GRAPHICS CARD MAKER Gainward, a part of Palit Group, was one of the key Nvidia partners that stuck with the Green Goblin through thick and thin, for better or worse. Now that Nvidia’s Fermi architecture has produced more than just limited quantity top end offerings, the return on investing in that relationship is becoming apparent for Gainward again.
Here we look at two new cards from Gainward, both the company’s own designs. One is the special edition “Golden Sample” GTX470 card, while the other is the just announced GTX460 GS-GLH, as in “Golden Sample-Goes Like Hell” based on the GF104 die.
The core specifications, 448 cores and 1.25GB of VRAM on a 320-bit bus for the GTX470 and 336 cores with 1GB of VRAM on a 256-bit bus for the GTX460 GLH, stay the same as the reference product. However, the core clock speed on the GTX470 has been upped from 607MHz to 675MHz with a 1,350MHz shader clock, and on the GTX460 GS-GLH it is a whopping 20 per cent above the reference Nvidia card, going from 675MHz to 800MHz with a 1,600MHz shader clock.
The memory speed on the GTX470 is GDDR5-3400MHz instead of the default GDDR5-3300MHz, and on the GTX460 model it is GDDR5-4000MHz instead of the default GDDR5-3600MHz. These factory pre-set improvements do seem to lead to noticeable extra performance.
The extra performance is enabled by, besides the custom PCB, unique cooling systems. On the GTX470, it is 2GR8 2COOL – Two Great 8cm double-ball-bearing Twin Fans – and an interesting acronym nevertheless. On the GTX460 GS-GLH, Gainward uses a smaller version of its Grand Prix (GP) Heatpipes Cooler, force-ventilated by a single GR8 fan, a Great 8cm double-ball-bearing fan.
The high end GTX470 Golden Sample provides two dual-link DVI, full size HDMI as well as Displayport connectors. The brand new GTX460 series from Gainward also has four display connections – HDMI 1.4a, twin dual-link DVI plus, for those still using a CRT, a VGA connector.
Since these two cards are aimed against the AMD/ATI HD5870 and HD5850, and themselves are spaced just a bit apart in both timeline and price, I wondered how far apart they would be in real benchmark performance. The test platform was an Asus Maximus III Gene Intel P55 platform with an Intel Core i7 970 2.93GHz LGA1166 CPU and 4GB of Kingston DDR3-1333 CL6 memory, running Windows 7 64-bit with the updated Detonator drivers supporting the GTX460. Since both cards are pre-overclocked in factory, I didn’t push them any further in this first test.
Here are 3Dmark Vantage Performance and Extreme results – GTX470:
… and GTX460:
Not bad. Look at how small the difference is. Now, do keep in mind that the PhysX feature pushes up the score a bit here, but even discounting that a bit it’s still pretty decent versus the generic HD5870 scores we saw in our previous benchmarks.
Then, for DirectX 11, there’s the Unigine Heaven 2 Benchmark. Here are the results for both cards, GTX470 on top and GTX460 at the bottom:
Again, the differences are minimal. Keep in mind that the GTX460 GS-GLH is expected to be in the 0 price range before taxes, while the GTX470 GS is roughly in the 0 price class, just below the HD5870. In fact, with this performance, the GTX460 GS-GLH makes a pretty decent proposition against even generic HD5850 Radeon cards, while being more compact and – in a first for an Nvidia graphics card – cool enough not to act as a space heater.
For decent Nvidia PhysX enriched DirectX 11 gaming performance in a small form factor, the Gainward GTX460 GS-GLH is a good choice. As for the higher end parts, I hope Gainward applies its 2GR8 2COOL Twin Fans to the upcoming 512-core GTX485 line, too. It would be interesting to see the speedup gained on the top end, since not every user there wants to go the watercooled way for extra clock speed. µ
Both cards’ performance, cooling, low noise.
The GTX470 GS still feels a little hot, although cooler than the reference card.
8/10 for the GTX470 GS
9/10 for GTX460 GS-GLH