AXLE GT 430 Classic Review

RHKCommander959 - 2011-01-10 20:19:35 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: RHKCommander959   
Reviewed on: January 26, 2011
Price: Approx. $60

Introduction:

Low- and mid-range graphics cards are what sells the majority of the time. Everyone looks at the high-end, but not everyone can afford it. Filling in the low-end spectrum for NVIDIA is the GT 430, with 96 CUDA cores, 1GB of GDDR3 on a 128-bit memory bus, a 700 MHz core, and 1400 MHz shader speeds. Consuming around 49W, NVIDIA only recommends a 300W power supply, so almost any system can run one as long as it has an open PCI Express slot. The GT 430 can come in low profile or full width versions. AXLE provides both, but up for review today is a standard card with the memory at 700 MHz. These cards are great for HTPC usage, PhysX processors, or home/office and general gaming use, with DirectX 11 support and many multimedia capabilities.

 

Closer Look:

The box is a little small but not the smallest I've ever seen. The AXLE mascot makes a visit on the box cover, guns blazing with her motorcycle nearby. The box itself looks like it could be used with other 400 series cards, as the only specific identifiers showing this has a GT 430 inside are stickers. The company website is listed at the top right above the solid state capacitors sticker showing 50,000 hours life expectancy. Near the bottom, some features are highlighted, such as it having HDMI and Dual-Link DVI ports, as well as a VGA port. The 400 series has a feature called PureVideo HD, as shown at the bottom left, for taking the load off the CPU in a system for Blu-ray/DVD and other video decoding tasks, while also enhancing the output. Flipping to the back shows three popular games, including Metro 2033 and Just Cause 2, with key features and minimum system requirements to the right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sides are relatively the same, featuring the AXLE company logo and GeForce 400 series, but are differentiated by additional stickers. The first side has two bar codes to identify the contents with a short rundown of what the card is and features. The other side has the same sticker as the front of the box, showing that a GT 430 is inside with 1GB of memory.

 

 

Opening the box shows the accessories, which consist of a driver disk and user manual/installation guide. Underneath is the GT 430 with a standard protective anti-static bag. The card has room to slide around, but should be fine as it weighs little. Any jostling during shipping shouldn't be enough (hopefully) to have it hurt itself slamming around.

 

 

Time to take a peek at the card!

Closer Look:

The NVIDIA GT 430 graphics card is currently the lowest card in the 400 series and packs in 96 CUDA cores, as did the GT 240 and 8800 GTS/GS/etc before it. It features 1GB of GDDR3 with different clock speeds for the memory depending on the company releasing it. This AXLE card is clocked at reference speeds of 700 MHz core, 1400 MHz shader, and 700 MHz memory. Since this is aimed at low-end markets, the card is smaller in physical size and power consumption, as is the trend for the cards in this tier. With DirectX 11 and solid media capabilities, this card would do great for typical home users, light gamers, energy efficient builds, HTPC systems, as a PhysX processor for more hardcore gamers, as well as plenty of other uses! The AXLE GeForce GT 430 is protected by a plastic cover to keep from scratching during installation and the heat sink is covered by a black shroud with the fan attached. Underneath is an all-aluminum heat sink similar to the Arctic Cooling Accelero L2 Pro and other designs — it's a very commonly used base for heat sinks. A bright yellow impeller sits over the top of the heat sink base, while the shroud clips onto the exhaust grill and fins to mount the fan to the heat sink. The back side has surface mount capacitors, resistors, and a few regulatory ICs, while all the memory ICs are on the GPU side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Near the slot is a 2-pin fan connection meaning there is no RPM sensing. The unshielded DVI port is on the side with the PCI Express 2.0 slot. There are hardly any tall components underneath the heat sink — only a few capacitors and chokes — but since the card is rated for 49W of power consumption, this isn't too surprising.

 

 

The GT 430 supports HDMI, VGA, and dual link DVI output. The fan shroud does not seal the card, so heat is exhausted from all around including through the slits running down both sides of the shroud — only some heat exits the exhaust grill. The rear of the card has no power connections as there is no need for them. However, a choke, capacitor, and two mosfets make an appearance.

 

 

The heat sink has four hex-headed studs that slide through holes on the PCB to mount to the GPU core with four spring loaded nuts. The heat sink is aluminum and the base is textured. The cuts made during machining are rough and left some burrs. The fan used is an 80 mm diameter fan with a depth of 15mm. The fan is of decent construction, as it has a ball bearing rather than the more common/cheap sleeve bearing. The fan is a standard 12V fan rated for 2.04W usage.

