Value and Conclusion
|9.1||NVIDIA's new GeForce GTX 460 is Fermi done right. Whereas the GF100 based products were plagued by excessive power consumption resulting in high temperatures and noise levels, the GTX 460 delivers massive improvements here. Essentially NVIDIA managed to reduce idle power consumption below ATI's HD 5000 levels, and gaming power consumption to slightly higher but similar levels. This improvement in power consumption trickles down to temperatures and cooler noise helping NVIDIA's new card to be able to compete there.|
On all our tested cards we have seen awesome overclocking potential going well into the 800 MHz area which equates to around 25% higher clock. Memory overclocks are less spectacular which is partly due to the lack of cooling on the memory, and the selection of 1 GHz chips. I also have a feeling that NVIDIA's memory controller handles high clocks not as well as ATI's implementation. Nevertheless, if you are an overclocker and want to maximize the performance of your investment, the GeForce GTX 460 series is a great choice.
NVIDIA offers two GTX 460 variants at launch time, one with 768 MB and one with 1 GB. Aside from the obvious potential confusion with end users, the differences in actual performance are rather slim. On average we see only 7% performance difference between both cards which is very small considering the 25% difference in specs for memory size, memory bus width and number of ROPs. Essentially this means that the 768 MB version is the one to get unless you have a specific reason you think you need more memory, or speculate on the higher resale value of the card at a later time.
ZOTAC's GeForce GTX 460 is an almost reference design implementation of the GTX 460. It uses a slightly optimized PCB design, which does not seem to affect anything performance related, certainly not 3D performance or power. In terms of features we see an additional DisplayPort on the card and a full size HDMI output instead of the mini-HDMI on the reference design. ZOTAC however has failed on their implementation of fan control: in both idle and load the card is very noisy. It seems that this is a bug or oversight because other GTX 460 cards deliver almost whisper quiet noise levels. Overall the GeForce GTX 460 is a sucessful revamp of the GF100 Fermi architecture resulting in a seriously competitive product at a price point that is the budget sweet spot for the majority of gamers out there.