Nvidia, Asus, Inno3D GTS 450 Review

ccokeman - 2010-09-03 18:43:14 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: September 12, 2010
Price: $129

Introduction:

Sooner or later you will need to replace your video card, it's a fact of life in this here electronic age. But not everyone is going to buy the big, expensive top-of-the-line card for their system. Why, you ask? Well, the vast majority of people actually don't have king size monitors and are running resolutions that would be considered small by what I am used to. People that run 22 inch and smaller monitors are going to be running resolutions that fall in the 1680x1050 range and below. Don't get me wrong, the first 22 inch monitor I purchased looked huge next to the 19 inch LCD I had before then so that really is a major leap forward in screen real estate. Just looking through the polls here at OCC you get the feeling that even 24 inch monitors have not come of age. So that puts the bulk of the buying crowd in a position to buy the graphics card they need without going overboard and still have plenty of cash for the rest of the system, while still getting excellent gaming performance in the games they play.

ATI has had its DirectX 11 product stack filled out for a while now and have really hit the price and performance points pretty well. Since NVIDIA was a bit late to the game with its Fermi architecture the company has begun to really fight for those price and performance points to take back marketshare from the red team. The Fermi architecture is a modular design and as such, you can reduce the amount of computing components to reach a specific price, power and performance point. The GF 104 based GTX 460 is a great example of this scalable architecture at work. It delivered excellent performance and met thermal and power requirements, all for a price that fit the performance. Next up we have the GF 106 based GTS 450. This model is the replacement for the aging GTS 250 and based on the GTS designation this is not part of the enthusiast line up but the performance lineup aimed squarely at the gaming public. NVIDIA has targeted its products to three distinct sets of customers, the GTX 480, or "Tank," is the card for the person that wants the best at any cost. The GTX 460, or "Hunter," is for the mid range segment that needs the horsepower but not at the level needed by the higher class. Then we get to the "Sniper," or GTS 450 that is aimed at the performance gamer on a budget. It does not have the firepower but still gets the job done. Along that line, the scalable Fermi architecture has been scaled down to a similar level as the GF 104 based GTX 460. The GTS 450 is equipped with a single GPU cluster with four streaming multi processors that house 192 CUDA cores, four polymorph engines, 32 texture units, 16 ROP units and 256KB of shared L2 cache. Memory comes in the form of 1GB of GDDR5 running through a 128-bit bus. Below is a block diagram of how the GF 106 core is laid out. At this level of performance you have to wonder what the pricing is going to be for a card of this stature. The price point for this introduction is $129, right smack in the middle of the HD 5750 pricing structure. Along with this introduction you wil see a reduction in price across the whole NVIDIA lineup, with the GTX 480 dropping to $499, the 470 to $299, the 465 to $229 and the 460 dropping to between $219 and $169 depending on the size of the frame buffer. Follow along as we take a look at both the reference card and an offering from both ASUS and Inno3D.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closer Look:

The first cards we will look at are the reference design GTS 450. As you will see on the following pages there are some differences in the cooling solutions used and the design of the board and connectivity. The reference design comes in at a short (relatively) 8.25 inches long and is designed to be used in a PCI-E 16x slot. The entire PCB is covered in a shroud to direct airflow over the board components. The backside of the PCB has four of the eight Samsung GDDR5 memory modules that make up the 1GB of on board frame buffer memory.

 

 

 

Connectivity on this reference board comes in the form of two Dual Link DVI and a single mini-HDMI ports. The GTS 450, much like the GTS 460, includes bitstreaming support for Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio over HDMI. That means if you use this card in an HTPC and use your 3D Vision kit you can see what the fuss is all about over Blu-Ray in full 1080p stereoscopic 3D. The back end of the card has just a single 6-pin PCI-E power connection. This single power connection and 106 watt TDP means you can get by with a 400 watt power supply per the PSU recommendation. The single bridge connection means you can only use the GTS 450 in an SLI setup with two cards. But with the scaling that SLI is now seeing that may be all you really need.

 

 

Once you pull the shroud off the card by removing the four screws that hold the heatsink to the PCB you can take a look at the board underneath to get the lay of the land. This side of the PCB has only four of the eight GDDR5 memory modules with the other four on the back side of the PCB. The back end of the card contains the voltage regulation circuits. There is not a heatsink over the power circuit on this card, but then again, this is the reference design and the board partners usually have a little something up their sleeves.

