Finally, we see a competitive card from Nvidia’s new range. It’s not a clear cut winner, but at a chunk less cash than the HD 5850 this card is well worth considering.
Having tested the surprisingly poor GTX 465, we were about ready to give up on Nvidia’s new 400-series cards. Thankfully, we’re professionals and so we steeled ourselves to put this new GTX 460 through its paces – and were pleasantly surprised with the results.
Despite the similar names, the 465 is a cut down version of the high-end 470 and 480 cards, while the 460 is a wholly new design, and a far superior one at that. In fact, we can’t fathom why Nvidia released the GTX 465 when it did, with the GTX 460 appearing only weeks later, outperforming it and costing less. One possible explanation is that Nvidia needed to shift 470 and 480 cards with faults in their processing cores. Even then it seems odd to release a card and then immediately undermine it with another.
The GTX 460 is a more compact card than its predecessors, measuring only 210mm in length. It still takes up two slots in your PC, but it’s far less intrusive in terms of both heat and noise, and this despite its higher clock speeds. There are two versions of the GTX 460, 1GB and 768MB, at present the 1GB version looks to be the better buy – though we’ll looking at both cards again next month in our components labs test. Both variants have two 6-pin PCI-Express power connectors.
This Zotac version of the 1GB model has a better provision of ports than the reference design – with the two DVI outputs being joined by a full-sized HDMI output (rather than Nvidia’s usual preference for the rarer mini HDMI) plus DisplayPort (for all three of you who have DP monitors). Multiple cards will work under SLI, you can only use a maximum of two cards, but this is more than sufficient for most users.
It has a core graphics speed of 675MHz, a significant step up from the GTX 465’s 607MHz. It does have less stream processors than the 465, but the reduction is minimal, dropping from 352 to 336. The 1GB version has the same 256-bit memory bus, so there’s no bottleneck there.
With a faster clock speed and almost the same number of processing cores, it’s no surprise that the GTX 460 outguns its larger sibling. In Full HD resolution with 4x anti-aliasing, the kind of settings we’d expect keen gamers to use, this card scored 66.7fps in Call of Duty 4 and 35.5fps in Crysis. These scores place above ATI’s HD 5830 and near those of the HD 5850, a card that costs around £30 more. In addition, this card performed well under DirectX 11 using the Stalker: Call of Pripyat benchmark.
In terms of extra features, Nvidia does have the edge over ATI at present. Its 3D Vision technology is long-established with lots of software support. In addition, its CUDA application acceleration is the only one supported by Adobe (great for Photoshop fans), plus there’s the company’s PhysX technology for better in game physics. These won’t appeal to all, but one such feature may be key to you.
Graphics card prices are highly volatile, and we’re already seeing some reference GTX 460 1GB cards dropping as low as £180. This puts a significant gap between these and the Radeon HD 5850 at around £230. If you’re looking for a powerful new card then the GTX 460 should certainly be on your shortlist, though be sure to check the latest prices.
|Interface||PCI Express x16 2.0|
|Slots taken up||2|
|Graphics Processor||Nvidia GeForce GTX 460|
|GPU clock speed||675MHz|
|Architecture||336 CUDA cores|
|Power leads required||2x 6-pin PCI Express|
|3DMark Vantage 1680||8,427|
|Call of Duty 4 1680 4xAA||69.9fps|
|Call of Duty 4 1440 4xAA||74.3fps|
|Crysis 1680 High 4xAA||39.7fps|
|Crysis 1440 High 4xAA||43.6fps|