Manufacturer:Nvidia UK Price (as reviwed): £109 (inc VAT) MSRP US Price (as reviwed): Unknown
When you’ve seen the might of the GeForce GTX 480 and the majesty of the GTX 460, it might be hard to get too excited about a follow-up card costing around £110 (guestimated). However, the Steam Survey (August 2010) begs to differ: 59 per cent of the polled gamers used Nvidia hardware, and only 26 per cent used a screen with a resolution higher than 1,680 x 1,050.
The Steam Survey also indicates that the uptake of HD 5700-series cards hasn’t been great, as only 6 per cent of systems have a DX11-compatible OS and GPU while 56 per cent have Windows 7 and no DX11-compatible GPU. Nvidia is hoping that it’s got its Venn diagrams right, and has tweaked the price-to-performance ratio correctly so that the GTS 450 will persuade this huge number of gamers to upgrade.
Nvidia's new GeForce GTS 450 GPU, and Asus' first implementation of it. Click to enlarge.
The GTS 450 is the most basic Fermi GPU yet, with only one GPC (Graphics Processing Cluster) comprising four SMs (Streaming Multiprocessors) – think of it as essentially half of a GTX 460, which has two GPCs. This means that the GTS 450 has only one Raster Engine and four PolyMorph Engines, meaning it can only process one raster-setup and four vertex operations per clock – the GTX 460 and its pair of GPCs can handle two raster-setup and eight vertex operations, for example. However, the GTS 450 does run at high frequencies to offset this – the core runs at 783MHz while the GPC runs at 1,566MHz.
The GF106 design of the GeForce GTS 450. Click to enlarge
The GTS 450 does use the revised stream processor layout of the GTX 460, with 48 units per SM rather than the 32 per SM of the GF100-based GTX 480 and GTX 470. This means that the GTS 450 has 192 stream processors, a hefty number for a £100-ish GeForce card. The 8800 GTS 512MB9800 GTX9800 GTX+ GTS 250 that the new card is intended to replace had only 128 stream processors, for example.
The GTS 450 has 1GB of 900MHz (3.6GHz effective) GDDR5 memory, which is governed by a 128-bit memory controller and 16 ROPs. This is the same width of connection as the HD 5770, but the 1.2GHz (4.8GHz effective) memory of the ATI card yields 76.8GB/sec of bandwidth from its 128-bit memory interface rather than the 57.6GB/sec of the GTS 450.
GTS 450 cards should all be dual-slot affairs which require one 6-pin power connections – the reference PCB is 8.25in long and shouldn’t draw more than106W. Nvidia recommends that you’ll need a 400W PSU for a PC housing a GTS 450. This might make it appealing for a HTPC (Home Theatre PC) as, like the GTX 460, the GTS 450 supports bit-streaming for Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio over its mini-HDMI output. For this review we’ll focus on gaming performance.