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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

The GeForce GTX 460 is the latest DirectX 11-based graphics chip from NVIDIA. Video cards based on this new GPU are available between USD 200 (768 MB version) and USD 229 (1 GB version), making them the most affordable DirectX 11 video cards based on an NVIDIA solution. With the recent price cuts conducted by AMD/ATI, this new graphics processor competes directly with the Radeon HD 5830. Let’s see how this factory-overclocked version from MSI, dubbed the N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OC, fared in our tests.

The GeForce GTX 460 comes with higher core and shader clock rates (675 MHz and 1,350 MHz) than the GeForce GTX 465 and GeForce GTX 470 (607 MHz and 1,215 MHz for both of them). The memory clock used on the GeForce GTX 460 is actually higher than the one used on the more expensive models (3,600 MHz against 3,206 MHz on GeForce GTX 465 and 3,348 MHz on GeForce GTX 470), but the memory bus width depends on the GTX 460 model you have: the 768 MB model uses a 192-bit memory interface (translating into a 86.4 GB/s maximum theoretical transfer rate), while the 1 GB model uses a 256-bit interface (115.2 GB/s maximum theoretical transfer rate). The GeForce GTX 465 has a 256-bit memory interface (102.5 GB/s), and the GeForce GTX 470 has a 320-bit memory interface (133.92 GB/s). The main difference among the GTX 460, GTX 465 and GTX 470 is the number of graphics engines (a.k.a. “shaders” or “CUDA cores”): 336, 352, and 448, respectively. On the table below we compare the main specifications of the five video cards we included in our review. The Cyclone 768D5/OC model from MSI comes with a 7.4% overclocking.

Video Card Core Clock Shader Clock Memory Clock (Real) Memory Clock (Effective) Memory Interface Memory Transfer Rate Memory Shaders DirectX
GeForce GTX 460 675 MHz 1,350 MHz 900 MHz 3,600 MHz 192-bit 86.4 GB/s 768 MB GDDR5 336 11
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OC 725 MHz 1,350 MHz 900 MHz 3,600 MHz 192-bit 86.4 GB/s 768 MB GDDR5 336 11
GeForce GTX 465 607 MHz 1,215 MHz 801.5 MHz 3,206 MHz 256-bit 102.6 GB/s 1 GB GDDR5 352 11
Radeon HD 5830 800 MHz 800 MHz 1 GHz 4 GHz 256-bit 128 GB/s 1 GB GDDR5 1,120 11
Radeon HD 5850 725 MHz 725 MHz 1 GHz 4 GHz 256-bit 128 GB/s 1 GB GDDR5 1,440 11

You can compare the specs of these video cards with other video cards by taking a look at our AMD ATI Chips Comparison Table and NVIDIA Chips Comparison Table tutorials.

Now let’s take a complete look at this model from MSI.

[nextpage title=”The MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OC”]

The difference between the MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OC and the NVIDIA reference model is not only the factory-overclocking, but also the use of a different cooling solution (15.7% quieter, according to MSI), and the ability to change the GPU voltage through a program provided by MSI called AfterBurner.

As you can see in Figure 1, this video card requires two six-pin auxiliary power connectors.

MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OCFigure 1: MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OC

MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OCFigure 2: MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OC

This video card has three video outputs, two DVI-D and one HDMI.

MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OCFigure 3: Video connectors

[nextpage title=”The MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OC (Cont’d)”]

In Figure 4, you can see the video card with its cooler removed, while in Figures 5 and 6, you can see the cooler by itself. The cooler uses a 90-mm fan, two heatpipes, and a base made of nickel-plated copper.

MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OCFigure 4: Video card with the cooler removed

MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OCFigure 5: GPU cooler

MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OCFigure 6: GPU cooler

The reviewed card uses six 1 Gbit GDDR5 chips, making its 768 MB video memory. If you pay attention in Figure 4, you can see that the printed circuit board is the same one used by the 1 GB model, which has eight 1 Gbit GDDR5 chips instead of six. Each chip is connected to the GPU using a 32-bit data lane, and this explains why the 768 GB model has a 192-bit memory interface (32 bits x 6 = 192) and the 1 GB model has a 256-bit memory interface (32 bits x 8 = 256).

The chips used are K4G10325FE-HC05 parts from Samsung, which support up to 1 GHz (4 GHz QDR) and since on this video card memory is accessed at 900 MHz (3,600 MHz QDR), there is a good margin for you to increase the memory clock rate while keeping the chips inside the maximum they support.

MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OCFigure 7: Memory chips

In Figure 8, you can see the accessories that come with the reviewed card: two power adapters, one DVI-to-VGA adapter, and one DVI-to-HDMI adapter. The product doesn’t come with any games.

MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OCFigure 8: Accessories

Before seeing the performance results, let’s recap the main features of this video card.

[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]

The MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OC video card main features are:

  • Graphics chip: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 running at 725 MHz
  • Memory: 768 MB GDDR5 memory (192-bit interface) from Samsung (K4G10325FE-HC05), running at 900 MHz (3,600 MHz, QDR)
  • Bus type: PCI Express x16 2.0
  • Video Connectors: Two DVI-D and one HDMI
  • Video Capture (VIVO): No
  • Cables and adapters that come with this board: One DVI-to-VGA adapter, one DVI-to-HDMI adapter, and two power adapters
  • Number of CDs/DVDs that come with this board: One
  • Games that come with this board: None
  • Programs that come with this board: None
  • More information: https://www.msi.com.tw
  • Average price in the US*: USD 210.00

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]

During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between our benchmarking sessions the only variable was the video card being tested.

Hardware Configuration

Software Configuration

  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
  • Video resolution: 2560×1600 @ 60 Hz

Driver Versions

  • AMD/ATI video driver version: Catalyst 10.7
  • NVIDIA video driver version: 258.96
  • Intel Inf driver version: 9.1.1.1019

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 3% error margin. Thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.

[nextpage title=”3DMark Vantage Professional”]

3DMark Vantage measures Shader 4.0 (i.e., DirectX 10) performance and supports PhysX, a programming interface developed by Ageia (now part of NVIDIA) to transfer physics calculations from the system CPU to the video card GPU in order to increase performance. Mechanical physics is the basis for calculations about the interaction of objects. For example, if you shoot, what exactly will happen to the object when the bullet hits it? Will it break? Will it move? Will the bullet bounce back? Note that since we are considering only the GPU score provided by this program, physics calculations are not taken into account.

We ran this program at three 16:10 widescreen resolutions, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, and 2560×1600. First we used the “Performance” profile, and then we used the “Extreme” profile (basically enabling anti-aliasing at 4x, anisotropic filtering at 16x, and putting all detail settings at their maximum or “extreme” values). The results being compared are the “GPU Scores” achieved by each video card.

GeForce GTX 460

3DMark Vantage – Performance 1680×1050 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 12747 40.0%
Radeon HD 5830 10481 15.2%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 9102  
GeForce GTX 460 9008 1.0%
GeForce GTX 465 8926 2.0%
GeForce GTX 460
3DMark Vantage – Performance 1920×1200 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 10184 37.2%
Radeon HD 5830 8302 11.9%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 7421  
GeForce GTX 465 7043 5.4%
GeForce GTX 460 7021 5.7%

GeForce GTX 460

3DMark Vantage – Performance 2560×1600 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 5998 43.0%
Radeon HD 5830 4859 15.9%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 4194  
GeForce GTX 465 3974 5.5%
GeForce GTX 460 3466 21.0%

GeForce GTX 460

3DMark Vantage – Extreme 1680×1050 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 9547 20.8%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 7905  
Radeon HD 5830 7480 5.7%
GeForce GTX 465 7479 5.7%
GeForce GTX 460 7412 6.7%

GeForce GTX 460

3DMark Vantage – Extreme 1920×1200 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 7573 22.1%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 6201  
Radeon HD 5830 5986 3.6%
GeForce GTX 465 5868 5.7%
GeForce GTX 460 5811 6.7%

GeForce GTX 460

3DMark Vantage – Extreme 2560×1600 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 4571 35.9%
Radeon HD 5830 3596 6.9%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 3364  
GeForce GTX 465 3362 0.1%
GeForce GTX 460 3177 5.9%

[nextpage title=”Call of Duty 4″]

Call of Duty 4 is a DirectX 9 game implementing high-dynamic range (HDR) and its own physics engine, which is used to calculate how objects interact. For example, if you shoot, exactly what will happen to the object when the bullet hits it? Will it break? Will it move? Will the bullet bounce back? It gives a more realistic experience to the user.

To get accurate results we had to disable the 80 FPS limit in the game. To do this, input the command, “/seta com_maxfps 1000” (minus the quotes) into the console (` key). It can be set to any number greater than 200.

We ran this program at three 16:10 widescreen resolutions, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, and 2560×1600, maxing out all image quality controls (i.e., everything was set to the maximum values in the Graphics and Texture menus). We used the internal game benchmarking feature, running a demo provided by NVIDIA called “wetwork.” We are putting this demo here for downloading if you want to run your own benchmarks. We ran the demo five times, and the results below are the average number of frames per second (FPS) achieved by each video card.

