It's been a while since I've been this excited about a mid range video card. It's crazy these days at what a mid range card is and even more so insane at what a mid range card is capable of doing.
A mid range card is ultimately based on the price of the model and not the performance it offers. The same is done with a high end card and for that reason we find that sometimes high end cards don't deliver when you consider the price of the product. The same is seen in the mid range market as well.
It's become clear that NVIDIA are delivering in the mid range market just by having a look at the GTX 460s we've already tested. NVIDIA seem to be offering high end performance at a mid range price level. For you, the consumer, there's nothing better. We all love a good bang for buck and that seems to be what NVIDIA are delivering with the GTX 460.
The particular one we're looking at today is the Galaxy version that comes in with the Super OC tag. While in the past I would be a little skeptical about a company outside of maybe GIGABYTE giving us the Super anything tag, there's some serious OC potential with these cards with most companies offering a 700+MHz offering and Palit even offering us a 800MHz model.
So the question on our mind today is, how Super is the Super OC from Galaxy? - Before we get stuck into the card and more importantly its specifications, let's first look at the package Galaxy has put together.
The PackageThe Package
On the box we can see the Super OC labeling; we can also see that Galaxy are marketing a detachable fan. We saw something similar with the GTX 470 GC version; what it does is let you get behind the fan and give the card a good dust down, something that's always appreciated.
There's not too much going on in the bundle, but the inclusion of a mini-HDMI to HDMI cable is a stand-out as we haven't seen any company yet include one in the GTX 460 package.
The Card and SpecificationsThe Card
Apart from the cooler design, we don't really see anything we haven't seen from other GTX 460s we've already looked at. There's two 6-Pin PCI-E connectors at the top of the card like Palit's instead of at the back. We've also got a single SLI connector and connectivity is offered via two Dual-Link DVI connectors and a single Mini-HDMI port.
Where the Galaxy offering does differ to the others we've looked at is when it comes to the fan which can pivot back or completely detach to help clean up the heatsink from any dust. The whole thing is a little gimmicky, but we don't mind it if the heatsink/fan does a good job of keeping our core nice and cool.
I thought when we looked at the Palit Sonic Platinum GTX 460 that we wouldn't see a company beat it when it comes to the out of the box overclock. Not only did Palit offer us an 800MHz core, but they also upped the ante on the memory by pushing it to 4000MHz QDR.
It seems that Galaxy has infiltrated the Palit bunker, though, as they're offering us an 810MHz core which in turn bumps our Shader clock to 1620MHz. As for the 1GB of GDDR5, they've bumped that up from the default 3600MHz QDR clock to 4000MHz QDR.
While the Galaxy offering is only a small increase on the Palit 800MHz clock we saw earlier, it like the Palit offering is a massive increase over the default 675MHz clock which at the moment no one has shown us.
Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage
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 have a look at the Galaxy GTX 460 1GB against the Palit Sonic Platinum which carries with it an 800MHz core and the GIGABYTE OC model which carries a much lower 715MHz core.
Because we can, we've also got the Gainward GTX 470 Golden Sample, GIGABYTE HD 5830 and Sapphire HD 5850 involved.
Let's get started!
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
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.
Straight away we can see that the 10MHz edge that Galaxy has on the Palit offering gives us a few extra points in both the P and X preset.
Unigine Heaven BenchmarkUnigine Heaven Benchmark
Version and / or Patch Used: 1 and 2
Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com
Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/press-releases/091022-heaven_benchmark//
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.
We can see that across the board that extra 10MHz manages to give the Galaxy GTX 460 the lead over the Palit card. Compared to the GIGABYTE offering with a 715MHz core the Galaxy does really leave it for dead, which isn't a surprise considering the core is clocked 95MHz higher.
Benchmarks - CINEBENCHCINEBENCH
Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10 and Release 11.5
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net
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).
It comes as no surprise that under CINEBENCH we see all the NVIDIA cards perform quite close to each other.
Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5Resident Evil 5
Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage: www.residentevil.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.residentevil.com/
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.
It's interesting that even though the Galaxy offering carries with it only a 10MHz core higher than the Palit version, it's still able to separate itself from pack.
Benchmarks - BattleForgeBattleForge
Version and / or Patch Used: Auto Patched at Load
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.battleforge.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.battleforge.com/
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.
A 10MHz core increase isn't a lot, but you can again see that it's just giving us an extra FPS across the board. Compared to the GIGABYTE version, though, which carries with it only a 715MHz core, the Galaxy really does stand out and at 1920 x 1200 the extra MHz is the difference between the game being playable and not.
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: http://www.ubi.com/UK/default.aspx
Product Homepage: http://www.hawxgame.com/
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.
At 1920 x 1200 and below that extra 10MHz core seems to do more for the frame rate then it does when at 2560 x 1600. We've seen in a few benchmarks at the highest resolution the gap between the 800MHz Palit and 810MHz Galaxy becomes quite small.
