by Alexey Stepin , Yaroslav Lyssenko
05/31/2010 | 12:00 AM
The GeForce GTX 400 series was expected to expand, just like any other new generation of graphics cards. But as opposed to AMD that had no problems spreading its Radeon HD 5000 architecture into all price segments, Nvidia’s promotion of GeForce GTX 400 was hampered from the very beginning by the extraordinary characteristics of the GF100 graphics core, particularly by its high manufacturing cost and very low chip yield. Nvidia committed a fatal mistake when it had made the decision to introduce its new architecture from the very top downwards. While AMD only had to double the number of graphics cores to release its flagship product, Nvidia had originally designed the GF100 as the top-of-the-line solution and its derivatives could only be less but not more advanced than it. There is only one method of such going down – by turning off some functional subunits of the original graphics core. This cannot lower the manufacturing cost of the chip since the die is manufactured in maximum configuration anyway. Partially defective chips can also be utilized, but this won’t be profitable if the chip yield is high.
We have written all this in our GeForce GTX 465 preview and can only add that the current problems with GF100 production play into Nvidia’s hands in some way. Considering how complex that graphics core is, there is a high chance that a large share of defective cores are able to work if one or a few stream multiprocessors are disabled in them. Of course, such cores should be used for GeForce GTX 470 or, in case of serious defects, for GeForce GTX 465 rather than got rid of as waste. Selling the junior GeForce GTX 400 series products brings some profit to Nvidia after all.
However, you cannot cut the GPU configuration down too much because the end product may come out too slow to be priced at a profitable level. We have some reasons to think that Nvidia inadvertently stumbled into this kind of a pitfall with the GeForce GTX 465. While the GeForce GTX 470, despite having a cut-down GPU, is a competitive solution, our preview of the GeForce GTX 465 showed that its performance was not up to its pricing in some games. Officially priced at $279, the GeForce GTX 465 is supposed to compete with the Radeon HD 5850 which is $20 more expensive but also much faster. We also found the GeForce GTX 465 to be inferior in some situations to its predecessors, even to the mainstream GeForce GTX 275 which had been priced at $229-249 at the moment of its own announcement.
Lower performance at a higher price is not what Nvidia fans expected and the advanced capabilities of the new graphics architecture cannot make up for the sheer lack of speed. But we must also admit that we previewed the card using the older version of the driver whereas optimized drivers are known to be just as important as good hardware. A GPU developer can achieve a performance boost of 15-20% and higher by just optimizing the graphics driver, so we want to give the GeForce GTX 465 another chance today, on the day of its official announcement. Backed up by the new driver, the card may prove competitive in its price category of $279-299 after all. Our tests will show.
We covered briefly the key technical aspects of the GeForce GTX 465 in our preview and found a lot of factors to be worried about. Our apprehensions were eventually confirmed in our practical tests. Now we want to compare the new card once again in more detail with the senior models from the same series as well as with its predecessors and market opponents.
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
There are indeed few reasons for us to be optimistic about it. The new card is inferior to the Radeon HD 5850 in terms of fill rate and texture sampling rate. In fact, the latter card is twice as fast as the GeForce GTX 465 at texture sampling although their official price differs but slightly ($299 and $279, respectively). This may have been an oversight of the developers or, perhaps, they just had no other way to introduce a successor to the GeForce GTX 275 but the latter is about twice as fast as the GeForce GTX 465 at processing textures, too. The difference in fill rate is not so huge, yet the GeForce GTX 465 cannot be expected to deliver high performance at high resolutions considering its fill rate of below 20 gigapixels per second and low memory bandwidth. We have already made sure of this in our preview. In fact, releasing a new-generation graphics card with lower key specs than those of the previous-generation card from the same category is an alarming symptom that confirms Nvidia’s having found itself in a trap with the GF100 chip. The company has had to lower the performance of the new GPU too much to create a GF100-based graphics card comparable to the Radeon HD 5850 in price.
