Gainward have been around as a company for over 25 years. However it's perhaps in the last decade, since their merger with Palit and the explosion in the PC Hardware market, that they've been a big name amongst the enthusiasts.
Their "Golden Sample" range was one of the first regularly overclocked and updated manufacturer variants of reference design graphics cards, regularly winning awards and being near the top of the performance charts.
Although many of us know them from many moons ago, most of you will know them from the last generation of graphics cards in which they produced many versions of the Radeon R700 cards and especially the nVidia GTX280 and GTX285. The Gainward "Goes Like Hell" edition was certainly one of the most up-front names since the Mitsubishi FQ. No you don't need a trip to your urologist, just the desire for a good performance product.
For the current generation though they have been a little quiet. But now they are back with a bang, both on the marketplace and here on Overclock3D.net, with the GTX460 Golden Sample.
If you've not been along to the Gainward site recently, then you'll have missed their overhaul and new logo. A very easy to navigate site that, most enjoyably, includes data for their old models too. Anyone who has tried to find information on their current card when updating, or discover what that dusty one is in their loft, will be thankful for a company who aren't so obsessed with "the new" that they forget their heritage.
So what does the 460GS bring us? Firstly we have 2GB of memory to help any potential frame buffer limitations, as well as a small overclock up to 700MHz.
|Product Name :||Gainward GeForce® GTX 460 2GB "GS"|
|GPU :||GeForce GTX 460|
|GPU Clockspeed :||700 Mhz|
|Memory :||2048MB GDDR5 (256bits)|
|Memory Clockspeed :||1800 Mhz|
|Bandwidth :||115.2 GB/s|
|Ramdac :||400 Mhz|
|Bus :||PCI Express 2.0|
|Cooling :||2-slot FAN|
|Connectivity :||Dual DVI + VGA|
Gainward have also fitted the 460GS with an improved cooler, so let's take a look.
The Golden Sample
Say it large and say it proud definitely seems to be the way to go with the Gainward GTX460 Golden Sample. Nobody who even glances at the box will be left in any doubt about what it is and what it does. It's nice to see the feature set such as 3D Vision and PhysX shown as wording around the edge, rather than the standard big square logo.
On the back we have everything we'd expect from a graphics card, lots of cool shots of things exploding. They certainly are the rock and roll of hardware. Just like if you go to a music shop the guy demonstrating the electric guitar always plays some mad riff rather than a bit of technically complex jazz, so graphics cards are all about making things go bang in a spectacular way.
One of the common things we talk about is how higher-end hardware always tends to be in black and red. If this is a theme you enjoy then Gainward most certainly have you covered as not only is the fan very red indeed, but the circuit board itself is red, which makes a nice change from the regulation black or green and reminds us of the Radeon 9700 and similar models.
Also on the board you can see the extra 1GB of memory on the reverse. Probably not wise to remove this whilst it's still hot.
At the connection ends of the card it's all fairly standard with twin DVI, a VGA and a HDMI adaptor. Power is provided by two PCI-6pin connectors.
Gainwards GS version differs from the standard cooler by having a higher specification fan in a centrally mounted position. Quite why all reference designs don't place the fan over the GPU is something that constantly amazes. Unlike a lot of non-reference designs the Golden Sample keeps the shroud that exhausts the hot air out the rear of your case, benefiting your whole system.
It's certainly attractive for a card not bristling with heatpipes and shiny copper. Time to see how it handles the heat.
By now I'm sure most of our regular readers are familiar with our test setup. However, for anyone new to OC3D, welcome and here we are :
Corsair Dominator GT @ 1600MHz
ASUS Rampage 3 Extreme
Intel i7 930 @ 3.6GHz
Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit
Noctua NH-D14 with Arctic MX-3
Gainward GTX460 Golden Sample
The 460GS was a delight to overclock. Despite already being above the standard core speed we managed to eke another 175MHz out of the core before artifacts started appearing.
If that wasn't impressive enough take a look at that shader speed; 1750MHz. Shaders are linked to the core, so if we overclock 175MHz on the core, we'll get 350MHz on the shaders. However it's another thing that can affect overclock stability so we're pleased it held up.
Heating could be the subtitle of the early Fermi cards. Thankfully manufacturers have taken to the task of attempting to tame that heat into a manageable level. Gainward are no exception and the cooler on the GTX460 Golden Sample really keeps the card under control both at stock and overclocked.
3D Mark Vantage
Stop the press. We firmly expected the 460GS to beat the standard 460, but thought it would be on a par with the 465. As you can see this is nothing like the case with the 460GS standing tall at stock, and so far ahead when overclocked it nearly goes off the end of the graph. A P-Score around 19000 is what we expect from an average ATI 5870, so Gainward have definitely come out the blocks fast.
Running our basic Unigine Heaven without anti-aliasing we can see the GTX465 just about keeping up with the Gainward Golden Sample, with the reference 460 a fair way behind.
Once we increase the level of anti-aliasing the 460GS moves into another gear entirely. Even at stock it annihilates both the Reference 460 and Reference 465.
Folding @ Home
Overclock3D are proud to be the home of the Redline Folding @ OC3D team, and if Folding is something you're interested in then the Golden Sample definitely should be in your arsenal, finishing 2000 PPD ahead of the next best card.
Crysis Warhead responds well to our GTX460GS. Both at stock and overclocked the Gainward card stands ahead of the pack,
Metro is a game that can make even the hottest, hardest system weep and so it proves here. None of the cards we have on test can remotely play this game at these settings, and it needs so much horsepower that our overclock has no effect.
Finally Dirt 2. We always comment how it's playable on almost any rig, and yet here the overclocked version of the Gainward Golden Sample really shines in an otherwise close battle.
Well we've waited a while to get our hands once more upon a Gainward card, especially one of their Golden Sample models (and we miss the Nurse that used to be in the adverts), but was it worth the wait?
Unquestionably the answer is yes.
When the GTX460 was first released it was extraordinarily disappointing. Hot, slow and generally everything that is bad about cut-down versions of premium models. Gainward have rectified every single thing that was problematic with the early models.
Performance is great. Even at stock clocks it's faster than a reference GTX465 in all of our tests. The GTX460 reference is so far behind it's not even on the same page. When we bump the clocks up it dominates the graphs to such an extent we kept checking the box to make sure it wasn't a mislabelled GTX470. Really the overclocking abilities of this are fantastic, especially given the poor results previously obtained on Fermi cards.
As Pirelli used to say, performance is nothing without control, and the Gainward has control by the bucket-load. Even after a long F@H run the temperatures were still low and the card still quiet. Grab four of these and a Quad-SLI board and the PPD will be everything you could want and then some.
One of the big benefits that the Golden Sample has over its rivals is that huge 2GB of GDDR5, which means even at the high resolutions and anti-aliasing levels we test at, the card had plenty of memory overhead able to deal.
You'd imagine all of this extra power and performance came at a hefty price. You'd be wrong. The Gainward GTX460 Golden Sample 2GB is available for around £200. So you get power, performance and quiet for a reasonable price.
After the brilliant MSI GTX465 we have the equally brilliant Gainward GTX460GS. Suddenly nVidias much-maligned Fermi range of cards is a serious contender. We can't wait to see the GS treatment given to a GTX480.
An easy winner of our OC3D Silver Award. Welcome back Gainward, you've been missed.
Thanks to Gainward for the GTX460 Golden Sample. Discuss in our forums.