The KFA2 premium line of graphics cards is a very interesting series available here in Europe real soon. Obviously with any GTX 460 card, whether that is the 768MB or 1024MB model, you can't go wrong. We do feel that the 768MB models offer the most bang for buck, but the extra 256MB on the 1024MB models might come in handy with future more frame buffer stringent DX11 titles. But yeah, they do offer a little less value for money if you look at the charts right now.
The KFA2 cards come with custom design PCB, proper components, much higher clock frequencies and custom cooler. In every foreseeable way this looks and feels like a winner. However the cooling solution we need to address first. While performance is good and the temperatures are under control, the cooler unfortunately is the weak spot of the two SKUs tested today.
With the reference design cards everything was done right and one of the biggest complaints over the previous Fermi based product was obviously the noise level... the reference GTX 460 eliminated that issue. It was with much surprise that we found both KFA2 cards tested today are darn noisy, we are talking and audible level comparable with the GeForce GTX 480. Now I do have to add this, we do measure with a full FurMark burn-in on the GPU, so your average game would re-produce lower numbers. But wether or not you care about that is of course a choice you have to make yourself. The weird thing is, the 1st generation of this cooler used on the GTX 470 was better looking, better performing and produced far better (lower) noise levels with a GPU that was much hotter with a higher TDP. My advice, Galaxy (ODM) needs to go back to the drawing board and seriously look into this.
Noise aside, we do have to admit that everything else was done right. The slowest EX OC model (if you can call it that) is already pre-overclocked for you at 700 MHz on the core and 3700 MHz (effective) on its 256-bit gDDR5 memory. If you apply a little extra GPU voltage (you can use the Extreme Tuner HD application) the card almost reached 900 MHz, we however could not get it stable past 900 Mhz. But at such clock frequencies you have a tremendous amount of power and performance for a very fair price.
That other SKU then, dang man... the Super Overclocked LTD OC model runs at a 810 MHz core at default, that is frickin fast for a pre-overclock. Then the memory is overclocked at default for you as well, running a l33t 4000 MHz effective over the 1024MB gDDR5 memory partition. This, without doubt, will be the fastest clocked SKU available in retail/e-tail. It's like an orange colored lion that roars and screams performance.
The GeForce GTX 460 series is done right. Overall we feel that the GTX 460 series is a very beefy product in the mid-range market. It is also a much welcomed product series as let's face it, the mid-range DX11 segment was filled solely with ATI's Radeon 5750/5570/5830 products. Now we can add NVIDIA to that segment as well. Logic can only assume that ATI is going to either release respin products of their cards, or simply drop prices a little. Regardless of what you prefer, it's good to see NVIDIA now have what seems to be a really nice DX11 class mid-ranger available in this oh so important segment.
The 1024 MB models will start at roughly 229 USD/EUR. You can expect to get what you pay for, a product that will play your games up-to 1600x1200, and in most cases 1920x1200 quite well. What surprised us was the tremendous overclocking potential, pretty much any and every GTX 460 we've tested has shown a lot of reserve and room for overclocking, and they scale really well while doing so. Any card, even the cheapest you can find, can be pushed to 800 MHz on the core. Add a little GPU juice (voltage) and 900 MHz on the 1024MB models starts to surface on the horizon.
Obviously we recommend the 1GB version over the 768MB version, not so much for the extra memory but for the 8 ROP partitions the 1GB version has extra. Some more performance can be found there making it the more mature product. But do not underestimate the 768MB models though as they offer very decent bang for buck. Especially the faster clocked 768MB SKUs surprised me big-time.
Remember the name KFA2 -- you'll be hearing a lot more from them this year, especially in Europe we expect them to become a reputable brand with very interesting products. So what to choose... the EX OC or the LTD OC version? Well, personally I'd say go with the cheaper EX OC version and overclock it manually. You'll save a few tenners and both cards can be overclocked roughly the same anyway. However, if you get spontaneous green pimples from even thinking about overclocking yourself or you have two left hands; then obviously choose a pre-overclocked model like the KFA2 GeForce GTX 460 1024MB LTD OC, which is pretty much the fastest pre-overclocked product you will find on the market that falls under full warranty.
We do hope that the final MSRP on the overclocked models does not get too expensive though as that would ruin the party. Except for the serious noise levels we have very little to complain about with the KFA2 GeForce GTX 460 1024MB series graphics cards. Great performance, great features and a lovely aesthetic design.
Currently, the noise levels with the early samples we received for this review keep it away from any of our awards, perhaps with a few tweaks or an updated BIOS the noise levels can be dealt with, we'll look forward to awarding these products once that has been dealt with and then give them the credit they deserve.
But make no mistake though, at this point we have already tested no less than twelve GeForce GTX 460 class cards, and performance wise the pre-overclocked LTD OC model takes the 1st place in performance ranking. A card like this allows you to play any game to date with high image quality settings up-to 1600x1200 and in most scenarios 1920x1200 as well. At this price level, that is just fantastic overall value.
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