When designing the GF104, NVIDIA obviously wanted to provide gamers with an excellent budgetary solution and fill in some gaps that ATI left open in the market. We feel like the GTX 460 1GB and 768MB do just that and then some. These cards provide some of the best performance we have seen in the sub-$250 category and should go a long way towards reestablishing NVIDIAís dominance in gamersí minds. They also bring along one more thing that we hadnít seen yet from the Fermi architecture: efficiency. The GTX 480, 470 and 465 are power hogging brutes that attack rendering with a brute force kick to the face. Meanwhile, the GTX 460 goes about its job with a surgeonís precision due to its revised core layout and impressive texture performance.
It is quite obvious that the gap between ATIís HD 5830 and the HD 5850 is the main focus of the GTX 460 and NVIDIA has done a perfect job when it comes to hitting a number of milestones. The 768MB version is able to narrowly outmuscle the $199 ATI card when AA is disabled and starts really pulling away when it is enabled. We donít know many gamers who would play without anti aliasing enabled if its application led to playable framerates so this bodes extremely well for the target audience of the GTX 460. The GTX 460 1GB meanwhile is actually able to go toe to toe with the $299 HD 5850 on a number of occasions and simply blows the HD 5830 out of the water when image quality settings are increased. The only stumbling block seems to be 2560 x 1600 but the GTX 460 really isnít meant for the crowd that can afford 30Ē monitors anyways.
The release of the GTX 460 goes a long way towards vindicating our opinion that the GTX 465 is a lame duck that was brought about simply to sell unused GF100 cores. In many cases it is manhandled by the newer, more efficient and less expensive GF104-based products. The GF104 also allows for bitstreaming of high definition audio signals over HDMI, giving it instant appeal for HTPC users. However, the GTX 465 did start pulling ahead at higher resolutions and in Metro 2033 (where every card failed to provide a smooth gameplay experience). Would we use these two scenarios to recommend the GTX 465 over the GTX 460? No. Not even if the price difference was $10 instead of its current $40 to $70.
Based on these numbers, we would recommend you look at the 768MB version if you are using anything smaller than a 23Ē monitor. On the flip side of the coin the GTX 460 1GB is the perfect fit for those of you who are using 23Ē or 24Ē displays and donít want to invest a huge chunk of change on a graphics card. Until now ATI has held off any major price reductions but we believe the GTX 460 cardsí price / performance ratio should prompt a response from them.
In one fell swoop NVIDIA have introduced a pair of cards that are able to outperform the HD 5830 by a sometimes significant margin while effectively putting their own GTX 465 to shame. On a more personal note, I think the GTX 460 is the most exciting card released in the last year even though it isnít a bleeding-edge performer. It hits every single mark NVIDIA needed it to, making it an undisputed champion in the $200 to $250 category. This cardís only Achillesí heel could be its performance in second generation DX11 games, one of which is Metro 2033 and others which are rapidly approaching.
Considering both cardsí performance at the resolutions and settings a sub-$250 card should excel at, it should come as no surprise that weíre awarding both the 1GB and 768MB versions of the GTX 460 our Dam Good and Dam Good Value awards.
- Great performance
- Efficient compared to other GTX 400-series cards
- Pricing structure is perfect for intended market
- Extremely quiet
- Impressive overclocking headroom on our cards
- HD audio over HDMI
- Compatibility with 3D Vision Surround & NVIDIA Surround
- 1GB card still consumes as much power as a HD5850
- 768MB cardís performance trails off at 1920 x 1200
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