Right then... after a total number of 326 benchmark runs for this article alone I think it's really time to start up the conclusion okay? When we started testing the baseline reference performing GTS 450 we couldn't help feeling that we expected something more spicy, I mean everybody surely agrees with me that we all expected a product to compete with the Radeon 5770.
NVIDIA themselves positions this card as competitor against the Radeon HD 5750, which 'currently while writing this article' is priced similarly to the GTS 450. Now at launch date, if you look in the stores you can find a Radeon HD 5770 for prices as low as 129 EUR and that's a bit of a problem for the GeForce GTS 450 cards alright. We feel that the card really offers decent value for what you are purchasing but just can't wrap our head around the fact that when you arrive nearly a year later than the competition to the market, with a lower segment mid-range product, that you insert a SKU that's having a pretty hard time beating your competition. While writing this article this is what was constantly puzzling us.
The AIB factory-overclocked products however save the day by adding another 10% maybe 15% extra performance, and hopefully these factory overclocked products will not be much more expensive, say ten bucks extra here and there. The pre-overclocked SKUs are the ones that will compete with ATI's Radeon HD 5750 cards quite well, and sometimes the Radeon HD 5770. But make no mistake, the Radeon HD 5770 overall is the better performing product and AMD already informed us that they will be lowering prices, equal to the GTS 450. With so much headroom in clock frequencies we would have liked to see NVIDIA give this product a little more bite with a higher reference baseclock frequency. Also we feel strongly that the choice of using a 128-bit instead of 256-bit bus on the memory was one limiting step too many.
Game performance wise up-to a monitor resolution of 1600x1200 we see good things, you'll have great image quality options and decent framerates, so that should be your target. If you, like most of our readers, play games at 1920x1200/1080 then we do recommend you look at the GeForce GTX 460, which offers a good chunk faster performance and well, it's the better card overall. Overclocking then, all cards can reach 900 MHz stable, period. Anything after that is dependant on luck, build quality (components/cooling) and overclocking software. After 925 MHz things get increasingly tricky and most cards really max out at 950 MHz. But coming from 783 MHz, that's a quite a lot of tweakability. And even overclocked temps on all boards remain very acceptable, as well as the noise levels.
Alright, let's walk through the board partners product by product. Yeah, we tested a lot of boards, so that makes a conclusion in a group test always a bit difficult as there is just so much info to cover and thus gets to be a little less in-depth. I'll try and be brief with short one-liners, we'll do this in alphabetical order:
ASUS ENGTS450 DirectCu TOP ASUS has a pretty unique design at hand with the DirectCu TOP. Nice cooling, very nice performance thanks to the massive factory overclock and it was today's best overclockable card. Very impressive.
ECS GTX 450 Black Never ever does an ECS graphics card product disappoint us. This Black series ECS GTX 450 (that GTX remains a little confusing doesn't it?) comes with a very nice factory overclock and has amongst the best coolers equipped on it. Complete sheer silence at stunning temperatures. If priced right, this product comes really recommended if the GTS 450 is something you are after.
EVGA GTS 450 FTW You sometimes wonder how they do it. EVGA launches a FTW GeForce GTX 450 with blazing factory clock speeds. And it's doing so with the reference design and cooler. Armed with great after-sales and the step-up program this card will be something to consider seriously, if you are in the market for one of course. Also very recommendable is the great warranty program eVGA offers. Ten years for the FTW.
Gigabyte GTS 450 OC Charming, again, quite charming is the design of Gigabyte's GTS 450 OC offering. The cooler is just kick-ass, silent and performs really well. Along with it Gigabyte also factory overclocks the product, albeit a little lower at default than the rest of the bunch, it's nothing you can't easily tweak out though, but yeah we really like the design and that cooler seriously kicks ass.
Inno3D GTS 450 iChill Freezer The lads from Inno3D have a serious product on their hands with the iChill Freezer edition graphics card. Though very close to the reference board, the card is factory overclocked a little and that puzzles us, Inno3D could and should have overclocked this puppy to at least 900 MHz, the product can take it. Why you ask? Well, the Arctic Cooling cooler is doing such a tremendous job that the product easily could have been clocked higher. But grab any OC tool, overclock yourself and 900+ MHz should not be hard to accomplish at all. A lovely product.
