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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB & GTX 460 768MB Review

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Just Cause 2 (DX10)

Just Cause 2 (DX10)


Just Cause 2 has quickly become known as one of the best-looking games on the market and while it doesn’t include DX11 support, it uses the full stable of DX10 features to deliver a truly awe-inspiring visual experience. For this benchmark we used the car chase scene directly following the Casino Assault level. This scene includes perfectly scripted events, some of the most GPU-strenuous effects and lasts a little less than four minutes. We chose to not use the in-game benchmarking tool due to its inaccuracy when it comes to depicting actual gameplay performance.


1680 x 1050

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1920 x 1200

GTX-460-59.jpg


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2560 x 1600

GTX-460-61.jpg


GTX-460-62.jpg
 

SKYMTL

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Metro 2033 (DX11)

Metro 2033 (DX11)


There has been a lot of buzz about Metro 2033 which has mostly centered on its amazing graphics coupled with absolutely brutal framerates on even the best GPUs on the market. For this test we use a walkthrough and combat scene from The Bridge level which starts at the beginning of the level and lasts for about 5 minutes of walking, running and combat. Famerates are measured with FRAPS and Advanced PhysX is turned off.


1680 x 1050

GTX-460-64.jpg


1920 x 1200

GTX-460-65.jpg


2560 x 1600

GTX-460-66.jpg
 

SKYMTL

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Unigine: Heaven v2.0 (DX11)

Unigine: Heaven v2.0 (DX11)


Unigine’s Heaven benchmark is currently the de-facto standard when it comes to simple, straightforward DX11 performance estimates. While it is considered a synthetic benchmark by many, it is important to remember that no less than four games based on this engine will be released within the next year or so. In this test we will be using a standard benchmark run with and without tessellation enabled at three resolutions,


1680 x 1050

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1920 x 1200

GTX-460-72.jpg


GTX-460-73.jpg


2560 x 1600

GTX-460-74.jpg


GTX-460-75.jpg
 

SKYMTL

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Unigine: Heaven - Normalized Tessellation Performance

Unigine: Heaven - Normalized Tessellation Performance


In this short section we will be taking the results from the Heaven benchmark tests on the previous page and plotting them on a comparative graph in order to see what kind of impact tessellation has on performance.

GTX-460-82.jpg

The results in this chart may be too close to accurately see any difference, there are some interesting things going on here. The GTX 460 cards are able to stay out in front of the HD 5830 with and without tessellation turned on but the impact of the higher detail setting is identical to the ATI card. That means the GTX 465 is gradually able to claw back some territory as the tests progressed.

Performance at 2560 x 1600 does take a nose dive especially with the 768MB card so let’s hope you have no plan on running either of these GTX 460 cards on a $1000 monitor.
 

SKYMTL

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Comparative Performance Testing

Comparative Performance Testing


To some of you this section may seem to be a bit redundant and it may be just that. However, what we are trying to accomplish here is to give you a quick and easy visual representation of performance across multiple settings without using dozens of charts. In addition, these following graphs can give a user clearer insight about a product’s AA and resolution scaling with just a quick glance. Trust us; there are several interesting and eye-opening charts here that you will want to see.


Aliens Versus Predator

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The two GTX 460 cards show consistent performance across all resolutions and AA settings in AvP but we can see the 768MB card starting to struggle a bit when the image quality is increased at higher resolutions. The HD 5830 on the other hand is the picture of inconsistency here with absolutely horrible anti aliasing scaling.


Battlefield: Bad Company 2

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Here we see the two GTX 460 cards doing well at 1680 x 1050 but the GTX 465 is better able to leverage its rendering horsepower above that. Once again the HD 5830 and GTX 460 768MB run neck and neck until the ATI card is able to overtake its rival when playing on a 30” screen. Even the GTX 460 1GB sees a huge performance drop-off above 1920 x 1200.


DIRT 2

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DiRT 2 repeats what we saw in the previous two graphs but this time things are more clearly defined. The GTX 460 768MB seems to hit its peak performance at 1920 x 1200 without AA which is then followed by a significant hit when anti aliasing is enabled. The GTX 460 1GB on the other hand holds things together until it’s asked to render at 2560 x 1600 where it takes a meteoric plunge.
 

SKYMTL

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Comparative Performance Testing (pg. 2)

Comparative Performance Testing (pg. 2)



Far Cry 2

GTX-460-79.jpg

Far Cry 2 seriously favours NVIDIA cards and this graph really does illustrate that fact. Interestingly, once again we see the GTX 460 1GB outpacing the more expensive GTX 465 while the 768MB is neck and neck with NVIDIA’s $270 GF100 card.


