Should I Upgrade My GeForce GTX 460 to a GeForce GTX 960 Video Card?

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Temperature & Noise Testing

Temperatures are important to enthusiasts and gamers, so we took a bit of time and did some temperature testing on the GTX 460 and GTX 960 video cards. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB Idle Temps: gttx460-idle ASUS Strix GTX 960 Direct CU II OC 2GB Idle Temps: gtx960-idle The ASUS Strix GTX 960 DirectCU II video card has no fans spinning at idle, so the card is dead silent and running at 45C. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB video card has a single fan that runs at all times and was found to be at 24C at idle. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB Gaming Temps: gtx460-gaming ASUS Strix GTX 960 Direct CU II OC 2GB Idle Temps: gtx960-gaming It may seem unbelievable, but both the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB and the ASUS STRIX GTX 960 2GB video cards reached a maximum of 63C in a room where the temperature was 67F (20.5C)! temps

Sound Testing

We test noise levels with an Extech sound level meter that has ±1.5dB accuracy that meets Type 2 standards. This meter ranges from 35dB to 90dB on the low measurement range, which is perfect for us as our test room usually averages around 36dB. We measure the sound level two inches above the corner of the motherboard with ‘A’ frequency weighting. The microphone wind cover is used to make sure no wind is blowing across the microphone, which would seriously throw off the data.

gtx460-noise The ASUS STRIX GTX 960 DirectCU II OC 2GB video card has no fans running, so the card is dead silent at idle. The only reason the system is above ambient noise levels is due to water cooler fans and pump noise. Even with the fans running the ASUS STRIX GTX 960 hit just 41.2dB, so this is a very quiet card and that will appeal to many gamers. We didn’t notice any choke noise when gaming, but we did notice a little bit when we were loading up Far Cry 4. When the opening credits are showing the video card is putting out over 2,000 FPS according to FRAPS and you’ll hear the chokes a bit. Once the game starts and the GPU is loaded up normally there is no choke noise to be heard from the card on our open air test bench. Placing this card inside a case will only improve noise levels (granted it isn’t overheating), so the thermals and noise levels from this card are damn impressive. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 is also a very quiet card that has a single fan that runs at 1500RPM at idle and then bumps up to just 1630RPM when gaming. Both cards are comparable when gaming, so there really isn’t a huge difference when it comes to gaming noise levels.

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  • somesome11

    I have a GTX 460, but I swear I got a weird one or something, because that thing puts out enough heat to raise the temperature of the bedroom it is in by several degrees, so I’m looking to replace it. From the benchmarks it looks like the 970 gets even hotter?!

    My GTX 460 also says, according to the onboard sensors, that it gets up to around 65 degrees C, but after that it seems to crash so I have to have the fan on the thing at 100% all the time. I have no idea how you’re keeping them at 60 degrees F, I have a HAF 932 case so I don’t think there should be any significant buildup of heat going on.

    • Slade0113

      I have two Nvidia 460’s in SLI that were temping around 73C at load. Try blowing the dust out of your card(s) and applying new thermal compound. I did last year and reduced their avg. temps by more than ten degrees C. That was with a two year old tube of OCZ Freeze. Probably better with a new tube of Arctic Silver. Thermal paste can get dried and gummy after six years, losing its efficacy. 🙂 Anyway, don’t discount the need for occasional maintenance on PC equipment. Especially if you have wall-to-wall carpeting or pets. Since you’re having trouble with stability, that could be your issue. The HAF 932 is an excellent case, but make sure you’re positively pressurizing it as much as possible. (More intake than exhaust.) Makes a big difference for dust control. I’ve discovered recently that my filtered intake EVGA Supernova G2 1000w PSU was sucking in dust from the gap between the case and PSU, inside the case! Massive dust bomb when blown out last week. I’m looking into some sort of weatherstripping solution. Anyway, all that to say it’s an important issue. The 60 Deg F was probably a typo. Happens to the best of us. 60 Deg C is still a great temp @ load.

  • Dansolo

    Another day, another reviewer that doesn’t understand the difference between “faster” and “as fast as.” 2 is 100% greater than 1. 2 is 200% the size of 1. When you say “faster,” you have to exclude the initial value of 100%.

  • Adriana Tomic

    What about the GTX 460 with 2GB memory? ..I have that one,so I am curious about that

  • RDA

    Wonder what the comparison is for two 460’s in SLI.

  • joe

    I’m confused. How is it that the memory bandwidth is more on the 460? Does it even matter?

  • I was hoping to see performance comparisons AFTER over clocking both cards to their max clock speed obtainable on the provided coolers. I run my 1GB 460 at 800mhz clock for example and it gets me a lot more mileage in modern games. I’m also not entirely interested in the 960’s performance at out of the box speeds that I will be changing the moment I install it. Really appreciate the article for what it is, however

    • Nathan Kirsch

      yeah, that is the big concern as no two people are going to be running the same speeds. I can re-do the testing at higher clock speeds, but if I increase the clock speeds by 20% on both cards the performance difference would remain about the same.

  • ramonzarat

    I was hoping for a complete x60 series comparison show down: GTX 260, 460, 560, 660, 760 and 960, single and SLI, on 2 platforms, the good old i7-920 @ 4Ghz and i7-4770K also @ 4Ghz.

    That would have been an amazing article showing the GPU evolution and CPU scaling. Great article nevertheless.

    • Nathan Kirsch

      I have nearly 300 video cards on hand, but I gave all my 560’s and 660’s away to staff and friends. 🙁

    • Eddie Jewell

      yes this is what i have been wanting to see myself!

  • JamesMaseoBrown

    How is obtaining healthcare comparable to natural disasters? And how does that tie into deciding whether or not to upgrade a video card? Keep your politics out of your articles, because not everyone is a wingnut and agrees with you.

    • Nathan Kirsch

      I was merely stating some of the big events that happened in 2010 that people might remember. I wasn’t bring politics into the article or saying the ACA is bad. Obviously it can be read in a manner other than I envisioned.

      • Seerak

        I’d have said “wingnut, heal thyself” seeing as he’s the one seeing politics everywhere. I wouldn’t sweat his sort, Nathan.

    • SaneThinker

      Anyone who off the bat uses “wingnut” as an insult doesn’t have any right to judge someone else’s political views, or claim a false moral high ground.