We guess the developers should not have reduced the number of stream multiprocessors to 11, especially as they did not manage to increase the core clock rate over the GeForce GTX 470’s. 12 active multiprocessors would provide a total of 384 ALUs and 48 texture-mapping units, which would make a difference for the GeForce GTX 465. Instead, the new card’s GPU has been cut down too much. Lacking a lot of computing and texture-mapping resources, the GeForce GTX 465 cannot be as fast in modern games as its price suggests. Of course, the GF100 has advanced geometry processing features including cutting-edge tessellation blocks which are obviously superior to what the ATI Radeon HD series currently has to offer, but the history of GPUs shows that focusing on one technology at the expense of others has never been a successful development strategy. This strategy won’t work with the GeForce GTX 465, either, especially as game developers do not hurry to give up nice-looking textures and gamers, to give up playing at high resolutions. A decent mainstream graphics card should be a well-balanced product, but this is something that the Radeon HD 5850 has and the GeForce GTX 465 has not, being inferior to previous-generation cards in some parameters.
At the moment of its announcement the new card has a recommended price of $279 but we still think that the GeForce GTX 465 should cost less in order to succeed on the market. A lower price would make it more appealing for users but less profitable for Nvidia because any graphics card based on the current 40nm revision of the GF100 chip is expensive to make and can hardly be sold at $200 or something for a profit. This may only make sense if Nvidia wants to utilize a large number of defective GF100 chips which would have to be wasted otherwise. Besides, Nvidia might win some time until it has a new inexpensive GPU that might replace the GF100. We’ve got some information that it is for such a card that the name “GeForce GTX 460” has been reserved. So, the GeForce GTX 465 looks like a temporary solution.
It’s time now to have a look at the graphics card itself. We’ve got an off-the-shelf version of it now instead of the presale sample we benchmarked in our preview. It is called Zotac GeForce GTX 465.
This graphics card is going to come to retail in a sturdy upright-oriented box made from glossy cardboard. It is painted Zotac’s traditional black-and-orange colors and has a window on the right through which you can see the card.
The picture on the face of the box is rather trivial but does not look ugly. The honeycomb pattern in the background looks even nice. There is no special information on the face of the box except for the name of the card and the basic parameters of its memory subsystem. The extended warranty from Zotac is mentioned here, too. For more technical info you should refer to the right side of the box. Particularly, you can even learn what GPU and memory frequencies the card has. Graphics card makers do not usually publish this information on the product box.
The interior of the box is filled with a block of foam rubber with cutouts for the graphics card and its accessories. The contents are additionally covered with a sheet of transparent plastic. This packaging is going to protect the card well against any hazards during transportation and storage. The accessories include:
There is everything necessary to use the card, so we can’t find anything to complain about. The disc with drivers contains the Zotac Boost software which consists of Badaboom, vReveal, Super LoiLoScope and BitDefender Internet Security. The first three programs are video processing tools which can be used to do transcoding, defects correction and video editing, respectively. All of them make use of CUDA technology supported by the Nvidia card they are shipped with. BitDefender Internet Security is an antivirus tool that might be useful if you haven’t got any such software installed on your gaming machine yet.
So, the Zotac GeForce GTX 465 leaves a nice first impression. Let’s open up the box and have a closer look at it now.
The graphics card uses the PCB design and cooler of the reference GeForce GTX 470 we described in our earlier review. Quite a reasonable solution if our supposition of the temporary status of the GeForce GTX 465 is true. Compare for yourself:
The single visible difference is the stickers of the manufacturing firms. The Gigabyte card looks more impressive, even flashy. The Zotac GeForce GTX 465 has standard dimensions and will easily fit into nearly any modern system cases. Even if the case is not too long and the card nearly touches the HDD rack, this won’t be a problem because its power connectors are located at the top of the PCB rather than at its butt-end as on the Radeon HD 5850.
It is easier to see the difference with the coolers removed. There is actually only one discrepancy: the GeForce GTX 465 has eight memory chips plus two empty seats for them whereas the GeForce GTX 470 has 10 memory chips. Another small difference we can see is that the Zotac card features screened DVI connectors.
The power subsystem of the GeForce GTX 465 is the same as that of the GeForce GTX 470 and follows a 4+1-phase design. The number of phases and the number of power transistors per phase in the GPU voltage regulator has not changed. There are four phases managed by an NCP5388 controller from ON Semiconductor.
There are also no changes in the memory voltage regulator which is managed by an Anpec Electronics APW7165 controller. There are two external power connectors, both of the 6-pin variety. This is enough even for the GeForce GTX 470 and should suffice for the GeForce GTX 465 which is expected to need less power (the real situation is somewhat different, however, as you will see shortly).
