Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 1GB Fermi - Zotac GeForce GTX 460 1GB

By Edward Chester

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

So we come to the cards that will actually be using the GF104 chip. Like the GTX 480, the new cards won't actually use the full potential of the chips they're based on. Instead, one of the SMs has been disabled. This is because the art of manufacturing these chips is a fine one and even the slightest defect can render a chip useless. As such, if Nvidia promised a full working chip, it would have problems producing them in enough numbers. By disabling the section of the chip that is defective, many more can still be used. This isn't a problem unique to Nvidia, but it is obviously still suffering more from it than AMD/ATI as that company hasn't had to resort to such measures.

There will also be two versions of the GTX 460, one with 1GB of RAM and one with 768MB. The latter also has a reduced memory sub-system with the amount of L2 cache dropping from 512KB to 384KB and the number of ROPs from 32 to 24. We shall be taking a look at this version of the card shortly.

Today, then, we're looking at the Zotac GeForce GTX 460 1GB, which uses a reference design and runs at standard clock speeds, unlike some cards on the market that come pre-overclocked. Nvidia hasn't stipulated a stock cooler for the GTX 460 and has instead left it up to board partners to choose their own setups. As such there are a number of different variations on offer.

The card we're looking at uses a radial fan sucking air in from the front of the card, blowing it across the heatsink and out the back of the card. Others use axial fans blowing straight down onto the card. Generally we prefer the approach Zotac has taken as these coolers exhaust the hot air straight out of your PC case. However, this particular design isn't the quietest we've encountered with it idling at 48dB (measured from 30cm away) and rising to 53dB under load.

In contrast the stock (i.e. Nvidia designed) cooler on the GTX 470 runs at 40dB/50dB, while ATI's competing cards also run at sub 40dB when idling. The Zotac card isn't loud enough to disturb you if you're just sitting working with some music on, say, but if you have your PC in your bedroom, it may be enough to keep you awake at night.

Otherwise, the Zotac design seems fine. It's 218mm long, which is plenty short enough to fit in most cases, and you get oodles of video outputs, with two DVI, an HDMI and a DisplayPort on offer – more than any other card we've seen from Nvidia.

One thing we didn't expect to see on a card that looks fairly small and unassuming is two six-pin PCI-E power connectors. The official TDP of the GTX 460 1GB is 160W, so it just creeps over the safe limit of using just one connector – it'll be interesting to see how much headroom this leaves for overclocking. Another interesting thing to note is the presence of only one SLI connector along the top edge, which means you can only run two of these together and not three.

In the box, along with the card, Zotac also bundles a copy of Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, two twin-Molex to six-pin PCi-E connectors and a DVI to VGA adapter. Zotac also offers a competitive 5 year warranty on its cards. All told, we think it's quite a compelling package. All that's left to do know is see how the thing performs.

LetsGo

July 13, 2010, 8:14 pm

It's good to see Nvidia are back, this is serious competition for AMD/ATI.


Sometimes less can be more :)





The only problem is console gameing is more fun at the moment.

Runadumb

July 13, 2010, 8:51 pm

Will be interesting to see if ATI (yes i'm calling them ATI) will drop prices to counter this. Either way I think I will give this generation a miss completely. Only reason I bought my 260GTX late last year was because it came with batman and only cost £125, which if you ask me was a freaking bargain. Another deal like that would interest me i'm sure. Crysis 2 anyone?





I am interested in eyefinity (and whatever Nvidia's equivalent is) but other than that there's no real reason to make a jump. Hopefully the next dieshrink will sort out these thermals and 2 pin connectors once and for all, at least for the mid-range cards.





ps Glad to see Nvidia make a smaller card.

Martin

July 13, 2010, 9:27 pm

Odd that Just Cause 2 runs so much better on ATI cards when the game has Nvidia branding all over it.

Technobits

July 13, 2010, 9:29 pm

Apologies for the noob question but I am looking for a video card to output to 3 x 1080p displays simultaneously (displaying different data on each ). The configuration would be a 1080p LCD tv via hdmi and then 2 x 1080p monitors via dvi. I noticed this card has a plethora of connections but will it be able to manage the above? Thanks for any assistance you can offer.

Chris

July 13, 2010, 9:42 pm

@LetsGo: "The only problem is console gaming is more fun at the moment."





Unless you're a hardcore FPS or RTS gamer :) Modern consoles have everything going for them except a mouse and keyboard IMHO, but then you can't use a mouse while lounging on the sofa which is why it'll never happen.





