably your power supply is compatible, most PSUs after 2008 have these connectors as standard:
- GeForce GTX 460 needs two 6-pin PEG connectors
- GeForce GTX 460 SLI needs four 6-pin PEG connectors.
Preferably the PEG headers come directly from the power supply and are not converted from the 4-pin Molex peripheral connectors.
You can now turn on your PC, boot into Windows, install the latest NVIDIA Forceware driver and after a reboot all should be working. No further configuration is required or needed.
Lets have a look at how much power draw we measure with this graphics card installed.
The methodology: We have a device constantly monitoring the power draw from the PC. We simply stress the GPU, not the processor. The before and after wattage will tell us roughly how much power a graphics card is consuming under load.
Our test system is based on a power hungry Core i7 965 / X58 based. This setup is overclocked to 3.75 GHz. Next to that we have energy saving functions disabled for this motherboard and processor (to ensure consistent benchmark results). On average we are using roughly 50 to 100 Watts more than a standard PC due to higher CPU clock settings, water-cooling, additional cold cathode lights etc.
Keep that in mind. Our normal system power consumption is higher than your average system. We'll take one reference card as example:
- Advertised GeForce GTX 460 TDP = 150W (768MB) 160W (1024MB)
- System in IDLE = 178W
- System Wattage with GPU in FULL Stress = 307W
- Difference (GPU load) = 129 W
- Add average IDLE wattage ~ 25W
- Subjective obtained GPU power consumption = ~ 154 Watts
Mind you that the System Wattage is measured from the wall socket and is for the entire PC. Below a chart of measured Wattages per card.
The 1024MB models have more active ROPs to be fed, their power consumption as such is a little higher. Next to that you can clearly see that the faster clocked models have a little higher power consumption. For example, the fastest clocked card in today's tests is the Palit Sonic Platinum at a blazing 800 MHz, we assume the card gets a slightly higher voltage and when we calculate it we get just over 175 Watts power consumption. Still, that's not bad at all.
Recommended Power Supply
Here is Guru3D's power supply recommendation:
GeForce GTX 460
- On your average system the card requires you to have a 450 to 500 Watt power supply unit.
GeForce GTX 460 in SLI
- A second card requires you to add another ~200 Watts. You need a 650 ~700 Watt power supply unit.
There are many good PSUs out there, please do have a look at our many PSU reviews as we have loads of recommended PSUs for you to check out in there. What would happen if your PSU can't cope with the load?:
- bad 3D performance
- crashing games
- spontaneous reset or imminent shutdown of the PC
- freezing during gameplay
- PSU overload can cause it to break down
The graphics card cooler performance examined
Let's have a look at the temperatures the reference based custom cooler offers.
We now fire off a hefty shader application at the GPU and start monitoring temperature behavior as it would be when you are gaming intensely and continuously, we literally stress the GPUs 100% here, as you can see in the graph.
We measured at a room temperature of 21 degrees Celsius. Now we report at two stages the GPU(s) in IDLE and under stress. Here's what we get returned:
|Graphics Card||TEMP IDLE C||TEMP FULL C|
|eVGA GeForce GTX 460 768MB||32||56|
|MSI GTX 460 Cyclone OC||35||58|
|Gigabyte GeForce GTX 460 768MB||33||60|
|eVGA GeForce GTX 460 768MB SC edition||34||64|
|Zotac GTX 460 1024MB||34||72|
|Palit GTX 460 1GB Sonic Platinum||36||79|
The product now runs a little lower at 70 degrees C maximum (roughly).
|Graphics card (reference)||Load TEMP C|
|GeForce GT 240 512MB||47|
|eVGA GeForce GTX 460 768MB||56|
|MSI GeForce GTX 465 Cyclone OC||58|
|Radeon HD 5570 1024MB||60|
|Gigabyte GeForce GTX 460 768MB||60|
|HIS 5850 iCooler Turbo||61|
|eVGA GTX 460 768MB SC edition||65|
|GBT R5870 SOC||68|
|Radeon HD 5670 512MB||70|
|GeForce GTS 250 1GB||72|
|Zotac GTX 460 1024MB||72|
|Radeon HD 5750 1024MB||73|
|Radeon HD 5870 1024MB||75|
|Radeon HD 5850 1024MB||77|
|Radeon HD 5830 1024MB||78|
|Palit GTX 460 1GB Sonic Platinum||79|
|GeForce GTX 465 1024MB||79|
|eVGA SC GTX 465 1024MB||81|
|GeForce GTX 275 896MB||82|
|Radeon HD 5970 2048MB||83|
|GeForce GTX 285||83|
|GeForce GTX 260 SP216||84|
|GeForce GTX 480 nw BIOS||88|
|GeForce GTX 470||94|
|GeForce GTX 480 reference||95|
Above, an overview of peak / maximum measured temperatures in comparison with other cards. These temperatures with your average game will typically be lower.
