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Written by Olin Coles   
Monday, 02 August 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
ASUS GeForce GTX 460 SLI Performance
Features and Specifications
NVIDIA GF104 GPU Fermi Architecture
ASUS ENGTX460/2DI/768MD5 Video Card
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

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:

GeForce GTX 460 - 768MB Versions 1GB Versions
  • $200 ASUS ENGTX460/2DI/768MD5 GeForce GTX 460 768MB
  • $200 MSI N460GTX-M2D768D5 GeForce GTX 460 768MB
  • $200 GIGABYTE GV-N460D5-768I-B GeForce GTX 460 768MB
  • $200 EVGA 768-P3-1360-TR GeForce GTX 460 768MB
  • $200 Palit NE5TX460FHD79 GeForce GTX 460 768MB
  • $210 EVGA 768-P3-1362-TR GeForce GTX 460 Superclocked
  • $210 GIGABYTE GV-N460OC-768I GeForce GTX 460 OC 768MB
  • $210 MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OC GeForce GTX 460 768MB
  • $220 EVGA 768-P3-1362-AR GeForce GTX 460 Superclocked
    • $220 Palit NE5X460SF1102 GeForce GTX 460 Sonic 1GB
    • $230 GIGABYTE GV-N460OC-1GI GeForce GTX 460 1GB
    • $245 Palit NE5X460HF1102 GeForce GTX 460 SONIC PLATINUM

    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.

    Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer AwardPros:

    + Impressively cool operating temperatures!
    + Consumes only 18 watts at idle
    + Best performer at $200 - beats Radeon 5830
    + SLI set surpasses Radeon HD 5870 performance
    + Fermi Introduces Error Correcting Code (ECC)
    + Excellent price-to-performance cost ratio
    + Fan exhausts all heated air outside of case
    + Quiet cooling fan under loaded operation
    + Includes native HDMI audio/video output
    + Adds 32x CSAA post-processing detail
    + Supports SLI functionality


    - Triple-SLI not supported
    - SLI set doesn't impress at extreme resolutions


    • Performance: 8.75
    • Appearance: 9.00
    • Construction: 9.75
    • Functionality: 9.50
    • Value: 8.75

    Final Score: 9.15 out of 10.

    Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

    Benchmark Reviews encourages you to leave comments (below), or ask questions and join the discussion in our Forum.

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    # RE: ASUS GeForce GTX 460 SLI PerformanceServando Silva 2010-08-02 20:38
    Very informative article Olin. I'm very tempted to change my HD 5850 and get a pair of these puppies. According to your experience, which would represent a better buy? GTX460 768MB SLI? or GTX460 1GB SLI? I can save quite a few bucks by going for the 768MB editions, but would 1GB worth it for an SLI setup?
    Great article!
    Report Comment
    # 768MB vs 1GBOlin Coles 2010-08-02 21:45
    If you've already got a 5850, I don't see any reason to upgrade. If anything, look for another and put them into CrossFire. As for 768MB vs 1GB variants, I think my suggestion depends on your resolution. 1680x10 is fine with a set of 768MB GeForce GTX 460's, but if you're running 1920x1200 or higher you'll want the 1GB versions.
    Report Comment
    # RE: 768MB vs 1GBServando Silva 2010-08-02 22:04
    CrossfireX scaling is worse than SLI scaling, right? I think HD5850 CF performs slower than GTX460 SLI (that's why I want to change), but I might be wrong. And I want it for 3840x1080 resolutions as that's what I use most of the time (if not possible, I use 1920x1080).
    Report Comment
    # Any hints of a 3xSLI?Mark N 2010-08-03 07:18
    Thanks for the great article! My biggest concern is the 2xSLI limitation. A single 480, while slower than a 2x460 setup affords the option to upgrade with a 2nd or 3rd 480 later as needed without discarding the previous card. Are there any rumors floating about anything on the horizon with greater expandability?
    Report Comment
    # Different price segmentsOlin Coles 2010-08-03 07:22
    The GTX 480 is a $480 product that could buy two 1GB GTX 460's and still have money left over... suffice it to say that it commands an entirely different price segment. In SLI, we're talking about $400 worth of video cards vs $960, and that's a huge difference.
    Report Comment
    # Any hints of a 3xSLI?Mark N 2010-08-03 07:48
    Absolutely. My thoughts were do I buy one 480 for now instead of two 460s. It seems the worse purchase for now, but in the future I would have the option to purchase another 480 if the 2x460 wasn't still cutting it.

