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GeForce GTX 460 768MB Performance and Conclusion

Performance Analysis

We were excited to see how Nvidia’s new GF104 chip stacked up against its nearest competitors so we fired up our graphics test rig and strapped the dinky card into place. At £180 the GTX 460 768MB sits squarely between XFX's special-price £164 HD 5830 and the £240 HD 5850, it also faces stiff competition from its sister card - the £200 GeForce GTX 460 1GB.

The GTX 460 768MB enjoyed Dirt 2, and at 1,680 x 1,050 with 0x AA it even outperformed the vastly more expensive HD 5850 and the now £200 GTX 465 card, if only a bya few fps at most. The GTX 460 768MB has significantly less memory bandwidth than these two cards though, and this showed when we enabled 4x AA as it dropped behind the GTX 465 by 1fps and was only 1fps faster than the HD 5850.

The GTX 460 768MB performed similarly at 1,920 x 1,200, beating the HD 5850 and GTX 465 with 0x AA but falling in line with them when 4x AA was enabled. The GTX 460 768MB struggled at 2,560 x 1,600 though, falling well behind the more expensive cards. It also fell further behind the GTX 460 1GB, which would indicate that its reduced memory and memory bus are to blame. A degree of perspective is needed though, as this card is aimed at the mid range, not 30in screen-owning millionaires.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 768MB Graphics Card Review  GeForce GTX 460 768MB Performance and Conclusion
We managed to get three GTX 460 768MB cards to look at for the launch, expect reviews of the non-reference cards soon. Click to enlarge.

The GTX 460 768MB fared less well in STALKER, as the game favours ATI cards. Indeed, the cheaper HD 5830 outperformed the GTX 460 768MB in each of our tests, if only by 1-4fps. The card did however achieve a playable frame rate at 1,680 x 1,050 and at 1,920 x 1,200 which is a good result for a sub-£200 card, especially given that we test with all settings set to maximum.

Crysis is significantly more intensive than Dirt 2 or STALKER, however, so we were intrigued to see how the GTX 460 768MB would come through the testing. We were surprised to see the GTX 460 768MB perform very well at 1,680 x 1,050, beating both the GTX 465 (by 1-2fps) and the HD 5830 (by 2-3fps) with or without AA enabled. With no AA the gap between the GTX 460 768MB and the GTX 465 was 1-2fps, and it was 2-3fps faster than the HD 5830.

However, all these mid-range cards struggled to play Crysis smoothly, even at 1,680 x 1,050 with no AA; you'd have to drop less detail with the GTX 460 768MB than with the HD 5830 to get the game to play smoothly, though.

The GTX 460 768MB acquitted itself well in Battlefield: Bad Company 2, fitting in directly where its price point suggests it should - between the HD 5850 and HD 5830 and just slightly behind the GTX 460 1GB.

At 1,680 x 1,050 with 0x AA, the GTX 460 768MB returned an average frame rate of 63fps and a minimum of 45fps, which compares favorably to the slightly cheaper HD 5830 that returned an average of 61fps and a minimum of 43fps. The extra memory bandwidth of the GTX 460 1GB really showed in this test though, with the £200 card returning an average of 66fps and a minimum of 50fps at the same resolution and AA setting.

With AA set to 4x, the GTX 460 768MB stretched out its lead over the HD 5830 and even drew level with the HD 5850, which costs £60 more. Framerates remained playable for the GTX 460 768MB right up to 1,920 x 1,050 with 4x AA with a minimum frame rate of 27fps - the HD 5830 struggle to keep pace, with a jerky minimum of 20fps at the same settings.

Power Consumption and Thermals

The stock-speed EVGA card and its reference cooler ran extremely quietly throughout testing. The chip also ran pretty cool, with an idle delta T of only 9oC - one of the best results we’ve ever seen. At load this only increased to a delta T of 33oC too; such cool running temperatures should help keep your whole system cool and comfortable.

The GTX 460 768MB was only 1W less hungry than the 1GB model when idle, and 12W less under load. This still means that the ATI HD 5850 and HD 5830 cards consume less power under load, but that the GTX 460 768MB is the least hungry Fermi-based card yet.

Conclusion

The GTX 460 768MB performed admirably in our tests and it fell in line almost exactly where its price suggests it should - between a HD 5830 and HD 5850. It also has the dubious distinction of beating its cousin, the £200 GTX 465, in many of our tests - this is more of an indication of how bad the GTX 465 is than anything else. We said in our review that the GTX 465 was a bad card, we feel doubly sorry for anyone who bought one now. Even with £30 knocked off its price last Friday, the GTX 465 is still not worth buying.

For all its positives though, the GTX 460 768MB has one major problem - the GTX 460 1GB. Don’t get us wrong, the GTX 460 768 performs solidly but the GTX 460 1GB is only £20 more and there is often a noticeable difference between the two. Previous experience has taught us that skinny memory interfaces and skimping of memory tend to hinder the longevity of a card (remember how poorly the GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB aged compared to the 640MB version?), so we'd opt for the 1GB card every time.

While the GTX 460 768MB performs exactly how we expected it to given its price, the GTX 460 1GB actually surprised us by performing above its price point. The GTX 460 768MB is a solid card, but scratch together the extra £20 and get the 1GB version if you can: you wont regret it.

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Score Guide

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