 

 

The heatsink used on the reference design is an extruded aluminum design that looks much like that used by Intel but without the copper slug in the middle. The 75mm fan from AVC carries part number DASA0815R2U. I was unable to find any specifics on it but the noise generated by this fan was minimal.

 

 

Now we get to the heart of the GTS 450. The GF 106 core is a further scale down of NVIDIA's Fermi architecture. This version drops down to a single GPU cluster with four streaming multi processors that house 192 CUDA cores, four polymorph engines, 32 texture units, 16 ROP units and 256KB of shared L2 cache. Clock speeds on this GPU are set to 783MHz on the fixed function units and you double that for the CUDA (Shader) core clock of 1566MHz. This card uses Samsung GDDR5 memory that carries part number K4G10325FE-HC05. This memory is familiar to anyone who has taken apart their card or read any recent video card reviews. This GDDR5 is rated to run at 1000MHz (QDR 4000MHz) and in this card runs at 902MHz through a 128-bit bus for a total memory bandwidth of 57.7GB/s. Since NVIDIA states this card is built for overclocking that means there should be some head room left for the enthusiast on a budget.

 

 

Pretty much all of the manufacturers you know about will have cards at launch. Here is a quick shot of some that will be available; by no means is this the definitive list but is a quick look at what's available. Stay tuned for a look at the Palit version in another review.

 

 

 

Now that the reference card is out of the way we can take a look at offerings from ASUS and Inno3D that are both factory overclocked and are built with more robust cooling solutions.

Closer Look: 

Taking a look at the packaging for the ASUS ENGTS450 TOP, you are going to see a large image of a mythical creature on the front that looks to be powerful; giving the idea that the ENGTS450 TOP is a powerful graphics card. The top left hand corner of the package is where you are going to find the ASUS logo with the tag "Inspiring Innovation * Persistent Perfection" printed below. You are going to see the "925MHz Speed Overclocked" tag printed in the middle of the front. ASUS wants you to know how much more power you are going to get with the TOP edition compared to the generic GTS450 which comes clocked in at 783MHz, which is 142MHz lower than the ASUS ENGTS450 TOP! You are going to see the DirectCU, 1GB GDDR5, Play games with iPhone, NVIDIA GeForce Cuda, and Geforce GTS450 tags along the bottom edge of the package, so you know the main features of the card. When you take a look at the back of the package, you are going to see a list of the features across the top of the package. You are going to see the DirectCU logo off to the left side of the back. ASUS also let you know a little bit about its DirectCU technology, which we will talk about later. The ASUS ENGTS450 TOP has ASUS Voltage Tweak, giving you the ability to achieve up to a 50% performance increase by letting you adjust the Vcore to the GPU for more overclocking. ASUS also printed a recommended system requirements list off to the right side of the package.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you open up the ASUS ENGTS450 TOP packaging, you are going to find a white box inside that holds all of the accessories that come with the card as well as the card itself. Everything in the package has its own place to keep it from moving around and becoming damaged during the shipping process. The ASUS ENGTS450 TOP is wrapped up in an anti-static bag to keep it from getting any electronic damage that may occur when it is being shipped or from when the box gets opened up. The only accessories that come packaged with the ASUS ENGTS450 TOP are the drivers CD, the user manual, and a 6-pin PCI-E dongle to convert two 4-pin Molex connections to the 6-pin PCI-E connector.

 

 

When you first pull out the ASUS ENGTS450 TOP, you are going to see a large heatsink/fan setup mounted on the card. The casing for the heatsink/fan gives the card a very elegant look, being completely black with the exception of the four green stripes at the back of the casing. The heatsink is a full coverage style heatsink that does cover the entire front of the video card to increase how well the card can be cooled. Looking at the back of the card, you are going to see that there are six holes in the PCB that are placed to make sure you can install an aftermarket cooling solution if you desire even more cooling performance such as a water block. The card is designed to take up two slots on your motherboard to allow the card to get the airflow needed to cool down the core that has already been overclocked to 925MHz. The ASUS ENGTS450 TOP is based on the NVIDIA GF106 Fermi core, giving you DX 11 support as well as Shader Model 5.0.

