Sunday, January 16, 2011

Asus ENGTX460, Is it all the hype?

Ok, So I got my Asus ENGTX460 DirectCU the other day finally. I opted for the 1GB version because some newer games love to dump 1GB of texture memory. I figured  I would avoid upgrade hustle even though the price variance is sort of ridiculous. Myself, Second Life performance is always a concern when upgrading a video card and combined with being an EVGA fanboy...this was a hard move to make lol. Instead of giving a review that you could find on google, I am going to focus on my experiences with Second Life and a direct swap of this card from an EVGA 8800GTS 512 (G92). More after the break.

  Rig Setup:

Motherboard: Asus P6t Vanilla.(1366)
RAM: 12GB OCZ Gold DDR3 1600 running 8-8-8-24@~1446MHZ 
CPU: I7 920@3.8001GHZ/3.982 with turbo 181x21 or 22 1.25volts
HDD: normal deskstar SATA dirve..nothing special and care not to look. 7200RPM.
GFX: Asus ENGTX460 1GB DirectCU running 885 Core, 1770 Shader, 2000 Mem, 1.100volts (stock on this card).
Software: Win7 Ultimate, NOD32, Phoenix Viewer
Firstly, None of this hardware is pushed to it's max. Although it is running above the manufacturer specs, it is all under-clocked compared to it's max (safe) potential. The motherboard setup can also be optimized GREATLY if you don't have a preference, for other reasons, as I surely did...non-related. Secondly, My case has 3 120mm high flow fans going in (1 front for mass airflow, 1 front for hdd and low pressure airflow, 1 side blowing directly on the GFX cards), 3 medium speed 120mm going out (1 rear sucking CPU heat out in a pull config 2 on top pulling component heat out),  and a turbine blower sucking the gfx air out the back of the case (inlet is 1/2" from the front base of the card slots all along the pci/e panel). I have a Thermalright HR setup as well. That means huge Nickel coated Copper and Aluminum heatsinks on the CPU/VRM/RAM/NB and SB (they really are HUGE, look the HR series up on google lmao).I use the Indigo Extreme thermal interface on my CPU. This card has a massive heatsink as well in its stock condition. Anything I may have done to my setup reflects the cooling setup. If you use this as a template and melt your rig, I'm not responsible. It is probably close to the best cooling you can do with an air cooled rig.

On to the show!

When I first installed this card, I did it the wrong way, as a means of trying to get up and running fast. Sooooo now we know that this card absolutely hates doing a direct swap without uninstalling the drivers. Or it could have been the crappy 260.99 drivers as well....they are horrible for both the 8800GTS 512 and the ENGTX460. I got 20-35FPS in Phoenix...screw that, time to dig!

My final config went like this:
Uninstall the old Nvidia drivers, Reboot in safe mode, Run DriverSweeper, Reboot in normal mode, Install the 263.00WHQL Nvidia drivers that Gigabyte leaked. Reboot again.
My settings went like this:
 Nvidia Clontrol Panel:
I made a  program profile with this in it:
Anisotropic filtering: 4x
Antialiasing - Gamma correction: ON
Antialiasing - Mode: Override app setting
AI - Setting: 8x
AI - Transparency: 2x (supersample)
CUDA: All ...Doesn't matter for SL YET (I have some very alpha code done here. nothing past POC yet)
Max pre frames: 3
Multiple display performance mode. I have a secondary monitor to do other stuff on.
Power Management: Prefer Max Perf.
Texture filtering - AF Sample opt.: On
 TF - Neg LOD bias: Allow
TF - Quality: High Quality
TF - Trilinear opt: On
Threaded opt.: OFF (This kills FPS in every case! BUGGY)
Tripple buffering: Off (we arent using VS)
TF - AF filter opt.:Off(can't use it with highest quality filtering)
Vertical Sync: Off (testing FPS, you may want this in regular sim space as it will ump out MAJOR frames and probably cause screen tearing).

Phoenix Viewer:

Crank it up on custom setting all the way. Exceptions are to change it to 200 metre draw distance, 4096 particle count, make sure you enabled AF and AA in the hardware tab. check off all the boxes, this card doesn't care lol. Apply it. I use Tangent basis and turn Fast Alpha on  unless I am in an area where alphas clash with the floor or windows. If you do photos then turn Fast alpha's way more detailed. Make sure you are using HTTP texture downloads and running multiple threads in the software. Also I don't use shadows. Mainly because the engine just is not efficient yet and it makes crap FPS for simple tasks.

In the end you get 67-120FPS in normal weathered sims, 17-34FPS in places where there are tons of Avatars like demonic and such.

For a FERMI card, this totally kicks ass. Finally we have an affordable card that will play anything from DX11 killers all the way to OGL games like Secondlife...and at a reasonable frame rate. (sometimes too much lol) You may want to think about upgrading CPU this year as this card can keep up with mine if I run SLI. All of these tests are done in a single card configuration. CPU usage was just....way down lol. SL does indeed use multiple cores on Win7 in a half ass decent way once you have a beast like this supporting it.
You can find these cards in an open box sale for $125USD for the 768MB and $150USD for the 1GB on newegg usually.


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