GeForce GTX 460

Call of Duty 4 – Maximum 1680×1050 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 141.3 22.7%
GeForce GTX 465 120.6 4.7%
Radeon HD 5830 116.8 1.4%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 115.2  
GeForce GTX 460 114.3 0.8%

GeForce GTX 460

Call of Duty 4 – Maximum 1920×1200 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 119.6 20.3%
Radeon HD 5830 102.6 3.2%
GeForce GTX 465 102.3 2.9%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 99.4  
GeForce GTX 460 96.1 3.4%

GeForce GTX 460

Call of Duty 4 – Maximum 2560×1600 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 82.5 25.3%
GeForce GTX 465 70.4 6.9%
Radeon HD 5830 69.7 5.9%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 65.9  
GeForce GTX 460 62.8 4.9%

[nextpage title=”Crysis Warhead”]

Crysis Warhead is a DirectX 10 game based on the same engine as the original Crysis, but optimized (it runs under DirectX 9.0c when installed on Windows XP).

We used the HardwareOC Crysis Warhead Benchmark Tool to collect the data for this test. We ran this program at three 16:10 widescreen resolutions, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, and 2560×1600, all at medium image quality (16x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering) and using the Airfield demo. The results below are the number of frames per second achieved by each video card.

GeForce GTX 460

Crysis Warhead – Medium 1680×1050 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 69 16.9%
GeForce GTX 465 63 6.8%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 59  
GeForce GTX 460 57 3.5%
Radeon HD 5830 49 20.4%

GeForce GTX 460

Crysis Warhead – Medium 1920×1200 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 59 11.3%
GeForce GTX 465 57 7.5%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 53  
GeForce GTX 460 50 6.0%
Radeon HD 5830 44 20.5%

GeForce GTX 460

Crysis Warhead – Medium 2560×1600 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 43 13.2%
GeForce GTX 465 41 7.9%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 38  
GeForce GTX 460 36 5.6%
Radeon HD 5830 34 11.8%

[nextpage title=”Far Cry 2″]

Far Cry 2 is based on an entirely new game engine called Dunia, which is DirectX 10 when played under Windows Vista with a DirectX 10 compatible video card.

We used the benchmarking utility that comes with this game, setting image quality to High (x8 anti-aliasing) and running the “Ranch Long” demo three times. The results below are expressed in frames per second and are an arithmetic average of the three results collected.

GeForce GTX 460

FarCry 2 – Maximum 1680×1050 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 75.8 8.2%
GeForce GTX 465 72.5 3.6%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 70.1  
GeForce GTX 460 70.0 0.1%
Radeon HD 5830 65.6 6.8%

GeForce GTX 460

FarCry 2 – Maximum 1920×1200 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 63.2 9.0%
GeForce GTX 465 60.4 4.1%
GeForce GTX 460 58.0 0.1%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 58.0  
Radeon HD 5830 53.5 8.4%

GeForce GTX 460

FarCry 2 – Maximum 2560×1600 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 42.7 52.9%
GeForce GTX 465 38.2 36.8%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 28.0  
GeForce GTX 460 26.4 5.8%
Radeon HD 5830 23.8 17.6%

[nextpage title=”Aliens vs. Predator”]

Aliens vs. Predator is a DirectX 11 game that makes full use of tessellation and advanced shadow rendering. We used the Aliens vs. Predator Benchmark Tool developed by Rebellion. This program reads its configuration from a text file (our configuration files can be found here). We ran this program at 1680×1050, 1920×1200, and 2560×1600 resolutions, with low texture settings, x8 anisotropic filtering and x4 anti-aliasing.

GeForce GTX 460

Aliens vs. Predator 1680×1050 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 59.7 24.1%
GeForce GTX 465 55.8 16.0%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 48.1  
GeForce GTX 460 46 4.6%
Radeon HD 5830 43.4 10.8%

GeForce GTX 460

Aliens vs. Predator 1920×1200 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 51.3 33.6%
GeForce GTX 465 44.7 16.4%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 38.4  
GeForce GTX 460 36.6 4.9%
Radeon HD 5830 34.5 11.3%

GeForce GTX 460

Aliens vs. Predator 2560×1600 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 27.9 25.1%
GeForce GTX 465 26.8 20.2%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 22.3  
GeForce GTX 460 21.3 4.7%
Radeon HD 5830 20.5 8.8%

[nextpage title=”Metro 2033″]

Metro 2033 is a DirectX 11 game. To benchmark this game we used FRAPS to record the average FPS while playing part way through the Chase level (the save file we used can be downloaded here). We ran this program at 1680×1050, 1920×1200, and 2560×1600 resolutions, setting texture quality at “Low,” anti-aliasing at “AAA,” anisotropic filtering at 4x, tessellation “on,” and DoF “off.”

