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REVIEW / Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 1 GB

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Régis Jehl Published on August 25, 2010
Translated by Jack Sims


  • Chip GF104
  • GPU frequency 675 MHz
  • Memory quantity 1 GB
  • Memory type GDDR5
  • Memory frequency 900 MHz
  • Cooler double decker
The GeForce GTX 460 isn't simply the latest version of NVIDIA's Fermi architecture. No, here NVIDIA have revisited the chip design to try and eliminate the imperfections of the first cards in the 400 series. Have they succeeded?

Size, noise and heat generation

Slightly smaller than the GTX 465, the GeForce GTX 460 only measures 21 cm in length. This gives it a great advantage: you can install it in any casing. Some manufacturers are offering even smaller versions.

First surprise, the stock cooler is discreet, very discreet (40.5 dB(A)). At idle, you can hardly hear it. This puts it in the same category as the quietest cards out there, such as the Radeon HD 5850. And what about 3D? Well, it's the same! Although the fan can be clearly heard (45.8 dB(A)), we're still light years away from the turbine effect of models such as the 465 or 480.

To make things even better, these low noise levels are accompanied by low heat levels. At 31°C at idle and 72°C in 3D load, the GeForce GTX 460 even does better than the Radeon HD 5850, already an exemplary model.

Energy consumption

The new revision of the NVIDIA (GF104) chip also does wonders when it comes to energy consumption. Veritable achilles heel on the GTX 465, GTX 470 and GTX 480, this has now been corrected. At 89 W in idle and 289 W in 3D activity (values for the whole configuration), we're very close to the excellent Radeon HD 5850 (84 W and 266 W). Good work!

Gaming performance

As you've no doubt realised, the GeForce GTX 460 competes directly with the Radeon HD 5850. Generally speaking, the cards are on an equal footing when it comes to video gaming, though the ATI model does outdo the NVIDIA card by a short head. Both cards allow you to run the most demanding games in very good conditions and are of course compatible with DirectX 11 games and effects.

In Crysis Warhead, at 1920 x 1200 pixels and with texture filters activated, the GTX 460 scores an average of 22 fps. The Radeon HD 5850 gives an average of 24 fps. The trend is the same with ArmA 2 where, in the same conditions, the cards give an average of 28 fps and 35 fps respectively.

General performance average
Click on the image to see all our readings
and compare this model with other cards

On some games however things are the other way round. In Far Cry 2 for example, the GeForce gives an average of 58 fps and the Radeon just 45 fps. Another example: World in Conflict: Soviet Assault. The NVIDIA card is at 45 fps while the ATI is at 42 fps.

In conclusion, we can only salute the performance levels achieved here by NVIDIA. The improvements made to the graphics chip are clearly bearing their fruits and wipe out the downsides of the other models: energy consumption, noise, and heat are now contained.

Note however that the name of the card is misleading. Another GeForce GTX 460 also exists, with just 768 MB of memory. This model gives much lower performance in games. Note also that the GeForce GTX 465 is less rapid than this 460, consumes more energy, heats up more and is noisier. Avoid it and go for this GTX 460.
The card at a glance
For our tests, we had access to two cards: the NVIDIA stock card and another from Zotac, simply called Zotac GeForce GTX 460 1 GB. We advise you not to get this second card as the cooling system proved particularly noisy (48.8 dB(A) at idle, 58.4 dB(A) in 3D).

The contents of the bundle are however quite generous as, on top of the various adaptors and guides, you get the very nice game, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands. For connectivity, there are two DVI sockets, an HDMI and a Display-port.

NVIDIA advantages

The strong point of NVIDIA cards is of course the compatibility with other "in-house technologies". 3D Vision first of all allows you to do your gaming in 3D. For this, you'll also need a 3D screen aswell as the 3D Vision kit that includes the obligatory glasses. Note however, we advise you to go for a more powerful card for 3D, otherwise your framerate risks dropping too much in some games.

Next comes PhysX support that allows you to add more elaborate graphics effects in several compatible games.

There's also another innovation: 3D Vision Surround which is the NVIDIA version of ATI Eyefinity. It allows you to do your gaming across 3 screens simultaneously. The drivers allow you to fuse the screens you have to give a higher definition display area.

3D Surround and 3D Vision can be combined. You do however need at least two GeForce GTX 480s for a 3D three screen set up, as well as the 3D Vision kit. Only for a handful of wealthy nutters then!

Finally NVIDIA also highlights the acceleration of processing for various pieces of software that allow you to use the graphics card to carry out the processing. While individual consumers rarely use this type of application, the enterprise market does, with 3D rendering, photo and other software.


  • Good 3D performance overall
  • Very good energy consumption levels
  • Silent in 2D load
  • DirectX 11 compatibility
  • CUDA, PhysX, 3D Vision compatible


  • 3D gaming performance limited


No doubt about it, this is an excellent DirectX 11, mid-range graphics card. Assuredly a very good buy for those who want to do their gaming without overspending. What's more, the various NVIDIA technologies make it an interesting technical proposition.
4 Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 1 GB DigitalVersus 2010-08-25 00:00:00
Compare: Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 1 GB to its competitors
Store Available Price £
Amazon 4.79 See offer  
Amazon 11.99 See offer  
Amazon 15.99 See offer  
Amazon 29.99 See offer  
Amazon 34.99 See offer  
Amazon 51.99 See offer  
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