Nvidia GeForce GTS 450 review
Nvidia's cheapest Fermi card yet, but still pales in comparison to ATI's faster rivals
You don't need to tell the average PC gamer that Nvidia has been going through a rough patch of late. It's a period that's culminated in its first minority share of the graphics card market for several years, but the arrival of the GeForce GTX 460 marked a new approach and a potential reversal of fortune.
It's a trend that continues with the GTS 450, which architecturally follows the lead of the GTX 460, albeit with a cut-down specification.
The GTS 450 includes just one of the Graphics Processing Clusters (GPCs) that form the basis of Fermi cards, compared to the two of the GTX 460 or four of the GTX 480. That sounds restrictive, but the GTS 450's single GPC is one of the beefed-up versions introduced in the GTX 460, and includes four streaming multi-processors, each equipped with 48 stream processors. The GPCs in the GTX 480, by way of contrast, include only 32 stream processors per multi-processor.
This is partnered with a decent-looking specification elsewhere. The core and stream processor clock speeds of 783MHz and 1,566MHz are the highest of any Fermi card, and the 1GB of GDDR5 memory runs at 3,608MHz, which is second only to the GTX 480 and far higher than the ATI Radeon HD 5770, which is available for a similar price to the GTS 450.
Clock speeds may be high, but the reduced number of stream processors means performance isn't stellar. A score of 33fps in our 1,920 x 1,080 High quality Crysis benchmark sounds good, but its price rival, the ATI Radeon HD 5770, ran through the same test 6fps faster. Moreover, the GTS 450 could only manage a playable frame rate in our Very High-quality test at the reduced resolution of 1,366 x 768, where the HD 5770 returned playable results in the same benchmark at 1,600 x 900.
In DiRT 2 at 1,920 x 1,080 and High quality settings, the ATI card scored 63fps to the GTS 450's 41fps. The Nvidia card improved in the more demanding Stalker benchmark, scoring 41fps to the HD 5770's 36ps, which is some consolation.
At least it performed well in other areas, with an idle temperature of 30 degrees and a peak of 71 degrees proving nothing to worry about. Power consumption wasn't too bad, either: when placed in our test rig, which consists of a Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 motherboard, Intel Core i7-980X processor and 6GB of RAM, the machine drew 258W at peak. That's slightly higher than the 233W required by the HD 5770, but lower than the GTX 460 and a far cry from Nvidia's earlier Fermi parts.
That isn't enough, though, to convince us that the GTS 450 is worth the cash, especially when the ATI Radeon HD 5770 costs a similar amount and is significantly faster in most of our benchmarks. We thought the GTX 460 might signal a resurgence for Nvidia, but the GTS 450 fails to capitalise on that work.
|Price ex VAT||£90|
|Price inc VAT||£106|
|Features & Design||4|
|Value for Money||3|
|Graphics card interface||PCI Express|
|Graphics chipset||Nvidia GeForce GTS 450|
|Core GPU frequency||783MHz|
Standards and compatibility
|DirectX version support||11.0|
|Shader model support||5.0|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||0|
|7-pin TV outputs||0|
|Graphics card power connectors||6-pin|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||131fps|
|3D performance (crysis), medium settings||73fps|
|3D performance (crysis) high settings||33fps|