|ASUS GeForce GTX 460 SLI Performance|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 02 August 2010|
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GeForce GTX 460 Conclusion
IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating specifically for the product tested which may differ from future versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.
Tested as a single graphics card, frame rate performance delivers a big win for the ASUS GeForce GTX 460 over ATI's Radeon HD 5830 video card which shares the same $200 retail price point. Our performance rating considers how effective the 768MB ASUS GeForce GTX 460 DirectX-11 video card performs against competing products from both ATI and NVIDIA. Taking all of the collected results into consideration, the 768MB ASUS GeForce GTX 460 ENGTX460/2DI/768MD5 outperforms ATI's Radeon HD 5830 in nearly every benchmark test conducted. Further dominating over the Radeon 5830, NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 460 offers PhysX and 3D-Vision functionality, produces less heat, and requires less power at idle. It easily captures the best price to performance ratio for most games tested, especially in BattleForge. At the end of our test gauntlet, the results prove that NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 460 is the best choice at $200... but also a better choice than their own GeForce GTX-465.
Combining two 768MB GeForce GTX 480 video cards into SLI, NVIDIA has a serious threat at the $400 price point. For this same price, ATI offers their Radeon HD 5870 single-GPU flagship. As our benchmark tests have demonstrated, two 768MB GeForce GTX 460's are better than one ATI Radeon HD 5870... to a certain extent. Sure, our GTX 460 SLI set surpassed the Radeon HD 5870 in most tests, but at 1680x1050 the graphics strain is rather modest. There were a few occasions where the twin GF104 GPUs didn't fare so well when the resolution increased to 1920x1200. Presumably, most users will likely start with one GTX 460 on a 1680x1050 monitor and later have enough money to add a second into SLI, this could be a non-issue. Still, the potential exists.
ASUS GeForce GTX460 Video Cards in SLI
Appearance is going to be a more subjective matter, since so many of NVIDIA's AIC partners have custom cooling solutions each with their own unique look. The ASUS GeForce GTX 460 ENGTX460/2DI/768MD5 we've tested in this article takes on the reference, while the soon-to-be tested ASUS ENGTX460-TOP DirectCU goes way beyond the necessary. If you're planning to combine two of these units together into SLI, the reference cooling solution already cools the GeForce GTX 460 down to near-ambient levels at idle and keeps them both extremely cool under load. Personally, I prefer externally exhausting video cards to avoid heat build-up inside the computer case.
In terms of video card pecking order, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 occupies the #4 spot just barely behind the GTX 465 in the NVIDIA product lineup and settled between the ATI Radeon HD 5830 and 5850. With so much power in a mid-level graphics board, this often creates an interest in paired SLI sets. As this article has proven, SLI is not only possible - it's ideal. Unfortunately, triple-SLI is not an option... but NVIDIA 3D-Vision Surround certainly is. As the first GF104 product (and fourth Fermi iteration), the GeForce GTX 460 has been designed with the same solid construction as its predecessors. There are exposed electronics on the back of the PCB, but nothing that protrudes enough to require a metal back-plate for protection. The top-side of the graphics card features a protective plastic fan shroud, which receives a recessed concave opening for the 75mm fan and allows for airflow in SLI configurations.
While most PC gamers and hardware enthusiasts buy a discrete graphics card for the sole purpose of playing video games, there's a very small niche who depend on the extra features beyond video fast frame rates. NVIDIA is the market leader in GPGPU functionality, and it's no surprise to see CPU-level technology available in their GPU products. NVIDIA's Fermi architecture is the first GPU to ever support Error Correcting Code (ECC), a feature that benefits both personal and professional users. Proprietary technologies such as NVIDIA Parallel DataCache and NVIDIA GigaThread Engine further add value to GPGPU functionality. Additionally, applications such as Adobe Photoshop or Premier can take advantage of GPGPU processing power. In case the point hasn't already been driven home, don't forget that 3D Vision and PhysX are technologies only available through NVIDIA. With an SLI set, you can assign one card to PhysX tasks and use the other uninhibited.
Defining product value means something different to everyone. Some readers take heat and power consumption into consideration, while others are only concerned with FPS performance. With regard to value, there are several ways to look at the $200 GeForce GTX 460 768MB GDDR5 version and compare it to the closest rivals: such as the $200 ATI Radeon HD 5830. In terms of product price to FPS performance, the GeForce GTX 460 is one of the most affordable DirectX-11 video card products available. The ASUS ENGTX460/2DI/768MD5 GeForce GTX 460 768MB video card is available at NewEgg for $200. There are also several other options to consider:
In conclusion, NVIDIA's GF104 Fermi GPU is exactly what the mid-range discreet graphics market needed. The 768MB ASUS GeForce GTX 460 beats the ATI Radeon HD 5830 at the $200 price point, and two GTX 460's combined into SLI usually trump the $400 Radeon HD 5870. It's great to see NVIDIA offer budget-minded gamers so much with the GTX 460, primarily because this video card wins over the segment, but also because it overclocks well into the next level of graphics products. To the delight of many, temperatures are way down and have suggested this could be the coolest-running mid-level NVIDIA video card in a very long time. Idle power draw was a mere 18 watts by our measure, demonstrating that the GeForce GTX 460 is more efficient than ATI's Radeon HD 5830 - and also demands half the power of the GTX 465. Even in SLI, the GeForce GTX 460 stands strong and surpasses the Radeon HD 5870 in most tests... except power consumption. What could be the best pitch for the GeForce GTX 460 is that one affordable video card works can work wonders, and then saving to add a second card into SLI is still within reach for many gamers.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Benchmark Reviews has also separately published our review of the 1GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460.
+ Impressively cool operating temperatures!
- Triple-SLI not supported
Final Score: 9.15 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
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