K4G10325FE-HC05 memory from Samsung is installed on the card. Considering the low clock rate, cheaper chips with higher access time might be used, but Nvidia does not try to save on them for some reason. Each memory chip has a capacity of 1 Gb (32 Mb x 32), so eight such chips make up a memory bank of 1 gigabyte accessed across a 256-bit memory bus. The memory frequency is only 802 (3208) MHz which is a ridiculously low level for modern GDDR5 memory. The resulting memory bandwidth is rather low at 102.7 GBps – far lower than that of the GeForce GTX 275 and Radeon HD 5850. This is the consequence of the low memory clock rate chosen by Nvidia for the GeForce GTX 465. A more complex PCB wiring for a 320-bit memory bus wouldn’t have helped to reach higher frequencies, though. The card lowers its memory frequency to 67 (270) MHz in power-saving mode as all GeForce GTX 400 series products do.
The GPU looks interesting. Besides its ordinary marking, the GPU of our Zotac GeForce GTX 465 has the text “Qual Sample”. So, although we’ve got the card in its retail packaging, it must have participated in the qualification tests of the new GeForce GTX 400 series model. The pink sticker on the reverse side of the PCB suggests the same as it reads “Not for Resale”. The GPU is the same revision as the samples installed on the senior models of the series. The middle number in the marking is different, as usual. It is low here: 030. This sample of the GF100 chip was produced in late March and must have been found defective. But later it was found suitable for the GeForce GTX 465. The GPU clock rates meet the official specifications which coincide with the GeForce GTX 470 specs: 608 and 1215 MHz for the main and computing domains, respectively. These frequencies are dropped to 51/101 MHz in 2D applications to save power. For simple tasks that require some GPU resources there is a medium mode with frequencies of 405/810 MHz. As for the GPU configuration, the GeForce GTX 465 has 352 unified shader processors, 44 TMUs and 32 RBEs.
By the way, there are rumors on the Web that the GeForce GTX 465 can be easily transformed into a GeForce GTX 470 by simply loading the BIOS code from the senior model into it. We doubt this because the new card has a 256-bit memory bus whereas the GeForce GTX 470 has a 320-bit bus. Even if Nvidia has not blocked the very opportunity to modify the card in such a way, the BIOS image has to be changed for that. Our attempt to load unmodified BIOS from our GeForce GTX 470 into the GeForce GTX 465 was a failure. The system would start up and show a black screen. Fortunately, we could quickly restore the card’s original BIOS and went on with our tests.
Using the same PCB as the GeForce GTX 470, the Zotac has the same interfaces as well: two DVI-I ports, one mini-HDMI, and two MIO connectors. The card supports 3-way SLI configuration but building a graphics subsystem out of three GeForce GTX 465 can hardly make much sense. If you want to use more than two monitors simultaneously, you must have a SLI configuration with at least two such graphics cards. The GeForce GTX 465 can deliver audio over HDMI but does not support Protected Audio Path, which makes it less interesting for HTPC users.
The cooling system has been borrowed from the GeForce GTX 470, too. It consists of a not-very-large heatsink pierced with five heat pipes that contact with the GPU’s heat-spreading cap. A thick layer of dark-gray thermal grease ensures proper thermal contact (but there were even more of it on our GeForce GTX 470). The elastic pads that take the heat away from the memory chips and power circuit components are dark-gray rather than green here, but we don’t think their color affects their performance. This cooler did not do very well on the GeForce GTX 470 despite the direct touch technology. Let’s see how it performs on the GeForce GTX 465.
To check out the electrical parameters of our Zotac GeForce GTX 465 we are going to use our standard testbed:
The new testbed for measuring electric characteristics of graphics cards uses a card designed by one of our engineers, Oleg Artamonov, and described in his article called PC Power Consumption: How Many Watts Do We Need?. This device facilitates and automates the measurement process. As usual, we used the following benchmarks to load the graphics accelerators:
Except for the maximum load simulation with OCCT, we measured power consumption in each mode for 60 seconds. We limit the run time of OCCT: GPU to 10 seconds to avoid overloading the graphics card's power circuitry. Here is what we managed to obtain using this testing methodology:
We were really amazed at the results of our measurements. The new GeForce GTX 465 proves to consume much more power than the faster GeForce GTX 470 in every mode, from 2D applications to the OCCT:GPU test. We can think of only one explanation: the defective sample of the GF100 chip installed on this card needs a higher voltage to be stable. But that’s a real disaster: based on a thinner tech process, the new card consumes more than the GeForce GTX 275 and may occasionally have a lower frame rate in games! This is a clear sign that it is times for Nvidia to reconsider its strategy of developing super-fast but extremely sophisticated GPUs.
