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Thursday, 1 December 2016


Asus ROG STRIX RX 460 OC Review

A majority of gamers don't look for a beefy graphics card not only due to monitory restraints but also due to the fact that they don't really want that much performance & want something to aid them in their daily work & casual gaming sessions. AMD with its Polaris architecture brought in the much awaited sub $100 Radeon RX 460 which not only comes cheap on the price tag but also packs in more than enough horsepower for the average PC user and all of that comes without the need on any external power connector making it an ideal card for people looking for upgrading their aging systems!
Asus India today gave us the opportunity to look at their version of the RX 460 and sent in the Asus ROG STRIX RX 460 OC Graphics Card for review!

Obviously it requires a 6-pin PCIe power connector and is based on the 14nm FinFET Polaris 11 architecture code named Baffin. It comes with 896 stream processors, 56 TMUs, 16 ROPs, and a 4GB GDDR5 memory connected to a 128-bit interface. It comes with an overclocked core at 1256Mhz right out of the box whereas the memory is left untouched at 1750Mhz.

Packing and Accessories

Following the same packing style as the other STRIX cards, the Asus ROG STRIX RX 460 even comes in a black box with a multi-color STRIX marking on one side and the Radeon RX 460 4GB GDDR5 on the other.

At the back peculiar features such as Fan Connect, Asus AURA and DirectCU II cooler type are neatly printed with brief descriptions.

Open the box and you'll find the accessories lying beneath the molded foam containing the card. The bundled accessories include, driver CD, Asus ROG wrist bands, a quick setup guide, Asus stickers and World of Warships Coupon.

Closer Look and Features 

The Asus ROG STRIX RX 460 is a really compact rather tiny by the looks itself. The design is a refreshed version of the Asus STRIX R7 370 and has been build keeping in mind the new STRIX lineup.

Its an all black card with subtle and intricate designing on the plastic shroud. You can put the provided stickers to put on some highlights to this black theme but I personally prefer this clean look over anything else.

At the back we can see the bare PCB with no backplate but another support system is provided to which we'll come to later on in the review. The card measures in at 19.4cm x 12cm x 3.5cm so you can fit this thing in almost any chassis in the market today.

The bottom end of the card is clean with no heatpipes or anything protruding out from the shroud. Just the PCIe connector and nothing else populates this side of the card.

On the top we have the two heatpipes peeping out along with the 6-pin PCIe power connector and a RGB LED illuminated ROG logo.

The DirectCU II cooler employed by Asus for the RX 460 is a pair of wing-blade fans that don't spin till the card reaches 65°C

Looking at the connectivity options we see that its a dual slot card with one DVI ports, one HDMI port, and one DisplayPort. The HDMI port is 2.0b and the Display Ports are 1.3 HBR3/1.4 HDR ready.

An interesting feature over here is the inclusion of a four pin PWM fan connector which enables you to connect a case fan to the card. This in turn synchronizes the fan spin with that of the card's delivering not only quieter but also more efficient cooling experience as a whole.

Open up the card and you'll find  that the card is a triple layer installation with the shroud, heatsink and the PCB.

The heatsink is dense with two 6mm heatpipes running throughout the mesh in a U shape manner. Both these pipes make direct contact with the GPU to maximize the cooling.

Heatsink for the STRIX RX 460 is not the conventional aluminum mesh but a thick aluminum block with vertical fins on top! This seems like a more cost efficient solution for a card of this stature, how good is this performance wise will be seen later on in this review.

Here we can see the Baffin or Polaris 11 14nm FinFET GPU sitting in the center. This is the second GPU in the Polaris lineup with Polaris 10 being the first one. Its also produced by Globalfoundaries USA and has 3 billlion transistors and a die size of 123 mm²

Instead of Samsung or Hynix memory chips that power the STRIX RX 480 and STRIX RX 470 respectively, Asus went with Micron for the ROG STRIX RX 460 and carry the model number D9SXD, which decodes to MT51J256M32HF-70. They are 1GB each in capcity specified to run at 1750 MHz (7000 MHz GDDR5 effective).

