ECS GeForce GTX 460 1GB Black
ECS Elitegroup is a manufacturer that has been around for a while and has recently been making great strides to appeal to the enthusiast community with their "Black" series of components which bring premium performance and cooling at a great price. The video card we have here today from ECS is their GeForce GTX 460 1GB Black which is factory overclocked to a respectable 765MHz core speed and even comes with the Arctic Cooling Accelero Twin Turbo heatsink for maximum overclocking!
ECS GeForce GTX 460 1GB (NBGTX460-1GPI-F) Features
- Microsoft DirectX 11 Support
- NVIDIA CUDA technology, with
- CUDA C/C++, Direct Compute 5.0 and OpenCL support
- NVIDIA PhysX technology
- NVIDIA SLI ready
- NVIDIA 3D Vision Ready
- NVIDIA 3D Vision Surround Ready
- NVIDIA PureVideo HD Technology
- PCI Express 2.0 Support
- Two dual-link DVI-I connectors
- One mini-HDMI 1.4 connector
- Dual-Link HDCP-Capable
- OpenGL 4.0 Support
- Arctic Cooling Accelero Twin Turbo Pro heat-sink assembly
The GeForce GTX 460 1GB is a very highly regarded video card for its price/performance ratio, and this card is no different offering higher-than-standard clock speeds and the slick AC heatsink for the same retail price as the base 1GB versions. Below is a chart of all the contending graphics cards in the $100-230 segment:
GTX 460 768MB
GTX 460 Black
||1,008 GFLOPs||1,360 GFLOPs
||601 GLOPs|| 907
| GPU Core
||GF 106||GF 104||GF 104|
| Mem Size
| Memory Bus Width
| Memory Bandwidth
| Core Clock
||783 MHz||675 MHz||765 MHz|
| Memory Clock
||900 MHz||900 MHz||925 MHz|
Looking at the chart, the primary differences between the 1GB and 768MB GTX 460's are tied to memory and bandwidth; of course, you can't forget the 768MB versions have less ROP engines. Today's testing will involve the HD 5670, 5750, 5770 and, of course, the GTX 460 1GB from ECS. I would have liked to have included the GTS 450 and 460 768MB, but those shall come in due time (maybe not the 768MB) because I simply do not have them on hand. Also, note the Radeon HD 5830 should be mentioned at the $199 price point, though is still over-valued in relation to the HD 5770 which performs close to it.
ECS GeForce GTX 460 1GB Black Packaging
The retail package for the GTX 460 1GB is similar to that of their other Black series products with a black background, silver product logos and white lettering for everything else aside from the green NVIDIA features box on the side. Since the main features are obvious, let's flip the box over.
On the side viewable here you can see that a minimum power supply required for single GPU use is 450W with 24A on the 12v+ rail being used, and this is based on a 3.2GHz Intel Core i7 system. The right hand side lists the technologies the card utilizes in 8 languages (not in English), including OpenGL 4.0, DirectX 11, Shader Model 5.0, NVIDIA SLI, PureVideo, etc. The left side shows images from the incredibly immersive and visually stunning titles of Metro 2033 and Just Cause 2 in 3D.
Sliding out the inner cardboard box there is a 1/2" deep tray which holds the accessories for the ECS GTX 460 1GB Black.
Upon removing the tray we see the ECS GTX 460 1GB Black packed nice and tight in its anti-static jacket.
Here we have everything that was included in the bundle: two dual-molex to PCIe connectors, one DVI to VGA connector, one DVI to HDMI connector and the driver disk. All of the accessories came in baggies which had "Lead-Free ROHS compliant" stickers on them so I figured it was somewhat important. From this angle the Arctic Cooling heatsink doesn't look too terribly tall, but we'll get into that shortly.
The driver disk came with a fairly simple installer, which included ForceWare driver kit version 257.21 dated 6/8/2010, and also includes a trial of Badaboom media converter which uses full GPU acceleration with CUDA. The Badaboom trail is version 188.8.131.52 and is dated 8/20/2009.
The ECS GeForce GTX 460 1GB Black Close-up
The profile of the ECS GTX 460 1GB Black is very large even though it is only 9" in length, because the 'Twin Turbo' fans make this a triple slot card. The height of the card is not limited on every board for SLI, because if you have two PCI or PCIe x1 slots in between your two PCIe x16 slots these will fit fine, although the fans will not perform optimally.