When playing HD video, the GeForce GTX 465, like the senior model from the same series, consumes over 80 watts for 15 to 20 seconds and then switches its GPU into power-saving mode with lowered clock rates. The power consumption drops to 35-50 watts as the result. The first power connector, marked as 4/8-pin in the diagrams, is loaded more than the second one in 2D and HD video modes. In the heavier modes the connectors are loaded nearly equally and have a peak current of 9 amperes or higher than 100 watts whereas the recommended max load for such 6-pin connectors is 75 watts.
The GeForce GTX 465 is overall a disappointment in this test. It needs more than 200 watts in 3D mode while the much faster GeForce GTX 470 needs less than 200 watts. Everything suggests that the GeForce GTX 465 is a temporary solution that has been designed hastily out of the GF100 scraps that could not be utilized in some other way. As usual, we must remind you that you need a high-quality power supply and a well-ventilated system case for this graphics card to work normally. You won’t like it if you value power efficiency.
The Zotac GeForce GTX 465 was also scorching hot at work and its temperature of 90°C resembles that of the GeForce GTX 480, which is equipped with a weaker cooler. We must confess, however, that it was hot outside during our tests – about 26°C – and we could not keep the ambient temperature as low as in our tests of the senior GeForce GTX 400 series models. The ambient conditions being the same, we guess the GeForce GTX 465 will be about as hot as the GeForce GTX 470 or even somewhat cooler. The whole GeForce GTX 400 series are rather hot-tempered folks and need to be housed in a well-ventilated system case.
Although the Zotac GeForce GTX 465 is equipped with the same cooler as the GeForce GTX 470, we decided to measure its noise once again, considering the hot weather which affected the temperature tests. We found the new card to be just as noisy as the GeForce GTX 470 in 2D mode. But under load its fan quickly accelerated to become louder than the GeForce GTX 480! It was not comfortable at all. The only good thing about the cooler is that its fan rather quickly slowed down when there was no load anymore. So, we again want to focus your attention on the need to ensure proper ventilation if you’ve got one of the GeForce GTX 400 series cards. You should also clean the card’s heatsink regularly to remove any dust that might have accumulated in there. This advice refers to any top-end graphics card, though.
As the GeForce GTX 465 is produced out of defective GF100 cores, we did not expect it to be any good at overclocking.
Indeed, the GPU could only be overclocked to 700/1400 MHz whereas the memory chips, to 825 (3300) MHz although they are rated for a frequency of 1000 (4000) MHz. The memory bandwidth grew up to 105.6 GBps only. Thus, we’ve got a 15.2% increase in GPU frequency and a 2.9% increase in memory frequency. The GeForce GTX 470 did better in our overclocking tests, but we decided to benchmark the Zotac GeForce GTX 465 at the overclocked frequencies as well.
We are going to investigate the gaming performance of Zotac GeForce GTX 465 using the following universal testbed:
The ATI Catalyst and Nvidia GeForce graphics card drivers were configured in the following way:
Below is the list of games and test applications we used during this test session:
First-Person 3D Shooters
Third-Person 3D Shooters
Semi-synthetic and synthetic Benchmarks
We selected the highest possible level of detail in each game using standard tools provided by the game itself from the gaming menu. The games configuration files weren’t modified in any way, because the ordinary user doesn’t have to know how to do it. We updated our test modes and ran our tests in the following resolutions: 1600x900, 1920x1080 and 2560x1600. Unless stated otherwise, everywhere, where it was possible we added MSAA 4x antialiasing to the standard anisotropic filtering 16x. We enabled antialiasing from the game’s menu. If this was not possible, we forced them using the appropriate driver settings of ATI Catalyst and Nvidia GeForce drivers.
Today Zotac GeForce GTX 465 will compete against the following graphics products:
Performance was measured with the games’ own tools and the original demos were recorded if possible. We measured not only the average speed, but also the minimum speed of the cards where possible. Otherwise, the performance was measured manually with Fraps utility version 3.1.2. In the latter case we ran the test three times and took the average of the three for the performance charts.
This game is benchmarked in DirectX 11 mode with the highest graphics quality settings.
