New Nvidia gaming chip gets plaudits

Nvidia's new, inexpensive graphics chip appears to have hit a market sweet spot.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers

Nvidia's new, inexpensive graphics chip for gamers is receiving plenty of praise in the review community, ratcheting up its longstanding competition with rival ATI.

The GTX 460 chip, which is used in graphics cards starting at $199, was announced Monday to a chorus of upbeat reviews.

"If you're just looking at speed for the price, that top-end GeForce GTX 460 already rises to the top as a favorite in Nvidia's lineup," wrote Chris Angelini in a post at Tom's Hardware.

Based on Nvidia's new Fermi design--which was originally marketed as a supercomputer chip--the consumer and gaming derivatives are "DX-11 done right," said Ujesh Desai, vice president of product marketing, in a phone interview. DX-11, or DirectX-11, is a technology for speeding certain multimedia operations in Windows 7.

Advanced Micro Devices' ATI graphics unit beat Nvidia to market with DirectX-11 cards, which Nvidia recognizes. Desai said Nvidia wanted to get a technology called tessellation--which enables game developers to create smoother, less blocky, and more organic looking objects--right. "That's why we were late. We wanted to make sure we nailed that perfectly," he said.

To date, Nvidia has been marketing a more expensive GTX 465 that wasn't as well-received. "With a nod to the lower price points, performance is sharp. The ZOTAC GTX 460 1,024MB (graphics card) matches incumbent GTX 465 performance but offers a far better overall package at a lower retail price," said Hexus.net.

GTX 460-based cards are available immediately.