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Amazing SLI Scaling: Do Two GeForce GTX 460s Beat One GTX 480?

Hardware Config And Test Settings

Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-980X (3.33 GHz, 12 MB Shared L3 Cache) Overclocked to 4.00 GHz at +100mV, 160 MHz BCLK
MotherboardGigabyte X58A-UD9 BIOS F3 (05/28/2010), Intel X58 Express, LGA 1366
RAMKingston KHX16000D3ULT1K3/6GX (6 GB) DDR3-2000 at DDR3-1600 CAS 7-7-7-21
GTX 460 GraphicsSparkle GeForce GTX 460 1 GB (x2 for SLI) 700 MHz GPU, GDDR5-3600
GTX 480 GraphicsSparkle GeForce GTX 480 1.5 GB 700 MHz GPU, GDDR5-3696
Radeon GraphicsDiamond Radeon HD 5870 1 GB 850 MHz GPU, GDDR5-4800
OS Hard DriveWestern Digital Velociraptor WD3000HLFS, 300 GB 10,000 RPM, SATA 3 Gb/s, 16 MB cache
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerOCZ-Z1000 1,000 W Modular ATX12V v2.2, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Gold
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
GeForce GraphicsForceWare 258.96
Radeon GraphicsAMD Catalyst 10.6
ChipsetIntel INF 9.1.1.1020

Sparkle
was kind enough to supply one GeForce GTX 480 and two GeForce GTX 460 graphics cards. Each card includes a mini-HDMI to standard HDMI data cable, a DVI-I to VGA adapter, driver CD with various freeware, installation guide, and two power adapter cables.

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Support for up to seven graphics cards makes the X58A-UD9 this reviewer’s choice for multi-card graphics tests. Less expensive X58-based solutions would have also been adequate for two-way SLI testing, since the chipset supports two x16 cards at full bandwidth.

We brought back Intel’s Core i7-980X to satisfy popular demand, even though none of today’s games can properly access more than four CPU threads. SLI does allow some games to push a few CPU cores to their limit however, so we overclocked ours to 4.00 GHz.

Diamond’s Radeon HD 5870 provides a second reference point for anyone who would like to compare Don Woligroski’s comprehensive CrossFire analysis to today’s limited SLI tests.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Aliens Vs. Predator BenchmarkAlien vs Predator Benchmark Tool Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x AA
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2Campaign, Act III, Second Sun (45 sec. FRAPS) Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x AA
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool Test Set 1: Highest Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Highest Quality, 4x AA
DiRT 2Run with -benchmark example_benchmark.xml Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x AA
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call Of PripyatCall Of Pripyat Benchmark version Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x MSAA
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1, GPU and CPU scores
  • welshmousepk
    I had given up on Nvidia this gen, but somehow they have pulled off the impossible.

    I'm seriously considering picking up two of these...
    Reply
  • Lmeow
    Wow. GTX 460 SLIs smoked the GTX 480 the whole way through... (you'd really think it'd be the other way - seeing as those GTX 480s don't exactly run 'cool' :D) without breaking a sweat.

    The only reason to get a GTX 480 now is if your motherboard doesn't have dual PCI-E x16 slots/support SLI or you want to SLI GTX 480s later on.

    Good job nVidia - real comeback.
    Reply
  • lutel
    To buy or not to buy GTX 460 - that is the question which will be easier if you give decent review of GTX 460 boards, with one 5850 focused on noise (take a look at silentpcreview methodology) and overclocability.
    Reply
  • scrumworks
    welshmousepkI had given up on Nvidia this gen, but somehow they have pulled off the impossible. I'm seriously considering picking up two of these...
    Or you can wait couple of months for Southern Islands that makes everything nvidia has look dated.
    Reply
  • "With an MSRP of $250 and a Web price around $230, the GeForce GTX 460 was already known to be a great mid-priced performer"

    Is that Canadian pricing I see, because in America GTX 460s go for $199!.

    For $250 you get a GTX 460 factory overclocked from 675 mhz to 800MHZ! and with 1GB of ram, not 768mb! 2 of which are 90% as fast as a Ati 5970, for $200 less!
    Reply
  • Maziar
    Great review.
    I am amazed by the 90% performance boost over a single GTX 460.
    Although it has more power consumption than 1 GTX 480,but its a great cost-effective option for those who can't afford the 480 but need similar(or better) performance
    Reply
  • andrewcutter
    scrumworksOr you can wait couple of months for Southern Islands that makes everything nvidia has look dated.to wait is a continous exercise you can only look at now at the time of buying...:D
    Reply
  • hardcore_gamer
    great article..gotta love toms :D
    Reply
  • andrewcutter
    I might be mistaken but is this sparkle card a bit more power hungry. the power requirement seems to be a bit high for 460.:(
    Reply
  • dragonfang18
    But you lose the power to upgrade... At least I can still save up for another 480 down the road when I need an upgrade.
    Reply