The advanced geometry processing capabilities help the GeForce GTX 465 in this game, yet its lack of TMUs and its low memory bandwidth are obvious at 2560x1600 where the new card falls behind the Radeon HD 5850. It must be noted that this game is very resource-consuming at maximum settings and runs fast enough only on senior GeForce GTX 400 series products. The GeForce GTX 480 is the only card that can cope with this game in Full HD mode. Overclocking the GeForce GTX 465 does not help much: the bottom speed id below comfortable even at 1600x900.
Alas, the new GeForce 25x.xx driver does not help the GeForce GTX 265 much. The new card is competitive to its predecessor at low resolutions but falls behind at 1920x1080 and higher. It cannot compete with the Radeon HD 5850 at all. The latter card is faster at every resolution and makes the game playable even at 2560x1600 whereas the GeForce GTX 465 is limited to 1920x1080 and, probably, 1920x1200. That’s not a good beginning for the new card.
The GeForce GTX 465 is a total failure here. It is always slower than the GeForce GTX 275 and this difference cannot be justified. The older card came out at a cheaper price than the new one but works faster! Although the game is quite playable even at 2560x1600, we do expect better from the $279 solution. Overclocking makes no practical point here although increases the average frame rate at low resolutions.
The new driver improves the performance of the GeForce GTX 465 which is no always ahead of the GeForce GTX 275, but for all the driver optimizations, the card lacks hardware resources to compete with the Radeon HD 5850, except at 2560x1600 where both are too slow for comfortable gaming. The Crysis Warhead results suggest that the GeForce GTX 470 should be priced similar to the Radeon HD 5850 in order to be competitive to the latter, but this can hardly be profitable for Nvidia. As for the GeForce GTX 465, we guess it should not cost more than $200-250 to be a really good buy.
The GeForce GTX 465 looks good in Far Cry 2 whose engine cannot boast cutting-edge capabilities. At the two lower resolutions the new card is as good as the Radeon HD 5850 in terms of average frame rate and even better than the latter in terms of bottom speed. The lack of graphics memory bandwidth shows up at 2560x1600 but overclocking helps bridge the gap whereas the frame rate of the new card is high enough for comfortable play.
This game is tested without multisampling antialiasing as it worsens the textures and provokes a performance hit.
The GeForce GTX 465 behaves in an unusual way here. It is generally slower than the Radeon HD 5850 and the GeForce GTX 275 at high resolutions, but in Metro 2033 it falls behind the GeForce GTX 275 at 1600x900 and overtakes the latter at 1920x1080 and 2560x1600. There is no competing with the Radeon HD 5850, though. With tessellation turned off, it takes at least a GeForce GTX 470. And as we learned before in our Review, when tessellation is turned on, the GeForce GTX 480 is the only graphics card to deliver a playable speed at resolutions above 1600x900.
We use the game’s DirectX 10.1 and DirectX 11 modes for graphics cards that support them.
The new card behaves consistently in this game, too. It does not show anything exceptional at low resolutions and leaves the GeForce GTX 275 far behind at high ones. Its speed is barely enough for comfortable play at 1600x900, occasionally bottoming out below the required 25 fps. It must be noted that the Radeon HD 5850 is not much better, but has a higher average frame rate.
This game is tested in multiplayer mode that uses the OpenGL API. The integrated benchmark does not report the bottom frame rate.
The Wolfenstein engine is too simple for the top-end graphics cards like GeForce GTX 480 and 470 to show their best. It is the sheer amount of hardware resources which is necessary here. The Radeon HD 5850 and even the GeForce GTX 275 have enough of them, but the GeForce GTX 465 has only 44 texture processors and low GPU and memory clock rates. As a result, its performance is downright poor, especially at 2560x1600.
This game’s integrated benchmark does not report the bottom frame rate.
The GeForce GTX 465 cannot be proud of its performance in this game as it is only as fast as the GeForce GTX 275. Overclocking accelerates it to the level of the Radeon HD 5850 but only works at low resolutions. In the Full HD and better modes the new card’s bottom speed is too low even at the overclocked frequencies. The GeForce GTX 470, on the contrary, copes well with the resolution of 1920x1080, indicating once again that the GeForce GTX 465 has been cut down way too much.
This game has modest system requirements and the GeForce GTX 465 copes with it at any resolution, but does not look well against the competition, just as in the majority of other tests. It performs somewhat better with the new driver, yet cannot get close to the Radeon HD 5850. Overclocking helps make the gap smaller at low resolutions, but also makes the GeForce GTX 465 hotter and noisier than it normally is. There is no point in overclocking since Resident Evil 5 runs fast enough even on the non-overclocked GTX 465.
