Should I Upgrade My GeForce GTX 460 to a GeForce GTX 960 Video Card?

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GeForce GTX 460 versus GeForce GTX 960

NVIDIA Logo The year 2010 started on a somber note, with a catastrophic magnitude-7.0 earthquake that killed more than 220,000 people in Haiti. U.S. President Barack Obama signed off on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or “Obamacare”. An explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, killed 11 workers and ended up being the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Most of the world might remember those historic events as being some of the largest stories of 2010, but PC gamers will remember 2010 as the year that NVIDIA introduced the Fermi GPU microarchitecture that went on to be used for pretty much every GeForce GeForce 400 series and GeForce 500 series graphics card sold. All desktop Fermi GPUs were manufactured on the 40nm process and the many design characteristics of the Streaming Multiprocessors can be seen in the succeeding Kepler and Maxwell GPU microarchitectures. gtx460 versus gtx960We often don’t get a chance to compare 5-year old video cards to the latest and greatest cards, so we thought we’d take the time this week and compare the original NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB reference card from 2010 to a brand new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 2GB video card by ASUS. NVIDIA has done a great job with their video card drivers, so the latest GeForce 347.25 drivers (download link) that just came out this week will work on the GeForce GTX 460 that came out nearly 5 years ago. Our original review on the GTX 460 was completed with GeForce 258.80 drivers to give you an idea of how many driver releases NVIDIA has had over the years. The December 2014 Steam Hardware Survey shows that the there are still a large number of gamers out there that are using NVIDIA graphics cards using Fermi GPUs and the most popular frame buffer on a video card is still just 1GB. All of the game titles we test with today weren’t even out in 2010, so it will be interesting to see how an older card like this will run on Far Cry 4, Battlefield 4, Crysis 3 and other popular game titles. GeForce GTX 960 Highlights The real question we are hoping to answer today is it time to sell off that GeForce GTX 460 video card that is in your system and move up to a GeForce GTX 960 to get improved performance and all the latest features from NVIDIA? With DirectX 12 and Windows 10 right around the corner this might be the video card to upgrade to for mainstream gamers.

GTX 960 GTX 760 GTX 660 GTX 560 GTX 460
GPU GM206 GK104 GK106 GF114 GF104
Die size (mm2) 227 294 221 360 332
GPU Cores 1024 1152 960 336 336
Rated Clock (CUDA Cores) 1126 MHz 980 MHz 980 MHz 1850 MHz 1350 MHz
Texture Units 64 96 80 56 56
ROP Units 32 32 24 32 32
Memory 2GB 2GB 2GB 1GB 1GB
Memory Clock 7000 MHz 6008 MHz 6000 MHz 4200 MHz 3600 MHz
Memory Interface 128-bit 256-bit 192-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 112 GB/s 192 GB/s 144 GB/s 128 GB/s 115.2 GB/s
TDP 120 watts 170 watts 140 watts 150 watts 160 watts
Peak Compute 2.30 TFLOPS 2.26 TFLOPS 1.81 TFLOPS 1.10 TFLOPS 0.91 TFLOPS
Transistor Count 2.94B 3.54B 2.54B 1.95B 1.95B
Process Tech 28nm 28nm 28nm 40nm 40nm
MSRP $199 $249 $230 $199 $229

NVIDIA loves the $199 to $249 price range for video cards and calls it their sweet spot as they sell millions of these these models due to the affordability. When you look at the specifications of the GeForce GTX 460/560/660/760/960 you can see that the memory bandwidth hasn’t greatly improved over the years, but then it comes to the compute power we have nearly a 2.5x increase!

Let’s stop talking about these two cards and get to the benchmarks!

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  • somesome11

    I have a GTX 460, but I swear I got a weird one or something, because that thing puts out enough heat to raise the temperature of the bedroom it is in by several degrees, so I’m looking to replace it. From the benchmarks it looks like the 970 gets even hotter?!

    My GTX 460 also says, according to the onboard sensors, that it gets up to around 65 degrees C, but after that it seems to crash so I have to have the fan on the thing at 100% all the time. I have no idea how you’re keeping them at 60 degrees F, I have a HAF 932 case so I don’t think there should be any significant buildup of heat going on.

    • Slade0113

      I have two Nvidia 460’s in SLI that were temping around 73C at load. Try blowing the dust out of your card(s) and applying new thermal compound. I did last year and reduced their avg. temps by more than ten degrees C. That was with a two year old tube of OCZ Freeze. Probably better with a new tube of Arctic Silver. Thermal paste can get dried and gummy after six years, losing its efficacy. 🙂 Anyway, don’t discount the need for occasional maintenance on PC equipment. Especially if you have wall-to-wall carpeting or pets. Since you’re having trouble with stability, that could be your issue. The HAF 932 is an excellent case, but make sure you’re positively pressurizing it as much as possible. (More intake than exhaust.) Makes a big difference for dust control. I’ve discovered recently that my filtered intake EVGA Supernova G2 1000w PSU was sucking in dust from the gap between the case and PSU, inside the case! Massive dust bomb when blown out last week. I’m looking into some sort of weatherstripping solution. Anyway, all that to say it’s an important issue. The 60 Deg F was probably a typo. Happens to the best of us. 60 Deg C is still a great temp @ load.

  • Dansolo

    Another day, another reviewer that doesn’t understand the difference between “faster” and “as fast as.” 2 is 100% greater than 1. 2 is 200% the size of 1. When you say “faster,” you have to exclude the initial value of 100%.

  • Adriana Tomic

    What about the GTX 460 with 2GB memory? ..I have that one,so I am curious about that

  • RDA

    Wonder what the comparison is for two 460’s in SLI.

  • joe

    I’m confused. How is it that the memory bandwidth is more on the 460? Does it even matter?

  • I was hoping to see performance comparisons AFTER over clocking both cards to their max clock speed obtainable on the provided coolers. I run my 1GB 460 at 800mhz clock for example and it gets me a lot more mileage in modern games. I’m also not entirely interested in the 960’s performance at out of the box speeds that I will be changing the moment I install it. Really appreciate the article for what it is, however

    • Nathan Kirsch

      yeah, that is the big concern as no two people are going to be running the same speeds. I can re-do the testing at higher clock speeds, but if I increase the clock speeds by 20% on both cards the performance difference would remain about the same.

  • ramonzarat

    I was hoping for a complete x60 series comparison show down: GTX 260, 460, 560, 660, 760 and 960, single and SLI, on 2 platforms, the good old i7-920 @ 4Ghz and i7-4770K also @ 4Ghz.

    That would have been an amazing article showing the GPU evolution and CPU scaling. Great article nevertheless.

    • Nathan Kirsch

      I have nearly 300 video cards on hand, but I gave all my 560’s and 660’s away to staff and friends. 🙁

    • Eddie Jewell

      yes this is what i have been wanting to see myself!

  • JamesMaseoBrown

    How is obtaining healthcare comparable to natural disasters? And how does that tie into deciding whether or not to upgrade a video card? Keep your politics out of your articles, because not everyone is a wingnut and agrees with you.

    • Nathan Kirsch

      I was merely stating some of the big events that happened in 2010 that people might remember. I wasn’t bring politics into the article or saying the ACA is bad. Obviously it can be read in a manner other than I envisioned.

      • Seerak

        I’d have said “wingnut, heal thyself” seeing as he’s the one seeing politics everywhere. I wouldn’t sweat his sort, Nathan.

    • SaneThinker

      Anyone who off the bat uses “wingnut” as an insult doesn’t have any right to judge someone else’s political views, or claim a false moral high ground.