    Were I to go with a 2x460 purchase I'm at the limit of my expansion and if the cards don't hold up, I'd have to discard/sell them and start over.

    I'm probably worrying about nothing though. A 2x460 setup, even before overclocking is such a huge jump from my GTX275 (OC 666MHz). I imagine it will more than satisfy my needs for this generation of cards. I'm just a worrier.
    Report Comment
    # RE: Any hints of a 3xSLI?Olin Coles 2010-08-03 07:51
    That would certainly take you to the top. What kind of resolution are you using? If it's 1920x1200 or larger, the GTX 480 makes sense. Also, if you'd like to see how the GTX 460 (or anything else) holds up against the GTX 285 (which is slightly faster than your GTX 275), read the single-card GTX 460 reviews.

    There's no indication that the GF104 will support triple-SLI. It appears to be reserved for their GF100 GPU.
    Report Comment
    # Any hints of a 3xSLI?Mark N 2010-08-03 08:02
    Two monitors. Main screen is 1920x1080 and the 2nd is 1680x1050. Usually the 2nd screen just has web/vent/messenger running on it while I play. Occasionally I'll play a DVD or video on the 2nd screen while gaming.
    Report Comment
    # RE: Any hints of a 3xSLI?Olin Coles 2010-08-03 08:05
    I understand the logic behind your decision, but I wouldn't count on ever buying a second GTX 480. By the time it's necessary, they'll be long gone. Besides, just one GTX 480 will push any game you've got (except Metro 2033) with settings at their highest.
    Report Comment
    # RE: ASUS GeForce GTX 460 SLI Performancedlb 2010-08-04 08:35
    Great review! Very informative.... however, I think I found a typo on page 5.... in the graph that shows the specs of the various individual NVidia and ATI cards, in the last row, it says the ATI HD5870 has a memory interface of only 192bit.... shouldn't that read 256bit? Other than that, good stuff here Olin. Keep up the great work!
    Report Comment
    # RE: RE: ASUS GeForce GTX 460 SLI PerformanceOlin Coles 2010-08-04 08:37
    You're right... it's 256-bit. I've got it fixed now, thanks!
    Report Comment
    # one questionFederico La Morgia 2010-08-07 05:43
    what is written on the RAM chips?
    Report Comment
    # ^_^Setsunayaki 2010-08-11 04:46
    I still take a single 480 GTX over an SLI 460 GTX. 768MB of Memory is too small today for games. 1024MB is ok, but there are reviews all over the place now on how 1024MB for some setups is too little as well...

    That 460 SLI is great if you plan on playing one game at a certain resolution and tech setup for many years. The two games from this year REVIEWED...AvP and Metro2033 are games requiring more than 1GB at max settings...So it means SLI is playable at lower resolution but can't max most games at high resolution from 2010 which means 460 SLI will utterly fail in games from 2011 which will be even more demanding and will come with full physics engines.

