NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 Review

Today NVIDIA is answering the demands of money conscious gamers by introducing the new GeForce GTX 460. The GTX 460 is a refinement of the Fermi architecture, designed to land significant performance improvements for gamers resting in the $200 USD sweet spot. We will find out if this truly does deliver gaming bliss on the cheap and why NVIDIA is calling the GTX 460 an "Overclocker’s Dream."

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Gameplay Summary

ARMA II: Operation Arrowhead

In Operation Arrowhead, the GeForce GTX 460 1GB and 768MB video cards gave us a demonstrably superior gameplay experience by allowing us to use a higher view distance and giving us overall higher framerates.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

Bad Company 2 definitely preferred the GeForce GTX 460 series video cards, allowing them to use 16X CSAA, when the Radeon HD 5830 could not handle more than 4X MSAA.

Metro 2033

Metro 2033 had no clear favorite video card in this evaluation, turning in an identical performance on all three video cards we tested here today.

Singularity

Singularity does not currently support AA on the Radeon HD 5830, but it worked on the GeForce GTX 460 video cards. We were able to play at 1920x1200 with 4X AA enabled, which gave a smoother image compared to what the Radeon HD 5830 produced.

Splinter Cell: Conviction

Splinter Cell: Conviction gave us a great experience on all three video cards we tested. At 1920x1200, the GTX 460s allowed 16X CSAA, while the Radeon HD 5830 gave us 8X MSAA. Overall, the image quality differences between the two accounted for nothing, so no single video card can claim victory in Splinter Cell.


NVIDIA’s Return To Greatness

We have not been shy about criticizing NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 400 series of video cards. While the GTX 480 and the GTX 470 are good performers, they get extremely hot and consume a ridiculous amount of power for similar performance to their competition. We never even bothered to touch the GTX 465, and by-and-by, the rest of the world doesn’t seem to care much about it either. So when NVIDIA told us about the GTX 460, and all of its various features and properties, we were quite interested and hopeful.

We sat through the product briefings, our excitement for this turnaround product slowly growing. If the numbers NVIDIA gave us were even close to reality, we felt that they had a real winner on their hands. To say that we were not disappointed is to massively understate our feelings on the GeForce GTX 460. This is a truly fabulous video card. Its performance either matches or outpaces the competition from AMD. It consumes relatively little power, especially under full load. Its fan keeps it cool and quiet. And frankly, it overclocks like no video card we’ve seen before. We extracted a 195MHz overclock from the GPU core, and in some cases performance was increased by up to 43%!!

NVIDIA wasn’t lying when they said this was an "Overclocker’s Dream" video card. We think a lot of hardware enthusiasts and gamers alike are going to find great value out of the $199 GTX 460 768MB version. This video card seems to provide the best bang for the buck and provides a lot of headroom and performance advantages when you apply overclocking. This is an exciting video card.

Even more in support of NVIDIA’s new found commitment to gamers is that this is no soft launch, video cards are now widely available right now today as you can see at Newegg and TigerDirect is taking preorders.

So yes, the GeForce GTX 460 does herald NVIDIA’s coming return to greatness. It is definitely a great video card, and we really just can’t wait to see what NVIDIA’s Value-Add partners can do with it.


The Bottom Line

To put it simply, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 is a fantastic product. It is priced right; it performs admirably; it is dead quiet; it sips power; it runs cool, and it overclocks like a monster without voltage modification. Even when overclocked, its fan kept it cooler than AMD’s competitor. In three out of the five games we tested, we had a markedly superior gaming experience. In the other two, the GTX easily matched the competition. There was no time in this evaluation whence the GeForce GTX 460 did not set itself apart as a superior product. Even when performance was merely equaled, it was quieter and using less power!

We are giving the GTX 460 our Editor’s Choice GOLD Award, because we have simply never seen such an incredible value in a $200 video card before. You can buy plenty of these right now at Newegg, starting at $199.99 USD.

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(NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 768MB/1GB)

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