NVIDIA came very late to the DirectX 11 game due to many delays. By the time it arrived to market with its DirectX 11 solution, ATI had established quite the beachhead, unloading boatloads of Radeon 5000 series GPUs. However, even as AMD reportedly readies its 6000 series, all is not lost for NVIDIA.
The first key to its turnaround was the GF100-based GeForce GTX 480 -- which, while pricey, was unquestionably the most powerful single GPU solution on the market. Now the company has added another critical item to its lineup -- the new GeForce GTX 460.
The GTX 460 offers a compelling alternative to the GTX 465 -- which was the only previous low-end Fermi option. It has almost as many stream processors as the GTX 465 (336 SPs, versus 352 in the GTX 465), yet costs at least $20 less.
The card is available at a sweet price of $199 for a 768 MB GDDR5 card, or $229 for a 1 GB GDDR5 variant. Performance-wise its right where it should be at that price -- beating the $200 Radeon 5830 card, and falling just short of the $300 Radeon 5870 card.
The new GF104 Fermi variant used in the new card (versus the cut-down GF100 used in the GTX 465) is also showing massive benefits. In AnandTech's testing, GPU load temperatures dropped from 91 degrees C with the GTX 465, down to a cool 65 degrees C with the reference GTX 460 (1 GB). Likewise, loaded power consumption dipped from 349 watts with the GTX 465 to 291 watts with the stock GTX 460 (1 GB). It also is among the quietest cards on the market.
Last, but not least, the card appears quite overclockable. With around a 25 percent overclock, the card can typically beat the non-overclocked Radeon 5850 -- impressive considering that it costs $70 less.
It's hard to deny that NVIDIA seriously erred by coming to market so late -- if merely from a business standpoint. However, it's equally hard to not want to give the company praise for delivering first the most powerful card on the market, and now a champion performer in the mid-range segment.
AnandTech calls the GTX 460 "the $200 king". Looking at the cold hard numbers, that title appears apt. The new card looks poised to commit fratricide against its higher-priced brother, the GTX 465, and to apply some serious pressure on the Radeon 5830/5850 sales.
At this point, the only real concern is availability, which remains to be seen. That may prove to be a crucial factor, as the GTX 460 is such a good mid-range card that it's likely to be marked up if availability is low. If that happens, much of its performance edge might be erased; if not, it will reign supreme in this valuable segment.