The expansion plate on the ECS GTX 460 features the standard 2x dual-link DVI-I and 1x mini-HDMI port. As you can see, the air can easily go outside the case although there is no doubt that plenty of air shall remain in the case.
Looking at the other end you can start to tell that this is a reference design PCB based on the capacitor and fan header locations. The ECS GTX 460 requires dual 6-pin PCIe power cables. Again, this is like any other GTX 460 on the market. There is ~1/2" of space between the board components and the bottom of the heatsink fins for air to spread out.
The first thing one notices from this picture is the orientation of the heatsink, which is angled by ~1/2" from end to end. All GTX 460's are limited to a single SLI connector, sadly. This is likely because triple SLI'd GTX 460's would cost around the same as a GTX 480, but perform quite a bit better. This is not ideal for the consumer, but makes sense from a business standpoint.
Notice the copper base on the heatsink does not entirely cover the GF104 heat spreader; I do not think this has any particular importance as the die is only in the center of the IHS which is more than covered. The aluminum fins are separated by roughly 1/8" allowing a lot of air flow to go through the fins and onto the PCB and components. The PCB is definitely reference design, as its component layout is the same and even has the circular white line which ordinarily outlines the reference heatsink (the aluminum part of the heatsink, anyway).
The heat spreader is labeled GF104-325-A1 which seems to be common among the 1GB variations of the GF104 GPU. Here is a list of all the GF104 core labels that we have seen here at Legit Reviews:
- NVIDIA Reference Design 768MB - GF104-300-KB-A1 (Week 12 of 2010)
- EVGA GTX 460 SuperClocked 768MB - GF104-300-KB-A1 (Week 12 of 2010)
- ASUS ENGTX460 Top 768MB - GF104-300-KA-A1 (Week 22 of 2010)
- MSI N460GTX Cyclone 1GB - GF104-325-A1 (Week 24 of 2010)
- ECS GTX 460 Black 1GB - GF104-325-A1 (Week 24 of 2010)
The ECS GeForce GTX 460 1GB video card uses eight Samsung GDDR5 memory ICs that are part number K4G10325FE-HC05. Each one of the ICs is 128MB in size and that is how the card reaches its 1024MB frame buffer. These Samsung IC's seem to be common among all of the reference-based GTX 460 768MB as well as 1GB versions. I was surprised that the ECS GTX 460 Black did not have any form of heatsinks for the VRAM ICs- something that this type of heatsink ordinarily comes with.
The copper base of the Arctic Cooling Accelero Twin Turbo Pro heatsink is flat but not perfect by any means, and is soldered to the four copper heatpipes. The Twin Turbo Pro is rated for a 120W cooling capacity, with its 4x 6mm copper heatpipes going through the 35 aluminum fins and dual 2000RPM-max 92mm PWM-controlled fans. Looking at the mounting holes, you notice that they are slightly different than the retail TT Pros and have the thick plastic spacers firmly in place.
The Test System
All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit with all the latest updates installed. All benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running, aside from Steam for the games. The GSKILL Ripjaws DDR3 1600MHz was run at 1488MHz with CL7-8-7-21 timings, the Western Digital Caviar Black hard drive held all benchmarks and games. The Phenom II X4 955 was running at 3906MHz with 1.5v VCore; 1953MHz HT Link; and 2790MHz CPU-NB in a Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H ATX motherboard running BIOS version F7c. The NVIDIA GPU was running ForceWare 258.96 WHQL drivers with the ATI GPUs running on Catalyst 10.8 WHQL drivers. If you notice the green strip of electrical tape on the UD3H, I have scratched one motherboard from inserting graphics cards multiple times- so preventative measures were taken.
AMD Test Platform
|Processor||AMD Phenom II X4 955 @3.9GHz|
|Memory||(2x2GB) G.SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 1600
| Video Cards
|| See Below
| Hard Drive
|| Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB
|Cooling|| Corsair H50 Hydro Series
| Power Supply
|| Corsair TX750w
||Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit
|Chassis||Thermaltake Armor A90
The ECS GeForce GTX 460 1GB Black has some serious thermal throttling going on; it goes from 765 MHz core speed down the 405 MHz for a sub-throttle, then all the way down to just 50.6 MHz after sitting idle! Memory goes from 925 MHz to 900 MHz then way down to 67.5 MHz. Finally, the shaders go from 1530 MHz to 810 MHz and to 101 MHz at idle state.
