Summary And Conclusion
Light and shadows always go hand in hand. In the end, Palit and XFX both have skeletons in their closets here. Here's what we found:
XFX Radeon RX 460 Heatsink Edition
This card is well thought-out, but suffers because of its smallish cooler. Those horizontally-oriented fins virtually rule out self-convection.
We strongly advise XFX to use a larger cooler, which would take advantage of the full depth allowed by a wide slot bracket. A clock rate reduction to 1000 MHz might not make marketing happy, but it'd facilitate a lower voltage and allow power consumption to slide below the 50W mark.
The Radeon RX 460 Heatsink Edition isn't much more expensive than actively-cooled products based on the same GPU at least. With a bit of skill, you could even drop an ultra-quiet 92mm or 120mm fan on top of it to improve the card's behavior. That'd kind of defeat the purpose though, right?
Palit GeForce GTX 1050 Ti KalmX
Palit’s adaptation is significantly faster in our benchmarks, but it suffers from memory temperatures that climb too high. You can get actively-cooled cards that are barely audible for around $30 less, which kind of blows the point of this card away. Complicating matters for gamers in the U.S., Palit's hardware isn't readily available.
The GeForce GTX 1050 Ti KalmX would only be worth pursuing if you helped it out with a case fan. That is, if it didn't also have issues with memory temperatures, which might not even benefit from more airflow. If you like to tinker, we do know of thermal pads that'd fit. But you're better off spending less money to optimize a more readily-available card with active cooling that can be dialed down.
If you have at least one case fan able to push air through your enclosure, a passive card sounds like it could be a good idea. Palit's GeForce GTX 1050 Ti comes closest to making that dream a reality due to its finer-grained GPU Boost control and better heat sink.
However, both cards fail to live up to their marketing. The value of these cards is lost on us until they can do what they promise.
Again, we encourage manufacturers to test and optimize their products under real-world conditions. Only then will they preemptively spot issues like insufficient cooling area or overheated memory modules.
It's only fair to recommend not purchasing either of these cards. Any decent, actively-cooled alternative easily knocks the stuffing out of either passive model, regardless of whether you prefer AMD or Nvidia. This passive experiment was a nice try, but next time use better coolers and more conservative power targets.
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