    1536 - 2048MB VRAM is what you should plan on having prior to going full SLI or Crossfire, specially if you are going triple monitor you need all the VRAM you can get. 1024MB is the new "baby-face" minimum.
    Report Comment
    # RE: ^_^Olin Coles 2010-08-11 06:54
    You're missing an important point: not everyone can afford $500 up front for the GTX 480. Think of this as high-performance layaway, because you can get a good bit of performance for $200 now and then add another card when you have more money. Two GTX 460's in SLI easily beat a single GTX 480, and offer more memory buffer too. 1536 - 2048MB of vRAM is exactly what you get with two GTX 460's... you don't get that with a single GTX 480. Finally, users with a 460 are not likely to use a resolution higher than 1920x1050, so it's a perfect fit.
    Report Comment
    # single 4870X2 to gtx460 SLI or single 480 ?mgph 2010-08-12 00:02
    thank you so much for your very detailed articles as well as answering every question. I am also thinking to upgrade my rigs so and if you don't mind giving your advice, here is my rigs:
    i7 930 - OC to 4.0ghz with V6 fan cooler
    RAM - Xtreem 2x3 6gbs
    GPU - single HIS 4870X2
    Mobo - Asus P6X58D Premium
    PSU - Antec True Power 800w
    Resolution - 1900x1020
    Driver - Catalyst 10.7a
    Since the graphics card give me so much problems, like minor stuttering and inconsistent fps in some games(yes, Crysis is one of them). My biggest disappointment is in Starcraft 2, though I can max out all, during some cutscenes and missions, the fps drops significantly (18-22). So, I am thinking to upgrade my graphics card and can you kindly suggest me which one I should choose: 460 SLI, single 480 or 5970 ? I think I will need to replace my PSU with higher 1k or 1.2k though if I do SLI.
    Report Comment
    # RE: single 4870X2 to gtx460 SLI or single 480 ?Olin Coles 2010-08-12 07:30
    You're going to get stuttering issues whenever two GPUs are involved: SLI, CrossFire, and dual-GPU cards like the 5970. If you tell me what your budget is, I can help you find the best build. Also, some of that budget should be used on a SSD.
    Report Comment
    # RE: single 4870X2 to gtx460 SLI or single 480 ?mgph 2010-08-12 17:25
    Thanks for your help and no, stuttering issues are gone away when I tested both Crysis and Crysis:Warhead on my bro's pc who changed from the same graphics card(yes he also had stuttering issues and inconsistent fps) to gtx 480 SLI with same CPU (i7 920 OC 3.4).
    Budget-wise, I am open to anything but I just want to get best of both world, value + performance since I believe why should I waste my money if I just need to take some time to search for the best instead of buying the most expensive(either gtx480 or 5970) which seems to be most powerful without knowing anything.
    Since articles from you and tomshardware showing how new fermi is promising,2694.html, I am thinking to give it a try but I am also worried if later when I want to upgrade, I will be in dead end. For SSD, any enlightenment for why I should use it ? I just know that it would be great for OS booting up part and data consistency.
    Report Comment
    # RE: RE: single 4870X2 to gtx460 SLI or single 480 ?Olin Coles 2010-08-12 20:32
    I think that the GTX 480 is a far better purchase than the Radeon 5970... but I think that two GTX 460's are much better than one 480.

    SSDs will make everything open faster, and levels will load much quicker.
    Report Comment
    # RE: RE: RE: single 4870X2 to gtx460 SLI or single 480 ?mgph 2010-08-12 21:24
    Oh I see. Now what I should be thinking is do I want to make mine as future (next at lest 3-5years) proof? If yes, grab a GTX 480 first and add sli later when got money. Or to get the best performance+value atm, gtx 460sli is the right choice. Thanks for the info !

    What I understand is like SSDs is reading from flash memory instead of magnetic tape so it will reduce the time for cycling and finding data from tape. Okay but how about games ? Since if I do partition, games will take huge amount (at least 200-300gb) and for that whole to be faster loading time, I need to use SSD and install all the game on that SSD ? That seems like it will be quite expensive though. Okay, thanks for the enlightenment and appreciate your help !
    Report Comment
    # RE: RE: RE: RE: single 4870X2 to gtx460 SLI or single 480 ?Olin Coles 2010-08-13 06:09
    Since you need so much storage space, I suggest you look at the Seagate Momentus-XT Solid State Hybrid Drive:
    Report Comment
    # RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: single 4870X2 to gtx460 SLI or single 480 ?Adam 2010-08-13 06:19
    Would that really offer any significant benefits for gaming? Due to the very small amount of flash memory on it surlye it's only really going to have an effect on boot times.

    I was interested when it was released but pondered that for most purposes it wouldnt give any advantage whatsoever.
    Report Comment
    # RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: single 4870X2 to gtx460 SLI or single 480 ?Olin Coles 2010-08-13 06:31
    Games and the other programs would all open faster, and game levels/maps would change more quickly. Video frame rates would not be changed.
    Report Comment
    # RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: single 4870X2 to gtx460 SLI or single 480 ?Adam 2010-08-13 07:57
    Yeah, for a regular SSD. But the Momentus XT only has 4GB of flash memory combined with its adaptive tech, so it 'might' load one game (or perhaps only certain maps) at SSD speeds but everything else will be stuck back in the 7200rpm HDD zone.

    I'm unsure of how well it works with gaming, just a bit sceptical.
    Report Comment
    # Picky observationGorham4 2010-08-19 11:44
    Olin, just found your site and I'm enjoying your indepth reviews. On a personal note I would have found it very interesting to see some of the ATI product in crossfire as a comparison.