 

 

 

The ASUS ENGTS450 TOP has three different ports that you can connect monitors to; HDMI, D-Sub, and DVI. You are also going to see that ASUS has cut ventilation in the front PCI bracket to allow some air to be sucked into the case by the card and flow right to the card for a little more cooling performance. The ENGTS450 uses the PCI-E slot to communicate with your motherboard; even though there is power transferred through the PCI-E slot, it is not enough for the powerful ENGTS and there is an additional 6-pin PCI-E power adapter located at the top of the card near the rear to add the additional power needed. If one of these cards is not going to be enough graphics power for you, you can always scale up your performance using NVIDIA's SLI technology and add a secondary card to your setup.

 

 

 

When you pull off the heatsink, you are going to see the ASUS ENGTS450 TOP naked, revealing the GF106-250-KA-A1 GPU. This GPU comes clocked in at 925MHz stock, which was overclocked at the factory from the original 783MHz. The memory chips installed on the card are the Samsung K4G10325FE-HC05, these memory modules are lead-free, RoHS compliant & Halogen-free. They are secified to run at QDR 4000 speeds. The back section of the ENGTS450 TOP is where all of your capacitors and voltage regulators are located, there is a small heatsink back here above the voltage regulators to keep them from overheating.

 

 

 

When you pull off the heatsink, you are going to see that there are two heat-pipes that go from the base of the cooler and travel out to the large fin array to quickly dissipate the heat that they collected from the GPU and other components. ASUS has used its DirectCU technology on the ENGTS450 TOP graphics card, this is going to give you up to 20% cooler temperatures during game play and up to 35% quieter operation under idle mode than your generic GeForce GTS450. The heat-pipes are flattened and sanded down to the copper to make up the base of the cooler for maximum heat transfer between the GPU and the cooler itself.

 

 

Now that we know what the ASUS ENGTS450 TOP looks like, it's time to take a look at the specifications and features of the card.

Closer Look:

Inno3D has often used performance heatsinks especially on the iChiLL line, as is the case with the Inno3D iChiLL GTS 450 up for review. These heatsinks are designed by companies such as Zalman and Arctic Cooling to give their line of video cards better cooling performance in comparison to the reference heatsink designs from NVIDIA. This saves time for consumers who want better noise or cooling performance but don’t want to bother with installing an aftermarket heatsink or risk losing warranty eligibility. Additionally, the clock speeds often get bumped up a bit for added gaming performance as is the case here at 820MHz core and 950MHz memory. The box that the GTS 450 comes in is the standard black and silver/white look that the other iChiLL boxes have. Each side says iChiLL and has a snowflake somewhere. The front shows the core and memory speeds, cooler type, memory size, three year warranty, and that the card is aimed for overclocking and cooling. Another feature to note are the solid capacitors that have a longer life generally than conventional capacitors. A free trial for StarCraft II is thrown in as well. CUDA is explained at the bottom with PhysX, 3D Stereo Vision, Video and Image Processing. Rotating to the back reveals a clean side with a large glossy chrome X across it, the other sides are clean as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After opening both layers we find some foam bumpers keeping the video card in place and providing some protection. The standard antistatic bag is held shut by a warning sticker that tells of the dangers of static and that proper handling is needed. Above the video card is a small box containing a power adapter and DVI to VGA adapter, underneath the card is the manual, driver disc, and StarCraft II free trial code slip.

 

 

Four heat pipes sit underneath dual 92mm PWM fans on the Arctic Cooling Accelero TWIN TURBO Pro heatsink that Inno3D chose to equip this GTS 450 with. Twice the number of fans and heat pipes in comparison to the ASUS version. iChiLL stickers adorn each fan with a pair of blue stickers on the sides. The PCB is blue and has four memory ICs mounted per side, none of which are actively cooled. A smaller heatsink cools the power circuitry while the larger handles the GPU core. Four screws with springs and silicone washers mount the heatsink to the GPU die, this core is exposed unlike many of NVIDIA's other video cards. A shim is used to protect the core from improper or unbalanced heatsink installation.

