Despite all my inner voices trying to persuade me this was a bad idea and I didn’t need to do it, I ended up venturing into overclocking for the first time. After reading up on how well these cards overclock and how easy the software makes it these days, that coupled with the fact that I can practically cool beers in my Cooler Master HAF 932 full-tower case, I figured I’d give it a shot. I wasn’t prepared for how easy it was to get this card stable at the overclock I attained.
Another reason to pair this card with the HAF 932 is the lack of a shroud on the Cyclone 460 leaves it open to all the incidental air flow coming from the gargantuan case fans.
The default specs for Nvidia’s GTX 460 are 675MHz on the core, 1350MHz on the shader clock and 3600MHz (effective) for the 1Gb of GDDR 5 VRAM. The MSI Cyclone comes with a small overclock, giving you a bump of 50Mhz on the core. With a little voltage increase I was able to bring the core to 925MHz, shader clock 1850MHz and 4200MHz (effective) for the VRAM.
This overclock, that more than past my expectations is completely stable under Furmark, Unigine’s Heaven benchmark, 3Dmark Vantage and Metro’s own benchmark tool. I have also stressed it with hours of gaming and it hasn’t crashed once. I got the core up to 950MHz at one stage but the drivers crashed on some of the test benchmarks so I settled on 900MHz.
I must also stress that even with this aggressive overclock in place, the card idles around 26 degrees while on the desktop, and even after a few hours in game it never goes over 52 degrees. Even after stressing it under benchmarking suites like Heaven and 3DMark Vantage the core temps never exceed 52 degrees.
If you want to know how well this card performs with the overclock (and without) then keep reading.
THQ’s Metro 2033 makes formidable demands on today’s PC hardware, more so than probably any game released in 2010. This first-person shooter follows the story of Artyom, a young Russian male with a band of survivors living in an underground Metro station in Russia, after a Nuclear war. Humanity’s very existence is under threat by a new breed of predator.
The game comes with its own built-in benchmark tool so that’s what I used. With the graphics settings on very high and a resolution of 1920×1080 and tessellation enabled, it was a bit too much for the mid-range card. But just knocking the settings down to high made all the difference in the world. With settings on high and tessellation enabled I was able to achieve very fluid game-play.
As you can see from the graph above, the card with its overclock in place managed an average of 52 frames per second. Remember that’s with settings on high at a resolution of 1920×1080, with tessellation enabled and advanced physX disabled.
Enabling advanced physX doesn’t hamper the performance all that much, I was surprised to find. A very acceptable average frame-rate of 48fps is what I got in the benchmarks after re-running the test with physX.
To give you an idea of how much the card benefits from the overclock, 10 frames per second are lost on the benchmark when running the Cyclone 460 at the default settings.
The overclocked card breezed through Unigine’s Heaven benchmark at a resolution of 1920 x 1080, with tessellation normal, shaders high, anisotropy x 4 with no AA. To give you an idea of fps gained, without the overclock in place I lost 12 frames-per-second in Unigine’s Heaven.
21,137 is a pretty impressive score for the mid-range GTX 460. I chose performance mode with all the default options left alone, and a resolution of 1280 x 1024. With this overclock in place the Cyclone GTX 460′s performance is easily on par with the more expensive, hotter and louder GTX 470.
It still can’t touch the GTX 480 but it costs less than half the price of Nvidia’s current high-end GPU. When I add another MSI Cyclone to the mix for an SLI configuration, I have no doubt they will absolutely smoke the GTX 480, given how well these cards scale in an SLI configuration.
Without the overclock, 3DMark Vantage score was 18,728.
Well what can I say, this card cost me less than 200 euro and it can easily handle Metro 2033 on high at HD resolutions. With the overclock in place an average of 10 frames per second is achieved in games, putting it right up there with the performance muscle of the GTX 470. If you have good air-flow in your case, MSI’s Cyclone edition of the GTX 460 will benefit from the air flow in your case, as it is an open design with no shroud. Even with an overclock so aggressive the card stays cool and never goes above 52 degrees while in game.
I cannot recommend this card enough. It can handle any game out there right now with ease. And given the fact that the GTX 460s have already come down in price, adding another card to the mixture at some point in the future will send your system into overdrive. If only 1 of these cards performs this well, I look forward to revisiting the benchmark suites with a second 460 in SLI.
If you’re in the U.K. you can snag the Cyclone for as low as 164.99 Pounds Sterling. For those in the U.S. Amazon.com have them listed for under $200.