XFX RX 460 4GB Slim Single Reviewccokeman -
Category: Video Cards
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XFX RX 460 4GB Slim Single Introduction:
AMD's R400 series video cards came out at the mid point of last year and firmly established AMD as playing in the middle of the field, where the bulk of video cards were sold. AMD and its partners filled in the price points with packages that offered an excellent gaming experience at the price point and 1920 x 1080 resolution. We looked at several of these cards in both the RX 480 and RX 470 flavor and found that when used in their targeted ranges, the gaming experience was there. Now, I finally get to look at one of the RX 460 cards to fully flesh out my own experience with the Polaris architecture.
This step down to the RX 460 is an interesting switch, as the XFX RX 460 4GB Slim Single is, as the name implies, a single slot cooling solution-equipped video card. It should easily fit the needs of those with a cramped case with all the slots filled or even a small form factor build where space is at a premium. XFX offers two versions of this card: one with 2GB of GDDR5 memory and one with 4GB onboard that I am looking at today.
Priced at $139, this slim single slot card looks like it should easily deliver gaming performance in its wheelhouse and keep the hardware cool while doing so. Let's take a look at what XFX has brought to the table in this slim design card.
XFX RX 460 4GB Slim Single: Closer Look
Pretty much every AMD-based graphics card carries red accents on the packaging to denote that yes, this is an AMD-based product. This XFX card is no different in that respect. The imagery on the front panel is suggestive of a set of mechanical eyes looking back at you, with the XFX logo square in the middle of the box. The model of the card and its onboard memory capacity run through the red ribbon, while the AMD feature set runs underneath at the bottom of the panel. These features include FreeSync technology, FinFET 14nm construction, display output availability, and that the card is HDR ready. The back side talks up the silent 80mm fan that works as the XFX Zero DB Load sensing fan. Additional AMD specific features line the bottom of the panel, including CrossFireX, XConnect, and Liquid VR technology.
Inside the box, the XFX RX 460 4GB Slim Single comes in a bubble wrapped bag that fits tightly into the opening in the box. The accessory package is slim, but includes everything you need to get this card operating in your system. A driver disc, installation guide, and informative sheet that instructs the user to locate and download the latest driver package online.
The XFX RX 460 4GB Slim Single is a small card at only 6.7 inches long, 4.76 inches tall, and just 1.5 inches wide at the thickest point. This card is built around the Polaris 11 architecture and takes advantage of the low wattage design with a single slot cooling solution. Designed for use in 16x PCIe 3.0 slots, the card can be used in pretty much any system with a 16x slot. Visually, the front view illustrates how small the card is when you realize the only fan on board is a slim 80mm x 10mm package. The back side shows off the black PCB that is a nice touch.
Looking at the display connectivity, the thickness of the Slim Single design is evident. Absent from the I/O panel is any venting mechanism to exhaust hot air out of the chassis. On this card, it's not that great a problem with modern chassis that feature enough airflow to handle any thermal load. AMD and XFX stick with a single dual-link DVI port, a single HDMI 1.4 port, and a full size DisplayPort 1.2 port that supports resolutions up to 4096 x 2160. The back end of the card is open to allow the thermal load to be pushed out the rear of the card. Not the most effective way to go, but in this case it works well.
Stripped of the shroud, the components that make up the XFX RX 460 4GB Slim Single can be seen. The single slot cooling solution covers a large part of the surface area of the card, but only contacts the Polaris core. The heat sink is a two piece design with a copper plate attached to the aluminum fin assembly. A single 80mm x 10mm fan is used to provide the airflow through the heat sink fins. Under the heat sink are the memory modules, with the bulk of the 3-phase VRM components at the front end of the card. One thing you notice is that there is not a supplemental power connection on this card due to the low 75 watt TDP. XFX recommends a power supply of 400 watts to run a system equipped with this RX 460.
A single 80mm x 10mm fan is used to provide the airflow through the hybrid aluminum/copper heat sink. I found it difficult, well pretty much impsossible, to find any information on the XFX Auto Load sensing fan for its ZeroDB cooling system. The 11 blade fan is dead silent at speeds controlled by the card and is no less intrusive when you ramp up the fan speed manually.
The heart of the XFX RX 460 4GB Slim Single is the Polaris 11 core. Built on the 14nm FinFET process, this GPU has three billion transistors under the lid, while 896 streaming processors running at a factory overclocked 1220MHz provide the graphics power for this card. A total of 4GB of Micron GDDR5 memory is used to help with the textures. From the factory, the 4GB of GDDR5 memory on this card runs through a 128-bit bus at a clock speed of 1750MHz or 7000MHz effective data rate. One problem I have seen on the Polaris architecture is that the actual core clock speeds can vary significantly from one card to the next due to the thermal limits and how the clock speeds are managed to control thermals and power consumption. XFX equips its product stack with XFX True Clock technology to ensure you get the highest clock speeds possible. Something I will have to test with this card.
A slim form factor makes this an appealing card for a couple of reasons. The question is how well will this card hold up under a gaming load with such a small cooler? XFX has made some pretty effective single slot designs over the years and I am eager to see how this one does.