Graphics Cards Guide

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 - Mainstream Fermi Done Right

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 - Mainstream Fermi Done Right

A True Mainstream GPU?

A True Mainstream GPU?

It's been almost a good four months since the launch of Fermi with the GeForce GTX 480, and we have yet to see a true mainstream Fermi GPU. The recently launched GeForce GTX 465, as we have noted in our review, is really a crippled GeForce GTX 470, so that doesn't really count. And with a launch price of US$279, it was also far too costly to be considered a viable mainstream option for casual gamers and regular computer users alike.

Fortunately, it seems that NVIDIA has heard our cries and have given us the new GeForce GTX 460. Positioned by NVIDIA as the card for the gaming masses, the new GeForce GTX 460 is not only more affordable, but perhaps more importantly, it is powered by a brand new chip, codenamed GF104. Notably, the GF104 chip contains 1.95 billion transistors and this is good news because lesser transistors usually mean a smaller die size, which in turn often translates to a cooler and less power hungry chip.

But more importantly, NVIDIA has restructured the GF104 somewhat to make the GeForce GTX 460 a competitive card. The GPC (graphics processing cluster) is the chip's dominant hardware level block, and the GeForce GTX 460 has two GPCs. For comparisons, the top of the line GTX 480 model has four GPCs. So you can tell that the GF104 is a massively reconfigured chip from the GF 100. Delving down to the details, the GeForce GTX 460 has a total of seven SM (streaming multiprocessors) - the GeForce GTX 480 has 15. And if you recall from our review of the GeForce GTX 480, each SM has 32 CUDA cores, however, NVIDIA has reconfigured the GeForce GTX 460 to give it 48 CUDA cores per SM instead, giving it a grand total of 336 CUDA cores.

Additionally, while the GeForce GTX 480 has four dedicated texture units per SM, the GeForce GTX 460 doubles this by having eight texture units per SM. This gives the GeForce GTX 460 a total of 56 texture mapping, which is identical to the GTX 470.

That's not all, to keep the GeForce GTX 460 competitive, it also gets relatively high clock speeds of 675MHz at the core, 1350MHz at the shaders and 3600MHz DDR at the memory.

And there's more, the GeForce GTX 460 will also be launched in two different flavors. It will come with either a 1GB frame buffer or a smaller 768MB frame buffer size. Both variants will utilize ultra-fast GDDR5 memory, have the same hardware configuration, and also clock speeds, but crucially, the 768MB variants will be equipped with a narrower 192-bit wide memory bus width. The 1GB cards, on the other hand, will have another memory controller enabled to have a wider 256-bit memory bus width.

So far, the GeForce GTX 460 is looking to be a pretty interesting addition from NVIDIA, but before we continue with our review, here's a quick look at how it measures up against its closest rivals.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 and competitive SKUs compared

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB / 768MB GDDR5


NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470 1280MB GDDR5

ATI Radeon HD 5850 1GB GDDR5 ATI Radeon HD 5830 1GB GDDR5 ATI Radeon HD 5770 1GB GDDR5
Core Code GF104 GF100  GF100 Cypress Pro Cypress LE Juniper XT
Transistor Count 1950 million 3200 million  3200 million 2150 million 2150 million 1040 million
Manufacturing Process  40nm 40nm 40nm 40nm 40nm 40nm
Core Clock 675MHz 607MHz  607MHz 725MHz 800MHz 800MHz
Stream Processors 336 Stream Processors 352 Stream Processors  448 Stream Processors 1440 Stream processing units 1120 Stream Processing Units 800 Stream Processing Units
Stream Processor Clock 1350MHz 1215MHz  1215MHz 725MHz 800MHz 800MHz
Texture Mapping Units (TMU) or Texture Filtering (TF) units 56 44  56 72 56 40
Raster Operator units (ROP) 24 32  40 32 16 16
Memory Clock 3600MHz GDDR5 3206MHz GDDR5  3348MHz GDDR5 4000MHz GDDR5 4000MHz GDDR5 4800MHz GDDR5
DDR Memory Bus  192 / 256-bit 256-bit  320-bit 256-bit 256-bit 128-bit
Memory Bandwidth 86.4 / 115.2GB/s 102.6GB/s  133.9GB/s 128GB/s 128GB/s 76.8GB/s
PCI Express Interface PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16  PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16
Molex Power Connectors 2 x 6-pin 2 x 6-pin  2 x 6-pin 2 x 6-pin 2 x 6-pin 1 x 6-pin
Multi GPU Technology SLI SLI  SLI CrossFireX CrossFireX CrossFireX
DVI Output Support 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link  2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link
HDCP Output Support Yes Yes  Yes Yes Yes Yes
Street Price Launch Price: US$229 (1GB) / US$199 (768MB) Launch Price: US$279 ~US$349 ~US$300 ~US$220 ~US$160