Just Cause 2

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History repeats itself here as well with the GTX 460 cards more than holding their own against the competition until that magical 30” barrier is passed and then things take a turn for the worst.


Metro 2033

GTX-460-81.jpg

Unfortunately, there really isn’t much to see here since every one of these cards is incapable of playing Metro 2033 at the detail settings we chose. The GTX 465 does however show that its additional PolyMorph engines may be coming into play here since it is easily the fastest of the bunch. The HD 5830 also shows that it may have some grunt left in the tank as it too performs better than the two GF104-based cards. It also seems the GTX 460 768MB simply runs out of framebuffer in this high detail game.
 

SKYMTL

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Core Temperature & Acoustics / Power Consumption

Core Temperature & Acoustics


For all temperature testing, the cards were placed on an open test bench with a single 120mm 1200RPM fan placed ~8” away from the heatsink. The ambient temperature was kept at a constant 22°C (+/- 0.5°C). If the ambient temperatures rose above 23°C at any time throughout the test, all benchmarking was stopped. For this test we use the 3DMark Batch Size test at it highest triangle count with 4xAA and 16xAF enabled and looped it for one hour to determine the peak load temperature as measured by GPU-Z.

For Idle tests, we let the system idle at the Vista desktop for 15 minutes and recorded the peak temperature.


GTX-460-69.jpg

We went into this review expecting great things in this crucial area and we weren’t disappointed. Not only did the GTX 460’s thermal characteristics nearly match those of the custom-cooled HD 5830 card but they were achieved with a whisper quiet heatsink fan. Honestly, you’ll probably never hear this card running in your case. This is an impressive result for NVIDIA considering the bad rap some of their higher-end cards currently have in the acoustics and heat department.


System Power Consumption


For this test we hooked up our power supply to a UPM power meter that will log the power consumption of the whole system twice every second. In order to stress the GPU as much as possible we once again use the Batch Render test in 3DMark06 and let it run for 30 minutes to determine the peak power consumption while letting the card sit at a stable Windows desktop for 30 minutes to determine the peak idle power consumption. We have also included several other tests as well.

Please note that after extensive testing, we have found that simply plugging in a power meter to a wall outlet or UPS will NOT give you accurate power consumption numbers due to slight changes in the input voltage. Thus we use a Tripp-Lite 1800W line conditioner between the 120V outlet and the power meter.

GTX-460-67.jpg

Power consumption is way down when compared to the GTX 465 and the 1GB card even stays below the power consumption of a HD 5830. However, the HD 5850 we have seems to be quite efficient and betters the GTX 460 1GB in terms of overall efficiency. The 768MB card also puts down an impressive showing. If anything, this shows us that the GF104 is definitely on the right track when it comes to competing with ATI’s cards in this area even though hey haven’t quite caught up.

 

SKYMTL

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Overclocking Results

Overclocking Results


Using the MSI AfterBurner utility in addition to our usual stability checks, both the core and the memory the 1Gb and 768MB GTX 460swere pushed as far as the default voltage would allow. The results were beyond impressive and while our final clock speeds may not mirror yours, we are told they are will within expectations for these products.


GTX 460 1GB Final Clock Speeds

Graphics Clock: 827Mhz
Processor Clock: 1654Mhz
Memory Clock: 4220Mhz (QDR)


GTX 460 768MB Final Clock Speeds

Graphics Clock: 843Mhz
Processor Clock: 1686Mhz
Memory Clock: 4244Mhz (QDR)

GTX-460-84.jpg
 

SKYMTL

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Conclusion

Conclusion


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 NVIDIA’s dominance in gamers’ minds. They also bring along one more thing that we hadn’t 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 surgeon’s precision due to its revised core layout and impressive texture performance.

GTX-460-83.jpg

It is quite obvious that the gap between ATI’s 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 don’t 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 isn’t meant for the crowd that can afford 30” 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 23” monitor. On the flip side of the coin the GTX 460 1GB is the perfect fit for those of you who are using 23” or 24” displays and don’t 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 cards’ 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 isn’t 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 card’s only Achilles’ heel could be its performance in second generation DX11 games, one of which is Metro 2033 and others which are rapidly approaching.

Considering both cards’ performance at the resolutions and settings a sub-$250 card should excel at, it should come as no surprise that we’re awarding both the 1GB and 768MB versions of the GTX 460 our Dam Good and Dam Good Value awards.


Pros:

- 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


Cons:

- 1GB card still consumes as much power as a HD5850
- 768MB card’s performance trails off at 1920 x 1200



 
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