NVIDIA's Take on GF104
Here are some examples of slides from NVIDIA's recent presentation to review partners regarding the GTX 460. As you can see, they're excited in many ways about various features of this new member of the Fermi generation (Images courtesy of NVIDIA):
NVIDIA stresses that they built the GTX 460 from the ground up to be a great performer in DirectX11 games. This is a bit different than how it's usually done, as in most cases the first performance cards of a new generation often have new functionality, but cannot fully utilize it because they are not fast enough.
I don't think they'd say this if they didn't mean it. I will investigate this heady claim later in the review.
This should be a given, right? Usually the top-end of the performance segment of a new-generation GPU offers performance similar to that of the enthusiast segment from the previous generation. Again, we will look into this later in the review.
Surely this isn't an across-the-board claim, but even if one game performs this much better on a new-generation GPU, it's usually an indicator that other games may benefit as well. The spread between 9800 GT and GTX 460 is quite enticing.
While on a conference call with Bryan Del Rizzo, head of NVIDIA's PR department, the conversation focused on what NVIDIA saw as stagnation in GPU development since the Geforce 5800 series. Apparently geometry performance has only increased threefold from FX 5800U to GTX 260, while other aspects have exponentially increased. Apparently geometry performance is now a top priority at NVIDIA, and is evidenced by the data in this graph.
With the HD 5830 as a control and Unigine Heaven 2.1 as a test environment, it's apparent that NVIDIA is serious about DX11 performance. But, can we expect a similar spread on performance-segment PCs and not just top-end Core i7 setups?
As I do not have a 3D monitor, I can not evaluate this claim. Just the possibility of a $200 video card rendering Far Cry 2 in 3D at ANY resolution would be nice, but 1920x1080, 4xAA, 16xAF? Wow. I'm still waiting for NVIDIA to send me some glasses and a 3D TV to test them out with. Something tells me that's not going to happen. Hey, a guy can wish!
NVIDIA is still very proud of the PhysX capabilities of its GPUs, and apparently the GTX 460 is no different. Bryan Del Rizzo expressed a lot of excitement about the PhysX effects in upcoming games, especially the soon-to-be-released Mafia II.
This graph along with some early review data indicates that the GTX 460 can often perform the same as a GTX 275 + an 8800GT for PhysX, making single-card PhysX much more of a reality than a pipe dream.
Review partners were heavily encouraged to ENJOY overclocking the GTX 460. NVIDIA is seriously proud of the overclocking capabilities of this new GPU, and this review will explore what GF104's performance ceiling is.
As an owner of an HD 5830 and a GTX 465, I can personally attest to the fact that while the 465 is LOUD (yes, the emphasis is intended), the HD 5830 is a really quiet video card. It would be wonderful if the GTX 460 proves to indeed be quieter still.
This price range is the "sweet spot". NVIDIA says it is, and so do gamers and hardware enthusiasts. If this really delivers, then once again it'll be a great time to be a "performance" gamer.