The integrated benchmark does not report the bottom frame rate.
This is one of the few games where the GeForce GTX 465 does not look hopeless against the Radeon HD 5850. When overclocked, the new card is near to overtaking the more expensive GeForce GTX 470, which is indicative of a simple game engine. But the frame rate is high enough even at the default frequencies, so this overclocking has no practical worth.
We enforced full-screen antialiasing using the method described in our special Mass Effect 2 Review.
The new driver does not make the GeForce GTX 465 any faster in this game. The changes, if any, are too small to affect the standings: the new card is still ahead of the Radeon HD 5850 at 1600x900 and is equal to it at 1920x1080 but falls behind at 2560x1600. The new model in the GeForce GTX 400 series has a good bottom speed except at the highest resolution. When overclocked, it performs even better, overtaking the GeForce GTX 470 at the two lowest resolutions. That’s good, yet not good enough because the Radeon HD 5850 allows playing at 2560x1600 whereas the GeForce GTX 465 does not.
We enable the DirectX 11 mode for graphics cards that support it.
The performance of the GeForce GTX 465 does not change in this game with the new driver. Like in the two previous tests, the new card is somewhat slower than the Radeon HD 5850. Overclocking has the smallest effect where it is the most necessary, i.e. at the resolution of 2560x1600. The game seems subjectively comfortable to play even without overclocking, though. We can also note that the latest game patch and the new Catalyst driver improve the performance of the Radeon HD 5000 series noticeably.
The game’s integrated benchmark cannot report the bottom frame rate. We use DirectX 10 and 10.1 modes here.
The GeForce GTX 465 takes a good start, beating even the Radeon HD 5870 at 1600x900, but falls behind the Radeon HD 5850 at 1920x1080 due to the cut-down texture-mapping and graphics memory subsystems. Nvidia’s graphics cards are still superior in this game as is indicated by the results of the GeForce GTX 470 and GTX 480 but AMD products look competitive in the mainstream sector. The Radeon HD 5850 is especially appealing since its senior cousin costs quite a lot more but cannot deliver a much higher speed.
We use DirectX 11 mode for graphics cards that support it.
We can see no performance benefits with the new driver here. The GeForce GTX 465 is still behind the Radeon HD 5850 at every resolution. Overclocking helps eliminate this difference at resolutions up to 1920x1080 and enjoy a more comfortable gameplay at 1600x900 due to the higher bottom speed. The new card cannot match the top-end solutions but its 20-23 fps is better than the AMD cards’ 10-11 fps.
The GeForce GTX 465 runs this game fast but not fast enough to justify its own price because it is lagging behind the Radeon HD 5850 and GeForce GTX 275. It also slows down more than its opponents at the higher resolutions. However, it delivers a playable frame rate in the Full HD mode, which is important since the resolution of 1920x1080 has become a de facto standard for a serious gaming platform. Overclocking does not improve the performance of the GeForce GTX 465 much in this game.
We minimize the CPU’s influence by using the Extreme profile (1920x1200, 4x FSAA and anisotropic filtering). We also publish the results of the individual tests across all resolutions.
The new driver makes the GeForce GTX 465 somewhat faster in this benchmark as it now scores over 6,000 points. It also has a better GPU Only score, but doesn’t look impressive against the Radeon HD 5850.
The GeForce GTX 465 does much better with the new driver in the individual tests. You can see it clear in the second test where the new card successfully competes with the Radeon HD 5850 at 1600x1900 and 2560x1600. When overclocked, it is competitive at 1920x1080, too. Alas, this cannot make up for the poor performance of the GeForce GTX 465 in most of the gaming tests.
Like its more advanced cousins, the GeForce GTX 465 is far ahead of the Radeon HD 5850 and 5870 in terms of bottom speed but have nearly no advantage in terms of average frame rate. It is clear that the GF100 architecture is overall more optimized for games that make use of advanced DirectX 11 capabilities but such games are scarce as yet and Unigine Heaven, being a semi-synthetic benchmark, is not among them. Besides, the Radeon HD 5000 architecture has not yet exhausted itself, either.
Our practical tests are over, so we are going to sum up its results in the following section.
