With little fanfare, Nvidia added a new wrinkle to its GeForce GTX 460 family early last week. Dubbed the GeForce GTS 460 SE, this fresh release uses a version of the GF104 GPU that's been on a crash diet. The number of "CUDA cores" has been slashed, leaving 288 in total. Those cores are clocked at 1.3GHz, while the rest of the chip ticks along at 650MHz.
Considering that the GeForce GTX 460 768MB has 336 of its cores intact and slightly higher shader and core clock speeds of 675MHz and 1.35GHz, respectively, the SE looks like it may fall one rung down the ladder. However, the new GeForce has a full gigabyte of memory, and its 256-bit memory bus offers more peak theoretical bandwidth than the 768MB card, whose path to memory is only 192 bits wide. That said, the GTX 460 768MB's memory is 200 MT/s faster than that of the SE, so it's a little difficult to project performance.
To get a better sense of Nvidia's latest, HardwareCanucks got its hands on Gigabyte's version of the GeForce GTX 460 SE, which pushes core and shader speeds to 730MHz and 1.46GHz, respectively. The site has tested the card at those higher clock speeds and at 650MHz/1.3GHz, and the results paint a good picture of exactly where the SE sits. Thanks to its additional memory, the SE has a natural advantage over the 768MB card at high resolutions. However, the stock-clocked card ends up slower overall at 1920x1200, which is the highest resolution tested and a reasonable ceiling for mid-range offerings.
The Gigabyte card's higher clock speeds do help its performance versus the 768MB model, but even then, the SE isn't a clear-cut favorite. It certainly doesn't hold a candle to the standard GTX 460 1GB, which remains the mid-range GeForce to get. If the SE is really meant to denote a special edition, Nvidia must be thinking of the short-bus variety.