I bet a lot of you don’t even know it, but it really wasn’t all that long ago that single slot cards were all that was available. Now, though, even the low-end cards take up two slots with their coolers. That said, there are still reasons to need a single slot video card. Some cases will only support them, though that has gotten a lot better. Your configuration might not have any two slots together, or maybe you need to upgrade a small OEM build that was never built for having a dedicated card at all. No matter the reason, getting a single slot card can sometimes be hard, especially if you actually want good performance. Because of that XFX recently introduced their RX 460 Slim that is packed neatly into a single slot configuration and doesn’t need a power connection at all. So today I’m going to check out the card and then run it through our testing to see how it performs.
Product Name: XFX RX 460 4GB Slim
Review Sample Provided by: XFX
Written by: Wes
Pictures by: Wes
Amazon Link: HERE
|Bus Type||PCI-E 3.0|
|Memory Bus||128 bit|
|Memory Clock||7.0 GHz|
|Memory Size||4 GB|
|Card Profile||Single Slot|
|Minimum Power Supply Requirement||400 watt|
cm: 17 x 12.1 x 4
in: 6.69 x 4.76 x 1.57
|Package Contents||Driver Disk
So just to be sure that ur card has the same specifications as XFX has listed I always get a GPUz image. With that, we can see that it is running at the 1220 MHz that they have advertised and has the 4 gigs of vRAM. This also lets you get a look at the firmware version and driver version tested with as well.
So the box for the 460 Slim is smaller than the RX 480 from XFX that I took a look at earlier this week, but it does still have a similar style. The box is all black with the red Radeon stripe around it with the branding on it. There isn’t a picture of the card on the box and that’s a little disappointing because the card looks good, but I understand that this is most likely a lower production unit and they have to keep the box simple enough to work with all of their smaller cards. The branding on the front and side are on a red sticker, so they can change it up easily. It has a few SMD features across the bottom and also mentioned the display connection options. The back of the box only has two information boxes and they are also stickers. They touch on the load sensing fan and the fan size but this would be a great place to mention the single slot form factor and maybe have a photo on the sticker. Beyond that, there is a standard feature list down below with all of the RX 400 series features.
Inside the box is a cardboard tray. The tray has a cardboard filler, in the end, to help keep the short card in place. Then the card comes in a bubble wrap static protective bag. Also inside you get a warranty card with support information on it and a paper telling you that you should get the latest driver if you have internet. They do also include a driver DVD as well but like they mentioned, drivers change so often that it is best to just download it directly from AMD.
When you get the card out, the shroud has a plastic cover over the entire thing. There is also a red sticker that goes over the fan to make sure you see that the fan does turn off under low load.
Card Layout and Photos
So the RX 460 is clearly an XFX card, but it doesn’t really look anything like their current cards. They went a little old school to the all metal design from the 7000 series cards and I’m not upset about it at all. I used to run four XFX 7970’s and loved the all metal cooler design but they moved away from it to a cheaper plastic design to keep up with the competition. That said the RX 460 Slim looks great and feels really solid in hand with its metal fan shroud packed full of heatsink. The cooler runs a single 80mm fan and the fan looks mostly like a standard XFX fan only this design pushes air across the card not down.
The single slot design fits tight against the PCB to have as much cooling room as possible. So there aren’t any heatpipes and the heatsink sits right on the GPU and the memory as well. The heatsink is a solid machined design not like the sheet metal heatsinks in most CPU and GPU coolers. The cooler pushes air out the end of the card and towards the PCI slot cover end as well. It doesn’t vent out that direction, though when you look at it from the bottom you can see that the cooler leaves a 3-inch gap at the end for the air to blow out the bottom of the card. The top of the card is completely clean with an all black finish and no venting or logos.
The back of the card shows off the flat black PCB. We can also see that the GPU mounting points are just about in the center of the fan area of the cooler and that is all that keeps the heatsink and shroud on the card. Like I mentioned in the opening of this article, the 460 Slim also doesn’t have a power connection. They pull all of the needed power right off the PCI bus, keeping the design simple and making it perfect for PCs that may not have any extra power plugs like OEM builds.
The single PCI slot cover doesn’t have room for anything but the basics. There aren’t any vents and they went with just one DVI, one HDMI, and one DisplayPort connection. This covers most possible connections needed and still leaves room for people to run multiple monitors if needed though you might have to run adapters depending on your monitor.
