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GeForce GTS 450 Conclusion
IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating specifically for the product tested which may differ from future versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.
When it comes to performance, the GeForce GTS 450 is a true dichotomy. Most mainstream gamers play at 1280x1024 or 1680x1050 widescreen, which is very well suited for the GTS 450. On the other hand, it does extremely well at 1920x1200 when combined into an SLI set. For the $130 price segment, it overtakes AMD's Radeon HD 5750 in performance and competes well against the more-expensive Radeon HD 5770 when tested at appropriate game settings and monitor resolutions. Nearly every game we tested positioned the GTS 450 ahead of the Radeon HD 5750, while many games and benchmark tests showed how well it matches up with the 5770. Nearly all of the DirectX-10 benchmarks maintained this trend, and it wasn't until BattleForge, Aliens vs Predator, and Metro 2033 that we see the 5770 earn its keep and place ahead of GTS 450. While all stock-speed video cards can be pushed harder once overclocked, the GTS 450 offered so much headroom that it outperformed the Radeon HD 5770 in the majority of tests. Even despite it's mid-level GTS naming, two 450's combine to deliver very impressive SLI performance with nearly perfect 2:1 scaling. Without stealing the narrative of our NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450 SLI Performance Scaling article, the Radeon 5850 and GeForce GTX 470 have good reason to be concerned.
Appearance is a more subjective matter since the rating doesn't have benchmark scores to fall back on. Many of NVIDIA's AIC partners have used custom cooling solutions in many of their own models, with at least one that's passively cooled. Most add-in card partners have added a custom cooling option, which is unnecessary for the GTS 450, and they exhaust heated air back into the computer case. The reference design expels heated air out through an externally exhausting vent, and in my opinion is the best choice for overclockers and SLI gamers.
Sparkle GeForce GTS 450 Passive Video Card
In terms of video card pecking order, NVIDIA has three divisions: GTX for high-end, GTS for middle market, and GT for lower-end. The GeForce GTS 450 is the first Fermi video card designed for mainstream gamers, and it's also the first to utilize their new GF106 graphics processor. NVIDIA has their GTS 480/470/465/460 series, allowing the GeForce GTS 450 to become the fifth member of the Fermi family. Regardless of price, the GTS 450 fits between AMD's Radeon HD 5750 and 5770; although performance matches it up more closely to the 5770. GeForce GTS 450 has been designed with the same solid construction as its predecessors, and while the electronic components located along the back of the PCB expose the memory modules there's really no need for metal back-plate for protection or heat dissipation. The top-side of the graphics card features a protective plastic fan shroud, which receives a recessed concave opening for the 75mm fan and allows for airflow in SLI configurations.
While most PC gamers and hardware enthusiasts buy a discrete graphics card for the sole purpose of playing video games, there's a very small niche who depend on the extra features beyond video fast frame rates. NVIDIA is the market leader in GPGPU functionality, and it's no surprise to see CPU-level technology available in their GPU products. NVIDIA's Fermi architecture is the first GPU to ever support Error Correcting Code (ECC), a feature that benefits both personal and professional users. Proprietary technologies such as NVIDIA Parallel DataCache and NVIDIA GigaThread Engine further add value to GPGPU functionality. Additionally, applications such as Adobe Photoshop or Premier can take advantage of GPGPU processing power. In case the point hasn't already been driven home, don't forget that 3D Vision and PhysX are technologies only available through NVIDIA.
Defining product value means something different to everyone. Some readers take heat and power consumption into consideration, while others are only concerned with FPS performance and price. There are several ways to look at this video card and compare it to the closest rivals: such as the $120 AMD Radeon HD 5750 or $150 Radeon HD 5770. With regard to our value rating, the product's price to FPS performance is important and confirms the GeForce GTS 450 as one of the most affordable DirectX-11 video card products available. Launching on 13 September 2010, the GeForce GTS 450 will be immediately available at NewEgg and Amazon for $129.99. Several add-in card partners plan to offer a variety of stock and overclocked GeForce GTS 450 models, but my suggestion is to find a reference (external exhaust) model with no overclock so you can save the money and have fun finding the OC limit yourself. Watch for vendors offering bundled video games with the GTS 450, namely Starcraft II, which factors in to the value of the product.
Idle and loaded operating temperatures remained very cool on GTS 450; clearly an end result of the refined GF106 GPU. Idle power draw was a mere 16 watts by our measure, allowing gamers to save money on energy bills when this video card isn't being used. Conserving energy is great news, but NVIDIA's Fermi GF106 GPU offers incredible headroom for overclockers which translates into even better FPS performance in video games. Both of our GTS 450 samples overclocked from 783 to beyond 950 MHz, which could make a manufacturer's lifetime warranty well worth the money.
In conclusion, GTS 450 offers considerable power for the money when driven at the most common monitor resolutions (1280x1024 and 1680x1050). This usually creates an interest in a pairing two cards together for an SLI set, which we've tested to work especially well with NVIDIA's 3D-Vision Surround technology. Priced at time of launch for $129.99 the mid-level 1GB GeForce GTS 450 video card is a far better choice than AMD's $120 Radeon HD 5750, and in many cases it makes the $150 Radeon HD 5770 look unfit for its price point. This will undoubtedly cause AMD to reduce pricing for both models, which is almost guaranteed to be announced on the same day. If AMD can reduce pricing down into the $130 price point for the Radeon HD 5770, NVIDIA's GeForce GTS 450 will find itself in a very close fight for mainstream supremacy. Regardless of the moving target that has become a product's retail price, GeForce 3D-Vision is a NVIDIA-exclusive technology that's certainly worth the cost of admission; and two GTS 450s are going to a lot more for budget gamers who want the most out of their money. Our upcoming GTS 450 SLI Scaling Performance article reveals just how much power you can have for roughly $260, but it remains to be seen if AMD's pending price war will make the Radeon 5750 a relevant product.
+ Tremendous overclocking potential!
+ Cool operating temperatures at idle and load
+ Consumes only 16 watts of power at idle
+ Good value at $130 - easily beats Radeon 5750
+ Excellent price-to-performance cost ratio
+ Fermi Introduces Error Correcting Code (ECC)
+ Overclocked performance exceeds Radeon HD 5770
+ Fan externally exhausts heat outside of case
+ Quiet cooling fan under loaded operation
+ Includes native HDMI audio/video output
+ Adds 32x CSAA post-processing detail
+ Supports SLI functionality
- Triple-SLI not supported
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