Noise Levels coming from the graphics card
When graphics cards produce a lot of heat, usually that heat needs to be transported away from the hot core as fast as possible. Often you'll see massive active fan solutions that can indeed get rid of the heat, yet all the fans these days make the PC a noisy son of a gun. I'm doing a little try out today with noise monitoring, so basically the test we do is extremely subjective. We bought a certified dBA meter and will start measuring how many dBA originate from the PC. Why is this subjective you ask? Well, there is always noise in the background, from the streets, from the HD, PSU fan etc etc, so this is by a mile or two an imprecise measurement. You could only achieve objective measurement in a sound test chamber.
The human hearing system has different sensitivities at different frequencies. This means that the perception of noise is not at all equal at every frequency. Noise with significant measured levels (in dB) at high or low frequencies will not be as annoying as it would be when its energy is concentrated in the middle frequencies. In other words, the measured noise levels in dB will not reflect the actual human perception of the loudness of the noise. That's why we measure the dBA level. A specific circuit is added to the sound level meter to correct its reading in regard to this concept. This reading is the noise level in dBA. The letter A is added to indicate the correction that was made in the measurement. Frequencies below 1kHz and above 6kHz are attenuated, whereas frequencies between 1kHz and 6kHz are amplified by the A weighting.
|TYPICAL SOUND LEVELS|
|Jet takeoff (200 feet)||120 dBA|
|Construction Site||110 dBA||Intolerable|
|Shout (5 feet)||100 dBA|
|Heavy truck (50 feet)||90 dBA||Very noisy|
|Urban street||80 dBA|
|Automobile interior||70 dBA||Noisy|
|Normal conversation (3 feet)||60 dBA|
|Office, classroom||50 dBA||Moderate|
|Living room||40 dBA|
|Bedroom at night||30 dBA||Quiet|
|Broadcast studio||20 dBA|
|Rustling leaves||10 dBA||Barely audible|
For each dBA test we close the PC/chassis and move the dBA gun 75 cm away from the PC. Roughly the same proximity you'll have a PC in a real-world situation.
MSI GTX 460 Cyclone OC - The idle noise levels coming from the card are downright silent, in idle you will barely hear the card as we measured 37~38 dBA, which is right below the threshold of noise coming from the PC itself.
Palit GTX 460 1GB Sonic Platinum - This is a board that is pre-overclocked extensively. Temps are higher and so is fan RPM. Still we measured 42 dBA at 75 cm distance. This means you can hear it in the background noise, but not at an annoying level. Other than that, overall this is a silent solution.
Zotac GTX 460 1024MB - Though the cooler looks nice, it was also the noisiest we have tested. Temps remained under control quite well but the card definitely can be heard when it is fully stressed for a longer timeframe. Not bothersome, but definitely not as silent as any of the other cards tested.
eVGA GeForce GTX 460 768MB - NVIDIA made darn sure that the new product needed to be cool and quiet. And they sure did, great temperatures and a cooler that you simply cannot hear period. Great cooling on the eVGA GeForce GTX 460 768MB.
eVGA GeForce GTX 460 768MB SuperClocked - Despite the temperatures being a little higher on this card, that does not have an effect on overall sound levels. At its hottest measured point (64 degrees C) the fan RPM had risen towards 45% RPM, and that's still very little. So even this massively overclocked SKU remains absolutely silent.
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 460 768MB - The cooling design is excellent. It allows the card to come pre-overclocked yet keeps the card incredibly silent yet within very lovely noise levels, as you cannot hear this card whatsoever. Even overclocked this card will amaze you in both cooling performance and noise levels (in a positive fashion of course).
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