In our GeForce GTX 465 preview we had to admit that that graphics card could not make a worthy opponent to the Radeon HD 5850 but we did have some hopes about the new driver. Besides, we limited our preview to a very small number of gaming tests which might have been not representative enough. And what do we see now that the GeForce GTX 465 is announced officially? Alas, the picture is far from bright despite our using the new version of the GeForce driver and increasing the number of tests from 6 to 18. The GeForce GTX 465 has only improved its performance but slightly whereas it is still inferior to its market opponent in most of the tests and cannot justify the small difference in price.
To be specific, the GeForce GTX 465 loses 13 out of 19 tests to the Radeon HD 5850 at a resolution of 1600x900, including both gaming tests from 3DMark Vantage. And it only wins six tests, enjoying an advantage of over 15% in one test only, namely Mass Effect 2. The GeForce GTX 465 is an average 7% slower than the Radeon HD 5850 and 22% slower than the more advanced GeForce series model. What makes things even more depressing, the GeForce GTX 465 is inferior to the old GeForce GTX 275 in some tests. The overclocking boost varies from 9 to 17%, being 13% on average. This is a good result considering the small increase in the card’s frequencies, but it cannot save the day for the GTX 465.
The number of lost tests grows to 15 at the resolution of 1920x1080, the Radeon HD 5850 winning this round with a score of 15 to 4. This time the new card enjoys a considerable advantage in two tests, namely Aliens vs. Predator and Unigine Heaven. Both these tests run on rendering engines that belong to the new generation that can make use of advanced DirectX 11 features. This is a point in favor of the GF100 architecture at large, but the GeForce GTX 465 in particular has nothing to be proud of. The Radeon HD 5850 looks a much more appealing option for a fast, yet affordable, gaming platform. You can of course achieve a similar performance from the GeForce GTX 465 by means of overclocking because the average performance boost is 10 to 12%, which is the difference between the new card and the Radeon HD 5850, but your success at overclocking depends on the particular sample of the card. Besides, our sample of the GeForce GTX 465 was prone to overheat even working at its default clock rates. We are not sure if other versions of the new card from Nvidia will be free from this problem.
At the resolution of 2560x1600 the GeForce GTX 465 feels a lack of graphics memory bandwidth as well as of texture processors (it has only 44 of them on board). The card is obviously not meant for such a resource-consuming operation mode, but this is a lame excuse considering that the Radeon HD 5850 costs a mere $20 more and delivers a playable frame rate in quite a lot of tests at that resolution. The Nvidia card loses to its opponent everywhere save for Street Fighter IV where the difference between them is only 0.1%, so it looks more like a draw rather than a win. The GeForce GTX 465 is an average 17% slower than the Radeon HD 5850 here. The gap is smaller at 9% when the GeForce is overclocked. These results are not so poor by themselves, but a real catastrophe considering the recommended price of the new card. To make it a really appealing buy, we guess it should cost no more than $200-220, but such a drastic reduction in price is likely to make the card unprofitable to manufacture.
As we already noted in our preview, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 465 has a few strong points, owing them to the natural talents of the GF100 architecture in geometry processing. For example, it is very fast at doing tessellation. AMD’s position in this field is rather weak as yet, but there are also rather few games that can make use of such capabilities today. And turning on the appropriate options in some of those games does not really lead to a serious increase in the quality of the visuals or realism. People at AMD are not idle, either. By the time such games become widespread, they may release a new solution that would be superior to the existing products from Nvidia in this respect. The history of discrete graphics products shows that developing revolutionary solutions that are far ahead of their own time is but seldom rewarding. Besides, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 400 series does not offer any exclusive features. It can only perform some operations faster than the Radeon HD 5800 series. Thus, the GeForce GTX 465 may be called a future-oriented product but the irony of the situation is that this new card from Nvidia may never live to see that future as it may be replaced with a more balanced product based on a specially developed mainstream GPU which is more economical and affordable. As for the current market situation, there is no reason why you may want to buy a GeForce GTX 465. If you don’t have much more money, you can add $20 and purchase a Radeon HD 5850 which is faster. Or, if you are into Nvidia products, you should prefer the GeForce GTX 470 which offers good performance and the same capabilities as its junior cousin.
As for the specific GeForce GTX 465 we have tested today, the graphics card from Zotac is a copy of the reference sample, differing from it with the stickers only. The product comes in robust and pretty-looking packaging and has all the accessories necessary for using it. However, our sample was prone to overheat and, consequently, was very noisy. We don’t know if all other versions of GeForce GTX 465 behave like that, too. Anyway, if you want to buy a GeForce GTX 465 for some reason, the Zotac card will be a good choice.