Power, Temperature, & Noise

As we’ve discussed in previous articles, with the Fermi family GPUs no longer are binned for operation at a single voltage, rather they’re assigned whatever level of voltage is required for them to operate at the desired clockspeeds. As a result any two otherwise identical cards can have a different core voltage, which muddies the situation some. All of our GTX 460 cards have an idle voltage of 0.875v, while their load voltage is listed below.

 

GeForce GTX 460 Load Voltage
Ref 768MB Ref 1GB EVGA 768MB #1 EVGA 768MB #2 Asus 768MB Zotac 1GB
0.987v
1.025v
0.987v
1.000v
0.987v
1.000v

Our cards end up ranging from 0.975v to 1.025v, a variance of 0.05v. The 1GB cards with additional functional units on average require more voltage to operate, with the lowest of our samples requiring 1.0v. Otherwise 3 of our 4 768MB cards require 0.975v.

On a side note, since we’re using non-matching 1GB GTX 460s here for SLI testing, we’ve added an asterisk for all the power & temperature results. Our results should be very close to what a proper set of matching reference cards would get, but we can’t guarantee that.

 

Idle GPU Temperature

We’ll start with idle temperatures.  With an unofficial idle TDP in the 20W range, the GTX 460 series is fairly comparable to the Radeon 5850, but with a more breezy cooler. As a consequence we can see it edge out the rest of our cards here, with all of the open GTX 460s coming in at 34C for idle. Meanwhile the blower-based Zotac card comes in a hair warmer at 35C. Even with a blower, these end up being the coolest mid-range or better cards we have ever tested, besting even the Radeon 5850.

 

Load GPU Temperature - Crysis

Meanwhile at load the good news continues for the GTX 460 series. The GTX 480 may have been a toasty GPU, but that’s not the case for the GF104 GPU at the heart of the GTX 460 series. Our reference cards do only slightly worse than 60C in Crysis, while Asus’s non-reference card gets that even lower thanks to a more proactive fan. Zotac’s blower doesn’t fare so well here though, coming in at a still respectable but nevertheless higher 73C.

Compared to AMD’s cards the GTX 460 does very well here. The Radeon 5850 is still the sweet spot for a balance of performance and heat, but the GTX 460 manages to do better in terms of heat at a price of lower gaming performance. Meanwhile our Radeon 5830 isn’t even a contender here; as a salvaged Cypress part, it just can’t compete with a part designed for cooler performance from the start. Among all the cards we’ve tested equal to or faster than the 8800GT however, the GTX 460 sets the new bar for how cool a high performance card can operate.

 

Load GPU Temperature - Furmark

The results with Furmark match those of Crysis, it’s just a bit hotter. The interesting story here is going to be SLI temperatures: our 768MB and 1GB SLI cards hit 89C and 91C respectively. This isn’t a problem for NVIDIA’s GPUs (we see single GTX 480 cards do worse) but it’s a massive jump from a single card. For these reasons we would strongly suggest keeping these cards further spaced apart if you have a motherboard that supports it. The GTX 460 reference cooler just isn’t up to the task of pulling in fresh air if it’s next to another card.

 

Idle Power Consumption

Our idle power numbers continue to lower the bar for GPUs of this performance class, although at this point we’re hitting the efficiency limits of our PSU at low wattages. Our 768MB GTX 460s end up sharing the 160W mark with the Radeon HD 5750, while for 1W more you have the 1GB cards.

 

Load Power Consumption - Crysis

 

Load Power Consumption - Furmark

When looking at load power consumption, it’s always interesting to compare the power drawn with the temperatures. While the GTX 460 did very well here with regard to temperature, its power consumption reflects the fact that its GPU is still Cypress-sized. Under Crysis at a 280W load the 768MB part is comparable to the Radeon 5830 and the 1GB part adds around 10W to that. Meanwhile the Radeon 5850 manages to pull just a bit less power here, while the GTX 465 draws some 60W-70W more than the GTX 460. Gmae performance with those two cards may be close – power consumption is not.

As for Furmark the power consumption goes up but the ordering does not. Our 1GB cards now draw 20W more than 768MB cards, but the Radeon 5830 is still in the middle of the pack while the Radeon 5850 comes out ahead. The GTX 465 is now 80W-100W hotter than the GTX 460. Overall with a “proper” Radeon 5000 series card NVIDIA still can’t match AMD on a performance per watt basis, but they can come very close.