The power delivery system on the ROG STRIX RX 460 is a 4+1 phase solution & comes with its dedicated cooling system in form of vertical fins. Four are for the GPU and one is for the memory ICs. These are what Asus calls the Super Alloy Power II components which greatly enhance efficiency, reduce power loss and achieve thermal levels that are approximately 50% cooler than previous designs.

A DIGI+ ASP1106 chip takes care of the voltage regulation.

For fan control and monitoring the ITE 8915FN-561617-CXA chips is placed on the PCB.

Benchmarks and Overclocking 

Installing the RX 460 was easy and it powered up like a breeze once we booted up the system.
GPUZ reported the correct frequencies with 1256Mhz on the clock and 1750Mhz on the memory.

For the benchmarks we used the following test setup configuration --
CPU: Intel Core i7 5930K OC at 3.7Ghz on all six cores
Motherboard: Gigabyte X99 Gaming 5P
RAM: Kingston HyperX Predator 16GB DDR4 (4x4) 3000Mhz Memory Kit
Cooler: Antec Kuhler H2O H600 Pro
Graphics Card: Asus ROG STRIX RX 460 OC 4GB GDDR5 Graphics Card
Storage: Corsair Neutron GTX 480GB SSD
Power Supply: Corsair AX860i 860W 80+ Platinum
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
GPU Driver: Crimson 16.10.2 Beta

Overclocking the STRIX RX 460 was a simple process and using the Asus GPU Tweak II or any other utility yielded the same results. The highest frequency with respect to performance gains that we could obtain on our sample was 1300Mhz on the clock and 1890Mhz on the memory, anything above this either gave poor results, white dots or even system freeze.
To make this review a bit more comprehensive, for the gaming results comparison we're using the readings obtained from the Asus ROG STRIX RX 470 4GB OC and Asus ROG STRIX RX 480 8GB OC graphics card at stock settings.

AIDA64 Extreme Edition GPGPU

The AIDA64 GPGPU test not only calculates the read, write and copy speed of the graphics card and processor but is also very useful in observing the SHA-1 Hash and AES-256 score. These are indications of how well the GPU can handle number crunching or real life image or video rendering. Higher score shows a better card.

The results seen over here are extremely impressive for a budget oriented card.

Unigine Heaven 4.0 and Unigine Valley 1.0

A compilation of 26 beautiful scenes rendered and run via the raw GPU power of the system. It emulates any game or graphical work that you'll perform on the system scoring it on various parameter. We ran the test on Custom preset and settings at 1920x1080 resolution, quality to ultra and extreme tessellation.

These two benchmarks utilize the full 4GB VRAM on the RX 460 hence quite an accurate real-world rendering power can be made out from the results.

3D Mark Fire Strike

Fire Strike by 3D Mark is a test suit that plays a cinematic scene to determine the FPS, GPU temperature and CPU temperature scaling everything via a cumulative score. It is a great tool to benchmark your GPU since the render is mostly GPU & memory dependent.
3D Mark Professional Edition

Another variant of the Fire Strike by 3D Mark, used mainly for scoring the GPU performance.

3D Mark 11 Professional Edition 

Another variant of the Fire Strike by 3D Mark, used mainly for scoring the GPU performance.

Crysis 3

I can't start gaming benchmarks without running my all time favorites Crysis 3 but its a game that no system loves! The CryEngine 3 behind this scenic beauty can bring down any system to its knees and I mean any system. I set everything to Ultra at 1920x1080 resolution with MSAA 4X and motion blur high.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

The latest installation of Lara Croft in the spectacular Rise of the Tomb Raider 2016 with stunning graphics and rich location makes it a great game to benchmark with while enjoying in the due course! We used DX12 and settings were at Ultimate on full HD resolution.

Alien Isolation

Its a great game for people, like me, who love to hunt down Xenomorphs or aliens with guns blazing all over the place. The game is highly optimized for PC and supports DirectX 11 with Tessellation, real-time Direct Compute radiosity, and shadows making it an ideal game to benchmark with settings at Ultra.

