ECS GTX 460 Black Reviewccokeman -
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The first thing that stands out when you look at the ECS Black Series GTX 460 is the massive heat pipe-based cooling solution used to control the heat generated by the 336 CUDA cores on this GF 104 based video card. ECS has equipped this card with the Arctic Cooling Twin Turbo Pro in lieu of the reference cooling solution. The black PCB fits the "Black Series" designation for this card which is the moniker ECS uses to distinguish its enthusiast grade product lineups. The GTX 460 is designed for use in a PCIe 16x PCIe 2.0 slot. It is however, backwards compatible. To take advantage of the benefits of this high-end cooling solution, this card sees a healthy increase in clock speeds on the CUDA cores (675Mhz reference vs. 765Mhz) and the 1GB of GDDR5 memory (900Mhz reference vs. 925Mhz). General features shared by the GTX 460 lineup include a 40nm build process, two GPC clusters housing seven streaming multiprocessors, 336 CUDA cores, 56 texture units and either 32 or 24 ROP units depending on how much memory is on board. The GTX 460 only supports two-way SLI so you only see a single SLI bridge connection for use if you employ this technology with a second card. In this case, there is 1 GB of GDDR5 running through a 256 bit bus. The width of the Accelero Twin Turbo Pro heatsink/fan combination makes this card a three-slot solution.
For connectivity on the ECS Black Series GTX 460 you have a pair of Dual Link DVI ports and a single mini HDMI 1.4 port that supports bit streaming support for Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio over HDMI. To use NVIDIA's latest latest Multi monitor technologies 3D Vision Surround you will need two cards to run the three 120Hz monitors for that stereoscopic 3D experience. If you want to just run the three monitor setup without the use of the 3D Vision setup then this option is available as well (and is even supported back to the the 2 series GPUs). 3D Vision, NVIDIAs 3D offering (requires 3D glasses) can also be used standalone with a compatible 120Hz monitor. On the rear of the ECS GTX 460, the only real items of mention are the two six pin PCIe power connections to feed the required auxiliary power to the card.
The cooling solution used on the ECS Black GTX 460 comes by way of Arctic Cooling and is an off-the-shelf model that features GTX 460 compatibility although, this is not specifically listed. The Accelero Twin Turbo Pro uses two 92mm, PWM, Fluid Dynamic Bearing equipped fans that push 54 CFM through the aluminum fin array. This cooling solution is rated to cool 120 watts worth of thermal load with its copper base and four large copper heatpipes. The base was smooth and did not have any ridges or machining marks but I did notice that the base is not large enough to cover the entire IHS on the GPU. Even so, the cooling abilities of this cooler dropped the load tempratures down to 62 Degrees Celsius under load when overclocked.
Underneath the large functional Arctic cooler you get to the GF104 Fermi architecture based GPU. This Fermi derivative is built using a 40nm manufacturing process and contains 1.95 billion transistors in two GPU clusters. Each GPU cluster contains a total of four streaming multiprocessors but one is disabled for a total of seven in use with each SM housing one Polymorph unit to handle the tessellation duties. In these two GPU clusters you have a total of 336 CUDA cores, 56 texture units, 32ROP's with the 1GB of GDDR5 memory running through a 256bit memory bus. The memory used on this card is from Samsung and carries part number K4G10325FE-HC05 rated for operation at 1000Mhz. There are a total of eight memory modules that make up the 1024MB frame buffer.
Seeing how this is a factory overclocked card, let's see if it can deliver an exceptional level of performance above its targeted $239 price point.