NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M & Mobile 3D Gaming


Investigating the GeForce GTX 460M

Investigating the GeForce GTX 460M

The GeForce GTX 460M is one of the more recent and powerful mobile GPUs from NVIDIA. Unsurprisingly, it is used widely in gaming-grade notebooks and desktop replacement systems.

However, don’t be fooled by the name though, it is not as powerful as its desktop counterpart - the GeForce GTX 460. Nevertheless, it is still a beefy mobile GPU, packing 192 CUDA cores, 32 texture filter units and 24 raster operating units. Clocks speeds are pegged at 675MHz at the core, 1350MHz at the shaders and 2500MHz DDR at the memory. For those more familiar with NVIDIA’s desktop line-up, it’s roughly the equivalent of the desktop GeForce GTS 450, which we know to be a competent card for mainstream users.

To evaluate the performance of this mid to high-end tier mobile GPU part, we’ve just gotten hold of the ASUS G73Jw, a massive 3D-ready, 17-inch, full HD, gaming notebook. It’s powered by a powerful Core i7-740QM processor, packs a whopping 8GB of memory and is of course loaded with the GeForce GTX 460M mobile GPU. Too bad this notebook edition wasn't sporting the Sandy Bridge CPU, but we'll get to that soon enough. All things considered, this notebook looks like the ideal desktop replacement system for anyone looking for a fuss-free way to hop on the 3D bandwagon. Or is it?

Some of you may know that NVIDIA’s 3D Vision is achieved using the principle of stereoscopy, more specifically, it quickly presents two slightly different images to the eye to create an illusion of depth. This is why you need special shutter glasses and ultra-fast 120Hz displays. This also means that for every scene, two images needs to be rendered and this effectively doubles the GPU’s workload. So while the GeForce GTX 460M is no doubt a beefy mobile GPU and should do well for regular gaming applications, does it have what it takes to run 3D smoothly?

This is what we want to find out, but before we do, here’s a quick look at how the GeForce GTX 460M stacks up against competitive mobile GPUs.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M and competitive SKUs compared
Model NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470M NVIDIA GeForce 
GTX 485M
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5850

ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870

Core Code  GF106 GF104 GF104 Broadway PRO Broadway XT
Manufacturing Process 40nm 40nm 40nm 40nm 40nm
Core Clock 675MHz 550MHz 575MHz 625MHz 700MHz
Stream Processors  192 Stream Processors 288 Stream Processors 384 Stream Processors 800 Stream Processing Units  800 Stream Processing Units
Stream Processor Clock  1350MHz 1100MHz 1150MHz 800MHz  700MHz
Texture Mapping Units (TMU) or Texture Filtering (TF) units  32 48 64 40  40
Raster Operator units (ROP)  24 24 32 16  16
Memory Clock  2500MHz GDDR5 2500MHz GDDR5 3000MHz GDDR5 4000MHz GDDR5  4000MHz GDDR5
DDR Memory Bus  192-bit 192-bit 256-bit 128-bit  128-bit
Memory Bandwidth  60GB/s 60GB/s 96GB/s 64GB/s  64GB/s
TDP (GPU only) 45 - 50W 45 - 50W 100W (MXM module) ~39W  ~50W