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Written by Olin Coles   
Monday, 12 July 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 768MB Video Card
Features and Specifications
NVIDIA GF104 GPU Fermi Architecture
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 Video Card
GeForce GTX-460 Partner Products
Video Card Testing Methodology
DX10: 3DMark Vantage
DX10: Crysis Warhead
DX10: Far Cry 2
DX10: Resident Evil 5
DX11: Aliens vs Predator
DX11: Battlefield Bad Company 2
DX11: BattleForge
DX11: Metro 2033
DX11: Unigine Heaven 2.1
NVIDIA APEX PhysX Enhancements
NVIDIA 3D-Vision Effects
GeForce GTX460 Temperatures
VGA Power Consumption
GeForce GTX 460 Overclocking
Editor's Opinion: NVIDIA Fermi
GeForce GTX 460 Conclusion

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 Video Card

So far, 2010 has been an exciting year for game developers. Microsoft Windows 7 (and updated Windows Vista) Operating Systems introduced gamers to DirectX-11, allowing video games released for the PC platform to look better than ever. DirectX-11 is the leap in video game software development we've been waiting for. Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO) is given emphasis in DX11, allowing some of the most detailed computer textures gamers have ever seen. Realistic cracks in mud with definable depth and splintered tree bark make the game more realistic, but they also make new demands on the graphics hardware. This new level of graphical detail requires a new level of computer hardware: DX11-compliant hardware. Tessellation adds a tremendous level of strain on the GPU, making previous graphics hardware virtually obsolete with new DX11 game titles.

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 video card series offers gamers a healthy dose of graphics processing power for their money. But the GeForce GTX 460 is more than just a tool for video games; it's also a tool for professional environments that make use of GPGPU-accelerated compute-friendly software, such as Adobe Premier Pro and Photoshop.


The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 is a 2.67" tall double-bay, 4.376-inches (111.15mm) wide graphics card with a 8.25-inch (209.55mm) long profile. There are two varieties of GTX 460: one with 768MB, and another with 1GB of GDDR5 memory. NVIDIA's reference cooler design uses a center-mounted 75mm finsink, which is more than adequate for this midrange-output Fermi GF104 GPU.


As with most past GeForce video cards, the Fermi GPU offers two output 'lanes', so all three output devices cannot operate at once. NVIDIA has retained two DVI outputs on the GeForce GTX 460, so dual-monitor configurations can be utilized. By adding a second video card users can enjoy GeForce 3D-Vision Surround functionality.


Other changes occur in more subtle ways, such as replacing the S-Video connection with a more relevant (mini) HDMI 1.3a A/V output. In past GeForce products, the HDMI port was limited to video-only output and required a separate audio output. Native HDMI 1.3 support is available to the GeForce GTX 460, which allows direct output to HDTVs and compatible monitors. Selling at an affordable $200 price point, NVIDIA was wise to support dual-card SLI sets on the GTX 460. Triple-SLI capability is not supported, since the $600 cost of three video cards would be better used to purchase either two GTX 470's or one GTX 480.


The new 40nm fabrication process opens the die for more transistors; by comparison there are 1.4-billion in GT200 GPU (GeForce GTX 285), compared to 1.95-billion in GF104 for the GTX 460. While the GTX 460's GF104 disables one of its eight Streaming Multiprocessor Units (SMU's), a heavy-duty thermal management system is still utilized for optimal temperature control. On the reference sample, the entire heatsink and shroud portion are attached to the circuit board by four screws surrounding the GPU.


Even with its mid-range intentions, the PCB is a busy place for the GeForce GTX 460. There are eight positions for DRAM ICs on the circuit board, which combine for 1GB of GDDR5 video frame buffer memory - or 768MB when six are utilized. Many of the electronic components have been located to the 'top' side of the PCB, so to better accommodate the large scale GF104 GPU and its 1.95-billion transistors. 336 CUDA cores operate at 1350 MHz, which keeps a firm lead over ATI's 850 MHz Cypress GPU that measures 334 mm2.

NVIDIA employs a dual-slot cooling system on the reference GTX 460 video card. Two copper heat-pipe rods span away from the copper base into two opposite sets of aluminum fins. The entire unit is cooled with a 75mm fan, which kept our test samples extremely cool at idle and maintained very good cooling once the card received unnaturally high stress loads with FurMark (covered later in this article).


In the next several sections Benchmark Reviews will explain our video card test methodology, followed by a performance comparison of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 against several of the most popular mid-range graphics accelerators available. The GeForce GTX 460 will compete against the ATI Radeon HD 5830 and several other middle-market video cards; so we'll be keeping a close eye on comparative performance and value.



# RE: NVIDIA GeForce GTX-460 768MB Video CardServando Silva 2010-07-11 21:27
Finally a decent Fermi GPU. Nvidia strikes back after almost 1 year. Thanks for this great Review Olin.
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# First "Gaming" Fermi GPU...?Bruce Normann 2010-07-12 10:00
I can't help but think that the GF100-based Fermi cards were not really optimized for gaming. Engineers don't just throw a bunch of transistors into a rectangular pan and bake at 350F for 45 minutes. The architecture of the GF100 was designed to excel at something, it just wasn't gaming graphics. What I keep wodering is: what is the size and scope of the market that they WERE optimized for?
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# RE: First "Gaming" Fermi GPU...?Servando Silva 2010-07-12 12:56
I think they focused a lot on CUDA and features (3D, Surround, PhysX) instead of performance. This GPUs could really be super fast for other applications, just not gaming. This seems to be their first product "really" targeted to gamers.
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# It's only a matter of timeAvro Arrow 2010-07-14 06:30
We need to keep in mind that ATi's HD 5xxx series has already been out almost a year (wow, has it really been that long?) and that nVidia was supposed to have released Fermi almost exactly 1 year ago. It's unknown what exactly ATi is going to release this year but we can be sure that it's most likely going to make the GTX 4xx series look like the FX 5xxx
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# one questionFederico La Morgia 2010-08-07 05:45
what is written on the RAM chips?
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# RE: one questionOlin Coles 2010-08-07 05:56
Textures are cached and buffered to the video memory. Some games buffer only 100MB, and other buffer up to 1GB.
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