Palit GTS 450 Sonic Platinum Reviewccokeman -
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The design of the Palit GTS 450 Sonic Platinum edition video card mirrors the design of their GTX 460 which we recently looked at. This card is one of three models offered by Palit and is the top of the line in their GTS 450 lineup. You have the standard version that runs with the reference clock speeds of 783/1566/902Mhz (Fixed Function units/CUDA cores/Memory). The Sonic Edition comes in at 880/1760/1950Mhz while the Sonic Platinum is currently the fastest GTS 450 out at speeds of 930/1860/1000Mhz. This card is meant to be used in a motherboard with 16x PCIe 2.0 slots but is backwards compatible with a PCIe 1.0 slot. The GTS 450 is built using NVIDIA's GF 106 GPU core that is the latest revision of the FERMI micro-architecture. Built using 40nm manufacturing processes, this core uses 1.17 billion transistors and due to FERMI architecture being of a modular design, NVIDIA has been able to scale it down in price, performance and power consumption to meet the needs of this class of card. On the back side of this card there is not much to talk about other than the four Samsung memory modules that help make up the 1GB frame buffer. From the side views you get a glimse of how the heat sink sits over the red PCB.
Whereas the reference card makes use of two Dual link DVI ports and a single mini HDMI port, the Palit Sonic Platinum edition make use of a fourth connection with the addition of a D-sub connector to get further functionality. The other cards I have looked at do not have this combination. With this mix of the display connectivity options, there is this added ability to connect to just about every monitor type currently available. NVIDIA has also introduced bitstreaming support for Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio over HDMI if you are planning to use this card in an HTPC. The back end of the card is home to the power circuits and the six pin PCIe power connection.
All it takes to power this card in addition to the 75 watts from the PCIe slot, is an additional six pin PCIe connection from your power supply. The reference GTS 450 card has a 106 watt TDP and the suggested power supply falls in the 400 watt range. There is only a single SLI bridge connection on the top of the card so if you choose to explore a multi GPU SLI setup you are limited to a pair of cards in this configuration. This does however open up options to use NVIDIA's Surround technology with a total of three monitors. Add in NVIDIA's 3D Vision system and you get a 3D Surround experience to get you fully immersed in games.
The shroud comes off of the card by removing four small screws. Underneath, the heat pipe-based cooling solution is large and covers the majority of the card - but not quite to the extreme rear where the voltage regulation circuits are. The four phase power design does not have a separate heat sink for these components like the non-reference ASUS TOP model. The PCB design from the GPU core back looks almost indistinguishable from that of the Palit Sonic GTX 460 Sonic Platinum edition. If the design works on a card that uses more power, then this card should be more than fine with that design.
The cooling solution used on this card is heat pipe based and uses two heat pipes to transfer the thermal load from the GF 106 GPU core to the large fin array. The two heat pipes are in contact with a large thick copper plate instead of using a direct contact design. This design should prove equally effective at keeping the thermals in check.
The nine blade fan is 80mm in size and is manufactured by Power Logic. This fan can be manually controlled so you can adjust speeds as needed to facilitate cooling in your chassis and use ambient temperatures to keep the card cool.
The Palit GTS 450 Sonic Platinum is powered by the latest version of NVIDIA's FERMI micro-architecture. The GF 106 core uses a single GPU cluster with four streaming multi processors that house 192 CUDA cores, four polymorph engines, 32 texture units, 1.17 billion transistors, 16 ROP units and 256KB of shared L2 cache. Clock speeds on the reference version of the GTS 450 come in at 783MHz on the fixed function units and double that for 1566MHz on the CUDA (Shader) cores. This card comes in with a clock increase over the stock card of 147Mhz to 930Mhz on the fixed function units and 1860Mhz on the CUDA cores. This card, much like the reference cards, uses Samsung GDDR5 memory that carries part number K4G10325FE-HC05 - a very popularly used IC. This GDDR5 is rated to run at 1000MHz (QDR 4000MHz) and in this card, runs at 1000MHz or 98Mhz over the reference values. It does run through the same 128-bit bus. With memory modules that have seen clock speeds up over 1200Mhz regularly, I am curious to see if this card is able to meet or exceed that mark.
This card from Palit looks much different from the reference card and uses a much more robust cooling assembly to remove the heat from the GF 106 based core. Let's see if this allows the GTS 450 Sonic from Palit to gain some overclocking headroom.