 

 

The GPU core is made at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) on its 40 nm lithography fabrication process. The die measures 114 mm² and has 585 million transistors. The chip is protected from cracking during heat sink installation by a plastic shim, as the die is quite fragile and if a heat sink is allowed to be installed crooked it may chip or crack the corners of the die. The memory reads Qimonda 1DSH1G-04A1F1C-16G and is the same stuff used on the AXLE HD 5450 reviewed back in 2010.

 

 

So far the GT 430 looks like a decent card, but testing will show how well it performs!

Specifications:

Graphics Engine
NVIDIA GeForce GT430
Bus Standard
PCI Express 2.0
Video Memory
1GB GDDR3
Core Clock
700 MHz
Memory Clock
1800 MHz
Memory Interface
128-bit
Stream Processors
96
Dimensions
Height: 100mm
Length: 153mm
Accessories
Driver CD
User Manual
Installation Guide
Interface
VGA
DVI
HDMI
Maximum Resolution
Analog: 2048x1536
Digital: 2560x1600
Power Requirements
300W power supply recommended
49W-max power consumption

 

Features:

 

All information courtesy of Axle @ http://www.axle3d.com/eng/productspec.php?id=292

Testing:

To test video cards at OCC, we run them through a slew of game and artificial benchmarks. Settings are lowered in all the tests except for the 3DMark applications, to provide a more realistic scenario for the low-end cards since higher settings in these games would likely lag very badly. Only low-end cards are compared with each other and all testing methods were the same for each card.

Comparison Boards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocking was decent for the AXLE GT 430, as the card responded strongly to the speed increases. Software voltage modification doesn't appear to be possible. The memory is only clocked at 700 MHz stock versus the 800-900 MHz speeds that other competitors are at, so performance at stock takes a hit compared to other GT 430s. Higher speeds were possible for the core, although it would freeze randomly during testing, so I lowered it to 830 MHz to make sure it was stable. Memory was near its maximum speed because at 830 MHz it would lock the system up.

 

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

MSI's Kombuster utility was used to test stability and to put a constant load on the GPU for the purposes of testing maximum power draw and temperatures. The stability test was used to find a range of settings that are stable through a 15 minute run at 1920x1200 8xAA. The reported clock speeds are those that proved stable over a 15 minute test at 1920x1200, 8x AA, as well as a run through the benchmarks suite.

 

 

  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Metro 2033
  3. Crysis Warhead
  4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  5. Just Cause 2
  6. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.0
  7. Batman: Arkham Asylum
  8. Resident Evil 5
  9. 3DMark 06 Professional
  10. 3DMark Vantage
  1. Temperature

Testing:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built specially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real-time effects and damage. This next generation first-person shooter comes to us from Ubisoft, surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this Far Cry game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The two GT 430s were neck and neck except at stock speeds on the higher resolutions. Looks as if NVIDIA has improved its drivers for Far Cry 2. The GT 220 has half the CUDA cores, but got over half as many frames as the 430s.

Testing:

Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro 2033 is based on the novel of the same name, written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, where you'll spend most of your time traversing the metro system, with occasional trips to the surface. Despite the dark atmosphere and bleak future for mankind, the visuals are anything but bleak. Powered by the 4A Engine, with support for DirectX 11, NVIDIA Physx and NVIDIA 3D Vision, the tunnels are extremely varied - in your travels, you'll come across human outposts, bandit settlements, and even half-eaten corpses. Ensuring you feel all the tension, there is no map and no health meter. Get lost without enough gas mask filters and adrenaline shots and you may soon wind up as one of those half-eaten corpses — chewed up by some horrifying manner of irradiated beast that hides in the shadows just waiting for some hapless soul to wander by.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Scores are not very impressive here. The game is definitely not playable with these settings — Metro 2033 is just too hardcore for this tier. The cards clumped together into groups with the worst being the XFX HD 5450. The GT 220 and GT 210 cards do not support DirectX 11, so they cannot be scored.

Testing:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and aliens to contend with as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The limited overclock made the AXLE card lose ground in all three resolutions. At stock, it scored close to the faster ASUS GT 430.

Testing:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the latest iteration of the venerable first-person shooter series, Call of Duty. Despite its long, successful pedigree, the game is not without substantial criticism and controversy, especially on the PC. Aside from the extremely short campaign and lack of innovation, the PC version's reception was also marred by its lack of support for user-run dedicated servers, which means no user-created maps, no mods, and no customized game modes. You're also limited to 18-player matches instead of the 64-player matches that were possible in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Despite all this, the game has been well received and the in-house IW 4.0 engine renders the maps in gorgeous detail, making it a perfect candidate for OCC benchmarking. You start off the single player missions playing as Private Allen and jump right into a serious firefight. This is the point where testing will begin. Testing will be done using actual game play with FPS measured by Fraps.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Another odd showing here — the Inno3D matching or besting the other NVIDIA cards and the 5550 doing better than the 5570.