Left 4 Dead 2
Sequel to Valve Corporation's award-winning Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2 involves the aftermath of an apocalyptic pandemic. There has been an outbreak of a pathogen that causes infected humans to behave like zombies. The four survivors have to fight their way through the hordes of infected, using safe houses along the way to rest and recover in order to reach extraction points. This takes place in the southern United States, featuring Savannah, GA and New Orleans, LA.
For L4D2 we used the highest possible settings with 8x MSAA and 8x AF. VSYNC was disabled and multicore rendering was enabled. We used FRAPS to record frame rates during a full play-through of the "Hard Rain" campaign's "Mill Escape" level, pictured above. We are including L4D2 for DirectX 9 level comparison as all the other tests will be running DirectX 11 with the exception of Furmark running OpenGL and 3DMark Vantage as DirectX 10. Hard Rain is my favorite campaign in Left 4 Dead 2 because it simulates hurricane Katrina (though you can still walk, just slower in flooded areas) limiting visibility with dense rain which very few games attempt- pictured above.
The ECS GeForce GTX 460 1GB handles this game very easily, beating out the mix crossfire configuration at both resolutions. This game is the only DirectX 9 based test we will be running, so take this as a comparison of cards if you only plan on playing games running that API.
Colin McRae: DiRT 2
Colin McRae's Dirt 2 features five racing disciplines, all of which are playable offline and online. In addition, three 'special modes' are included. Dirt 2 runs on an updated version of the EGO engine, which powered Codemasters' Race Driver: GRiD as well. The engine most notably features an updated physics engine, which models realistic weight transfer during turning maneuvers, allowing the player to incorporate advanced driving techniques such as the Scandinavian Flick.
For testing, the in-game benchmark was used which runs you through one lap of a London super special stage behind Travis Pastrana's #199 2010 Impreza STI (using the Chase Cam). At both resolutions all settings were cranked to Ultra and Anti-Aliasing was set to 8x MSAA.
In DiRT 2 the ECS GTX 460 performed very well, staying above 60 FPS at 1920x1080 with a healthy lead yet again over the mix crossfire. The performance gap in DiRT 2 between Radeon and GeForce cards has been seen even with a GTX 260 beating the mix crossfire configuration in DirectX 9, so I couldn't expect any different now.
Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror, and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in the Ukraine. The game is played from the perspective of a character named Artyom. The story takes place in post-apocalyptic Moscow, mostly inside the metro station where the player's character was raised (he was born before the war, in an unharmed city), but occasionally the player has to go above ground on certain missions and scavenge for valuables.
An extremely demanding game, settings were left at High quality, with AA and AF at lowest values- AAA and AF 4x. Advanced DirectX 11 settings were left at default. The recently added independent (requires purchase) benchmark was used and ran three times per card and per resolution.
Metro 2033 is tied with AvP as the most demanding game tested. Just getting above 30FPS is a challenge for all cards including mix crossfire, which had better high resolution results than the ECS GTX 460, but slightly lower at the 1280x1024 resolution.
Aliens vs Predator Benchmark v1.03
Aliens vs Predator D3D11 Benchmark v1.03 is a standalone benchmark test based upon Rebellion's 2010 inter-species shooter Aliens vs. Predator. The test shows xenomorph-tastic scenes using heavy tessellation among other DX11 features. The benchmarks independent GUI was used for testing shown below.
Because the test uses a great deal of tessellation and is very graphically intense, I used 4x Anisotropic Filtering and 4x AntiAliasing so it is at least somewhat close to playable on the HD 5670.
A little tougher on the lower end cards, Aliens vs Predator had the mix crossfire configuration 1 FPS higher than the GTX 460 at a staggering 38FPS on the low resolution. If you consider the mix-fire to be a 5850 (which, in reality, is just slightly faster than the mix on average), the ECS GTX 460 1GB is proving to be worth its $229 price tag!
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
Under the advanced settings we enabled tessellation and 4x MSAA. We didn't enable ambient occlusion as we wanted to use these test settings for mainstream cards down the road and these settings should be tough enough to stress any and all DX11 enabled video cards.
