Nvidia GeForce GTX 460: The Fermi We Were Waiting For

Conclusion

Oh, what a difference one billion transistors makes. The GF104 graphics processor is the derivative component we’ve been hoping for since Nvidia first launched its GeForce GTX 480 and 470 graphics cards earlier this year.

If you read my GeForce GTX 465 and held off on a mainstream Fermi-based upgrade, then you have to be smiling to yourself right now. The 1 GB GeForce GTX 460 performs on par with the pricier GTX 465, losing to it in some cases and beating it in others. If you’re just looking at speed for the price, that top-end GeForce GTX 460 already rises to the top as a favorite in Nvidia’s lineup. Then factor in a shorter board (the same size as AMD’s Radeon HD 5770), cooler operating temperatures, lower power consumption, and a damn near-silent fan. No question, the GeForce GTX 460 1 GB is the way to go there. Add 3D Vision support, Blu-ray 3D capabilities, CUDA, and PhysX, if you can see yourself taking advantage of those features—none of which AMD really has an answer for yet.

Of course, the incumbent is still a potent piece of hardware. Launched at $240, the Radeon HD 5830 did land with a solid “meh.” The thing needed to be $20 cheaper, at least coming closer to the $200 price point occupied by the similar-performing Radeon HD 4890.

Funny. Competition has its way of knocking things back into balance, though. Ahead of today’s GeForce GTX 460 launch, AMD has had to push the price of its Radeon HD 5830 down between $199 and $229—where we said it should have been from the get-go. But even there AMD doesn’t run away with an uncontested win. The 5830 takes victories in Crysis and Aliens vs. Predator, but is otherwise bested by the GeForce GTX 460 1 GB. Good thing it’s generally cheaper and comes equipped with AMD’s Eyefinity multi-display technology—that’s enough to keep these two cards competitive.

The GeForce GTX 460 768 MB, priced to match the Radeon HD 5830, is a little less attractive. The smaller frame buffer hurts performance at high resolutions with AA turned on, and a narrower memory bus translates into less bandwidth, consequently slowing things down in the rest of our tests. I’d rather spend the extra $20 and get the faster card, quite frankly.

These cards aren’t perfect. Bitstreaming still isn’t working. And even when it does work, you’ll need to buy CyberLink’s PowerDVD 10 to use it (stranding everyone who made the jump to PowerDVD 9 when AMD and Intel added bitstreaming to their graphics products—not cool). And as a guy who uses three displays, it’d still be nice to have that capability on an Nvidia card. Until then, real-world productivity requirements mean I keep a Radeon HD 5850 in my personal workstation.

Nevertheless, it’s hard to make a list of things not to like about the GeForce GTX 460. Nvidia has addressed most, if not all, of what concerned us when the GeForce GTX 480 and 470 launched using GF104. The GeForce GTX 460 1 GB centering on that chip is truly worthy of a rare Recommended Buy award.

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  • sabot00
    Finally, the price wars from the 4000/GTX 200 ages are back!
  • thedreadfather
    Tamz_mscAt last, Nvidia has impressed me(to a certain extent).But where's power consumption in SLI?

    Did you even read the whole article?
    Page 5 "Sneak Peek at SLI"
    "Again, this is just a teaser. We’ll be following up with a full exploration of these cards in SLI, comparing them to a GeForce GTX 480."

    Great review as always, Chris.
  • gkay09
    Very nice SLI scaling IMO...That is one department where Nvidia wins always...
    Hope to see ATI improve their scaling performance...And a very good article there Chris...
  • Other Comments
  • sabot00
    Finally, the price wars from the 4000/GTX 200 ages are back!
  • Tamz_msc
    At last, Nvidia has impressed me(to a certain extent).But where's power consumption in SLI?
  • Tamz_msc
    Oops!Sorry for the double post.
  • thedreadfather
    Tamz_mscAt last, Nvidia has impressed me(to a certain extent).But where's power consumption in SLI?

    Did you even read the whole article?
    Page 5 "Sneak Peek at SLI"
    "Again, this is just a teaser. We’ll be following up with a full exploration of these cards in SLI, comparing them to a GeForce GTX 480."

    Great review as always, Chris.
  • cangelini
    thedreadfatherDid you even read the whole article? Page 5 "Sneak Peek at SLI" "Again, this is just a teaser. We’ll be following up with a full exploration of these cards in SLI, comparing them to a GeForce GTX 480."Great review as always, Chris.


    Much thanks, sir!
  • thejerk
    Nice review, Chris. Best I've read here in a while.
  • guid_aaa000001
    I have never waited for this... It's not "we", it must be "some people".

    Note: That is if you consider "me" in that "we".
  • cangelini
    guid_aaa000001I have never waited for this... It's not "we", it must be "some people".Note: That is if you consider "me" in that "we".


    We, as in Tom's Hardware ;-)
  • lashton
    the 5830 i think is a better card, hell you can get a 5770 super-clock it and thats the same speed as a GTX460 for a fraction of the price!
  • Tamz_msc
    thedreadfatherDid you even read the whole article? Page 5 "Sneak Peek at SLI" "Again, this is just a teaser. We’ll be following up with a full exploration of these cards in SLI, comparing them to a GeForce GTX 480."Great review as always, Chris.

    Might have overlooked that line, but I'm wondering how the 460 would perform when overclocked.
  • Tamz_msc
    Comparing it with your test on the 480 , two GTX 460 1gb s in SLI does seem to outperform a single 480, although very slightly
  • gkay09
    Very nice SLI scaling IMO...That is one department where Nvidia wins always...
    Hope to see ATI improve their scaling performance...And a very good article there Chris...
  • dertechie
    Took them long enough. Bring on the price wars.
  • worst 3
    I hope they this will make the price war trickle up to the higher ati and nvidia cars. have had my eye on a 5850, hope the 5830 get real cheap fast and the 5850 to follow down to the $250 price range.

    i wonder if they will make a new gtx465 with the a full or near full gf104 core.
  • ares1214
    this is a decent budget card, but this disgusts me. If nvidia really wants to make us wait 6 months after ati, they might aswell made it the extra couple of months for the 480 to be put on fermi 104. i cant believe they didnt wait
  • scook9
    This is the same GPU as the laptop GTX 480m isn't it? Same GF104?
  • RogerDeath
    Funny comparing a supposedly more powerful card (GTX 460) against the 5770 and it still makes the 5770 look good due to less power, cheaper price, and of course the (relatively) small difference in FPS where it would make a difference (anything over 60ish FPS is not counted).
  • ares1214
    actually, i like ati and all, but id take the 460 1 gig version over the 5770 anyday, way more bang for buck
  • Tamz_msc
    Just checked with Guru3D, these cards easily overclock to 800+ MHz core without voltage tweaks.An absolutely great overclocker!
  • ares1214
    yeah, same here, i saw this thing get past 850 on default speed stock cooling.