Our Test Rig and Procedures
|Our Test Rig|
|CPU||Intel i7-5960X||Live Pricing|
|Memory||Kingston HyperX FURY Black 32GB Quad Channel Kit 2666 MHz||Live Pricing|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte X99-SOC Champion||Live Pricing|
|Cooling||Noctua NH-U12S Cooler||Live Pricing|
|Power Supply||Thermaltake 850w||Live Pricing|
|Storage||Kingston Hyper X Savage 960GB SSD||Live Pricing|
|Case||Dimastech Test Bench||Live Pricing|
|OS||Windows 10 Pro 64-bit||Live Pricing|
|Our Testing Procedures|
|3DMark||The same goes for the most current version of 3DMark using the Fire Strike benchmark in normal, extreme, and ultra settings|
|Unigine Valley Benchmark 1.0||Using the Extreme HD preset to get an average FPS|
|Catzilla 4k||Default tests for 1080p, 1440p, and 4k resolutions using the overall score for each as our result|
|SteamVR||Default SteamVR test using Average Quality score|
|VRMark||Orange and Blue rooms tested, use Average FPS for the result|
|Deus Ex: Mankind Divided||Tests are done using the built-in benchmark at High and Ultra graphic settings at both 1080p and 1440p resolutions.|
|DOOM||Doom is tested on the Ultra quality setting. Tests are run at 1080p and 1440p using both OpenGL and Vulkan. The benchmark is a basic one using just the average FPS in the opening scene.|
|HITMAN 2016||Fullscreen with V-Sync turned off Detail, Texture Quality, Shadow Maps, and Shadow Resolution all set to their highest settings. We test using both DX11 and DX12 at both 1080p and 1440p resolutions.|
|Ashes of the Singularity||Built-in benchmark ran at 1080p and 1440p with graphics settings set to the “Crazy” setting with the exception of turning off V-Sync Mode. The benchmark scenario is set to GPU Focused and we use the Average Framerate for All Batches as the result. Tests are run both in DX11 and DX12|
|The Division||Built-in benchmark ran at 1080p and 1440p with graphics settings set to the default “Ultra” setting with the exception of turning off V-Sync Mode|
|Bioshock Infinite||Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Bioshock Infinite on the “Xtreme” quality setting. This has a resolution of 1920x1080, FXAA turned on, Ultra Texture detail, 16x Aniso Texture Filtering, Ultra Dynamic Shadows, Normal Postprocessing, Light Shafts on, Ambient Occlusion set to ultra, and the Level of Detail set to Ultra as well. We also run this same test at 2560x1440 using the same settings as mentioned above.|
|Tomb Raider||Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Tomb Raider on the “Xtreme” quality setting. This has a resolution of 1920x1080, Exclusive Fullscreen turned on, Anti-Aliasing set to 2xSSAA, Texture Quality set to Ultra, Texture Aniso set to 16x Aniso, Hair Quality set to TressFX, Shadow set to Normal, Shadow Resolution on High, Ultra SSAO, Ultra Depth of Field, High Reflection quality, Ultra LOD scale, Post-Processing On, High Precision RT turned on, and Tessellation is also turned on. We also run this same test at 2560x1440 using the same settings as mentioned above.|
|Hitman: Absolution||Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Hitman: Absolution on the “Xtreme” quality setting other than the MSAA setting is turned down from 8x to 2x. That setting puts the resolution at 1920x1080, MSAA is set to 2x, Texture Quality is set to High, Texture Aniso is set to 16x, Shadows are on Ultra, SSA is set to high, Global Illumination is turned on, Reflections are set to High, FXAA is on, Level of Detail is set to Ultra, Depth of Field is high, Tessellation is turned on, and Bloom is set to normal. We also run this same test at 2560x1440 using the same settings as mentioned above, except on the “high” setting.|
|Sleeping Dogs||Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Sleeping Dogs on the “Xtreme” quality setting. That means our resolution is set to 1920x1080, Anti-Aliasing is set to Extreme, Texture Quality is set to High-Res, Shadow Quality is High, Shadow Filter is set to high, SSAO is set to High, Motion Blur Level is set to High, and World Density is set to Extreme. We also run this same test at 2560x1440 using the same settings as mentioned above.|
|Total War: ROME II||Ultra-setting tested at 1920x1080 and 2560x1440, built in forest benchmark|
|Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor||Using the built-in benchmark we test with ultra settings at 1440p|
|Sniper Elite 3||Ultra-setting tested at 1920x1080 and 2560x1440, built in benchmark|
