MSI GeForce GTX 460 768MB Cyclone Video Card

We check out the new GTX 460. The first one we're looking at is the MSI 768MB version which is part of the Cyclone series.

Manufacturer: MSI
16 minutes & 31 seconds read time


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It just wouldn't be a new month without another video card launch from someone. The latest model number to fall upon us is the GTX 460 and as you might've guessed, it's a new mid range model that is designed to sit below the GTX 465 which has become a personal favorite of mine.

The GTX 460 has been talked about for a while now along with the potential of the card when it comes to overclocking. While we won't be diving into that today in much detail, we're finding that most companies are choosing to ignore the stock clocks from NVIDIA and offer us overclocked variants straight away. In the coming week or two we'll be no doubt looking at how far we can push the card.

The first version of the card we're looking at comes from MSI and is a 768MB model. You might've heard rumors of two versions, 768MB and 1GB. This is true, but there's more to the two models than just some extra memory. Outside the standard numbers we're used to seeing, the 1GB variant of the card should pack a little extra punch due to an increase in the right areas. We'll be looking closer at that when we check out a 1GB version of the model which will be showing up today as well.

For now, let's see what MSI has going with the package before taking a closer look at the card, its specification and of course the performance.

The Package

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Really, like most VGA cards we see these days not a whole lot is going on in the package. We've got a couple of power connectors, CD with a copy of Afterburner and a couple of DVI convertors. Nothing to really get all that excited about here.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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Checking out the card, you can see the Cyclone cooler that MSI has opted for which I must say looks absolutely fantastic. While the model is more main stream, it still requires two 6-Pin PCI-E connectors. We've got a single SLI connector and for connectivity we've got two Dual-Link DVI ports and a single Mini-HDMI one.


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Some aspects of the GPU-Z screenshot are wrong and others are correct; ROPs are correct at 24 which is slightly less than the 32 seen on the 1GB version. The 192-bit bus width is also correct which is again slightly lower than the 256-bit one seen on the 1GB model. Shaders or CUDA cores are wrong. Like the 1GB version, the card carries with it 336.

The clocks are different from the stock card, but correct as we're dealing with an OC model. Instead of the 675MHz / 1350MHz / 3600MHz QDR Core / CUDA / Memory clock, the MSI version has opted for a 728MHz / 1455MHz / 3600MHz QDR setup.

This is a big overclock. The rumor mill along with NVIDIA in its own press material to us have pushed the overclocking aspect of this card, so it will be interesting to see what kind of performance we can get from this model.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Western Digital, Noctua and Thermaltake.

Today we'll be comparing the MSI GTX 460 768MB Cyclone against a number of other cards which include the Galaxy GTX 465 and Gainward GTX 470 Golden Sample from the NVIDIA side. On the ATI side we've included both the HD 5850 and HD 5830.

Let's get started!

3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
Buy It Here

3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.

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Thanks to the overclock here we're able to see that performance is stronger than the GTX 465 which is a higher model than this one. We can also see that compared to the HD 5830 performance is also very strong.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 1 and 2
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

Note: If a card doesn't support DirectX 11 the benchmark will be left out, if it does it will be included along with the DirectX10 results.

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Heaven performance is very strong for the MSI GTX 460 Cyclone. We can see that it's able to outperform the GTX 465 again and manages to outperform both ATI models under this benchmark, even the higher end HD 5850.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH


Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10 and Release 11.5
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).

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CINEBENCH performance is where you would expect it to be, so no real surprises here.

Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5

Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.

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Getting into the games, we can see very strong performance. While the model trails slightly behind the GTX 465 here, compared to the HD 5830 its performance is very good.

Benchmarks - BattleForge


Version and / or Patch Used: Auto Patched at Load
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

The Gods have disappeared and the old sun has died, letting a vile twilight engulf the world of Nyn. In exchange for all treasures the mortals possessed, the evil giants agreed to forge a new sun and hurl it into the sky.

But the deal was betrayed, the treasure stolen and now the mortals flee the wrath of the giants. Under the light of a new sun the mortals stumble into a world changed and twisted by an age of twilight. The long journey home has become a conquest of survival.

Note: Supporting DirectX 11 we have seperated the graphs for NVIDIA and ATI cards. While the numbers between the two brands can be compared you have to make note that ATI based HD 5000 series cards are running DirectX 11.

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While we saw the GTX 460 perform stronger in some of the synthetic tests against the GTX 465, here we can see it trails slightly. Again, though, performance is good. At 1920 x 1200 we would need a small detail drop to bring that average up to 60 FPS, however.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X is an arcade-style flight simulator video game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and iPhone OS.

The fundamental gameplay mechanics are similar to those of other console-based flight series. Players take on enemies with over 50 aircraft available. Each mission is at real world locations in environments created with commercial satellite data. A cockpit, first person, and third person view are selectable. The third person view gives the player an external view of both their plane and the target.

