Asus GeForce GTS 450 1GB TOP review

Manufacturer: Asus
UK price (as reviewed): £131.80 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed: Unknown

Asus isn’t pulling any punches when it comes to the GTS 450 launch, a fact which can be seen through its heavily overclocked Asus GeForce GTS 450 1GB TOP card which will be available on launch day. This is a good thing too as, at stock speeds, the GTS 450 faces stiff competition from the HD 5770. However, at £130, the TOP is a few quid more than a cheap 768MB GTX 460.

To help the TOP stand up against its bigger brother Asus has pushed the GPU core clock speed to a beefy 925MHz, an 18 per cent increase over a stock-clocked GTS 450. The stream processor clock has also seen a healthy boost to 1,850MHz, though the memory has seen a more modest 100MHz increase, leaving it running at 1GHz (4GHz effective). Asus has also added a custom cooler to the mix, which is based around two chunky, capable-looking heatpipes that directly contact the GPU's heatspreader.

Nvidia GeForce GTS 450 Review Asus GeForce GTS 450 1GB TOP Review
The Asus GTS 450 TOP uses a pre-overlcock and custom cooler. Click to enlarge.

We slung the TOP through our suite of test games and the performance results were broadly in line with what we expected given the overclock. In Dirt 2 at 1,680 x 1,050 with 4x AA the TOP returned a minimum frame rate of 44fps; a good way ahead of the 38fps minimum of the stock clocked card but still behind the 53fps minimum of a 768MB GTX 460. The overclock was enough to push the TOP well past the HD 5770 however.

In STALKER: Call of Pripyat the story was much the same, with the TOP out-performing the stock card by 17 per cent. Again, this wasn’t enough for the TOP to make up the difference on a GTX 460 768MB which was another 17 per cent faster. Crysis showed similar improvements from the TOP when compared to the stock card, but these hardly made a difference: the game was still unplayable at the very high setting we test with.

Nvidia GeForce GTS 450 Review Asus GeForce GTS 450 1GB TOP Review
The cooler uses two chunky heatpipes. Click to enlarge.

Unfortunately for the TOP, our Bad Company 2 testing didn’t produce any surprises. The card still lost out to the clearly more capable, yet slightly cheaper, 768MB GTX 460. The TOP returned a minimum frame rate of 29fps at 1,680 x 1,050 with 4x AA while the 768MB GTX 460 managed a minimum of 34fps.

Conclusion

As we’ve seen many times before, a factory-overclock isn’t enough to turn a bad GPU into a good card, even one as aggressive as the one Asus has applied. While the TOP easily out-performed a stock GTS 450 card, it was itself out-performed by the 768MB GTX 460 by a similar margin. This is a major problem for the TOP, as the 768MB GTX 460 can be had for as little as £128 these days (we've even seen some cards for as low as £115). This makes the TOP tragically bad value, despite its pre-overclock and custom cooler. Chuck in the fact that GTX 460 cards overclock phenomenally well, and it’s difficult to find any reason to buy the Asus GTS 450 TOP.

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