|Thief||Tested using the “Very High” setting at 1920x1080 and 2560x1440, with Vsync turned off|
|Folding at Home 2.2||Using the Folding at Home benchmark 2.2.5 set to OpenCL, WU set to dhfr, and run length set to the default 60 seconds. We test at both double and single precision and use the score at the result|
|CompuBenchCL||Video Composition and Bitcoin tests|
|Unigine Valley Benchmark 1.0 heat testing||We run through Unigine Valley using the “Extreme HD” preset for 30 minutes to test in game cooling performance with the fan speed set to auto then again with the fan set to 100%.|
|Power Usage||Using Unreal Valley Benchmark 1.0, we get our “load” power usage number from the peak power usage during our test. We get our numbers from a Kill-A-Watt connected to the test benches power cord.|
|Noise Testing||Our Noise testing is done using a decibel meter 3 inches away from the video card on the bottom/fan side of the card. We test an idle noise level and then to get an idea of how loud the card will get if it warms all the way up we also turn the fan speed up to 50% and 100% and test both speeds as well. The 100% test isn’t a representation of typical in-game noise levels, but it will show you how loud a card can be if you run it at its highest setting or if it gets very hot.|
As always to start off my testing I put the XFX 460 Slim through a few synthetic benchmarks. These give me a reliable way to compare directly between cards. In the case of the RX 460 Slim, I’m especially focused on how it compares to other RX 460’s. I started off with 3DMark Fire Strike benchmarks at 1080p, 1440p, and 4k as well as the new Tim Spy benchmark. Well, the Slim ended up at the bottom of our charts, but that not too big of a surprise. This puts it right with the RX 460 from Gigabyte that I also tested. With a GPU score of 5280 on the performance setting, this is still well above what you can expect from any integrated solution. The Time Spy result was similar, with the two 460’s being just 24 points apart.
Once again the Slim was down at the boom of the chart in the Valley Benchmark along with the Gigabyte card. The gap was a full FPS, given the XFX card has more vRAM and is a touch higher on the clock speeds, I am curious if the single slot cooler was causing throttling, but I will find that out later on when we get into cooling.
In Catzilla, the results were the same as the last few benchmarks. Interesting enough the 4GB of vRAM did help the 4k results, but they are still so bad that the graph bar isn’t big enough to fit the number. The 460 is a 1080p eSports gaming card meaning it really is only designed to handle the lighter and more popular games and it really shows here.
For kicks, I also included VR testing knowing full well that the card was never designed for it. Steam’s VR benchmark came out with an impressive 0.3 for the score but the VRMark Orange Room results were at least better at 66.47 FPS. It is still well below what you need for VR, but it at least shows the card does have some power behind it.
Now that we have an idea of how the cards stand compared to each other, it’s finally time to get down to the in-game performance numbers. To do that I ran through our entire in-game benchmark test suite. The suite has 13 different games tested at both 1080p and 1440p at their highest settings. Four of the games are also tested in more than one configuration to see the difference between DX11 and DX12 performance or in the case of the most recent addition, DOOM I test out both OpenGL and Vulkan performance. The problem is, with so many results it can be a little too much to take in. To help with that I have condensed our results into two graphs, one for 1080p and the other for 1440p. All of our games are run at their max settings and we use the average FPS as the end result. The graphs below are broken down into three FPS ranges to represent unplayable (below 30), playable but not ideal (30 to 60), and ideal (over 60 FPS). So what did I find from those results?
Well for starters, the 1440p results are a big warning that this card should never be used to game at that resolution, it is basically one big red bar of no. At 1080p, however, we see a better picture. It shows that the 460 Slim isn’t going to handle today's newest games at their highest settings, but it can play the older and less demanding games at high settings or in the case of games like Overwatch, CS:GO, League, and DOTA 2 it should get you 60+ FPS with settings turned mostly up.
