Coppery Cool

Suds McSoapdish
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Months have passed since we last checked in with Fermi from NVIDIA, so what’s the latest graphics card series up to these days?

Well, Nvidia just had a new member join the family: the GeForce GTX460. We got our hands on one made by ASUS, the ENGTX460, and it’s really damn tasty!

Just a reminder first though; the GeForce 400 series is NVIDIA’s first foray into DirectX11 territory, so it ups the stakes in terms of graphics performance.

The new 400 series cards can handle better tessellation, ray tracing and shading, plus they’re all CUDA cards, meaning they work as parallel processors alongside the CPU given the right software. This adds to their power, as for their part, the cards can add to the overall performance of the system they’re installed in.

The ENGTX460 has a different core processor to the earlier ENGTX465, and is the first card to use its “GF104″ Fermi core instead of the fuller-fat “GF100″. It’s a mid-range card model aimed at not-so-hardcore gamers, so the price is more affordable, but there’s actually very little performance compromise.

This is a DirectX 11 card but it’s still compatible with all the older DirectX 10 and 9 games everyone still plays and loves. With a 192-bit memory interface it uses 768MB of ultra fast but low power GDDR5 memory, so it’s somewhere in between budget 128-bit offerings and heavy duty 256-bit models of the high-end. On this model it has 768MB of memory, clocked at a whopping 3.7GHz. The GPU itself on the ENGTX460 is slightly overclocked compared to the reference design, running at an equally impressive 700MHz – giving you more for your money.

There are two things you should keep in mind about the ASUS ENGTX460 – first, it’s a DirectCU card. This is something that you get on quite a few higher end choices from ASUS. The “CU” stands for copper, which means there are custom-prepared copper heatpipes working together with the big heatsink to deliver a far better performance than stock cooling. ASUS tells us it’s 20 per cent cooler than reference, and we think they’re about right.

Also, the ENGTX460 continues the Fermi series’ penchant for overclocking. ASUS ships it with Voltage Tweak overvolting on the fly, which with the help of ASUS’ DirectCU cooler can increase the card’s output by 50 per cent.

We’ve already looked at the ENGTX470/480 and ENGTX465, now the ENGTX460 takes Nvidia’s Fermi architecture to an even bigger audience thanks to its more affordable price point against the ATI Radeon HD 5830 and 5570.

Choices are always great and this one actually gives users a better choice than older generations from NVIDIA, namely the GeForce 200 series, so certainly give it a think if you’re in the market for a new graphics card. In tests GeForce GTX 460  performed extremely well, and gaming at 1680X1050 and 1920×1080 was great, plus the combination of advanced cooling and ASUS Volt-tweak software means there’s a lot of room to overclock as well. 

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