 

 

The front of the video card has gold plated I/O ports, dual DVI ports and an HDMI port provide updated support while still providing support for VGA through the adapter. The expansion slot plate is a design carried over from generic designs and so has two blank bolt holes and exhaust fins. The rear of the card shows the smaller heatsink hidden underneath that runs parallel to the larger heatsink. The 4-pin PWM fan connection is opposite of the 6-pin PCI Express power connection.

 

 

The four heat pipes terminate underneath each of the 92mm fans evenly. Each fan should emit up to 54 CFM with Fluid Dynamic bearings, an improved design on sleeved bearings. The height of the video card is greater than two slots as the fans protrude outward slightly, there is enough clearance that it should be easy to add aftermarket memory heatsinks for better overclocking. The heat pipes are soldered into the base although the pipes are only slid into the fins, the fins themselves have some odd notches on them most likely for decoration. Each fin is clipped onto the next to make the system more sturdy.

 

 

Each impeller has eleven blades and is a whitish eggshell color. Both fans are wired together and are connected for PWM control. These fans are designed for low noise output and can operate up to 2000RPM each, providing up to 54 CFM. The heatsink is designed to dissipate 120 Watts and is probably installed with MX-2 thermal paste. The surface of the base is not smooth but it is flat. The black dual fan housing clips onto the heatsink with two clips per side, the heatsink design is very simple since it only takes four screws to take the assembly off!

 

 

The newest GPU core in the NVIDIA family is the GF106, made in Taiwan at TMSC on 40nm technologies similar to the Juniper core from AMD, though carrying around a million more transistors. The shim is glued in place to protect the GPU core from cracking that would occur if a heatsink was installed improperly. Two memory grids are left open on each side, possibly suggesting larger capacities in the future. The memory equipped is GDDR5 provided by SAMSUNG 6th generation running off of 1.5V rated for 4000Mbps. The model number for this memory is K4G10325FE-HC05 very similar to modules found on prior NVIDIA and AMD (especially 5000 series) cards, these modules are 170 FBGA mounted and are Halogen/Lead-free.

 

 

Time to look at the drivers page!

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!

NVIDIA 3D Vision:  

Most all of us have gone out to the movies and seen one of the new 3D films and enjoyed it. What if you were able to play your favorite games with that type of 3D experience? Well NVIDIA has been working on what they call NVIDIA 3D Vision, what this technology does is actually processes two images and displays them on your screen, one image for your right eye while the other is for your left eye. The monitor and your 3D glasses will work with your GeForce GPU so each of your eye will receive its own image and because each eye is seeing a different image, your brain will perceive it as a 3D image.

What special things are you going to need to be able to convert your PC to a 3D gaming machine? Well you are going to need the NVIDIA 3D Vision kit, which is currently going for $179.99 on Newegg.com. You are also going to need to have a 3D Vision-Ready Display, which has a refresh rate of 120Hz, twice the refresh rate of your typical monitor. You will also need to have a compatible NVIDIA Graphics Card and you need to have either Windows Vista or Windows 7 installed on your PC. It is also recommended by NVIDIA to have at least an Intel Core2Duo or AMD Athlon X2 CPU or higher, 1GB of system memory and 100MB of free disk space. For more information about system requirements, please visit this page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NVIDIA Surround:

So ATI has Eyefinity, well NVIDIA has its own version of multi-monitor support called NVIDIA Surround. What can you do with NVIDIA Surround? You are going to be able to expand your display seamlessly across three displays hooked up to your graphics card. You may be wondering why you would rather do this than purchase a large monitor? Well, you are going to be able to get a complete view of the battlefield in real-time strategy games. Maybe you are into MMORPGs, here you are going to be able to manage your inventory windows, quest logs, and track your party all on different screens. That leaves out the games that take on a first person view of the game, here you are going to get your peripheral vision with the expanded display without having to turn your character in the game. Advanced NVIDIA software automatically converts over 425 games to stereoscopic 3D without the need for special game patches, meaning you are not going to be hunting down extra downloads to get your game to work with NVIDIA's Surround once you get your new card setup.

 

NVIDIA PhysX: 

NVIDIA PhysX is a powerful physics engine that enables real-time physics in leading edge PC games. it is widely adopted by over 150 games and is used by more than 10,000 developers. PhysX is optimized for hardware acceleration by massively parallel processors. geForce GPUs with PhysX provide an exponential increase in physics processing power taking gaming physics to the next level. 

