NV GTX 460 1GB SLI vs. ATI HD 5850 CFX Redux

We re-visit GeForce GTX 460 1GB SLI versus Radeon HD 5850 CrossFireX performance using new Catalyst drivers and new CrossFireX Application Profile 10.8a. We also have a new BETA ForceWare driver in play and we will once and for all see how these video card configurations really compete when software is updated.


5760x1200 - 3x1

Eyefinity and NV Surround

We wanted to ramp up the resolution and see if the comparisons remain the same or change between these card configurations.

We are running ATI Eyefinity at 5760x1200 and NVIDIA Surround at 5760x1200 on three Dell 2408WFP displays.

Metro 2033

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In Metro 2033 we ran at 5760x1200 with the "Very High" in-game settings. We don’t really see any change in this game, GTX 460 1GB SLI is still superior here, holding its own and providing faster framerates compared to Radeon HD 5850 CFX. Neither video card configuration was playable however at this resolution and "Very High" in-game quality settings, we simply wanted to push the cards as much as possible so brought the gameplay settings up high to see if one card configuration would prove to be better at this higher resolution. It seems that GTX 460 1GB SLI was this card configuration, it remained faster here at this high resolution and high in-game quality settings as well as the lower 2560x1600 resolution.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

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In Battlefield: Bad Company 2 we tested at a high 5760x1200 with 2X AA and HBAO turned on. The difference isn’t as great here, but it seems that Radeon HD 5850 CrossFireX is able to maintain its lead in this game at this higher resolution with an 8% performance lead.

Aliens vs. Predator

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In Aliens vs. Predator Radeon HD 5850 CrossFireX maintained its lead over GTX 460 1GB SLI at 5760x1200, but just barely. Performance was actually rather similar between the two configurations at this resolution. Once thing we noticed though is that there was much texture swapping happening with both configurations at this resolution, proving that even 1GB per GPU isn’t enough for this game at Eyefinity and Surround resolutions with all the in-game settings at their highest values.

The Bottom Line

Performance in AvP and BC2 has changed quite a bit in our re-visit of GeForce GTX 460 1GB SLI performance compared to Radeon HD 5850 CrossFireX performance. Software updates can go a long way to improve performance and the gameplay experience. If you are running a CrossFireX configuration make sure you have Catalyst 10.8 WHQL installed plus the latest CrossFireX Application Profile 10.8a to experience the best possible CrossFireX performance. We can guarantee that you should at least see some kind of improvement in AvP and BC2 at least. We noticed no change at all in Metro 2033 performance.

In AvP and BC2 we saw very large gains in performance that have flipped the results in favor of Radeon HD 5850 CrossFireX now when compared to GTX 460 SLI. In these two games, performance was faster, though none were spectacularly faster. What we mean by that is, the highest performance difference that existed in our testing was in AvP where HD 5850 CFX was 15% faster than GTX 460 1GB SLI, and that is with HD 5850 overclocked! While this is respectable, it isn’t enough to actually notice so much while in the game, and it wasn’t enough to allow us to raise in-game settings higher to improve the gameplay experience. So while technically HD 5850 CFX is now faster in these two games, the performance is still so close that it would be hard to notice the difference between the two card setups in the game.

Price is paramount, and as it stands right now Radeon HD 5850 CrossFireX is simply more expensive than GTX 460 1GB SLI. The cheapest Radeon HD 5850 video card is $259.99, so two will cost you $519.98. On the other hand, the Galaxy GTX 460 video cards we used here today are at a cheaper at $239.99 which means two will cost you $479.98, a savings all together of $40. This may not sound like a lot, but ask yourself this, is that extra $40 going to buy you real tangible improvements to the gameplay? The answer to that question is likely not, at least in these three games. We soon have more games to come.

When all is said and done, our original conclusion from our original article still stands, even with these performance improvements GTX 460 1GB SLI just makes more economical sense when compared to HD 5850 CFX with the performance delivered. Certainly though the gap between the products is not near as glaring.