    While I beleive that Nvidia has a real winner in the 460. The SLI scaling is really impressive so comparing a 5830 crossfire would have been nice. Keep up the good work
    Report Comment
    # RE: Picky observationOlin Coles 2010-08-19 11:52
    If I had a second 5830 we would include CrossFire results, but alas, I do not. :(

    Still, since one GTS 460 easily beats a single 5830, and since two 460's in SLI are nearly twice the performance of one, it could be surmised that a pair of 5830's isn't going to beat an SLI set of 460's anyway.
    Report Comment
    # more of a scaling testGorham4 2010-08-19 12:15
    I agree, per your single card 460 review that the 460 edges the 5830 out in most benchmarks at or above 1920. I'm interested in the scaling efficency.

    I'm currently running 5870's in CF. It works great at 2560X1600 and the picture quality is fantastic (BC2 in DX11 is unreal). I held off until after the disappointing 480 launch where heat and power consumption was unacceptable to me.

    Nvidia's SLI has always seemed more mature\robust to me so any comparisons between same level cards in single and dual modes is much appreciated.

    Again thanks for the great reviews I've been sending links to this site out to friends I don't know how you've slipped under our radar :)
    Report Comment
    # RE: ASUS GeForce GTX 460 SLI Performancequickquestion 2011-01-31 19:02
    Could 2 of these cards handle Crysis on Medium with No AA, on 3 1680X1050 Screens? I mean like 35-50 FPS is fine for me. Thanks, i know I have been asking alot of questions lately, just looking for advice.
    Report Comment
    # RE: RE: ASUS GeForce GTX 460 SLI PerformanceOlin Coles 2011-01-31 19:43
    That should do it just fine.
    Report Comment
    # RE: ASUS GeForce GTX 460 SLI Performancequickquestion 2011-01-31 19:54
    Thanks a bunch man. I'll probably start saving to get 2 of these and a 3rd 20" screen. Have a good day.
    Report Comment
    # PSU650W x GTX460 SLI cfg?Panko 2011-08-28 01:16
    is ANTEC Truepower 650W PSU enough powerfull for ENGTX460 DirectCU 1064 SLI config?
    Please, it's f o n d a m e n t a l e xme!
    Report Comment
    # RE: PSU650W x GTX460 SLI cfg?JPEGONE 2011-08-28 17:25
    yeah, 650w will be enough to power the cards. Just make sure that it has 4X 6 pin or 6+2 pin PCI-E power connectors.
    Report Comment
    # 460SLI NVIDIA SurroundGh0stfr33kza 2011-10-18 08:22
    Will a ASUS GTX460 DirectCu 1GB SLI config be able to run a NVIDIA Surround setup @ high settings for games like Crysis 2, BF3 and so on. Will be using 3x 23'' LED's.
    Report Comment
    # 460SLI NVIDIA SurroundGh0stfr33kza 2011-10-18 08:44
    Oh and I almost forgot, will I be able to run the 3x 23'' LED as 1 display and then an additional 27'' LCD monitor as a second display
    Report Comment
    # RE: 460SLI NVIDIA SurroundOlin Coles 2011-10-18 09:01
    Two GeForce GTX 460's in SLI can operate a 3-display setup, but I doubt they'll be capable of high-quality video settings in BF3. I believe you can add a fourth monitor, and can make it standalone or part of the set.
    Report Comment
    # 460SLI NVIDIA SurroundGh0stfr33kza 2011-10-18 10:04
    How sure are you about the forth monitor, this is an essential piece of information as it will determine if i'll run a sli config or an single, powerfull card eyefinity setup
    Report Comment
    # RE: 460SLI NVIDIA SurroundOlin Coles 2011-10-18 10:08
    Since we've never reviewed a stereo plus single setup, I can't say with certainty. I would suggest sending NVIDIA a message or talking to their support team.
    Report Comment
    # 460SLI NVIDIA SurroundGh0stfr33kza 2011-10-18 10:20
    okay thanks, 1 last question, which ati card would you recommend in the price range of 2 460's if i were to run the single card eyefinity setup?
    Report Comment
    # RE: 460SLI NVIDIA SurroundOlin Coles 2011-10-18 10:26
    I believe the Radeon HD 6970 would be the best single-card from AMD that matches the price of two GTX 460s. See here for performance details:
    Report Comment

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