(Sorry, it's like a red rag to a bull...</rant>)

Chris

July 13, 2010, 10:00 pm

@Technobits: Actually that's a pretty good question. If I'm reading this correctly, you'd need to use two NVidia 4xx cards in SLI to output to 3 monitors:


http://www.nvidia.co.uk/object...


It's also fussy about mixing resolutions and refresh rates.





An ATI equivalent like the 5850 might be what you're looking for:


http://www.trustedreviews.com/...


(Take a look at the last paragraph on 'Eyefinity')





You have to use the DisplayPort connector for one of your monitors, but if your monitors don't have one this might work:


http://www.hdcable.co.uk/displ...


If you're lucky, your card might even come with one in the box.

Malderon

July 13, 2010, 10:22 pm

Firstly - although I currently own a 5850 its important to note I am not an ATI fanboi. My history goes ATi (9800XT), Nvidia (6800GT), Nvidia (8800GT), Ati (5850)





Im not sure I agree with the conclusions drawn here. Its great to see Nvidia back in the game absolutely, competition is always good dont get me wrong, but I bought my 5850 for £195 many months ago, although after the initial supply problems. Whilst prices have generally risen since then, Aria currently have a generic 5850 for 199+(admitadly high) delivery.





Most benchmarks I have seen have the 5850 still ahead. Whilst the 460 is far superior to the previously released Fermi cards, I'm still not convinced it has overtaken the 5850 as a value proposition - which is worrying for Nvidia when you consider the age of the 5850 now. I think ATI have room for a price cut accross the range (the 5000 series is cheaper to produce than Nvidias cards AFAIK), but I'm not even sure they need to resort to that.

LetsGo

July 14, 2010, 12:07 am

@Chris Yeah I miss PC RTS Games if StarCratft 2 gets good reviews I will have to put down the control pads for a while:)





But when it comes to FPS I prefer consoles for the following reasons.





1. The controls are harder but at least everyone is using the same interface.


2. Less cheating, not having to install tools like punkbuster.


3. wider range of players (nothing beats putting down loud mouthed little kids;)


4. like 1. knowing that fellow players are using similar equipment.


5, You have to use proper tatics and not rely on twitching.

Runadumb

July 14, 2010, 12:27 am

@technobits as chris said ATI is the way to go at the moment for multiple displays. Sapphire made this how to video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...


I spent around an hour a while back going through a bunch of eyefinity videos. Left4Dead 2 looks great on it! I just don't know if I have the room but oh it looks so good.

Hans Gruber

July 14, 2010, 1:17 am

@Malderon - I agree completely. What is striking about game performance is just how differently games will fare using either equivalent ATI/AMD vs nVidia cards from the same range/rank.





The nVidia 460 and ATI 5850 are pretty close in graphics performance. Out of the games benchmarked I have Crysis, Battlefield Bad Company 2 and Just Cause 2 so a minor win, lose and another win for the ATI (albeit 5870) card I'm running.





Yes, JC2's significantly improved performance is ironic seeing how nVidia sponsor the title. That must be a little embarrassing.





My own gaming history starts with a series 3 Geforce ti200 card, then when the fan failed I got it replaced for a GF (titanium) 4400, then a switch for a long time to an ATI Radeon Pro 9800 which I soft modded (bios flash) to an XT.





Then after finally switching from socket A (AMD) to 775 (intel) I got a 7950GT followed by a 9800GTX and today I'm on socket 1366 with some serious firepower in the shape of an AMD/ATI 5870.





nVidia are back in the game with the 460 though, nice to see them tackle the ridiculous power usage requirements and heat output (not to mention price!) What will ATI's next play be I wonder? Definitely time to drop the prices.

Technobits

July 14, 2010, 2:14 am

@Runadumb and Chris - many thanks for the pointers - the Eyefinity setup looks like it will git the bill and the youtube links are great. Cheers

J4cK1505

July 14, 2010, 5:11 pm

Great article, I actually want to replace my 8800GTS512mb for one of these. Of course, this is a feeling I have after reading any graphics card review normally but despite being time to upgrade, I was thinking I might just skip this generation after reading horrendous reviews of the 400series so far

cliche

July 14, 2010, 9:22 pm

hmm - bought a 470 3 weeks ago, should have waited for this.

J4cK1505

July 22, 2010, 3:40 pm

Is this card a worth successor to a 8800gts512? I just want to clarify, after-all, the 9 series was practically a rebadged 8 series

J4cK1505

February 22, 2011, 7:41 am

I would love a review of the GTX560!


I was just about to buy a 460, then I saw the 5 series is out... How on earth did I miss that.. maybe because it diddnt make any waves on here!


So is a 560 worth the extra cost over a 460?

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