Batman Arkham Knight

Since the game is powered by Epic's Unreal Engine 3 and supports DX11 tessellation so playing this game on 1920x1080 resolution with all settings maxed out can be any modern system's 'worst nightmare'!

Battlefield 4

Based on the DICE's Frostbite Engine 3 this game not only taxes a CPU and GPU both by reproducing lush details on the screen but also utilizes the DX11 and DX11.1 features coupled with 64-bit binaries! Settings were at Ultra with antialiasing deferred at 2x MSAA and ambient occlusion enabled.

Fallout 4

Fallout 4 takes place in post-apocalyptic Boston in the year 2287, 210 years after a Nuclear war. Bethesda's Creation Engine drives the game's strong first- and third-person presentation. The game takes advantage of DirectX 11 and can be highly taxing on most of the PC hardware. At full HD resolution shadow quality was set to high along with everything else cranked to max.

Far Cry Primal

A game that takes the concept of going back in time a bit too far, set in pre-historic central Europe where man is still fighting the forces of nature to become the dominant species on Earth. Based on Ubisoft's latest Dunia Engine, the game takes advantage of DirectX 11 and is heavily taxing on high-end GPUs. We used Very High preset at 1920x1080 resolution since that's what is considered the sweet spot for this game.

Ashes of the Singularity 

Developed by Oxide Games & running on the Nitrous Game Engine Ashes of the Singularity is a real-time strategy game set in the future where descendants of humans (called Post- Humans) and a powerful artificial intelligence (called the Substrate) fight a war for control of a resource known as Turinium.
We've used the in-built benchmarking tool and the result is shown in an average of all the graphical tests conducted over various locations and topographies of the game. DX12 API, Quality set to Extreme, 4xMSAA and everything else to high.

Hitman 2016

Agent 47 is back and in this sixth installation of the infamous Hitman series everything is notched up ranging from gameplay to graphic engine. The game uses an in-house game engine by IO Interactive called the Glacier game engine that is one of the first to leverage DirectX 12. The sole purpose of including this game in our benchmark today was to see how the RX 460 performs in DX12 mode.
Settings are at Ultra on full HD resolution.


Finally we've introduced this much awaited titled to our benchmarks! Developed by ID Software Doom or popularly written as DOOM is a reboot of the older Doom series. Its fast and scary with more than enough variety of guns that you can ever imagine or even use!
Its OpenGL and quality is set to Ultra.

Noise & Temperature

The fans on the Asus ROG STRIX RX 460 don't spin till the card hits 65°C or more. We recorded the maximum temperature in Celsius that our card hit during extensive gaming & sound was measured in decibels from a distance of 3 feet. This was performed for both stock and overclocked speeds.

My Verdict

The RX 460 is replacement card to the aging entry level cards that flood the market today and it especially the Asus ROG STRIX RX 460 that we have today does an excellent job to fill that area namely beating the GTX 750Ti or the GTX 950 hands-down with better performance and more features so that's something that I love about this card. Obviously you can't expect to crank up all the settings to max on 1080p with this tiny hardware but with some shadows and other features disabled its a decent card to run all your games at respectable frame rates on 1080p resolution!
Now, the card is good no doubt about that but with its pricing at $149 or around Rs 13000 in India the cards find itself in the territory of the newer & slightly superior GTX 105Ti making it a bad pick over the latter. But all is not lost as we can see that the card outperforms or rubs shoulders with the GTX 1050Ti in titles with Vulkan or DX12 API & as most of us know that these two APIs are the future of PC gaming with most of the upcoming titles exploiting more and more of these two so the Asus STRIX RX 460 does score some brownie points in that area.
So if you are a bit tilted towards AMD and don't mind a few FPS drops with a heart betting upon the upcoming titles or are just one of those who like to play Counter Strike or DOTA2 then the Asus ROG STRIX RX 460 OC can be the card of your choice.
I give it a 7/10 earning our silver award.

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