Physics is the next big thing in gaming; it's all about how objects in your game move, interact, and react to the environment around them. Without physics in many of today's games, objects just don't seem to act the way you'd want or expect them to in real life. currently most of the action is limited to pre-scripted or 'canned' animations triggered by in-game events like a gunshot hitting a wall. With NVIDIA PhysX technology, game worlds literally come to life: walls can be torn down, glass can be shattered, trees bend in the wind, and water flows with body and force. NVIDIA GeForce GPUs with PhysX deliver the computing horsepower necessary to enable true, advanced physics in the next generation of game titles making canned animation effects a thing of the past.

Currently Unreal Engine 3, Gamebryo, Vision, Instinct, Trinigy, Diesel, Unity 3D, Hero, and BigWorld are the game engines that support NVIDIA PhysX technology. EA, THQ, 2K Games, and Sega are some of the big names that have licensed PhysX for their global studios. As an example of what this can do for you take a look at the images below from Batman Arkham Asylum.

 

 

 

These technologies bring added realism to the gaming environment and get us closer to full immersion.

Specifications:

NVIDIA GTS 450

 
Graphics Card
GeForce GTS 450
Processing Units
 
Graphics Processing Clusters
1
Streaming Multiprocessors
4
CUDA Cores
192
Texture Units
32
ROP Units
16
Clock Speeds
 
Graphics Clock (Fixed Function Units)
783 MHz
Processor Clock (CUDA Cores)
1566 MHz
Memory Clock (Clock rate / Data rate)
902MHz / 3608 MHz
Memory
 
Total Video Memory
1024 MB GDDR5
Memory Interface
128-bit
Total Memory Bandwidth
57.7 GB/s
Fillrate
 
Texture Filtering Rate (Bilinear)
25.1 GigaTexels/sec
Physical & Thermal
Fabrication Process
40 nm
Connectors
2 x Dual-Link DVI-I
1 x Mini HDMI
Form Factor
Dual Slot
Power Connectors
1 x 6-pin
Recommended Power Supply
400 Watts
Thermal Design Power (TDP)1
106 Watts
Thermal Threshold2
95° C

Features:

 

ASUS ENGTS450 TOP

GPU
GTS450
Core
GF106 A1
Technology
40 nm
Transistor Count
1170 Million
ROPs
16
Shaders
192 Unified
DirectX Support
11.0
Shader Model
5.0
Memory Type
GDDR5
Memory Size
1024MB
Bus Width
128 Bit
Bandwidth
64.0GB/s
Pixel Fillrate
14.8 GPixel/s
Texture Fillrate
25.9 GTexel/s
GPU Clock
925MHz
Memory Clock
1000MHz (2000MHz)
Shader Clock
1850MHz
GPU Voltage
1.125V

 

Features:

All inforomation courtesy of ASUS

 

Inno 3D GTS 450

GPU
GeForce GTS 450
CUDA Cores
196
Graphics Clock
820 MHz
Processor Clock
1640 MHz
Memory Clock
950 MHz
Memory Amount
1GB
Memory Interface
128-bit
External Power
1 x 6 pin PCIe Graphic External 


Features:

All Information courtesy of Inno3D

Testing:

Testing of this trio of NVIDIAs latest assault on ATI's product stack the GTS 450 will consist of running the cards through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors. Comparisons will be made to cards of equal and greater capabilities to show where it falls on the performance ladder. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles to give you an idea on how the cards perform relative to each other. The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustment will be made to the respective control panels during the testing with the exception of the 3DMark Vantage testing where PhysX will be disabled in the NVIDIA control panel. I will test the card at stock speeds, then overclocked in order to see how much additional performance is available and to determine if it can run with the current fastest single GPU cards on the market. The drivers used in this test will be the 10.7 Catalyst drivers for ATI and 258.96 Forceware drivers from NVIDIA for the GTX 480, 470, 465 and GTX 460. THE GTS 450 and prior generation GTS 250 will be tested with the latest 260 series driver being introduced with this product lineup. Tests will be conducted at both stock and overclocked settings to gauge performance when an increase in clock speed is applied.

