NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M vs NVIDIA GeForce GTX 485M SLI vs NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480M SLI
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M► remove
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M is a high-end laptop graphics card released in 2010. It is based on the GF106 core as part of the Fermi architecture. As a result, the GPU supports DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.0. In contrast to the GT 445M, which only features 144 core, the GTX 460M offers all the 192 shader cores of the GF106. The faster GTX 470M is based on the GF104 and offers even more shader cores at 288.
The GF106 core of the GTX 460M is related to the GF100 core of the GeFore GTX 480M and offers 192 shaders and a 192 Bit memory bus for GDDR5. Except for the memory controllers, the GF106 can basically be considered a halved GF104. Therefore, the architecture is not comparable to the old GT215 (e.g., GeForce GTS 350M) or GT216 (e.g., GeForce GT 330M) cores. Unlike the GF100, the smaller GF104, GF106, and GF108 cores have not only been reduced in size, but have also been considerably modified. In contrast to the GF100, which was designed for professional applications, these chips target the consumer market. They feature more shaders (3x16 instead of 2x16), more texture units (8 instead of 4) and SFUs per streaming multi-processor (SM). As there are still only 2 warp schedulers (versus 3 shader groups), Nvidia now uses superscalar execution to use the higher amount of shaders per SM more efficiently. In theory, the shaders can thereby be utilized more effectively and the performance per core can be improved.
However, in worst case scenarios the performance can also be worse than of the GF100 and its predecessors. The ECC memory protection, which is important for professional applications, was completely omitted and the FP64 hardware shortened (only 1/3 of the shader are FP64-capable and therewith only 1/12 of the FP32’s performance). Because of these cutbacks, the size of the SM grew only by 25% despite the higher number of shaders and larger warp schedulers with superscalar dispatch capabilities. Due to the different shader architectures and the higher clock rate of the shader domain, the core count of the GTX 460M cannot be directly compared to AMD cores of the Radeon 5000 series (e.g. HD 5850).
Detailed information on the GF104 architecture (and by extension also the GF106 and GF108) can be found in the desktop GTX 460 article by Anandtech.
Because the GeForce GTX 460M features a new architecture, the performance is not comparable to older chips with a similar core count. In contrast to the Radeon HD 5850, which could optionally use DDR3 memory, the 192 Bit memory bus of the GTX 460M is combined with GDDR5. Furthermore, the Fermi based chips offer a higher Tessellation performance than DX11 chips of the Radeon HD 5000 series.
We ran a set of benchmarks on an early pre-sample of a Toshiba Qosmio X500 with a 740QM CPU. In the synthetic benchmarks, the GTX 460M was on par with the DDR3 based Mobility Radeon HD 5850. In actual game benchmarks and tests, the performance was better than a HD 5850 with GDDR5 on average. In some cases (e.g., Unigine Heaven 2.1 and Dirt 2 Demo), the card even beat a Mobility Radeon HD 5870. On average, the GTX 480M was about 8-18% faster. The detailed benchmark and gaming results (including charts) can be found below.
A novelty of the GF104/106/108 chips is the support for Bitstream HD Audio (Blu-Ray) output via HDMI. Similar to the Radeon HD 5850, the GTX 460M can transfer Dolby True HD and DTS-HD bitstream without quality loss to a HiFi receiver.
The GTX460M offers PureVideo HD technology for video decoding. The included Video Processor 4 (VP4) supports feature set C and therefore the GPU is able to fully decode MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4 Part 2 (MPEG-4 ASP - e.g., DivX or Xvid), VC-1/WMV9, and H.264 (VLD, IDCT, Motion Compensation, and Deblocking). The X500 notebook tester was able to decode the VC-1 encoded Elephants Dream video with about 3-6% CPU load (according to the task manager). The H.264 coded Big Buck Bunny video was played back with 1-3% CPU load (both 1080p videos).
Furthermore, the GPU is able to decode two 1080p streams simultaneously (e.g., for Blu-Ray Picture-in-Picture).
