ECS GTX 460 Black Reviewccokeman -
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Going into this review I had some trepidation and was concerned about just how well this video card from ECS would overclock. Stock testing would not be a concern because the card will perform within its envelope based on the clock speeds it is delivered with. As a card that is factory overclocked, you get an increase in performance right out of the box when compared to the many reference clocked cards that come with clock speeds of 675Mhz on the cores versus the 765Mhz clock on the Black Series from ECS. The concerns I had quickly vanished once the clock speeds started creeping upwards to the final clock speeds of 885Mhz on the CUDA cores and 2156Mhz on the GDDR5 memory. While the 885Mhz on the cores is less than what I have been able to squeeze out of other cards by about 15Mhz, the memory speeds just flew on up past what I have been able to gain on other cards. This equates to a 120Mhz jump on the cores and 153Mhz on the memory or a roughly 16% increase in clock speeds between the two settings. The question you have to ask then is did I see a 16% jump in performance? Not quite at the lower resolutions where other factors contribute to performance but at 2560 x 1600 - yes I did. That makes it all worth the effort. When performance and clock speeds go up, temperatures usually follow suit, especially when you are increasing the voltage of the components to get there.
ECS stepped back and made the decision to equip the Black series GTX 460 with a high end cooling solution to make sure that temperatures will not be a limiting factor for your overclocking endeavors. They slapped on an Arctic Cooling Accelero Twin Turbo Pro heatpipe based cooling solution. Did it work? Was it quiet? Yes on both counts. The temperatures delivered in both the stock and overclocked testing were better than the cooling solution used on the comparison Palit card by four degrees Celsius at stock speeds and by seven degrees Celsius when overclocked and over volted. The one thing I do not like about the Arctic Cooling Accelero is that the majority of the thermal load will get dumped back into the chassis instead of being sent out the back of the case. If your case is well ventilated this should not be a concern. If not, add some fans! The other concern with this offering from ECS is that while the cooling solution does its job very well it is big. By big, I mean the whole assembly is close to three inches wide. This helps for cooling but can raise some concerns when you want to run this card as part of an SLI setup with another card. It may well block all the access you have on your board to install an add-in card. But, you really have to make the choice. Me, I take the cooling!.
Adding the Accelero Twin Turbo Pro increases the cost to this card but really, at the pricing quoted from the manufacturer, the Black GTX 460 from ECS comes in at a very competitive $239. If you look at the pricing of just the cooling solution alone, it goes for almost $50 so you really have some added value with a card that fits price wise right in the middle of the GTX 460 pricing structure. So, when comparing GTX 460 cards you get top end cooling for a very small price premium with the ECS Black Series GTX 460. The GTX 460 is targeted towards the largest sector of the gaming market and it hits the mark.The vast majority of gamers play in the 1280 x 1024 to 1680 x 1050 pool at the $200 to $250 price point right where the GTX 460 is priced. With new games like Mafia II, Lost Planet II and the massively popular Starcraft II all making use of the strengths of the GTX 460 and NVIDIA's latest technologies such as PhysX, 3D Vision and 3Dvision Surround, you get the full package for total immersion into your game. ECS has hit a homer with the Black Series GTX 460. You get excellent performance, great cooling, a low noise signature and all for a price that just seems right. If that's not enough then it just looks good through the side window of your case!
- Aftermarket cooling
- Quiet operation
- Power consumption
- 3D Vison (Surround)
- Factory overclocked
- 3 inches wide