GPU developers can’t take any rest even for a little while because this may cost them their market position. We've seen a number of examples in the past like the GeForce 8800 or the Radeon HD 4800 series dealing a heavy blow to the unsuspecting market opponent. The long-time struggle between AMD (former ATI) and Nvidia is not unlike a seesaw, yet the last cycle was unprecedentedly long. The ATI Evergreen architecture, also known as Radeon HD 5000, made its debut on September 23, 2009, whereas Nvidia only responded to it on March 26, 2010, and made its new solutions available for purchase, in limited quantities, on April 7, 2010.
Nvidia's Fermi architecture wasn't born easily. It was postponed repeatedly, mostly because Nvidia again tried to create the most powerful, sophisticated and big GPU in the world, just as they had done with the G200 chip. As a result, AMD could dominate many market sectors for a long while. The company was superior in the segment of affordable yet fast graphics cards with its RV870 Cypress based solutions: Radeon HD 5830 and 5850. It is only on July 12, 2010, that AMD finally got a reason to worry about its market standing. Nvidia’s release of the simple and cheap-to-manufacture GF104 chip was a real breakthrough for the company who had desperately needed such a GPU to be competitive against AMD in the mainstream sector.
As we already know from our tests, the new GPU is fast enough to compete not only with the cut-down Radeon HD 5830 but also with the more advanced and expensive Radeon HD 5850. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 1GB (and its junior cousin equipped with 768 megabytes of onboard graphics memory) made a strong claim to be a bestseller in the most popular market segment, shaking the long-lasting superiority of AMD. So, that's how things stand right now: the GeForce GTX 460, in both its versions, is getting more and more popular among gamers with limited PC budgets while AMD is hurrying up to roll out its next generation of Radeon HD chips. As far as we know, the Radeon HD 6000 series is going to be released later than expected, so the only thing AMD can do right now is reduce the price of its Radeon HD 5850 which is challenged by pre-overclocked versions of GeForce GTX 460 1GB and try to find a good replacement for the cut-down Radeon HD 5830 to beat the ordinary GeForce GTX 460 1GB with reference frequencies. So, following the seesaw rule we've mentioned in the beginning of this Introduction, it’s now AMD’s turn to make a move lest the company should lose its ground on the market.
We, on our part, are introducing more and more GeForce GTX 460 models to you. This time around it is an original version of the card from ASUSTeK Computer. It is called ENGTX460 DirectCU TOP and we are going to find out if it is really worthy of its place in the ASUS product series which is positioned as fast and advanced.