ASUS, EVGA, Zotac GeForce GTX 460 Cards Overclocked and Reviewedby Ryan Smith on July 12, 2010 8:00 AM EST
In 2007 we reviewed NVIDIA’s GeForce 8800 GT. At the time we didn’t know it would be the last NVIDIA GPU we would outright recommend at launch. Roughly two and a half years have elapsed since then and in that time AMD went from competitive to dominant in the marketplace. The RV670, RV770 and RV870 trilogy were all very well executed. The latter two came at a time when NVIDIA’s pricing and execution strategies took a major tumble.
Given how well AMD has executed since 2007, no one expected anything competitive from NVIDIA throughout the entire Fermi/GF100 family. Cutting down a very large, power hungry architecture wouldn’t magically produce efficient GPUs. Had NVIDIA done that, the tone of today’s GeForce GTX 460 review would’ve been very different.
Instead, NVIDIA did the unexpected. It delivered a GF100 targeted at serving the needs of the high end gamer and GPU compute user, and a reworked GF104 aimed at being a pure gaming chip for the performance mainstream segment. By pulling out ECC support entirely and significantly dropping FP64 compute power, NVIDIA freed up enough die area to add more issue and math hardware to the GF104’s SMs. The end result is a $200 - $230 part that’s better than anything else at those prices on the market today.
Yields and manufacturability, while still not great at 40nm are much better than when GF100 first launched. That combined with NVIDIA disabling some hardware on the first incarnation of the GF104 makes the GeForce GTX 460’s birth a good ol’ hard launch (at least for the 768MB version). Newegg had cards for sale several hours before the midnight NDA lift, and we had no less than 6 cards in house before our review went live.
We have two reference cards from NVIDIA (a 768MB and 1GB version), two 768MB cards from EVGA for SLI testing, a card from Zotac, and finally a card from ASUS. The EVGA GeForce GTX 460 SuperClocked is a reference design but factory overclocked. Zotac’s GeForce GTX 460 ships at stock frequencies but comes with a custom cooler. And finally ASUS’ ENGTX460 TOP 768MB is an entirely custom design running at a slight overclock with voltage controls and custom cooling.
NVIDIA is emphasizing overclocking potential of the GTX 460, which is why we see so many different versions of the card on day one of availability. The focus on factory overclocked cards, custom cooling and custom PCBs is not a coincidence. In our testing we found a least 20% headroom left on the GTX 460s we received.