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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  • dumpsterj - Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - link

    the gtx 465 was a joke , especially at the price. however , this 460 looks like a great card at a great price. If this is a sign of things to come from nvidia us guys running ati right now might have to take notice. Reply
  • Algorithm - Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - link

    I see a lot of ATI fanboys on here. Read other reviews, a GTX 460 *1GB* OCed past 800 beats a HD5850 and gets in HD5870 territory. In DirectX 11, this 460 really shines over.

    Don't forget, the reviews are based on Nvidia drivers that are *1 day old* now. Expect the GTX 460 framerates to increase even more once the drivers mature.

    I was almost ready to pull the trigger on a HD5850, but glad I held back (read: I really don't care for either Nvidia or ATI). I really see the GTX 460 being a standard that game software developers will use in the future. Features like CUDA, Fermi and PhysX will play a more significant role in newer games. I just want a card that gives me most for my money.
    Reply
  • FuzzDad - Wednesday, July 14, 2010 - link

    Pretty nice price coupled w/performance should make this an SLI powerhouse if you can't afford SLI on the 470/480. My 3x GTX 275 setup is solid...but I'm leaning towards 2X 460 now. Reply
  • Xpl1c1t - Wednesday, July 14, 2010 - link

    How much better it would have been to see the 384SP version on launch day... seriously wtf is wrong with NV&TSMC's circuit design/fab process that makes manufacture of FULL parts so much more difficult than it is for ATI&TSMC? 5770, 4770, and 4750 were all full die parts produced with good yields TSMC. Genuinely, though some may be alright with it, there is no desire for dead silicon. Reply
  • aussiestilgar - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link

    Yes. Ryan, is there anything on the grapevine that whispers Nvidia releasing the GF104 at full strength? Inklings of when? Cheers. Reply
  • Sunburn74 - Wednesday, July 14, 2010 - link

    Pretty impressive gtx 460 crossfire results, trading blows with crossfire setups double its value. Overall a nice card, but shame it wasn't released 6 months ago when a lot of us just got tired of waiting. I probably would have bought it over the 5850 had this card been released in time. Oh well... better luck next year for Nvidia to take my money. Reply
  • mapesdhs - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link


    (I think you mean GTX 460 SLI. ;)

    ...

    I hate to be a comment repeater, but can 5850 CF results please be
    included? The tables are distinctly incomplete without this since the
    1GB 460 clearly competes directly against the 5850; the most common
    discussion I see on forums is how 1GB 460 SLI compares to 5850 CF. On
    price alone, 1GB 460 SLI is definitely better, so no wonder there are
    games-bundling deals such as the following now appearing to sweeten
    5850 sales:

    http://www.aria.co.uk/SuperSpecials/newsletter?pro...

    Ian.
    Reply
  • kajzatom - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    I want ask how did You make test Badaboom on GTX 460? According to Elemental Technologies inc. currently Badaboom doesn't support GF100,GF104 graphic card. Apps. crashed if try open any video file. Reply
  • fr500 - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    You know a thing I would love.

    To be able to select the cards you are interested in with checkboxes in the reviews so you can compare the cards easily. I know there is the GPU bench but I can't seem to compare more than 2 gpus at a time.
    Reply
  • WiseCow - Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - link

    Fresh levels load very jerky, like steps fwd, as the game begins and causes the first few seconds to halt, halt, halt, until everything loads. My 8800GTX did not do this, everything woud run smooter as the textures loaded. I'm also experiencing long waits for the screen to turn on after time outs or sleep. Black Ops was unplayable and other games that ran smoothly on the 8800 now are jerky. Sniff... Reply

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