Testing:

Just Cause 2 is a third-person shooter that takes place on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. In this sequel to 2006's Just Cause, you return as Agent Rico Rodriguez to overthrow an evil dictator and confront your former boss. When you don't feel like following the main story line, you're free to roam the island, pulling off crazy stunts and causing massive destruction in your wake, all beautifully rendered by the Avalanche Engine 2.0. In the end, that's what the game basically boils down to — crazy stunts and blowing things up. In fact, blowing things up and wreaking havoc is actually necessary to unlock new missions and items.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Just Cause 2 shows the ASUS coming out ahead of the AXLE card in each resolution. The ASUS had faster stock and overclocked speeds and the performance increase shows. The GT 220 doesn't trail too far behind.

Testing:

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.1 is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on the Unigine engine. What sets the Heaven Benchmark apart is the addition of hardware tessellation, available in three modes; Moderate, Normal and Extreme. Although tessellation requires a video card with DirectX 11 support and Windows Vista/7, the Heaven Benchmark also supports DirectX 9, DirectX 10 and OpenGL. Visually, it features beautiful floating islands that contain a tiny village and extremely detailed architecture.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The superior clocks of the ASUS card show as performance gains again in Unigine. All these cards test similarly, except the 5450. The GT 220 and GT 210 do not support DirectX 11, so they do not score.

Testing:

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a new game that brings together two bitter rivals, the Joker and Batman. The Joker has taken over Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. Your task is to rein the Joker back in and restore order. This game makes use of PhysX technology to create a rich environment for you to become the Dark Knight.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Batman generally favors NVIDIA, but in this case it's pretty even across the board. The game is definitely playable for all but the GT 210 and HD 5450.

Testing:

Resident Evil 5 is the sequel to one of the best selling video games of all time. You play the game as Chris Redfield a survivor of the events at Raccoon City who now works for the BSAA. Sent to Africa to find the genesis of the latest Bio Organic agents, you meet up with another BSAA operative and work together to solve the problem. The game offers incredible 3D effects and a co-op gaming style.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

In another close race, the ASUS pulls ahead again while the Inno3D and AXLE take turns beating each other.

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest begins. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Low 9000s isn't too bad for a low-end card — I can remember when passing 10K in 3DMark 06 was considered good. The AXLE gained over 1000 points with overclocking at the default resolution.

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista-based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. "Entry" is 1024x768 progressing to "Extreme" at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

With Vantage, the GT 430s take the lead up until the last chart, where the 5570 took the lead.

Testing:

Temperature testing will be accomplished by loading the video card to 100% using MSI Kombuster, which is paired with MSI's Afterburner overclocking utility for temperature monitoring. I will be using the stability test set to a resolution of 1920x1200 with 8xAA. I will use a fifteen minute time frame to run the test, ensuring that the maximum thermal threshold is reached. The fan speed will be left in the control of the driver package and video card's BIOS for the first test, with the fan moved to 100% to see the best possible cooling scenario. The idle test will be a twenty minute cool-down with the fan speeds left on automatic.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower = Better

 

The AXLE card provided the coolest operating temperatures out of the entire group! Fan speed control doesn't seem to work, as it appears the fan is set to run constantly at full speed.

Conclusion:

The AXLE GT 430 performed great. It didn't overclock past the ASUS variant, but it did run with a lower temperature while operating approximately as quiet as the CPU heat sink fans. The gaming potential is there somewhat, as long as graphics quality or frame rate isn't important — minimalism is key for gaming with this. High definition content handling is a great use for this card, as it is tailored to media workloads. This card also works great as a dedicated PhysX processor and can take the load off the CPU when decoding media content, while also completing the job faster! Low-profile versions are also available for fitting in smaller or cramped cases without hindering performance. Finding that the fan is built with a ball bearing is an added bonus, as this means the fan will last longer than it would have with a sleeve bearing. The extras with the card were minimal, but everything needed to get the card running were included. The GT 430 is definitely a great upgrade over on-board GPUs, especially Intel solutions, and proved to be capable of decent gaming as long as the details were set appropriately.

I really had to dig deep to find a con, as the card operated perfectly for its class — the only thing that was remotely close to a con that I could come up with was the rough cuts on the heat sink, which do not affect performance at all and are therefore unimportant. In addition, fan control/RPM monitoring would have been nice, but aren't needed, so I can't really hold that against the card either. There were no real cons, but it is good to highlight any possible negative aspects, as you may feel differently.

The overclock was marginal, but the temperatures were exceptional! 130 MHz was gained on the core, while 120 MHz was gained with the memory. With such low temperatures, a much higher overclock would likely be possible with volt-modding. With great temperatures and small stature, this card can fit in well for PhysX SLI, office/light gaming, HTPCs, and multimedia computing usage!

 

Pros:

 

Cons: