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Nvidia, Asus, Inno3D GTS 450 Review

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Closer Look:

With the new batch of GTS 450s rolling out from NVIDIA, the company has decided to update the latest 260 version drivers with a new driver installer. For fast installation users can press the Express installation button, or custom to pick and choose which features are added. Optional features include PhysX software, HD Audio drivers, and 3D Vision Drivers which have been bundled with the installation suite so that users won't have to download them separately. As usual with design releases performance improvements have been developed for popular games that are currently available. Performance gains range from 7% up to 29% with single card and SLI modes. To make installation faster and to have a copy of the installer ready, the files are extracted to the local storage device then executed. Once extracted users are welcomed by the start of the new installer with a license agreement with required compliance to continue.

















The new installation screen is petite and is focused on the NVIDIA color scheme, buttons are black and green, words in white, the logo is in the background and top right corner, and the rest of the application follows suit. After accepting the agreement the Options installation screen is shown. Users can choose between Express and Custom options where Express will immediately get everything installed or Custom where unnecessary file installations can be added or removed to the installation list. Along with the list of files are the current and new versions of each file, and an option to do a clean installation then disregards prior settings and profiles. This can also be handy for a fresh start where a profile could be corrupt or to reset a certain setting lost by the user.



Once either Express or Custom installation methods are chosen the screen will switch to Install. A progress bar shows how far along the installation has proceeded as does a caption above it explaining the current process. Once done the computer may need a reset. After installation the NVIDIA Control Panel will be accessible for the first time. The main page welcomes users to the control panel and provides hot links to various support pages ranging from community forums to online stores and driver/software downloads.



The first page under 3D Settings has a few comparison pictures and three option buttons along with an animation that displays the changes. Users can choose to either leave settings to the applications, use advanced settings, or layouts ranging from performance to quality. The animation can be paused if users wish to make it stop rotating clockwise. The next page under 3D Settings contains an in-depth array of settings most of which would be commonly found in recently released games. Some settings include Vsync, Ambient Occlusion, Antialiasing, and Anisotropic filtering. Clicking restore sets all of these settings back to their original default values in the event that they are changed. Clicking the Program Settings tab allows for individual programs to have these settings changed.



Last of the 3D Settings is the PhysX Configuration. There are only a couple options to choose for a PhysX processor, first being auto-select, second the CPU, and third an NVIDIA video card. An image displays which video card is hooked up to a monitor. The next group of settings are categorized as the Display settings, first page is for resolution settings. The resolution can be set from the highest supported down to 800x600 for the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system. Refresh rate and color depth can also be set on this page but only to what is supported. Clicking customize will give 1080/720/576/480 p and i resolutions for HD/SD with rates of 25Hz, 29Hz, 50Hz, and 59Hz. Users can also create a custom resolution after accepting a legal disclaimer first that allows for any group of settings imaginable.



Next are color settings, these settings also include brightness, contrast, and gamma settings. Enhancements are along the bottom and can change the color variation, separation, and intensity. All of these settings can be done for individual monitors if the system has more than one equipped. Three reference images act as a preview of what to expect from the changes. The next page has to do with size and position, where if a resolution smaller than the native resolution is used different scenarios can be used for displaying the differences. Option one uses NVIDIA scaling where the desktop is stretched to fit the screen. Option two stretches the desktop as much as it can while maintaining the aspect ratio of the smaller resolution. If the ratios differ then black lines are added to the display to keep the image true to the ratio. Option three sets the current resolution to the native resolution if it isn't already. And lastly Option four displays the resolution as it really is while being centered on the monitor. This keeps the image clear but wastes a bit of screen space.



Depending on the environment some users may find the need to rotate the display, which can be done under the Rotate Display page. Landscape is the typical and default setting. Almost all monitors are set using landscape orientation. Portrait would be the monitor rotated 90° clockwise. Landscape would be 180° and is usually used on projectors, and Portrait flipped would be 270°. The next page analyzes whether or not the current system is High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection-capable or not for each display. This can be a good tool for those looking to learn more about their viewing experience.



The last page in the Display treelist is used for setting up multiple monitors. Each display can be viewed and adjusted to fit with how they are set up. Next up is the Performance list. To enable this feature users must install NVIDIA Ntune. Overclocking the video card and system is achievable after agreeing to another legal disclaimer. GPU settings are either factory/automatic or custom/direct. Clock and memory speed can be directly changed and both have very high limits past what is stable. No voltage or Shader settings can be changed, but Shader speed is locked to double the core speed! Fan speed can be set manually all the way up to 100% while automatic will throttle the fan speeds based on load. Current temperature can be shown in either Celsius or Fahrenheit. No stability tests are included for GPU testing so care must be taken when overclocking.



Automated system overclocking is under the Tune System page. The program only likely works with nForce based motherboards and did not play friendly with the i7 X58 chipset. The system can cause crashes and can be set to attempt to rectify the issue on reboot but overclocking is best left to real human interaction. The next page attempts to generate a readout of system data although since the program is not up to date it has a hard time recognizing some settings.



Clicking NVMonitor brings up a new window displaying CPU/memory/disk usage, speed, voltage, temperature, and fan speed readouts. To close this window users must right click it and select close, since it is outdated it does not report everything. Last on the performance list is the custom rules page where a volley of AND/OR conditions can be set with profiles loading, pop-up messages occur, warning tones sound, or applications launch. Although most people won't need this, it can come quite in handy. An example would be to automatically launch a voice chat application when loading a game for competitive play for one.



Stereoscopic 3D has its own listing, enabling 3D launches the setup wizard, which lets users select the type of 3D equipment in use from cheap anaglyph glasses to 3D Vision kits. The users are then tested to ensure that they have the proper equipment and that it is functioning. After passing the test users can change the 3D depth as their minds and eyes become more accustomed to seeing in 3D. For beginners, a lower depth is suggested while veterans will have a better 3D experience with higher depths enabled. 3D laser sights have to be chosen for in-game aiming to compensate for the added 3D effect. The other 3D page covers what games are compatible and how well they display the 3D effects. Users can click the "Show only installed games" for a list of only the games that they have and how well the games fare.



The last list is for video playback settings. The first page can be used to change brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, gamma red/green/blue, and the use of dynamic ranges of either limited (commonly used on TVs) or full (can allow more detail in bright/dark scenes). Dynamic contrast enhancement can also be enabled, this automatically adjusts the brightness as the video plays, and is applied over the manual settings. Color enhancement can also be enabled to adjust blue, green, and skin tones. The next page has three more settings to choose from. The first is edge enhancement which can sharpen movie images with a higher contrast on lines and objects, second is Deinterlacing, and last is noise reduction which removes artifacts from the video.



Next up is NVIDIA PhysX, 3DVision, and Surround!

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