With a new GPU and a tweaked architecture designed for the €200-€250 segment, NVIDIA is counting on attracting the mass gamer market. At last, the GF104 is with us, in the Geforce GTX 460 card, or rather the GeForce GTX 460 cards that we have run through their paces both in technical terms and performance in practice.
The classic cycle of introduction of a new generation of GPUs consists in the arrival of a high-end version followed by several derivatives based on the same architecture. This is a cycle which AMD executed particularly well with its most recent generation of GPUs, while NVIDIA partly failed with the GeForce 200s. NVIDIA invested heavily in its GPU computing architectures and was definitely caught by surprise by the effectiveness of the latest Radeons. Ever since the Radeon HD 4800s, AMD has had the advantage in terms of price/performance ratios, particularly in the segment where gamers want a high-performance GPU that won’t ruin them.
NVIDIA’s lag on DirectX 11 GPUs, as well as limited AMD production has meant that a relatively high price has been maintained for the Radeon HD 5850, leaving the very important €200-250 segment empty. AMD tried to increase its offer with the Radeon HD 5830 but its lack of value meant it was sidelined until its price was cut successively from €240 to €220, then €200 and finally €170/180 in reaction to the launch of these GeForce GTX 460s as well as to get rid of unsold inventory. The flagship segment for gamers is therefore still completely open and NVIDIA is counting on taking possession of the terrain.
Even in a cut down version, the GF100 is still too expensive and not efficient enough to answer the mass demands of the segment. This meant a new GPU was called for to fill in just under the high-end and a notch above the usual mid-end, halving high-end performance levels. This is precisely the GPU that NVIDIA has come up with, by moving on with a new architecture. This new architecture includes modifications of the same order as those put into place between the G8xs/G9xs and the GT200, at the same time as looking to put out a very efficient gamer product, along the lines of the GeForce 8800 GT. From this process, the GF104 was born, equipped with 1.95 billion transistors. Lets take a look.