Of course, we have all of the individual graphs as well. Were there any that stood out? Well, I was surprised in Deus Ex on the Ultra setting at just how much of a difference the 4 gigs of vRAM helped. The XFX was at the bottom of the charts on the high setting but jumped ahead of the Gigabyte 460 and the GTX 1050 with the setting turned up. It wasn’t enough to get up into playable FPS, though. Doom with Vulkan was similar but the difference was enough to even make it playable at 1440p. Hitman ended up being playable as well but like always Ashes of the Singularity slowed to a crawl. All of the newer titles came in just below 30, but this is at their highest settings, leaving hope that you might even be able to play them a little with the RX 460, as long as you can handle games in the 30-60 range.
So the RX 460, isn’t really the card you are going to be looking for when setting up a Bitcoin farm or anything like that. But I did still run it through our normal compute benchmarks because I was curious if it would still end up being a good card to help with video editing. But first I tested with Folding at Home in both single and double precision. In both tests the newer drivers and additional vRAM helped pulled the Slim out ahead of the Gigabyte RX 460, especially in the single precision benchmark where it had a big jump.
So the bitcoin results were about what I expected, but in the video composition testing that I was most curious about, the 460 Slim actually did very well. It outperformed cards like the GTX 1050 Ti and even the GTX 780. It's not a chart topper or anything, but for a single slot card with no additional power connections it looks to be a bit of a sleeper.
Cooling, Noise, and Power
As usual, the results for the second RX 460 to come into the office aren’t far off from the other RX 460. The extra vRAM helped in a few situations but it always comes down to things like noise and cooling performance. For my first test, I took a look at overall power usage and was a little surprised that the Slim pulled more juice than the Gigabyte. Still, the power usage for an entire system at 159 is still very low when figuring in the 8 core CPU and everything else.
Next, I tested fan noise using a decibel meter a foot away from our test bench. This is going to be louder than with the card in a PC 3-4 feet away from you, but it does give me a good comparison point. The single 80mm fan in the Slim was surprisingly quiet. I expected it to have to run at high RPMs to keep things cool in the smaller form factor but it ended up being near the bottom of our charts.
For the last test, I took a look at overall cooling performance. To do this I ran the RX 460 Slim in Valley Benchmark on loop and documented the highest temperature. I did this with stock fan settings to see how the card will perform out of the box then again at 100% fan speed to get an idea of the cooling performance that the card is capable of when sound isn’t an issue. The single slot cooler ended up in the middle of the pack on both results. This wasn’t far from the Gigabyte 460 at stock settings, but the Gigabyte pulled away when the fan speed was turned up. This isn’t a huge surprise, the single slot card keeps the card cool but doesn’t have the same cooling headroom of a dual slot card.
Overall and Final Verdict
So going into this I already had a decent idea of where the RX 460 Slim would perform given our previous testing of the RX 460. The 4 gigs of vRAM did help performance a little in a few situations, though I’m not sure it is completely worth the extra cost. The 460 Slim ends up being a simple card that is going to run all of your “eSports” titles like CS:GO, Overwatch, DOTA 2, and LoL all at over 60 FPS with enough performance to play today's box office titles with the settings turned down a little as long as you are playing at 1080p or lower. It doesn’t blow away the competition and it's not going to be future proof at all. But what it does do really well is provide a very unique solution for builds that need a single slot card with a little performance without having to pull everything off and watercool the card. XFX went all the way back to the R9 7000 series cards for the cooler design and while it might be older it keeps the card cool and runs surprisingly quiet. The design has the all metal shroud design like the 7000 series cards had and it just makes me miss having that on XFX cards. It also runs without the need for any power connections, pulling power from the PCI bus, making it a good option for someone looking to game on their old OEM PC without having to rebuild everything.
The cooling performance didn’t match the Gigabyte RX 460, but for a single slot card, I’m not going to complain at all. Really my issue was only with the price, but I think that is because XFX just released this card only a few weeks ago where the other RX 460’s have had time to drop a little. It is selling for $139.99 where a few of the other 4GB cards are about $20 less. Of course, none of those are single slot cards, so they can charge a little more. I think a 2GB option might have been the better way to go, the extra vRAM wasn’t really worth the extra cost and it would help keep the price down on a card that is basically specifically made for people who are looking for a cheap upgrade to their budget OEM PC.
Live Pricing: HERE