So then, the GeForce GTX 460. We are first going to discuss REFERENCE specifications, clocks and features.
Typically, we dive deeply into the graphics core architecture. For this article, being very lengthy, I would like to keep things a little bit more simple and easy to grasp -- to keep things understandable.
The GeForce GTX 460 series is based on a new chip. Initially the Fermi architecture that you have all seen on the GTX 465, 470 and 480 is based on the GF100 chip. The mid-range GeForce GTX 460 is still based on that Fermi architecture, yet for this round NVIDIA designed a new chip, so this is not a GF100 with disabled shader clusters. Make no mistake here, the architecture is still based on Fermi, same setup, same caches, yet now a much smaller chip with less transistors (2.1 Billion to be precise), called the GF104. GF104 is a less complicated chip to manufacture as the smaller transistor count directly relates to better yields, better heat levels, better voltages and thus a better TDP as well. It is a smaller chip to produce.
For this round NVIDIA puts the GF104 chip onto two products, the GeForce GTX 460 with 768MB of graphics memory and the GeForce GTX 460 with 1024MB of memory. For the bigger part of the specifications, the two are similar when it comes to shader processor count, memory bus and clock frequencies, the 1GB model however definitely will be a good chunk faster, as cutting away 256MB of memory also cuts away a chunk of the ROP engine.
So you might wonder, why two models? Well, initially we felt that the 768MB version would end up in OEM mostly, then again, at sub-200 USD this card surprised us as it offers a lot of bang for buck alright. Who knows, time will tell which model will sell the best. Regardless of its 768MB of memory, as we'll demonstrate it is a sexy performer in the mid-range for sure.
Yes, performance wise these cards are really interesting. But we'd almost forget that the GeForce GTX 460 cards are fully fledged DirectX 11 class cards with nice tessellation performance and the full DX11 API feature set. Though only a handful of games really show significant DX11 class quality, we really feel that if you are in the market for a new graphics card, DX11 is obviously the path to follow.
GeForce GTX 460 768MB
GeForce GTX 460 1024MB
KFA2 GeForce GTX 460 SOC 1024MB
Graphics Processing Clusters
Memory Data rate
Texture Fillrate Bilinear
If you look closely at the SM partitions, then you can see and calculate that the 336 Shader processors based GF104 has in fact eight SM partitions. 7 are enabled = 336 Shader processors. But expect another SKU in the future as well, as that GPU really has 384 shader processors.
Okay, so back to the two reference SKUs, let me break them down real simple:
So, both cards in reference setup are clocked at 675 MHz on the core frequency, and in NVIDIA's typical 1:2 setup mode 1350 MHz on the 336 shader processors. There is a lot of overclocking headroom on these boards as 800 MHz should not be an issue (even without voltage tweaking). The gDDR5 memory is clocked at a slightly shy 3.6 Gbps which is 3600MHz effectively (quad data rate). The 768MB version then makes use of three 64-bit memory controllers which boils down to 192-bit memory, and the 1024 GB model has one extra cluster of 256MB attached to it, which requires one more 64-bit memory controller and this one operates at 256-bit memory bus width.
The cards are based on a dual or even triple-slot cooling design and come with two dual-link DVI and a mini-HDMI connector. HDMI will again pass sound through, including bit streaming support for Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master. Being a mid-range product, only 2-way SLI will be allowed and thus you'll only see a single SLI finger/connector on the PCBs. Okay, the next stop will be an extensive photo-shoot of today's product.
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