While the technical specifications of the GTS 450 tell us that it’s basically half a 1GB GTX 460 running at higher clock speeds we were still surprised by the drop in performance between the two considering their increasingly similar prices. In Dirt 2
the GTS 450, while managing playable frame rates right up to 1,920 x 1,200 with 4x AA, delivered average and minimum frame rates around 30 per cent lower than those of the GTX 460 768MB. This still leaves the GTS 450 within a few fps of ATI’s equally priced HD 5770 though.
In STALKER: Call of Pripyat
the GTS 450 lost some ground to the HD 5770 and was 5fps slower at 1,680 x 1,050. At 1,920 x 1,200 the GTS 450 produced a minimum of 24fps, which is on the limits of smooth playability; the similarly priced HD 5770 managed a much smoother minimum of 30fps. However, the 768MB GTX 460 was 5-6fps faster again than HD 5770, a significant leap in performance considering that these cards can be found for around £115.
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While not the most played game on our hard disks, Crysis
at very high detail is still a brutal test for any GPU and the GTS 450 again came in behind the HD 5770, albeit only marginally. At 1,680 x 1,050 with no AA the GTS 450 managed a minimum frame rate of 12fps, in comparison to the HD 5770’s 13fps and the 768MB GTX 460’s far superior 18fps. This is still a fair way off playable though – a testament to how tough Crysis
still is to run, even on brand new hardware.
Despite Battlefield: Bad Company 2
appearing to have favoured Nvidia hardware in our past testing, the GTS 450 was again underwhelming in comparison to ATI’s HD 5770. With the GTS 450 the game ran at a minimum of 28fps at 1,680 x 1,050 with no AA, which dropped to 24fps when we applied 4x AA. The HD 5770 managed a minimum of 30fps with no AA at the same resolution, but this dropped to a meagre 22fps when 4x AA was applied. However, the cut-price 768MB GTX 460 dominated both cards, with a minimum of 45fps with no AA and of 34fps with 4x AA applied.
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As Nvidia has chosen not to produce a stock model of the GTS 450, instead allowing its partners to produce cards as they see fit, each partner’s GTS 450 will draw different amounts of power and deliver different amounts of cooling and noise. From our experiences with Asus’ GTS 450 1GB TOP
factory-overclocked card we can see that, when heavily overclocked at least, the GTS 450 pulls just as much power
as the GTX 460 768MB under heavy load, and even when using a custom cooler also appears to run hotter
too. This isn’t unreasonable considering the higher clock speeds involved, but is still a bit of a let-down considering the GTS 450’s single 6-pin PCI-E power connector and inferior performance.
Stock models of the GTS 450 are set to launch at £110, with overclocked cards costing upwards of £135. This pitches the GTS 450 against the HD 5770 and while there’s very little between the two, at stock speeds the HD 5770 was slightly faster in most of our games and test resolutions. Only in a few cases (Bad Company 2
at 1,680 x 1,050 with 4x AA, for example) was the GTS 450 a better option.
However, the choice between GTS 450 and HD 5770 is complicated by price cuts in the 768MB GTX 460. Over the last week we've seen card for as little as £115, though prices have adjusted to £130
since then. The 768MB GTX 460 is roughly 30 per cent faster than either the GTS 450 or the HD 5770, and is therefore a much better investment than either.
Of course, the GTS 450 and HD 5770 might receive price cuts in the coming weeks to make them more competitive, but unless they drop well below £100, the 768MB GTX 460 will remain a much better card for a budget gaming PC.
This is a bizarre situation considering the GTX 460’s recent arrival and domination of the mid-range graphics market, and there’s been plenty of speculation in the office as to the cause of the GTX 460 768MB price crash. Is it because Nvidia is flooding the market with cheap cards to grow market share, massive consumer demand? Or is it the case that board partners are looking to shift stock before ATI’s new Southern Islands architecture arrives in something like six to eight weeks? We honestly don’t know.
Whatever the speculation, if you’re after a graphics card for less than £150, both the GTS 450 and HD 5770 have now been overshadowed by the 768MB GTX 460
. If you only have around £100 to spend, the HD 5770 just about shades the GTS 450 for performance and is the better choice if both cards cost the same.