In 2007 we reviewed NVIDIA’s GeForce 8800 GT. At the time we didn’t know it would be the last NVIDIA GPU we would outright recommend at launch. Roughly two and a half years have elapsed since then and in that time AMD went from competitive to dominant in the marketplace. The RV670, RV770 and RV870 trilogy were all very well executed. The latter two came at a time when NVIDIA’s pricing and execution strategies took a major tumble.

Given how well AMD has executed since 2007, no one expected anything competitive from NVIDIA throughout the entire Fermi/GF100 family. Cutting down a very large, power hungry architecture wouldn’t magically produce efficient GPUs. Had NVIDIA done that, the tone of today’s GeForce GTX 460 review would’ve been very different.

Instead, NVIDIA did the unexpected. It delivered a GF100 targeted at serving the needs of the high end gamer and GPU compute user, and a reworked GF104 aimed at being a pure gaming chip for the performance mainstream segment. By pulling out ECC support entirely and significantly dropping FP64 compute power, NVIDIA freed up enough die area to add more issue and math hardware to the GF104’s SMs. The end result is a $200 - $230 part that’s better than anything else at those prices on the market today.

Yields and manufacturability, while still not great at 40nm are much better than when GF100 first launched. That combined with NVIDIA disabling some hardware on the first incarnation of the GF104 makes the GeForce GTX 460’s birth a good ol’ hard launch (at least for the 768MB version). Newegg had cards for sale several hours before the midnight NDA lift, and we had no less than 6 cards in house before our review went live.

We have two reference cards from NVIDIA (a 768MB and 1GB version), two 768MB cards from EVGA for SLI testing, a card from Zotac, and finally a card from ASUS. The EVGA GeForce GTX 460 SuperClocked is a reference design but factory overclocked. Zotac’s GeForce GTX 460 ships at stock frequencies but comes with a custom cooler. And finally ASUS’ ENGTX460 TOP 768MB is an entirely custom design running at a slight overclock with voltage controls and custom cooling.

NVIDIA is emphasizing overclocking potential of the GTX 460, which is why we see so many different versions of the card on day one of availability. The focus on factory overclocked cards, custom cooling and custom PCBs is not a coincidence. In our testing we found a least 20% headroom left on the GTX 460s we received.

EVGA GeForce GTX 460 768MB SuperClocked
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  • VIDYA - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    you can overclock can compute with can easily scale their performance by just adding another card........and dont have to worry about memory and stuffs. LET ME SAY THIS GPU's have over taken the CPU's in more than many ways.....i would advice intel to develop a better larabee.
  • Lord 666 - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    What gives Ryan? You have made your point clear (ad nauseum actually) about the several dollars differentiation between 768 and 1gb along with overclocking, but without a full picture of performance numbers, the review is still lacking.

    Is there still an NDA on the video performance and/or CUDA metrics as I noticed other sites do not have results either?
  • Pessimism - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    The future you envision is more dependent on NVIDIA deciding to change their business practices and eliminate:

    -Faulty drivers that slip through QA with bad fan control, cooking their products to death
    -Poorly made chips that separate from their packaging with heat under normal operating conditions
    -Lying to their customer base about the existance of problems with their products
    -Refusing to give specific information to customers about exactly which products are defective
  • DominionSeraph - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    I see ATI marketing is present and accounted for.

    Face it, Nvidia has a compelling product in the GTX 460. If it was priced $30 higher it would be nothing special. If it was 20% slower it would be nothing special. If it was a power hog like the GF100 it would be hard to recommend.
    But it's none of those things. Nvidia managed to sneak a good product in. Their ONLY one.

    Now maybe the 5850 will come back down to launch price ($259), or maybe even $249 which would bring its price/performance in line with the $229 GTX 460.
  • mrmojo1 - Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - link

    "-Poorly made chips that separate from their packaging with heat under normal operating conditions"

    I have one of these in my ASUS g1s laptop. I had to have the MB replaced once already due to the nvidia GPU. Looks like it's gonna keep working until my warranty goes out in a month or two... fun stuff =/
  • mrmojo1 - Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - link

    oh btw, I like both NVidia and ATI; i'm not an nvidia hater.

    Just a little pissed that a laptop I paid over $2000 for at the time was essentially defective from the start.

    tick tock tick....

  • irsmurf - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    Anyone thinking of going for a GTX 480 would be wise to consider SLI 1GB GTX 460's. 2D surround and better than GTX 480 performance for only $440 - $57.20 CB = $382.80 at TigerDirect.

    It is much more quiet, much more cool, consumes much less power, costs much less, and provides superior performance... what more could you ask for? This is the most kick ass card since the 8800GT. 5970 is TWICE the price... and you don't get SLI's superior scaling.
  • irsmurf - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    I don't mean to say SLI GTX 460's will outperform the 5970.
  • SantaAna12 - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    If the 5850 is the closest comp...then why no 5850CF benches?
  • irsmurf - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    $400 vs $620? Doesn't sound like competition to me.

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