EVGA GTX 460 1GB Superclocked EE (External Exhaust) Review

Author: Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig
Date: July 21, 2010
Product Name: EVGA GTX 460 1GB Superclocked EE
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The GTX 460: GF104 Slimmed Down

According to NVIDIA, the GTX 460 is meant to compete with ATI’s HD 5830 from a number of different aspects. We have always maintained that ATI’s lineup is a bit weak between the $170 and $250 price brackets and this is exactly where we see this new card hitting. Before we go on, it should also be mentioned that the GTX 460 is compatible with 3D Vision Surround and NVIDIA Surround as well.

The GTX 460 is being offered in two different flavours that are distinguished from one another by their price and memory size: 1GB and 768MB. At face value, the distinguishing qualities between these two cards may be minor but since the L2 cache, ROPs and memory controllers scale in a parallel fashion with one another, the elimination of 256MB of memory causes a bit of a domino effect. So the 768MB card not only ends up with less memory than its bigger brother but also less ROPs, 384KB instead of 512KB of cache and significantly narrower bandwidth as well. Clock speeds, core / texture count and other aspects stay constant between the two cards. What’s even more impressive is the number of texture units equals those on a GTX 470 while TDP (not to be confused with actual power consumption) is actually quite low for a 400-series card but remember that ATI’s figure of 171W for the HD 5830 is based on max board power.

When you look closely at NVIDIA’s lineup, everything looks extremely well defined until you throw the GTX 460 into the mix. The main “problem” we see is the GTX 460 stepping on the toes of the $270 GTX 465 and could make the more expensive card look like a lame duck in terms of pricing, efficiency and even performance. The only area where the new kid on the block looses out is with the number of cores but in general, its paper specifications do make for some impressive reading. This will be great news to those of you who didn’t jump on the bandwagon but it also causes us wonder if the GTX 465 is being pushed out of the market already. There is however the small matter of the GTX 465’s edge when it comes to the PolyMorph Engines which could give it a serious edge in some DX11 applications.

One of the most interesting aspects of the GTX 460 is that it doesn’t actually sport a full GF104 core. Much like the GTX 480, NVIDIA decided to disable a single SM in order to improve yields and (in a roundabout way) ensure this sub-$250 card wouldn’t end up taking a bite out of the whole 400-series lineup. Will we see a 384-core totting, GF104-based card in the future? You never know but NVIDIA is likely keeping this as an ace up their sleeves in case ATI is able to mount a counter-offensive.

Unlike the GF100 cards, the GTX 460 also supports full bitstreaming of HD audio over HDMI. All of the signal processing is done on the card itself without the need for external decoding. This is a huge step forward for those of you who want to use this card in an HTPC environment for decoding Dolby DTS-HD Master Audio and TrueHD tracks.

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