The ECS GTX 460 1GB sets itself well ahead of the mix crossfire setup in the first three sections of the benchmark, and would in the SunShafts portion if the known Forceware bug were addressed. The HD 5770 and lower cards are far behind the 460 and mix-fire.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The game is a direct sequel to Battlefield: Bad Company.
For Bad Company 2 settings were set to high, again with 8x MSAA and 8x AF, and HBAO on.
The 1280x1024 results are pretty linear among cards, although the higher resolution results show a different story with same outcome; mix crossfire does very well in BC2. The ECS GTX 460 1GB is right next to mix-fire at high resolution and well above the HD 5770 for both.
Mafia II Demo
Mafia II is a sandbox-style third-person shooter video game which is the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. The game is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and published by 2K Games. Development of Mafia II was announced on August 21, 2007 at the Leipzig Games Convention. The game is set in the 1940s and 1950s in Empire Bay, a fictional city that is based on New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. The name is a reference to New York's state nickname, "The Empire State".
The game experience of Mafia II involves realistic controls featuring a standard action and violent action button, as well as context sensitive situations. The game introduces a cover mechanic not seen in the previous game which allows Vito to hide behind objects while in a shootout. There are over 70 extremely detailed vehicles - including sports cars, city buses, tractor trailers, station wagons, and more. The game also introduces new weapons, like the MG42, and includes a few from the original game, like the Colt M1911A1. Empire Bay's radio stations complete the experience with a wide variety of popular music from the 1940s and 1950s.
High settings were used with PhysX and VSYNC off and 8x anisotropic filtering. The in-game benchmark was used for testing.
Again, mix-fire holds above the ECS GTX 460 1GB with its consistent lead over the HD 5770. The ECS GTX 460 is still very playable at these high settings in Mafia II, which cannot be said of the HD 5670 or 5750.
FurMark is a very intensive OpenGL benchmark that uses fur rendering algorithms to measure the performance of the graphics card. Fur rendering is especially adapted to overheat the GPU and that's why FurMark is also a perfect stability and stress test tool for the graphics card.
Furmark v1.8.2 was run as a performance benchmark with only Post FX enabled in addition to the fur rendering, which run in full screen mode, with 0x MSAA over a three minute period. Furmark was run on 1920x1080 and 1440x900 resolutions due to me being limited to a 19" monitor and 46" HDTV and run at native resolutions. As the fur rendering rotates, the frame rate stabilizes very quickly as the rendering does not make full rotations as it does in earlier versions.
Another close result where the ECS GTX 460 is edged out by the mixfire setup, and almost 60% higher than the HD 5770. I was really expecting the GTX 460 to win this one as NVIDIA GPUs commonly outperform AMD in OpenGL testing, which leads me to believe the Fermi architecture is not geared toward OpenGL as much as the GT 200 and G92 lines were.
Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
3DMark Vantage is the industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, designed for Windows Vista/7 and DirectX10. It includes two graphics tests, two CPU tests, several 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
Testing was run with the 'Performance' preset shown above at the default resolution of 1280x1024. The performance preset is widely used by overclockers and enthusiasts as it is the only preset allowed on the HWBot worldwide rankings. In line with HWBot rules (for consumer comparisons using the video card hardware specifications listings), GPU physx is disabled on NVIDIA GPUs. Only the two CPU and GPU tests were run.
Again, mix crossfire outscored the GTX 460 by a margin of ~1000 3DMarks, which seems like nothing compared to the 5,000 3DMark difference between the GTX 460 and the HD 5770!
Unigine Heaven v2.1 Benchmark
The 'Heaven' benchmark that uses the Unigine easily shows off the full potential of DirectX 11 graphics cards. 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 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 extent and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming. The distinguishing feature of the benchmark is a hardware tessellation that is a scalable technology aimed for automatic subdivision of polygons into smaller and finer pieces so that developers can gain a more detailed look of their games almost free of charge in terms of performance. Thanks to this procedure, the elaboration of the rendered image finally approaches the boundary of vertical visual perception: the virtual reality transcends conjured by your hand.
Heaven v2.1 was set to high shaders, with 4x AF, and 4x AA, on normal tessellation mode with DirectX 11.
The Fermi core architecture is highly optimized for tessellation; we know and saw this when the GTX 480 was scoring close to 5970's at the time of its launch. The ECS GTX 460 1GB ended up ~30% faster than the mixfire at 1280x1024 and ~20% faster at 1920x1080, which is a healthy gain for a card that was 6% slower in 3DMark Vantage!
