A Card Unlike Any Other
Can a dual-GPU GTX 460 card compete with the GTX 580?
In all honesty, there aren’t many graphics cards that really get our attention these days. There are GPUs that do that – releases like the Radeon HD 6990 and the GeForce GTX 590 get our juices flowing to see what new performance and features they can offer. But in terms of individual vendor-specific designs, there are very few that make us "perk up" much more than just seeing another reference card come across the test bed.
The ASUS ARES dual-5870 card was probably the last one do to that – and for $1200 is better have! EVGA is ready with another card though that definitely made us interested, and for a much more reasonable price of $419 or so.
The EVGA GeForce GTX 460 2WIN is a custom built card that combines a pair of GTX 460 1GB GPUs on a single PCB to create a new level of performance and pricing that we found was unmatched in the market today. And even better, the features improved as well by utilizing the power of both GPUs in an SLI configuration.
Read on and see why the GTX 460 2WIN might be my new favorite graphics card!
A Unique Card Design
While the basic idea of the EVGA GeForce GTX 460 2WIN is easy to grasp, let’s take a closer look at the card and see what design options the company took and what lies under the hood.
The GTX 460 2WIN is just a bit longer than the GeForce GTX 590 but is shorter than the Radeon HD 6990 – if you have a very small case you will want to make sure it can fit the 11.5-in length. There is a set of three fans that blow on a pair of heatpipes we’ll show you later as well.
You can see along the PCI Express slot that model number of "N460X2-LF" that gives us the idea that there might have been a time when NVIDIA was going to offer this design to more than one vendor.
Each of the two GTX 460 GPUs is given 1GB of memory and you can see half of each GPUs capacity on the back of the card but without any kind of heatspreader at work.
There is a single SLI connector on the card indicating that you can push the envelope even further with a second GTX 460 2WIN card for Quad SLI support or adding in another GTX 460 single GPU card.
UPDATE: After getting some feedback from EVGA on this, it turns out the SLI connection on the card is not actually working at this time. I asked if/when it might be enabled but haven’t gotten a response on it yet. A commenter on this article actually pointed out that NVIDIA indicated in its own forums that the inclusion of the connector was a mistake completely but it was too late to have them removed. So…it turns out you are likely going to have to stick with the performance of the GTX 460 2WIN as is.
This board is pretty power hungry though as it requires a pair of 8-pin PCIe power connections and EVGA is recommending a 700 watt PSU!
This is one of the cooler parts of the GTX 460 2WIN card from EVGA – there are three dual-link DVI outputs and a single mini-HDMI output, all of which can be used at the same time without any adapters or dongles. NVIDIA Surround and 3D Vision Surround are supported as well making this one of only a handful of NVIDIA options that can do so with a single card.
As we will see in our testing, the GTX 460 2WIN offers performance similar to that of the GTX 580 card, for less money, while offering support for 4 displays (rather than two) which should really move the card up on enthusiasts’ lists.
Removing a handful of screws reveals the three relatively quiet fans cooling the pair of heatpipe based coolers underneath. The coolers themselves are a nice black-ish finish that fit in well with the rest of the card design.
Taking the heatsinks off shows us the bare PCB underneath and the dual GTX 460 GPUs slathered in some thermal paste. Oddly, the far edges of each GPU are untouched which would seem to be counterproductive to getting the most efficient cooling out of the card but it didn’t affect our performance at all.
The GPUs are your standard GF104 offerings that stand up well to modern competition like the GTX 500 series and Radeon HD 6000 series. To pair the two GPUs together in an SLI-on-a-card configuration EVGA is using the NVIDIA nForce 200 PCI Express bridge chip that we have seen doing this same job for years and years.
Along the top of the card, right in the middle, the GTX 460 2WIN actually has an EVGA logo that lights up courtesy of an LED, in a very similar fashion to the GTX 590 does with its NVIDIA logo. Since we knew about the EVGA GTX 460 2WIN before the GTX 590 was released, I am going to give the "originality" nod to EVGA here…