Set above the skies of a near-future world, increasingly dependent on private military companies with elite mercenaries who have a relaxed view on the law. As these non-governmental organizations gain power, global conflict erupts with one powerful PMC attacking the United States.

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Looking at H.A.W.X. the performance from the MSI GTX 460 Cyclone 768MB is very good again. It's able to outperform the GTX 465 and HD 5830 with ease and even outperform or match the performance of the higher end HD 5850 in some scenarios.

Benchmarks - Darkest of Days

Darkest of Days

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Darkest of Days takes the player through time into historic battles in an effort to save key individuals from certain death. The battles range from Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 to fighting in Pompeii as ash and fire rain down from an erupting Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Other locations include the battles of Antietam and Tannenberg, and a German World War II P.O.W. camp. There are different missions in every time period and the game takes about 4 hours to complete.

The game features over twenty weapons, both from the original time period as well as those brought back from the future. In addition, there are artillery weapons from different time periods to assist in battle.

Note: With the PhysX set to Medium or High Darkest of Days take advantage of the NVIDIA PhysX abilities. For that reason we will test ATI cards at the Low preset, NVIDIA based cards though will be tested at Low and High.

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We again see some very good performance from the MSI GTX 460. It does lag a little behind the GTX 465 in this case, though.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
Buy It Here

The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

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At the lower resolution we can see that the GTX 460 is again able to outperform the GTX 465 and HD 5830 with ease. At the highest resolution it falls a single FPS behind the GTX 465 from Galaxy and again we see in scenarios its performance is better than the HD 5850.

Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman Arkham Asylum

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.

Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.

Note: With support for PhysX NVIDIA based cards will be tested with the technology on and off, ATI cards will be tested with the technology off due to it not being supported on their cards.

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Great performance is again seen under Batman AA and in this case we can see the model is able to outperform the GTX 465 in all our benchmarks here. It leaves the HD 5830 in the dust and again it's very similar to the HD 5850 at some resolutions.

Turning PhysX on we can see good performance at 1680 x 1050, but climbing above that we see the minimum drop a little too low and while it could be lifted at 1920 x 1200, you wouldn't have the same luck at 2560 x 1600.

Benchmarks - Dark Void

Dark Void

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

The game's story takes place during World War II and centers around a cargo pilot named William Augustus Grey (voiced by Nolan North) who is teleported to another world while flying through the Bermuda Triangle. In this world, known as the 'Void', Will encounters an alien race as well as other humans, which are known as the Watchers and the Survivors respectively.

Will reluctantly joins the Survivors who are engaged in a feud with the alien race to satisfy his desire to return to Earth. While aiding the Survivors, Will discovers that the Void is a middle ground that connects both the Watchers homeworld and Earth. It also becomes apparent that the Watchers are supplying the Axis powers with various supplies for reasons unknown. With the help of Nikola Tesla, Will utilizes retrofited Watcher technology to combat the Watchers and eventually find a way to escape the Void.

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Finishing up with Dark Void, we again see very strong performance across the board from the model with it again outperforming the GTX 465 for the most part. With PhysX on we can see across the board the minimum of 30 FPS from the model which is fantastic.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.

Far Cry 2

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Turning on AA performance is again very strong and we're pretty much at a playable setting with these detail levels which is very impressive.

Resident Evil 5

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Under RE5 performance is strong, but we're a little too far from that 60 FPS average we want to see...

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

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...and under H.A.W.X. we really ran into some problems with the card.

Benchmarks - Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor

Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.51
Timedemo or Level Used: Sample File
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

ElcomSoft has pioneered many software innovations that have made it easier to recover passwords protecting various types of resources. For the first time in the industry, the company's patent-pending GPU acceleration makes its way into Wi-Fi password recovery, reducing the time required to recover Wi-Fi passwords up to a hundred times.

Supporting up to four NVIDIA boards such as GeForce 8, 9, and 200, as well as ATI video cards such as RADEON HD 4000 Series and up, Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor allows building servers with supercomputer performance at a fraction of the price.

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EWSA performance is strong with the model, sitting where you would expect.

Benchmarks - Badaboom


Version and / or Patch Used: Release
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Badaboom eliminates the frustration of video conversion by providing users with speed, efficiency, quality, and a sleek interface. In a practice that used to take several hours, Badaboom converts feature-length movies in a matter of minutes while keeping the videos looking crisp and clear.

By harnessing the power of NVIDIA CUDA-enabled GPUs, Badaboom offloads the CPU to allow users to continue browsing the Internet or checking email without decreased system performance, making transcoding high-quality video fast, easy, and painless.

