MSI GeForce GTX 460 1GB Cyclone Video Card

Already impressed with the 768MB version of the GTX 460 Cyclone from MSI, today we check out the 1GB version.

Manufacturer: MSI
15 minutes & 32 seconds read time


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Our first GTX 460 review was of the MSI Cyclone 768MB. Straight away it showed us what the GTX 460 was going to be about; good power at an even better price. Once we had a look at that we then checked out some 1GB models. Unlike most cards, the 1GB model wasn't just more memory, but it increased the memory bus width while adding some more ROPs at the same time.

The problem we had was that the GIGABYTE card we looked at wasn't overclocked as much as the 768MB Cyclone from MSI. The Galaxy and Palit cards we then looked at afterwards instead had clocks so much higher. Until today we didn't have a chance to really see what the difference between the 768MB version and the 1GB version was on a more even keel.

Today we've got the 1GB version of the Cyclone; it carries with it the same speeds as the 768MB model we looked at, yet carries with it more memory, the wider bus and the extra ROPs. Today that means we'll be able to see what the difference is between the two models and if it's really worth spending the extra dollars that are associated with the 1GB model.

The Package

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MSI GeForce GTX 460 1GB Cyclone Video Card 04

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The package is identical to the 768MB version; you've got a picture of the card on the front of the box and some important information. Inside is a little bare with two PCI-E 6 PIN connectors, a DVI to HDMI adapter and DVI to VGA adapter.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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MSI GeForce GTX 460 1GB Cyclone Video Card 08

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If you looked at the 768MB review of the Cyclone you're really not going to see anything new here with the cards looking really identical. We've got that massive Cyclone cooler which looks sensational along with the two 6-Pin PCI-E connectors and single SLI connector.

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In the I/O department we've got two Dual Link DVI connectors and a single mini HDMI port. It would've been nice to see a mini HDMI to HDMI convertor or cable in the package. In saying that, few companies seem to be including them. We really wonder how many people would make use of the port.


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Out of the box the Cyclone 1GB like the 768MB version is overclocked on the core while the 3600MHz QDR memory clock remains at stock. The default core and Shader clock is 675MHz and 1350MHz, respectively. This comes in at 726MHz and 1451MHz, ever so slightly down on the 728MHz and 1455MHz we saw on the 768MB version, but 2 MHz is really going to make no difference.

As we've mentioned a few times, there's more to the 1GB model than just some extra memory. We've got a slightly wider bus of 256-bit compared to 196-bit and also 32 ROPs verse 24 RPS. This is what's going to make the main difference when it comes to performance and not the extra 256MB of GDDR5.

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.

While we've included a number of cards today like the HD 5830, HD 5850 and GTX 470, the main card we're comparing the MSI GTX 460 1GB Cyclone against is the MSI GTX 460 768MB Cyclone. We want to see what that slightly wider bus and extra few ROPs do for the card when compared to the 768MB version.

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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Straight away we can see a clear bump in performance with the 1GB card. We'll have to find out if this increase is seen in our games.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

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

This 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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We again see the 1GB offers us a little bit more performance. The gains don't seem as strong as in 3DMark.

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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Looking at CINEBENCH we don't see much of a difference between the two cards which is exactly what we would expect.

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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Across the resolution table we can see a bump in performance. If we put it in % terms, though, it's minute.

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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Under BattleForge we can see at each resolution the difference is only 1 FPS, again nothing to really write home about.

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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Again the card is faster, but it's only 2 FPS more at all levels so again hardly anything that's going to make a difference.

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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MSI GeForce GTX 460 1GB Cyclone Video Card 27

We've got a little more movement under Darkest of Days, especially as we climb the resolution table, but it's nothing major that's going to change your overall game experience.

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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Across the board we see a nice little bump in performance. The best gains seem to be seen at 1920 x 1200. At 2560 x 1600 we can see that extra bus-width and ROPs help push our performance to that 30 FPS minimum we need.

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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Under Batman AA we see some good gains across the board. Like Far Cry 2 we can see an increase in performance, but more importantly performance is pushed from under 30 FPS with the 768MB card to over 30 FPS with the 1GB one with PhysX on at 1920 x 1200. The difference is seen when the card is really placed under pressure.

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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Across the board Dark Void sees some good increases. Unlike our last few games there's no game changing difference with the 768MB offering minimums above 30 FPS, but the extra performance is no doubt appreciated.

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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Like a few of our later tests we can see that the extra grunt is the difference between playable and not playable, with the 1GB version helping push us over that 30 FPS minimum we need.

Resident Evil 5

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We see a nice gain under RE5 with all the detail cranked up. Unfortunately we're still below the 60 FPS average we want to see in this scenario.

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

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H.A.W.X. doesn't see the same kind of increases as our other AA tests unfortunately.

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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There are no real surprises with WSA performance; it runs almost identically in line with the 768MB version.

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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Under BADABOOM we don't see anything out of the ordinary.

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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The temperature on the GTX 460 1GB is very similar to the 768MB version which is nice. It's currently the coolest running 1GB card we've tested as well, which is a testament to the Cyclone cooler MSI have opted for.

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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Noise levels are a little louder than the 768MB Cyclone version, quieter than the Palit one yet a little louder than the GIGABYTE. The noise levels we're seeing from the model are ultimately impressive.

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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Power draw doesn't carry with it any surprises with it sitting in line with most of the other GTX 460s we've already tested.

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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Overall TPR performance is strong; slightly up on the GIGABYTE version and slightly up on the 768MB version, mainly thanks to the Vantage boost.

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 higher price tag means the Value of the card drops a little compared to the GTX 460 768MB. Compared to the other 1GB cards we've looked at, it lines up as we would expect.

Final Thoughts

I really liked the GTX 460 768MB Cyclone. For people who are happy to overclock it's probably one of my favorite GTX 460s on the market because of the quality of the heatsink/fan. Not only does it offer us good noise levels, but also runs cool when compared to the competition, which is exactly what you want from a card that has opted for aftermarket cooling.

Compared to the 768MB version which offers similar performance, the value of not just this model but all the other 1GB ones isn't quite as strong. The slightly wider bus and extra ROPs do very little for extra performance on a whole.

In saying that, we see some performance gains help us move past that 30 FPS minimum at the higher resolution which is important. The good news is that the 1GB version isn't all that much more expensive than the 768MB one. Also, compared to other models like the GTX 465 and HD 5830 to name just a few, the overall value is still better which is fantastic news for the consumer.

Out of the 1GB cards, the Cyclone is a stand out; not because of its out of the box performance which does sit a little back compared to some of the more expensive offerings that carry an 800MHz+ core, but because of the cooler and its performance. If you're interested in overclocking yourself you should be able to achieve some good performance thanks to its temperature being impressive out of the box.

The only downer from the 1GB Cyclone is probably the bundle. While not a huge deal, the lack of a mini HDMI convertor when the card itself carries quite an uncommon connector is a little annoying, but we're not sure who's really going to make use of it and getting a hold of a connector shouldn't be too hard.

While its out of the box overclocking isn't as strong as some of the others we've looked at, overclocking is easy with MSI's own Afterburner software. The bottom line is you're also paying less compared to models that carry a higher clock speed. The fact that the Cyclone cooler performs so well is what makes it stand out in the end and helps turn it from a good card to a great card.

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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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