It took longer than expected, but finally Nvidia was able to counter-attack and turn ATI around with the release of the GeForce GTX 460 last month. This is the first product in Nvidia's current offerings that will make the competition sweat. Seriously, the GeForce GTX 460 has it all, the right price, amazing performance, incredible overclocking freedom, and great efficiency.
Unsurprisingly, this version forced ATI to make some price cuts. Most notably, the Radeon HD 5830 is now available for $ 200. But that won't be enough to steal the thunder from the new GeForce. We still prefer the GeForce GTX 460 as there are many 1GB factory overclocked cards that cost around $ 230 and deliver performance that can rival the Radeon HD 5850 and in some cases the GeForce GTX 470.
When we were finalizing our first coverage for GeForce GTX 460 on launch day, we mentioned the interesting idea of running two 1GB cards in SLI, which would cost a whisker less than $ 500. This equates to the price of a single GeForce GTX 480, which on paper seems like the slower alternative.
Many gamers found a similar situation when the Radeon HD 5770 was released. In Crossfire mode with two cards, these could keep up with the more expensive Radeon HD 5850 and in some cases beat the GeForce GTX 470. For around $ 300, this was a killer combo, but nothing more, of course.
Those looking for top gaming performance without spending more than $ 400 will likely be interested in the SLI configuration of the GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB). At $ 400, the GeForce duo is slightly more expensive than a single Radeon HD 5870, which recently saw a slight drop in price and is now in the $ 370 range. Further up the ATI ladder, we have the Radeon HD 5970 for $ 670. It will be interesting to see how the GeForce GTX 460 SLI cards compare.
Despite our reluctance to recommend dual graphics cards as an upfront replacement in the past, recent tests have shown that SLI scales are very good in a wide variety of games these days. Are GeForce GTX 460 SLI cards the killer combination for PC gamers today? We'll find out next.