Note: With the requirement for a CUDA enabled graphics card to run Badaboom, this means that we can only use NVIDIA based cards for this test.

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BADABOOM performance is also very good, encoding our episode at the high 2500 kb/s in the same time as higher end more expensive cards.

Temperature Test

Temperature Tests

With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).

There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.

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Not only does the Cyclone cooler look impressive, it does a fantastic job of keeping temperatures down which is fantastic, too.

Sound Test

Sound Tests

Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

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The even better news is the fact it's able to do this at very reasonable noise levels.

Power Consumption Tests

Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

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Finally we look at power draw and the number is fairly impressive. It's something any decent quality power supply would handle which is great for people who are looking for a great bang for buck setup.

Total Performance Rating (TPR)

Total Performance Rating

The TPR graph is a combination of all our benchmarks in which NVIDIA and ATI are on an even playing field. This includes benchmarks where PhysX can be forced off like Dark Void and Batman: Arkham Asylum, but not Darkest of Days.

The TPR number is a combination of:

3DMark Vantage, Heaven Benchmark V2, CINEBENCH R11.5, Resident Evil 5, BattleForge, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., Far Cry 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum (PhysX Off), Dark Void (PhysX Off) and our three High Quality tests which include Far Cry 2, Resident Evil 5 and Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

All of the benchmark results achieved are then combined into a single number. As this graph will grow over time and cards won't be re-tested, next to each model you'll find the driver version that was used when the card was benchmarked.

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Looking at our TPR graph we can see the performance of the model is stronger than stock clocked GTX 465 versions. We can also see it has no trouble dealing with overclocked HD 5830s and really only falls a little behind the HD 5850 and overclocked GTX 465.

Total Value Rating (TVR)

Total Value Rating

The TVR graph is the TPR score divided by the price of the video card. The price of the video card is based on the list price of the model on In the event the card isn't listed, it will be based on the U.S. $ MSRP given to us by the manufacturer.

In the event we can't source a price from either, the product will not receive a TVR rating. As with our TPR graph, the amount of video cards on the list will grow over time and the price of the model won't change from what it was when first reviewed. For this reason the U.S. $ price that the card is based off will be included next to the name of the model.

In the event you want to find the TVR rating yourself based on the current price, all you have to do is simply divide the TPR number by the list price.

TVR numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number; 100.3 will be 100; 100.8 will be 101 and 100.5 will be rounded down to 100.

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The hyper aggressive pricing on this model makes the value of the product just insane. Nothing really comes close to it, so it will be very interesting to see what happens when we attack the series with Afterburner.

Final Thoughts

The GTX 460 has two niggling issues for myself; the first is the fact the mid range model carries with it the need to use two 6-Pin PCI-E power connectors. I understand it's not a big deal and it's not a deal breaker, but it would've been nice if it didn't require the two connectors since the card is aimed at the mid range market.

The second issue I have with the series and not the MSI version of the card would be the fact it just kills the GTX 465. The price of the GTX 460 when overclocked and its performance is just amazing and it really makes you wonder why you would buy a GTX 465. Really, if you had just bought one I wouldn't be too impressed at all.

Saying that, though, word through the grape vine is that the GTX 465 hasn't been selling well for NVIDIA partners and the release of the GTX 460 also means the GTX 465 is getting an aggressive price drop. We're not 100% sure about this, but it's just some whispers we've heard so it wouldn't surprise us as it really makes sense.

Outside of those few niggling issues, though, let's talk about the positive things about the card. Well, if I had to put it in a single word, that word would be everything. Honestly, MSI have come out the gate with a nice overclock on the card which gives us simply awesome performance. They've slapped on a new cooler on which is quiet and does a fantastic job of keeping temperatures down and they've done this for under $200.

The GTX 460 is just INSANE! and anyone who had doubts about what NVIDIA was capable of shouldn't be worried. This card is just amazing and really brings a huge amount of life into the GTX 400 series. This model just has to go berserk for NVIDIA and its partners. This is also a massive blow to the ATI line up. It really ruins the value of the HD 5750, HD 5770, HD 5830 and HD 5850 which have been some of the best valued cards on the market for months.

We're now going to see one or two things from ATI, massive price drops and/or new models. All I can say is that NVIDIA is hungry for success in the video card market and with models like these they're going to be able to achieve it because while NVIDIA might not be going great in the high end segment with the GTX 470 and GTX 480, the bottom line is that the mid range series is where companies make money and achieve market share.

Normally you need to be great at the top end for people to have belief in your mid range and low, but the bottom line is that the GTX 460 stands out on its own as a beaming ray of hope for anyone who wants value.

I couldn't say anything else about the GTX 460 and the MSI Cyclone version of the card. It's simply awe inspiring. I look forward to a very good fight in the run to Christmas 2010. On your marks; get set; GO!

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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