I have really never been able to recommend the GeForce GTX 460 768MB graphics card; the performance drop from the 1GB model to the 768MB model of these cards was much more dramatic than the slight frame buffer change would indicate.  The performance drop really came from the move from a 256-bit to a 192-bit memory bus width.  It would seem that NVIDIA was paying attention to this criticism and is releasing a new GF104-based GPU called the GeForce GTX 460 SE that still doesn’t quite get it right. 

   GTX 460 1GB  GTX 460 SE 1GB   GTX 460 768MB 
 CUDA cores  336  288  336
 Texture units  52  48  52
 ROPs  32  32  24
 GPU clock  675  650  675
 Shader clock  1350  1300  1350
 Memory clock  900  850  900
 Memory bus  256-bit  256-bit  192-bit

The GTX 460 SE sits between the GTX 460 1GB and 768MB models with a few key differences.  First, the SE model moves up to the 256-bit memory bus and a 1GB frame buffer – good news for gamers using higher resolutions.  But that change comes at a cost: CUDA / shader cores have dropped from 336 to 288 (now down to 6 SMs of 48 cores each) and texture units fall to 48 as well.  In tandem with this we will see fewer tessellation units on the SE model – all of this adds up to lower performance in tessellation and general shader computing power. 

Though I am not 100% sure what the performance differences will be on these new cards compared to the other 460 models, I am just slightly annoyed that NVIDIA would offer another option that is partially crippled, just in a different way, from the GTX 460 1GB.  Maybe annoyed isn’t the right term, maybe I am just disappointed.  Neither the GTX 460 768MB or or the GTX 460 SE 1GB take away from the goodness that is the GTX 460 1GB card but now we are going to have even more confusion in the market.  After all, isn’t “Special Edition” better than not??

NVIDIA launches new GTX 460 SE GPU to no fanfare - Graphics Cards 2

NVIDIA is still apparently planning on keeping all three offerings in the market for the foreseeable future so if the 1GB GTX 460 (full version) is out of your budget, at least you have another option to take a look at.  The GTX 460 SE 1GB should be a better solution for high memory bandwidth use cases compared to the GTX 460 768MB which will be slightly better at shader or tessellation performance.

We are getting some samples in this week so expect reviews up soon!

Further Reading