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

NVIDIA GTS 450  952/1092Mhz

NVIDIA says that this little gem is built for overclocking, normally you take that with a grain of salt but the GTS 450 has some legs on it and ended up with a pretty stout overclock that resulted in some substantial performance increases across the board. The base clock speeds on the reference samples were 783/902Mhz. By using the latest version of MSI's Afterburner video card overclocking utility I was able to increase these clock speeds up to 952/1092Mhz. Since there are two of the reference cards it would not seem right if only one card would run these numbers but both the cards would run at this level when run in SLI mode. To get one card this nice is a good thing but to have two do this is a good indication that the series may allow for this kind of clock increase with the GF 106 based cards. For 3Dmark testing only 980/2290Mhz were stable enough for the lower resolutions but not quite stable enough to pull through the whole suite. To get to the stable clock speeds I did need tickle the voltage up to 1150mv and increase the fan speed to keep the card(s) running stable through the whole gaming test suite. The end results are an increase of 169Mhz or 21+% on the core and shaders with an increase of 190Mhz or 20+% on the GDDR5 memory. Both of these increases contribute to a substantial increase in performance across the board.

 

 

ASUS ENGTS450 TOP  975/1090Mhz

When it came down to overclocking the ASUS ENGTS450 TOP, there was not too much that I was expecting seeing that it was factory overclocked at quite a high speed. To my surprise I was able to get the core clocked all the way up to 975MHz which is only 50MHz higher than stock speeds, however it is 192MHz higher than the standard reference GPU clock speed. I was also able to overclock the memory of the card to a whopping 2180MHz, which is 180MHz higher than the stock speeds for the ASUS ENGTS450 TOP. I did have to increase the core voltage a tad bit to make the card stable, however it was only by 37mv, a small price to pay for an increase of almost 25% on the core speeds.

 

Inno 3D GTS 450   955/1060Mhz

The Inno3D was very simple to overclock, without voltage it moved right up to 965 MHz where it was unstable, backing off to 955 MHz proved fully stable without any voltage increase. Using MSI Afterburner 2.0.0 the voltage was able to be increased and this allowed the GTS 450 to operate past 1 GHz speeds, not an easy feat for any video card. The memory was set for 1060 MHz but had some head room left, the modules were getting pretty warm so that speed was good enough. Temperatures were never a problem with this being one of the coolest operating temperature air cooling cards I've tested.

 

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 1920 x 1200, 8x AA and the 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
  2. Power Consumption

 

The trio of GTS 450's shows that they really do have some serious overclocking ability. This bump in clock speed should help the performance delivered in game. Something that should show in the following benchmarks.

Testing:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built especially 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 version of the 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 50 square kilometers 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

 

When compared to the HD 5750 and older GTS 250, the GTS 450 cards all provide a higher level of performance in this game. The varying clock speeds between the reference, ASUS and Inno 3D cards make for an interesting comparison. SLI scaling runs at about 90% so you see a significant improvement in performance when adding a second card to the equation. The massive overclocks bring along another bump in performance that can't be ignored.

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

 

The ASUS and Inno 3D cards come from the factory with a nice overclock that keeps the performance above that of the HD 5750 while the reference card delivers equal or better performance in the targeted 1280x1024 and 1680x1050 resolutions. The GTS 250 is not available for comparison in this game due to not having DirectX 11 support.

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

 

In the resolutions the GTS 450 is going to compete in it tops the HD 5750 and its predecessor, the GTS 250. In fact, the GTS 450 is ahead of the GTS 250 through each of the eight tests. SLI scaling again is as excellent in this game, almost doubling the delivered performance. Something that definitely helps out in Crysis!


 

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

 

In this game the old tech GTS 250 shows it still has some legs in the stock speed testing. When overclocked the GTS 450 is faster. When compared to its direct competition, the HD 5750, the GTS 450 is faster in the targeted resolutions but falls a little short up top. SLI scaling is once again phenomenal.

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

 

The reference GTS 450 and HD 5750 deliver almost identical FPS in the 1280x1024 and 1680x1050 resolutions. The old school GTS 250 hangs close but falls a little short of its replacement. The ASUS card with its massive factory overclock does stand out in the stock testing. SLI scaling is almost 100% and reaches 100% at 2560x1600.

Testing:

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.0 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 GTS 450 cards deliver a higher score than the HD 5750 in this test on the tessellation strengths of the Fermi architecture. The SLI scaling once again is impressive from just under 100% to an even 100% depending on the test. The GTS 250 is not tested in this benchmark as it does not have DirectX 11 support.