Through CUDA, OpenCL, and DirectCompute 2.1 support, the GeForce GTX 460M can be of use in general calculations. For example, the stream processor can encode videos considerably faster than can many modern CPUs. Furthermore, physics calculations can be done by the GPU using PhysX if supported (e.g., Mafia 2 or Metro 2033). For example, the X500’s GPU ran Fluidmark more than 3x faster than its CPU (36 versus 11 fps) in our tests.
According to Nvidia, 3D Vision is supported on the GTX graphics cards. It enables the laptop to send 3D content (3D games, 3D Web Streaming, 3D photos, 3D Blu-Rays) to a built-in 3D enabled screen or an external 3D TV if supported by the laptop manufacturer.
Unofficially, the power consumption of the GeForce GTX 460M should be about 72 Watt (TDP including the MXM board and memory), which is about the level of the Mobility Radeon HD 5850 - 5870. If not under load, the chip is clocked at 50/100 MHz (chip/shader) and 200/400 in 2D mode and 3D mode, respectively, to save power. Furthermore, the 400M series supports Optimus to automatically switch between the integrated graphics card from Intel and the Nvidia GPU. However, its implementation is dependent on the manufacturer. As current (2010) quad-cores don’t house an integrated GPU, we won’t see many Optimus designs with a GTX 460M GPU before the launch of Sandy Bridge in 2011.
The similarly named desktop GeForce GTX 460 is based on the GF104 chip and offers more shader cores at 336. Therefore, it is significantly faster than the GTX 460M and even the GTX 470M.
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 485M SLI► remove
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 485M SLI is a high-end laptop graphics solution based on two GTX 485M graphics cards. With SLI, each card usually renders a single frame (AFR mode). Therefore, it may suffer from micro stuttering in low fps ranges of 30fps. This happens because of different timespans between two frames (e.g. irregular delays between sequential frames).
The GeForce GTX485M SLI supports the same features as a single GTX 485M card. Therefore, it supports DirectX 11 and is produced in a 40nm fabrication process at TSMC.
Unlike the GeForce GTX 480M, the 485M is no longer based on a trimmed down GF100 core, but on the GF104 core instead. The latter has been designed for the consumer sector and has 384 cores maximum if completely enabled. More information on the GF104 core can be found on the GTX 485M page.
The performance of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 485M SLI is clearly better than the GTX 480M SLI and is therefore the fastest graphics solution for laptops as of early 2011. It allows the user to play all current games in high resolutions and detail settings with Antialiasing activated. Only Metro 2033 and Crysis may stutter with high Antialiasing and maximum details. Compared to a single GTX 485M, the performance from the SLI combination should be about 40% higher on average (with high details and Antialiasing). Compared to Crossfire solutions by AMD, the Nvdia SLI drivers have the advantage as of this writing.
As the GeForce 300M series, the GeForce GTX 485M supports PureVideo HD with VideoProcessor 4 (VP4 with Feature Set C). This means that the GPU is able to fully decode HD videos in H.254, VC-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4 ASP. Using Flash 10.1, the graphics card can also accelerate Flash videos.
What's new in the GF104 chips compared to the GF100 (480M) is the support for Bitstream transfer of HD Audio (Blu-Ray) via HDMI. Similar to the HD 5850, the GTX 485M can transmit Dolby True HD and DTS-HD via Bitstream to compatible receivers without quality loss.
The rendering cores of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 485M can be used for general calculations using CUDA or DirectCompute. In other words, the encoding for HD videos can be done significantly faster by using the shader cores of the GPUs instead of using modern CPUs. PhysX is also supported by the mobile Fermi to calculate physics effects in supported games. Furthermore, a single GTX485M can be used to calculate PhysX while the other card can render frames in the SLI setup.
Compared to desktop GPUs, the Geforce GTX 485M SLI is most similar to two Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 cards running in an SLI configuration.
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480M SLI► remove
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480M SLI is a high-end graphics solution for laptops based on two GTX 480M graphics cards in SLI mode. Each card usually renders a single frame in an alternating manner. Therefore, it may suffer from micro stuttering in low fps ranges of 30fps. This happens because of different timespans between two frames (e.g. Irregular delays between sequential frames).