Benchmarks - Darkest of DaysDarkest of Days
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.darkestofdays.com/index.php
Product Homepage: http://www.darkestofdays.com/index.php
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.
We continue to see that extra 10MHz on the core from the Galaxy Super OC version helping put the card ahead of the pack.
Benchmarks - Far Cry 2Far Cry 2
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/
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.
We continue to see that thanks to that small 10MHz increase over the Sonic Platinum version from Palit the Galaxy offering is able to just take out the top spot across the board.
Benchmarks - Batman Arkham AsylumBatman Arkham Asylum
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/
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.
Without PhysX performance is as you would expect; strong. Compared to the Palit minimums are almost identical with the average being slightly higher. With PhysX on we're seeing the same kind of picture with again a slight bump in our averages.
Benchmarks - Dark VoidDark Void
Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.airtightgames.com
Product Homepage: http://www.darkvoidgame.com/
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.
With both PhysX on and off we can see that the Galaxy offering is able to just offer those few extra FPS here and there thanks to that 10MHz increase on the core.
Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AFHigh 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
We can see the extra core speed just helps boost our performance again slightly, which is impressive.
Resident Evil 5
That extra 10MHz helps boost our performance again and we're so close to that 60 FPS average. We're not quite at it, but just a few more MHz and I think we would be there.
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.
Unlike RE5, when we crank up the AA and AF under H.A.W.X. we fall a good way back from that 60 FPS average we need.
Benchmarks - Elcomsoft Wireless Security AuditorElcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.51
Timedemo or Level Used: Sample File
Developer Homepage: http://www.elcomsoft.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.elcomsoft.com/ewsa.html
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.
Those few extra MHz on the core that Galaxy is putting on offer helps put the card ahead of the pack again when it comes to looking at WSA performance.
Benchmarks - BadaboomBadaboom
Version and / or Patch Used: Release 22.214.171.124
Developer Homepage: http://www.nvidia.com//
Product Homepage: http://www.badaboomit.com/
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.
Looking at video encoding performance, there's nothing that surprises us here.
Temperature TestTemperature 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.
The temperature of the core on the Galaxy offering is slightly lower than the 800MHz Sonic Platinum Palit offering.
Sound TestSound 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).
The Galaxy offering is a fair bit nosier than a lot of our other offerings. From the second we turned the system on we could tell it was more audible even at idle.
Power Consumption TestsPower 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.
Power draw on the Galaxy model is slightly up in load and more noticeably up when idle. The numbers aren't anything we would be too concerned about, though.
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.
We can see that overall the Galaxy GTX 460 is now the fastest card we've tested to date. It doesn't come as much of a surprise since we're dealing with an 810MHz core. What's scary, though, is that the card doesn't sit all that far behind the GTX 470 Golden Sample from Gainward which comes pre-overclocked. This model really is a monster.
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 Newegg.com. 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.
It comes as no surprise that the Galaxy GTX 460 Super OC carries with it a higher price tag than the standard and lower clocked GTX 460s we've looked at, but thanks to the massive performance increase the product has excellent value still.
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts
First the bad; the cooler is a little loud for my liking and while we're dealing with more high end performance, it's still a mid range card. Now for the good. Well, that's easy; everything else! - Performance on the model is stronger than the strongest we've seen and really, performance isn't all that far away from a GTX 470 which costs significantly more.
Priced at $255 as well, it's aggressive and while you're paying a premium for the overclock, the bottom line is the huge overclock does wonders for performance. The cooler while being a bit loud is pretty good. It keeps the temps at a good level and honestly, the ability to move it back to get access to the heatsink without voiding warranty is a nice little feature. It's exceptionally handy for systems that get very dusty or for people who just like to keep their system fairly dust free.
It's nice to see that Galaxy have chosen to include a Mini-HDMI to HDMI cable and not just adapter. It ultimately helps the package stand out a little more when compared to some of the other cards we've looked at.
Galaxy has as always done a great job; I think the fact that they're a NVIDIA only partner means that when it comes to building NVIDIA cards they want to aim to be the best while making sure pricing is still aggressive. I think because of that drive we're seeing great models from them. The GTX 460 Super OC doesn't disappoint and the Super OC name is very well deserved.
If we dealt with boxes, the Galaxy GTX 460 Super OC would tick all of them; it's a stand out compared to the cards that over clock in the 700MHz range which while impressive just aren't the same as these ones that come in at the 800MHz range.
The biggest clocks to date, the decision to overclock the memory, inclusion of the Mini-HDMI to HDMI cable and the cool heatsink/fan design make the model stand out from the competition. The fan could've been a little quieter and you could drop it manually down a bit when just working in Windows, but really, we're just trying to find something wrong at this point.
This is a stand out GTX 460 and just a stand out video card in general. Parting with your hard earned dollars on this card shouldn't be hard as Galaxy has laid everything on the table and we're just lapping it up.
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