Overclocked Performance

For the purposes of this section we are focusing on the overclockability of the core, but not the memory. NVIDIA’s weaker GDDR5 memory controller coupled with the tendency for memory overclocking to reduce performance through the need to use error detection and retransmission makes memory overclocking much more difficult and often a bust entirely.

As not all of our cards are exactly alike, we’ll quickly run down the differences between the various cards.

  • 1x NVIDIA GTX 460 768MB Reference
  • 1x NVIDIA GTX 460 1GB Reference
  • 2x EVGA GTX 460 768MB SuperClocked: Reference PCB and cooler, factory overclocked
  • 1x Zotac GTX 460 1GB: Reference-derived PCB, custom blower-style cooler
  • 1x Asus ENGTX460 768MB TOP: Custom PCB, custom cooler, factory overclocked, voltage tweak
  Stock Clock Max Overclock Stock Voltage Overclocked Voltage
GTX 460 768MB Reference 675MHz 840MHz 0.987v N/A
GTX 460 1GB Reference 675MHz 825MHz 1.025v N/A
EVGA GTX 460 768MB SuperClocked #1 763MHz 850MHz 1.000v N/A
EVGA GTX 460 768MB SuperClocked #2 763MHz 840MHz 0.975v N/A
Zotac GTX 460 1GB 675MHz 835MHz 1.000v N/A
Asus ENGTX460 768MB TOP 700MHz 930MHz 0.975v 1.062v
GTX 460 1GB SLI 675MHz 800MHz N/A N/A
EVGA GTX 460 768MB SuperClocked SLI 763MHz 840MHz N/A N/A

Among our 3 vendor cards without voltage tweaking capabilities, all of the cards are closely clustered together in terms of the final stable overclock, with only a 25MHz difference between the top and bottom cards. The Zotac 1GB card ended up with slightly lower overclocks than the 768MB cards, which is likely a product of the 1GB cards containing further enable ROPs and L2 cache than the 768MB cards. Meanwhile the best overclock on a card we got without a voltage tweak was one of our EVGA cards, which was able to go to 850MHz, while the second EVGA card hit 840MHz, and the Zotac card hit 835MHz.

The lone standout in the group is the Asus card, which has voltage tweaking capabilities that allow us to increase the core voltage beyond the GPU’s VID. In testing we found that anything over 1.062v would ultimately cause the card to fall back to 405MHz, which we believe to be the card’s VRM protection kicking in after the VRMs overheated. At 1.062v we were able to get the card to up 930MHz, a 33% overclock from the factory overclocked speed of 700MHz, and 38% faster than the GTX 460 reference clock of 675MHz.

Overall the impact of overclocking is heavily game dependent. Core overclocking favors games that are ROP/shader limited and has little effectiveness on games that are limited by the total available RAM or by memory bandwidth. For this reason out of our subset of games core overclocking was most effective on Battleforge and Bad Company 2, while only moderately effective on Crysis and STALKER. On Crysis and STALKER overclocking was at best only marginally more useful than having a 1GB card.

The big winner here with respect to performance is the Zotac card, thanks almost exclusively to its 1GB configuration, affording additional RAM/L2/ROPs. Of our 768MB cards the Asus comes ahead most of the time as expected thanks to its greater core overclock, but it does manage to fall to the overclocked EVGA card under Crysis where the latter’s greater stock memory clock clearly offers an advantage.

Currently the sweet spot would look to be a 1GB card with a lesser overclock, which isn’t great news for the overclocking-focused EVGA and Asus cards in this roundup. While they are cheaper than a full 1GB card, they still carry a price over MSRP which cuts in to the gap between 768MB and 1GB cards. Ultimately the additional RAM/L2/ROPs more than makes up for the higher overclocks the 768MB cards can attain in most situations.

Power, Temperature, & Noise Overclocked Power, Temperature, & Noise
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  • Taft12 - Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - link

    The performance gain those driver releases state in various games are vastly overstated. They use an obscure hardware combination to maximize a theoretical performance gain (such as a 5850 in an old P4 system), but what you or I see will be much more modest.
  • adonn78 - Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - link

    These are the cards everyone wanted form nvidia. cool, quiet, and reasonably priced. I would wait a few weeks before buying anything becuase there are new cpu's coming out from Intel and AMD. Ina ddition with the new performance AMD and nvidia should have price drops. Just in time for back to school season in August.
  • jfelano - Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - link

    With the very overclockable 5830 going for around $170 after rebate, it's hard to recommend this card.
  • DominionSeraph - Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - link

    Nobody uses price after MIR because you'll never see that money.
    Rebates are a scam.
  • just4U - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    I really do wish they'd get rid of the whole MIR.
  • heflys - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Yeah, I agree. I'm just waiting for ATI to knock back their prices. It's inevitable.
  • loganex - Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - link

    Does anyone know how well these 460s fold? How many points per day?
  • ruzveh - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    I would still go in for Zotac card for the feature it displayed in its port. It has full HDMI and Display port which is exactly what i required
  • just4U - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    It's also nice to see them moving to LLT warranties.. to me that was the most interesting part.
  • Mopsen - Sunday, July 18, 2010 - link

    I don't know if I'll get one of these gtx 460 cards, but I'm still very happy that Nvidia finally brought out a decent card to combat Amd/Atis 5000 series. Prices are bound to drop (hopefully) ^^

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