The GeForce GTX480M SLI supports the same features as a single GTX 480M card. A single card is based on the Fermi architecture. Therefore, it supports DirectX 11 and is produced in 40nm at TSMC. Featuring 352 cores, the GTX480M is similar to the desktop GTX 465 but features a lower clock rate. The GeForce GTX 480M is combined with 2 GB of fast GDDR5 graphics memory (dedicated) and the overall performance should be superior to the Mobility Radeon HD 5870.
The GF100 aka. Fermi chip was redesigned from scratch and features 3 billion transistors (with all 512 shaders). Compared to the desktop Radeon HD 5870 with 2.13 billion transistors or the Mobility Radeon HD 5870 (RV870) with 1.04 billion transistors, the GTX480M chipset is quite large.
The mobile Fermi chip is stripped down to 352 shader cores (1-dimensional) with 32 ROPs and 44 Texture Units. The memory bus is 256 bit wide, but due to the fast GDDR5 memory, this should not be a bottleneck. The power consumption is specified with 100 Watt TDP including the MXM board and the 2 GB GDDR5. AMD usually specifies the TDP of the chip alone, therefore this value is not directly comparable. Still, the GTX 480M is only suited for very large DTR laptops with a good cooling system. Originally, only Clevo sold 17" (D901F) and 18" (X8100) barebone systems.
The fast performance of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 480M SLI is marginally better than two ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870 in Crossfire Mode (CF), partly because of the superior driver support from Nvidia. This means the GTX 480M SLI was the fastest graphics solution for laptops at the time of arrival (2010-06). It allows the user to play all current games in high resolutions and detail settings with Antialiasing activated. Only Metro 2033 and Crysis have to run at lower settings (see below).
Still, in some games the performance gain from SLI may be very small or sometimes a single card may be even a bit faster (due to no SLI support and overhead). You can still disable SLI through the drivers in this case. In our gaming tests, a single 480M was about 16% (Starcraft 2) to 48% (Far Cry 2) slower than the SLI combination. Otherwise, most modern games run about 40% slower on the single card compared to the SLI setup. (see expandable gaming charts below). Due to the fast tessellation unit, upcoming DirectX 11 games may have an advantage over the AMD 5000 series.
Similar to the GeForce 300M series, the GeForce GTX 480M supports PureVideo HD with VideoProcessor 4 (VP4 with Feature Set C). As a result, the GPU is able to fully decode HD videos in H.254, VC-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4 ASP. By using Flash 10.1 or later, the graphics card can also accelerate Flash videos, thus taking workload off of the CPU.
The rendering cores of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 480M can be used for general calculations by means of CUDA or DirectCompute. E.g., the encoding for HD videos can be done significantly faster by using the shader cores of the GPUs rather than using most modern CPUs. PhysX is also supported by the mobile Fermi to calculate physics effects in supported games. Furthermore, a single GTX480M can be used to calculate PhysX while the other card renders the game.
Compared to desktop GPUs, the Geforce GTX 480M is comparable to an underclocked Nvidia GeForce GTX 465 SLI combination (607/1200 clock speed).
|NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 485M SLI||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480M SLI|
|GeForce GTX 400M Series|
|192 -||768 -||704 -|
|Core||675 MHz||575 MHz||425 MHz|
|Shader||1350 MHz||1150 MHz||850 MHz|
|Memory||1250 MHz||1500 MHz||1200 MHz|
|Bus||192 Bit||256 Bit||256 Bit|
|Max. Memory||1536 MB||2x2048 MB||4096 MB|
|DirectX||DirectX 11, 5.0||DirectX 11, 5.0||DirectX 11, 5.0|
|Technology||40 nm||40 nm||40 nm|
|Features||Optimus Support, PureVideo HD VP4, 3D Vision, Bitstream HD Audio, CUDA, DirectCompute, OpenCL, OpenGL 4.0, DirectX 11, SLI Supported|