GeForce GTX 460 1GB SLI vs. Radeon HD 5870 CFX

Author:Brent Justice

Editor:Kyle Bennett

Date: Monday , August 09, 2010

In light of the GeForce GTX 460 1GB SLI providing superior gaming performance compared to Radeon HD 5850 CFX, we wanted to game the 460 SLI against AMD's Radeon HD 5870 CFX and check out performance. The results are surprising as we match up this $460 SLI setup against the $780 CFX configuration.


Last week we compared GeForce GTX 460 1GB SLI to Radeon HD 5850 CFX and found that GeForce GTX 460 1GB SLI was tremendously faster. Given that fact, we needed to test Radeon HD 5870 CFX and see how that compared, given that this is AMD’s highest level of dual-GPU gaming performance available right now.

On a price comparison, Radeon HD 5870 CFX is much more expensive than GeForce GTX 460 1GB SLI. There is a whopping $300 difference between the Galaxy GeForce GTX 460 Super OC 1GB SLI and a pair of Radeon HD 5870 video cards. This performance testing will show you that it just might be possible to save $300 and get an awesome gameplay performance experience.

Test Setup

We are using two Galaxy GeForce GTX 460 1GB Super OC video cards. These video cards are factory overclocked and operate at 810MHz GPU clock speed, 1600MHz shader frequency and 4GHz memory. We are also using two standard clocked Radeon HD 5870 video cards at 850MHz GPU and 4.8GHz memory.

All gaming here is "Apples to Apples."

(Editor's Note: Some of our readers have brought up the argument that we are somehow using drivers that have broken CrossFireX support in some of the games used in these short and to the point articles. We have picked the following games because we find these to be some of the few new game titles that actually have the ability to stress the hardware. All the game titles used here listed as CrossFireX supported and are part of the CrossFireX profile. AMD is aware of the content being shown here and has given us no reason to think we are using "broken" drivers; it is looking into our AvP numbers at this time though. We always use the latest drivers. If AMD lets us know any different, certainly we would pass that along and vary our testing to reflect that.)

The system specifications are MSI Eclipse, Intel Core i7 920 @ 3.6GHz, 6GB DDR3, Dell 3007WFP, Win7 x64. We are using the newer Catalyst 10.7a Beta for the AMD video cards and NVIDIA drivers 258.96 WHQL.

Metro 2033

In Metro 2033 we ran at 2560x1600 with the "Very High" in-game settings. In this game we see Radeon HD 5870 CFX catching up to the two Galaxy GTX 460 Super OC 1GB SLI configuration. In fact, the average framerate is slightly higher, but within the margin for error, we are confident in saying that performance is equal between these two configurations in this game and we could not tell a difference in performance between them while we were playing. At these settings, the game is playable on both setups.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

In Battlefield: Bad Company 2 we tested at a high 2560x1600 with 4X AA and HBAO turned on. We find that the gap has closed slightly between the configurations, but the Galaxy GeForce GTX 460 Super OC 1GB SLI setup is still outperforming Radeon HD 5870 CFX by a noticeable margin. Where Radeon HD 5870 CFX dips below 30 FPS at times, and rides that red line, GTX 460 1GB SLI is not. When all is said and done, GTX 460 1GB SLI felt smoother in this game and was preferable over 5870 CFX.

Aliens vs. Predator

In Aliens vs. Predator the gap has also closed between the cards by a lot, but Galaxy GTX 460 Super OC 1GB SLI is still outperforming the two AMD video cards here. In our previous evaluation, we saw a 94% performance difference, and now we are down to an almost 22% performance difference, but that lead still goes to GTX 460 1GB SLI.

The Bottom Line

If our earlier articles have not proved it yet, this one surely puts the final nail in the coffin. GeForce GTX 460 1GB SLI real world gaming performance is superior to even AMD’s fastest high-end single GPU video cards in a CrossFireX configuration. And do keep in mind this is real gaming, not benchmarks. There is no getting around or denying the awesome performance of SLI configured GTX 460 1GB video cards. The excitement is even more pronounced when you can find very highly overclocked GTX 460 cards like the Galaxy GTX 460 1GB Super OC for $229 after $10 MIR. These cards simply represent a great value for the gamer and hardware enthusiast.

We’ve found previously that GeForce GTX 480 SLI provides tremendous performance well out pacing Radeon HD 5870 CFX in pretty much every newer game released (and we have a follow-up on that coming soon). You can see here where specifically in AvP, that GTX 480 SLI destroys 5870 2GB CFX. So maybe we should not be surprised by what we are seeing here. It seems, that GTX 480 SLI is not the real competition for 5870 CFX after all, it seems that these much less expensive GTX 460 1GB video cards are the 5870 GPU’s real competition. AMD should be worried about this. CrossFireX scaling needs some work....a lot of work. SLI is blowing CrossFireX out of the water with these newer GPUs.

You can read here on how GTX 460 1GB SLI stacks up against single GPU GTX 470 and 480 solutions.

With the large $300 price difference that exists, the less expensive GeForce GTX 460 1GB video cards will logically be the better option and value, getting you the same or better performance than what AMD's high end single GPU cards have to offer.

NVIDIA's SLI is coming into its own revealing performance and value payoffs that the technology has never exhibited before. While CrossFireX and SLI are not everyday "normal" consumer technologies, both have moved so far forward in ease of use that even the hardware enthusiast that has never touched either technology can look at doing dual video cards as a no-brainer. For those of you that have motherboards that will not run full x16/x16 PCIe 2.0 bandwidth, we have an article coming next week that shows you what kind of real world gaming impact running x16/x8 SLI will have on your experience.