GeForce GTX 460

Metro 2033 1680×1050 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 82.37 18.0%
GeForce GTX 465 78.56 12.5%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 69.82  
GeForce GTX 460 66.37 5.2%
Radeon HD 5830 63.13 10.6%

Ge
Force GTX 460

Metro 2033 1920×1200 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 71.02 20.4%
GeForce GTX 465 66.57 12.9%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 58.97  
GeForce GTX 460 55.55 6.1%
Radeon HD 5830 52.53 12.3%

GeForce GTX 460

Metro 2033 2560×1600 Difference
Radeon HD 5850 49.76 31.9%
GeForce GTX 465 42.57 12.9%
GeForce GTX 460 37.94 0.6%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 37.72  
Radeon HD 5830 34.48 9.4%

[nextpage title=”Darkest of Days”]

Darkest of days is a DirectX 9 game that implements a PhysX engine, moving physics calculations from the CPU to the GPU. Although it’s not very popular, we added this game because of its PhysX benchmarking feature. We ran this game at 1680×1050 with details set at “very high,” and both anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering disabled. We ran three tests, first with PhysX set at “low,” where the game makes all physics calculations using the system CPU, then increasing it to “medium” (which adds leaves, wind and weapons impact effects due to bullets and grenades), and finally increasing it to “high” (which adds fog and smoke effects). The medium and high PhysX levels move physics calculations from the CPU to the GPU. Keep in mind that only NVIDIA-based cards support PhysX.

GeForce GTX 460

Darkest of Days – 1680×1050 Low Phys X Difference
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 99.49  
GeForce GTX 465 99.25 0.2%
GeForce GTX 460 94.43 5.4%
Radeon HD 5850 59.43 67.4%
Radeon HD 5830 51.69 92.5%

GeForce GTX 460

Darkest of Days – 1680×1050 Medium PhysX Difference
GeForce GTX 465 78.09 6.8%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 73.12  
GeForce GTX 460 69.41 5.3%
Radeon HD 5850 2.96 2368.1%
Radeon HD 5830 1.44 4975.0%

GeForce GTX 460

Darkest of Days – 1680×1050 High PhysX Difference
GeForce GTX 465 46.92 9.1%
MSI N460GTX Cyclone 43.02  
GeForce GTX 460 42.78 0.6%
Radeon HD 5830 1.44 2886.0%
Radeon HD 5850 1.36 3071.5%

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

NVIDIA has finally produced a good DirectX 11 GPU, providing a far better value than the overpriced GeForce GTX 465. In fact, with the release of the GeForce GTX 460, buying a GeForce GTX 465 makes even less sense.

The reviewed model from MSI was up to 7% faster than the standard GeForce GTX 460 with 768 MB, comes with a better cooling solution, and allows you to increase the GPU voltage, a nice feature for the serious overclocker. Being only USD 10 more than the standard GeForce GTX 260 with 768 MB, we believe it is worthwhile to pay a little bit more and get this particular model.

The MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OC could beat the Radeon HD 5830 in almost all tests. On Crysis Warhead the MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OC was between 12% and 20% faster, on Far Cry 2 the MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OC was between 7% and 18% faster, on Aliens vs. Predator the MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OC was between 9% and 11% faster, and on Metro 2033 the MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OC was between 9% and  12% faster. On Darkest of Days with PhysX set to “low” (i.e., physics calculations being performed by the CPU) the MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OC was 92% faster than the Radeon HD 5830, with the difference between the two skyrocketing when we configure the graphics card to perform the physics calculations, since graphics chips from AMD/ATI don’t support PhysX.

The only tie we saw was on Call of Duty 4, when both achieved the same performance level, but at 2560×1600 the Radeon HD 5830 was 6% faster. And on 3DMark Vantage, the Radeon 5830 was between 12% and 16% faster than the MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OC with image quality settings disabled, but the MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OC was 4% faster at 1680×1050 and 6% faster at 1920×1200 with image quality settings maxed out. At 2560×1600 with image quality settings at their maximum, however, the Radeon HD 5830 was 7% faster.

That said, the MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OC is a terrific video card if you have around USD 200 to spend.