KFA2 GTS 450 LTD OC The lads from KFA2 (EU sub-division of Galaxy) unleash havoc and hell with the LTD OC. The card is factory clocked at 888 MHz and I can't help thinking that if the range would have been 600~700 MHz, they would have forced it to 666 MHz. It's a demonic looking piece of machinery which we liked very much. In fact I found it to be the best looking card today. The cooler does a good job and does not get noisy. Added advantage is the fact that KFA2 applied 04.ns memory opposed to reference 0.5ns. This in theory can get the memory overclocked to 5000 MHz... Highly recommended if you like to tweak and play around with clocks a little yourself! KFA2 is a very new company you guys, visit them here.
MSI N450GTS Cyclone As always, MSI at first releases their Cyclone editon graphics card. You get the custom PCB, custom cooler and higher grade components. Armed with AfterBurner software the sky is the limit. With a default factory clock of 850 MHz this is a very competitive product that overclocked really good as well. We are confident that this card will be priced fairly and not over 129 EUR, as such it comes recommended.
Palit GTS 450 Sonic Platinum There are a few product in this review today that really impressed me. First off, after the GTX 460 review a lot of things happened. This time around Palit ensured us that the card tested today is the final retail product. And for a final retail product we can say that we liked it a whole lot alright. The factory overlock was the highest at a blistering 930 MHz and 4000 MHz on the memory. Despite that fact the card remains level at cool temperatures and just did not make any noise. Very impressive and amongst the best cards we tested, we feel Palit hit a homerun with this design. But as you can see, the competition is stiff alright.
Sparkle Calibre X450G Sparkle sent out their X450G, which is a nice looking product alright. It also came factory overclocked as hey... it's the Calibre series. Armed with a 850 MHz core frequency and its memory gun cocked at 3800 MHz the card is a very decent performer for the money. Sitting on top of it is the Arctic Cooling Accelero Twin Turbo PRO, which we spotted on three products tested today. Top notch cooling versus silence, but yeah... it does eat up 3 PCI card slots. If you can live with that, then the Sparkle Calibre X450G comes recommended alright.
Within the product range of GTS 450 cards the board partners did some serious work to offer you an interesting product, as such we'd like to award them with the following awards based on sheer design and cooling.
Well then, we end the conclusion like this, the GeForce GTS 450 is fun product but we are not sure enough if it'll make a big enough difference in the mid-range market. It's not that the GTS 450 is not interesting, no contrary, it's just ATI that is dominating the segment and can adapt any move NVIDIA makes. See, ATI is simply going to lower the price on its Radeon HD 5750 and 5770, and that will shift, reposition and dominate the entire dynamic of price versus performance and thus market repositioning.
That said, if you can get a GeForce GTS 450 (preferably factory overclocked) for sub-120 EUR, that will absolutely be a fair price for a product that offers a nice and fun amount of game performance. As really that is what the GeForce GTS 450 is all about. Reality is also, after 900 MHz on the core there performance difference means nearly nothing. Look at a product like KFA2 offers with 0.4ns memory .. that's where you'll see some nice little extra perf.
In the upcoming weeks we expect the GeForce GTS 450 to drop towards say 110/120 EUR as NVIDIA simply cannot do anything else, when that happens we can absolutely recommend the card. We feel that a tenner or maybe two more for an overclocked / customized model would be fair as well. There will be no worries about high TDPs and of all the cards we tested not one was noisy either.
This is a cute little card series, but I'm afraid that most of you guys (and us included) expected something faster for NVIDIA's first real sub 150 EUR mid-range DX11 class product, but hey, maybe we are over analysing here. We think that due to the stiff competition this product needs to be in a price range of roughly 110 EUR for it to become an admirable deal. Oh and here's a thought, maybe NVIDIA has plans for a 256-bit GeForce 450 GTX version at 149 EUR ? Who knows, time will tell. But for now it's certainly good to see NVIDIA back on track with more mid-range DX11 class products.
We'd like to thank the NVIDIA board partners for submitting their products, and there are definitely some interesting designs among them.
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