Nvidia unleashes GeForce GTX 460

The latest Fermi countdown has finally run down to a neat line of zeroes, and Nvidia's new GeForce GTX 460 is now an official slice of silicon.

Nvidia claims the new GPU hits "the gamers' sweet spot", with a refined architecture, low power consumption and a much cheaper price than its GF100-based bigger brothers. The new GPU is based on Nvidia's new GF104 chip, and comes with 336 stream processors and 56 texture units.

Those of you who've been following the GeForce grapevine may recall rumours that the GF104 can, in fact, accommodate 384 stream processors, meaning there could be a faster GF104-based GPU in the works. However, Nvidia dodged this question with Cameron-esque precision when we asked the company, and simply told us the GTX 460 was the GPU it was launching right now.

That sounds like a 'yes' to us but, in the meantime, let's delve into the GTX 460. Two flavours of GTX 460 card will be available; one with 1GB of 3.6GHz GDDR5 memory and a 256-bit memory interface, and another with 768MB of 3.6GHz GDDR5 memory and a 192-bit memory interface. According to Nvidia, 1GB cards will have a maximum TDP of 160W, while the 768MB cards will only put out 150W.

Power is provided to the card via the PCI-E slot and a pair of six-pin PCI-E power connectors, meaning the cards can easily be powered by plenty of older and cheaper PSUs. In theory, the 768MB card should work fine with just one six-pin PCI-E connector, getting 75W from the PCI-E slot, and another 75W from the power connector.

However, Nvidia says it needs the extra power connector as a general safety net, especially for overclockers. The GPU core is clocked at 675MHz by default, with 1,350MHz stream processors, but many chips will apparently be able to go much higher than this. The company describes the chip as 'an overclocker's dream', and claims many chips can easily be pushed well beyond 800MHz.

As well as producing less heat and consuming considerably less power than the GTX 470 and 480, the card is also much shorter, measuring 8.25-inches across. A dual-slot cooler with a central fan keeps the chip cool, with a vent on the second backplate. Meanwhile, the first backplate sports two DVI ports and a mini-HDMI connector.

Plenty of reviews have already gone up, including these from fellow UK tech sites Hexus and Bit-Tech, both of which give the GTX 460 a thumbs up, and show a distinct performance difference of around ten per cent between the 768MB and 1GB versions.

Stock of the GTX 460 is expected in a couple of weeks, but you can pre-order the cards already. The 768MB cards start at £152.12 inc VAT for an Innovision card, while a Palit 1GB card will set you back £183.84 inc VAT.