 

Idle Noise Levels

Finally we have our look at noise. With cool running cards we often have to look at fan noise to ensure that they aren’t accomplishing that trick by sounding like a jet engine, and in the case of the GTX 460 that’s clearly not the case. Besides being some of the coolest cards we’ve tested at this performance level the GTX 460 cards are also just as quiet as the rest of the best of the cards we’ve tested, hugging the 42dB sound floor in our testing environment. The 1GB reference card is marginally louder, while the partner customized cards are only slightly louder yet. The only card to really flop here is the Zotac GTX 460, which is at entirely the wrong end of our charts. Blowers can be quiet, but the Zotac’s is not – it’s simply a loud card. Unfortunately this kind of an idle noise level is going to put the card out of the running for a lot of buyers.

 

Load Noise Levels

Load noise is more or less like our idle noise results. The 768MB GTX 460 registers the lowest result we’ve ever seen for a card of this performance level, coming in at 46.2dB and the EVGA card right behind it. The 1GB card does end up being louder (likely to compensate for cooling 2 more GDDR5 chips) but it’s still in good company.  Asus’s card cracks 50dB, as it’s tuned for cooling over noise, explaining our earlier temperature results. Unfortunately the Zotac card is once again the odd man out at 61dB, roughly as loud as our GTX 470 is. It’s neither cooler than our reference cards nor quieter, which doesn’t bode well for this stock-clocked card.

Compute & Tessellation Performance Overclocking
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  • jfelano - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    I've already seen 5830's at $170 after rebate. So there goes that short lived Nvidia advantage. Reply
  • itsmekirill - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    IMO the most important story here is not that it beats the HD 5830 or GTX 465, but that the SLI configuration is trading blows with 5870 CF and 5970.

    For ~450 dollars you can get comparable if not superior performance to an $800 CF setup or a $650 dollar 5970.
    Reply
  • tcnasc - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    Yes, that's what got me too!

    My 5870 feels so expensive right now
    Should I sell it and buy 2 GTX 460?
    Reply
  • fausto412 - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    i didn't miss that...i got my 5870 3 weeks ago and i was like "wtf...this is a 200 dolalr card, it shouldn't do that well!" Reply
  • VIDYA - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    good review but a bit partial towards the new born child(gtx 460, cant hold that kind of joy).......its pretty much still oranges and apples .....both are good and differ at a few games. Nvidia shouldn't have sold 480, 470, 465 and instead should be waiting back to mature the chip into 104gf.....think about the owners of gf100 chip reading this and cursing themselves for not holding back for a month. But all said and done from both sides, we all know that Nvidia is still no:1 when it comes to drivers and software support updates. Reply
  • SongEmu - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    The quality and depth of these articles is exactly why I keep Anandtech bookmarked.

    Also, it's good to see nVidia with its headon straight. I was afraid I'd have to give up CUDA and all those other goodies on my next upgrade, because there was no way in GF100-hell I was going to buy a GTX470 toaster.
    Reply
  • sparkuss - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    I thought I looked at all the charts and I also didn't see any mention in the conclusion of 5850 CF vs the 460 1GB. Then again I'm old and senile so I have that going for me!

    I know the price differences but I would still like to see the comparison, especially if this could actually cause AMD to lower 5850 prices.
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - link

    Agreed. That would probably be the most common CF setup and certainly the most applicable from a cost-comparison standpoint. Sure it would be $600 vs. $400 but why have the 5870 CF which is even more crazy at $800 vs. $400? Reply
  • rocky12345 - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    I read the review & it was pretty good & well written. It is good to see Nvidia get their act together somewhat. I am not a Nvidia fan any more lost faith in them when they started rebranding the 8800 series over & over again & I switched to ATI after that. I still have a 9800GT 1GB in one of my systems which I rebadged myself from a 8800GT 1GB & clocked it at 755Mhz core & 2200mhz memory it is fast enough for my secondary system for when friends come over to game.

    This new chip from nvidia makes a lot more sense than what they released a few months ago. Would I own on hell no. I already have enough money tied up in video cards in my main system as I own 2 4870x2 2GB cards highly over clocked crossfired until ATI comes out with a single card that can beat my 2 beasts in quad GPU I am fine with what I have.
    Reply
  • Belard - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    Right on, the GTX 460-768 should be a 455, its so NOT the same card.

    For the most part... why is idiot-Nvidia even bothering with the "GTX" part since their model numbers don't collide? ie: there won't be a GTX 460 and a GTS 460 or a GT 460... well, maybe... who knows.

    The two 460's is designed EXACTLY to do what its going to do. People will buy the cheaper junk card and not get the performance they should get if they only spent $30 more.

    Considering the age of the ATI 5000 series... it really should be EASY for ATI to reduce the prices of the line a bit.

    The 5850 should be a $200 card by now. 5830 at $150, 5770 at $125... perhaps soon. 6000s come out just before Christmas?
    Reply

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