 

Testing:

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

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The reference GTS 450 delivers more FPS than the GTS 250 in seven out of eight tests with one tie and outplays the HD 5750 across the entire test scenario. SLI scaling is excellent as well, making for an inexpensive high performance setup at 1680x1050. For added performance just bump the clock speeds up, there's plenty of room left.

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 this game with the settings used, the HD 5750 pulls ahead of the reference GTS 450 in seven out of eight tests run. However, the factory overclocked card carries an edge in performance. SLI scaling is great. If you choose to overclock the GTS 450 there are definite performance improvements to be gained. The GTS 250 does compete at the higher resolutions at stock speeds but when you throw the kitchen sink at the cards the 450 does deliver a higher level of game play.

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest has begun. 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

 

At the resolutions most likely used with the GTS 450 and the HD 5750 being 1280x1024 and 1680x1050, the GTS 450 outperforms the ATI card at this level at stock clock speeds. The GTS 250 does muddy the field up a bit though. SLI scaling does not offer close to a 100% increase in performance as in some of the games but does contribute a nice bump if you go that route. As is par for the course you get a nice bump in your scoring with a bit of overclocking.

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 1024 x 768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920 x 1200. 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

 

In all eight tests the reference GTS 450 gives a higher score than the GTS 250 and HD 5750. As the resolutions increase the SLI scaling percentage seems to improve. Overclocking the GTS 450 delivers excellent performance increases across the board.

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 1920 x 1200 using 8xAA. I will use a 15 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 for overclocking. The idle test will be a 20 minute cool down with the fan speeds left on automatic.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower = Better

 

When it came to the cooling solutions on this trio of cards you had the reference solution that proves to be good enough to get the job done. The ASUS and Inno 3D both have non stock cooling solutions. The temperatures of the ASUS card seem high at idle but when you look at the clock speeds it is running right out of the box you can see why. The Inno 3D solution looks just like the Twin Turbo Pro used by ECS on its GTX 460 Black series card we just looked at and does an excellent job of cooling the core down and offered the lowest temperatures of the group both at idle and under load.

Testing:

Power Consumption of the system will be measured in both idle states and loaded states and will take into account the peak voltage of the system with each video card installed. I will use MSI Kombuster to load the GPU for a 15 minute test and use the peak load of the system as my result for the maximum load. The idle results will be measured after 15 minutes of inactivity on the system.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower = Better

 

This trio of cards performed in the same envelope. When compared to the older GTS 250 and the HD 5750, the GTS 450 had a lower power consumption total at idle and under load in the stock speed testing. When overclocked the results will differ greatly based on the voltage needed to run the number so you can take these numbers with a grain of salt as far as comparisons go.

Conclusion:

Since this could get ugly with three different cards to talk about I will hit each one in turn. I think that the performance of the GTS 450 speaks for itself. It offers budget performance when you play games at resolutions between 1280x1024 and 1680x1050 and leaves a little left over if you move up to 1920x1200. Let's start with the reference card. These cards are what the majority of people getting the GTS 450 will most likely see. Under the skin though, you will have the certified version of the card and then you will have the board partners making their cards with improved components and cooling. But hey, that's OK because the reference version of this card delivers some serious performance for this price range. If the stock performance is not enough the guys at NVIDIA said this card was built for overclocking and you know what, they did not tell a lie. The base frequencies for the reference card come in at 783/1566MHz on the CUDA cores and 902MHz on the 1GB of GDDR5 memory. That, by itself, is nothing to scoff at since this took the performance to just above the HD 5750 in most instances, not all but most. Then you slap the big overclock on it and see it fly. These reference cards with the reference cooling were able to clock up to 952/1904MHz on the CUDA cores and 1092MHz (4368MHz effective) with not much more than a bump of the voltage and fan speeds to get there. That's a 20+% improvement folks. This offered up a significant increase in firepower and showed in the results. Add in that second card and the performance skyrockets. When two GTS 450 cards are run in an SLI configuration, the performance almost doubles in most of the games I tested. In some instances the performance literally did double from the single to a multiple card configuration.

