GTX 460 makes it into a systemLooking at the discrete graphics-card market over the past few years, NVIDIA has often been the hammer - GeForce 8800 GTX - and the nail - GeForce FX 5800. Its latest mid-range graphics-card is the GeForce GTX 460, reviewed here, and, thankfully for NVIDIA, the GPU has enough hammer-like qualities for it to be exciting to both enthusiasts and system builders.
Putting value ahead of foot-to-the-floor performance, Scan, a long-time NVIDIA partner, has been quick to integrate the new GTX 400-series GPU into a desktop PC base unit costing a touch over £700. We take a close look at the 3XS i3 OC SMART Edition GTX 460, which is available as a fully-configurable system here.
There's little need to ship a mid-range system in a huge, expensive chassis, so Scan opts for the mid-sized SilverStone Precision PS04B. Keeping costs down by the use of a plastic body and meshed front-panel, the construction belies the £30 retail price. The topmost of the four 5.25in bays is home to a colour-matching DVD ReWriter, and a further six 3.5in bays are available. The front is also home to the usual USB 2.0 and audio/mic ports.
Cooling can taken care of by front- and rear-mounted 120mm fans, although Scan forgoes the intake for this PC. One can even connect a watercooling system into the value-orientated chassis; a couple of appropriate holes are pre-plumbed into the rear.
Interestingly, the architecture of the processor means that the motherboard supports video outputs through the I/O section, but Scan ignores these and opts for a Gainward GeForce GTX 460 768MB card - although any reference GTX 460 will do. What's pleasing is the fact that the card is pre-overclocked from the default 675MHz/3,600MHz to a lofty 800MHz/3,900MHz. Situated in the upper expansion slot due to the use of a mATX board, a DVI connector needs a little force to fit into the card's port, which sits very close to the edge of the chassis.
Missing out on USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps support - the P7H55-M/USB is to one to go for if these are important - the board doesn't provide a second x16 mechanical PCIe slot to enable multi-GPU SLI, which is a shame considering how well two GTX 460s scale.
Value for money
Throwing in the now-ubiquitous Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit and backed by a two-year warranty: first year insured onsite and second year labour and extended warranty, the £741 asking price also includes delivery via Scan's own couriers - £716 for collection-only. We totted up the price of the components, amounting to some £665, and reckon the system offers decent value for money, taking the overclocking, build and warranty into account.
The handy configurator enables you to make wholesale changes to the specification, if the Scan-supplied components don't tickle your fancy, and integration is very sharp.
Mid-range components should make for a quiet PC, and the 3XS i3 OC SMART Edition GTX 460's noise profile is whisper-quiet when idling and barely noticeable when gaming - helped, no doubt, by having a quiet fan on the GPU. Indeed, the hard-drive's accesses are, by far, the most noticeable aural distraction, and the machine is just begging for a boot SSD.
But just how much performance do you receive from a £700-plus base unit. We're glad you asked.