Temperatures and Power Consumption
For both Temperature and Power consumption load testing I fired up Furmark v1.8.2 in v1.7.0 mode for as long as it took to stabilize after a minimum three minutes. Idle was obtained after fresh boot and after all applications finished launching, again after a minimum three minutes. Version 1.7.0 mode was used because I have consistently had crashes with NVIDIA cards on stock fan profiles with v1.8.2, and the older mode burns in just as well and without crashing.
The Arctic Cooling Accelero Twin Turbo Pro heatsink is a very efficient cooler, staying in the low 30s at idle and low 50s at load (Folding@Home in the mid 40s). The only card which ran colder (or even close to as cool) was the AXLE HD 5670 which has much less graphics power and an efficient Arctic Cooling heatsink itself!
Power consumption numbers for the ECS GTX 460 1GB are a little less pretty, drawing more power than the mix crossfire setup which has an additional card! The GTX 460 is actually very close in wattage to the GTX 260-216, which was found to be pulling about the same power as the mix-fire, though the GTX 460 features much more horsepower than the 260.
ECS GeForce GTX 460 1GB Black Overclocking
Here is a refresher of the stock specifications before I fired up MSI Afterburner and cranked things up a bit.
Upping the core voltage a touch to 1.037v (from 1.000v), I was able to run stable at 900 MHz Core and 1000 MHz (2000 MHz eff.). With the shaders (CUDA Cores) up to 1800 MHz. a 135 MHz core increase on a factory overclocked card is always nice, and the 270 MHz increase on the shaders is great for some Folding@Home action (although, I have only run 1600 MHz shaders for folding (10k average)). The VRAM increase picked up a solid 10GB/s of bandwidth.
Not pictured on the chart is the 3DMark Vantage GPU score which went from 14,913 to 16,056 which is a 7% increase. Looking at the rest of the results, on average we picked up around a 12% increase (from 5% in L4D2 up to 15% in Stalker), which is lower than the 17% core and shader clock increases, but more than the memory clocks which only went up by 8%.
Final Thoughts and Conclusions
The ECS GeForce GTX 460 1GB Black video card is a fun little card with the solid price/performance ratio from the GTX 460 series cards with an ultra efficient heatsink and a hefty factory overclock. When overclocked up to a 900 MHz core speed the GTX 460 1GB begins to close in on the performance of a GTX 470 (the factory overclock itself puts it above the GTX 465) and well above cards from the Radeon side of the fence for a lower price. The heatsink uses 92mm fans (with unrestrictive aluminum fins and a plastic shroud) which are dead silent at an idle state and not audible over even just the pump from the Corsair H50.
The added height of the Arctic Cooling Accelero Twin Turbo Pro has to be the only downside of this card that I can think of, next to its power consumption (you don't expect higher tessellation performance for free do you?). For users that are used to double-slot reference heatsinks this is tall, but there are other heatsinks which are actually quad-slot which makes SLI close to impossible on any motherboard. As long as your motherboard has at least two slots between the PCIe x16 slots that you intend to use, there is enough room for two of these cards to fit and breathe- like on a board as shown here. I put in another video card (GeForce GTS 250) below this GTX 460 to see how and if it would be choked, and depending on the angle you screw the expansion bays in you can have over a 1/4" in between cards with my 890GPA-UD3H. In this configuration temperatures went up less than 10C degrees which is still significantly lower than the reference cooler.
The ECS GTX 460 1GB Black is set to be available for a street price of $254.99 plus shipping, which makes it about $25 more than NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB reference designed video cards on Newegg. The ECS card comes with a hefty factory overclock and the Accelero heatsink which carries a $45 common price, so this card is $20 under priced just for its heatsink. The ECS 460 1GB also carries a 3-year limited warranty on parts and 2-years on labor, which will last through the entire next generation of NVIDIA cards which sweetens the deal even more!
Legit Bottom Line: The ECS GeForce GTX 460 1GB Black Video Card is a very capable card with a hefty factory overclock and additional room to clock with its Accelero Twin Turbo Pro keeping it chilled. At the $254.99 price tag it is hard to say 'no' to this great option if you are looking at a graphics card of the now very popular GTX 460 variation.