GeForce GTX 460M SLI: Mobile Gaming Value From AVADirect?

Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 480M may hold the mobile performance crown, but GF100 is certainly not the most practical solution when it comes to power and heat. Today we see how its newer, smaller sibling stands up to the same tasks, aided by SLI support.

Power and heat have long been the biggest obstacles to achieving smoking-fast performance on a portable device, as the larger enclosures needed to support high-performance hardware often leaves them less than mobile. It’s no small wonder that we had big concerns when Nvidia re-purposed its power-hungry GF100 GPU as a notebook component.

The fastest “portable” GPU ever produced, the GeForce GTX 480M was already beaten by a CrossFire'd pair of Mobility Radeon HD 5870 modules when it was launched. Most extra-large notebooks couldn’t support an SLI'd pair of GeForce GTX 480M modules, and the one notebook that does support these still has some power problems in such a demanding configuration. Price was another barrier for many customers, since big pieces of silicon cost big money.

A bit of additional refinement on its desktop 400-series allowed Nvidia to re-evaluate its portfolio in an effort to find a new, more energy-efficient Radeon HD 5870-killer.

That new product, the GeForce GTX 460M, should fit into the majority of chassis that formerly hosted such big-ticket parts as its competitor’s flagship, as well as its previous mobile performance star, the GTX 285M, in dual-GPU configurations.

Before we go into the new GPU’s specifics, let’s take a quick look at the system we received to host Nvidia’s latest SLI-capable modules.

AVADirect X7200 Component List
PlatformIntel LGA 1366, X58 Express/ICH10R, MXM-III Discrete Graphics
CPUIntel Core i7-950 (Bloomfield), Four Cores, 3.06-3.33 GHz, 4.8 GT/s QPI, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache, 45 nm, 130 W
RAMKingston 6 GB (3x 2GB) DDR3-1066 SODIMM, CL7, 1.5 V, Non-ECC
GraphicsDual Nvidia GeForce GTX 460M, 675 MHz, 1.5 GB GDDR5-2500, in SLI
Display17.3" Glossy LED Back-lit TFT, 1920x1080
Webcam3.0 Megapixel
AudioIntegrated HD Audio
SecurityBuilt-in Fingerprint Reader
Hard Drive 1Crucial C300 CTFDDAC256MAG 256 GB SSD, MLC, SATA 3Gb/s
Hard Drive 2Seagate Momentus XT ST95005620AS 500 GB, 32 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/s, 7200 RPM
Optical DriveLite-On DS-4E1S 4x Blu-ray Reader/8x DVD Writer Combo Drive
Media Drive9-in-1 Flash Media Interface
Wireless LANIntel Ultimate-N 6300, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n, 11/54/450 Mb/s
Wireless PANOptional (not installed)
Gigabit NetworkJMicron PCIe 10/100/1000 Mb/s Ethernet
IEEE-1394Texas Instruments PCIe IEEE-1394 (400 Mb/s)
TelephonyNot Available
Peripheral Interfaces
USB3 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0
Expansion CardNot Available
HDD1 x eSATA 3Gb/s
AudioHeadphone, Microphone, Line-In, Digital Out Jacks
Video1 x Dual-Link DVI-I w/VGA Adapter, 1x HDMI
Power & Weight
AC Adapter300 W Power Brick, 100-240 V AC to 15 V DC
Battery14.8 V, 5300 mAh (78.44 Wh) Single
WeightNotebook 13.4 lbs, AC Adapter 3.6 lbs, Total 17.0 pounds
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit Edition, OEM
Warranty1-Year Full (Add $140 for 2-years, $274.40 for 3-years)

While the desktop-based CPU in AVADirect’s X7200 build left us with a few questions about which of our previously-tested notebooks might make this a fair comparison, its $3142 price will at least allow a performance-per-dollar analysis.

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  • f8itsolutions
    Great read, very excited about future of laptop gaming. Find it is the most simple way to get my girlfriend to play co-op games with me. Perhaps the stigma of sitting in front of a PC for a couple of hours vs a laptop which she does her facebook on. Who knows, but she is even playing FPS games now. Using a Dell Vostro 1700 with 8400, not smoking any more, but does the trick.

    I think Alianware and similar companies should start advertising to less hardcore gamers, pushing more towards the play, fold up and put away audiance.