The Fermi architecture based video cards have been known to be hot running, power hungry beasts but surprisingly the GF 106 based cards have not followed along on that downward spiral. This set of cards were the lowest in power consumption in three out of the four tests with operating temperatures that I felt were right on the money for the cooling solution used. The cooling solution on the reference card is not much more than an aluminum slug with fins that actually keeps the card at a lees than toasty 62 degrees Celsius when overclocked with the fan spooled up. Normally this results in a noise I have grown to hate even as my hearing goes away. At no point in the testing would I consider the fans used loud by comparison to some of the other reference cooling solutions I have seen in the past. So that is a big plus.

Those fans of the HTPC should rejoice for that. The GTS 450, much like the GTX 460, offers bitstreaming support for Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio over HDMI so you can get your high definition sound and picture through the HDMI port. Add in your 3Dvison kit and you get Blu-Ray movies in 1080p and Stereoscopic 3D. If you use this card for strictly gaming, you can load up a second card and make use of NVIDIA's 3D Surround technologies to get a more immersive gaming environment. With the horsepower a second card brings, you can turn up the eye candy and get the whole package with PhysX effects and surround!

This card is the replacement for the GTS 250 in NVIDIA's lineup and as such, you gotta look at the price point that this card is being offered for. It's right in the center of ATI's board partners' pricing strategies at $129. But the green team is not done yet as it has dropped the price on all of the Fermi based cards in its product stack from the GTX 480 all the way to the GTX 460, with the top dog now going for $499. For this you get a card with better performance than the older GTS 250 that comes with DirectX 11 support, so you can play the latest games to full effect. The price is right and the performance is right.

Pros:

Cons:

 

Asus ENGTS450 TOP

What is there to say about the ASUS ENGTS450 TOP video card? I will start off by stating that the card is not only factory overclocked with some pretty stout clock speeds but I was able to pull more form the card once I increased the voltages a bit. I was able to increase the clock speeds up to 975/1950MHz on the CUDA cores and a nice bump to 1090MHz on the memory. By far this was the fastest of the cards in stock trim. The price point for the ASUS ENGTS450 TOP is set at $129.99, which is only $5 more than Newegg.com currently has the Palit GTS 250 set at. I was quite impressed with the different features such as the dust proof fan, four phase power, EMI shielding on the connectivity and more that the ASUS ENGTS450 TOP was able to give me besides the factory overclocked settings; including the DirectCU technology that ASUS adapted to the card. I was able to see temperatures around 68°C when it was overclocked and at full load, which is quite impressive when you are sitting at 975MHz on the core and 2180MHz on the memory at 1162mV for your GPU core voltage. Not quite the level of cooling as on the Inno3D card but much better than the stock cooling solution at stock speeds. When I was testing the power usage of the card, the power consumption was comparable to the rest of the GTS 450 cards in this test. The ASUS ENGTS450 TOP is a card that gets the whole Extreme design feature set, and comes with a big overclock right from the factory with a good low noise cooling solution.

 

Pros:

 

Cons:

 

Inno 3D GTS450

Much like the stock and ASUS GTS 450 video card the Inno3D card offered excellent performance in this category right out of the box. This card is factory overclocked and equipped with a massive Arctic Cooling Twin Turbo PRO cooling solution that easily kept this card the coolest of the bunch. This contributed to this card hitting roughly the same overclocks as the factory cooled cards. While not giving up a higher clock speed, it does give one piece of mind considering the bad rap Fermi has had when it comes to the heat generated by the architecture. Overclocking the Inno3D GTS 450 iChiLL was a walk in the park, much the same as the other two cards. The Inno3D GTS 450 enjoys the same feature set and makes use of the same game changing technologies as the reference cards but at much cooler temperatures. Before increasing the voltage the GTS 450 was able to run at 955/1910MHz core and 1060MHz memory fully stable. Adding voltage allowed the card to test past 1GHz stable with very cool operational temperatures. I could make a run through 3Dmark 06 at this level but not much else but when you are benching you are right on the edge anyhow. The only real concerns are that the size of the cooling solution could impact how many other add in cards you can use in your system since the cooling solution is quite large. That and the heat generated by the GF 106 GPU gets dumped into the chassis. A case with good airflow fixes this problem! The Inno3D is the clear winner when it comes to operating temperatures. It delivers performance right in line with its expectations and clock speeds.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: