A capable graphics card for £100, but it doesn’t do quite enough to topple ATI’s HD 5770.
For far too long Nvidia has lacked a credible mid-range graphic card, with ATI’s 4000- and 5000-series cards taking all the plaudits over the last two years. The release of the GTX 460 marked Nvidia’s return to serious competition with arch-rival ATI, but that said, the cheapest such card still costs around £125.
Gigabyte’s GV-N450-1GI is based around Nvidia’s new GeForce GTS 450 chipset; and with cards available for a nice round £100 we were hoping it would take on ATI’s aging HD 5770 (see below), which has recently been slashed to near this price. Like the HD 5770, the GTS 450 is a cut-down version of more expensive models.
The key change is a big reduction in the number processing cores, the GTX 460 has 336, while the GTS 450 has 192. This drop in parallel processing power is partly offset by a higher GPU clock speed of 810MHz, up from 675MHz in the GTX 460. The card has a 128-bit bus, half that of the 1GB version of GTX 460. This reduces the card’s ability to move data between the memory and the GPU. In addition, its 1GB of RAM runs at 902MHz, significantly slower than the HD 5770’s 1.2GHz memory; so despite both cards having 128-bit memory buses, the GTS 450’s bandwidth is just 57.7GB/s, compared to the HD 5770’s 76.8GB/s.
The reduced number of processing units and the limited bandwidth are apparent in our benchmark results, but GTS 450 still performs respectably. In our Call of Duty 4 test, it managed 52.2fps even at a Full HD resolution. Crysis was playable at 1,680×1,050 with 29.4fps, but dropping anti-aliasing improves this to a smoother 35.5fps, and gives you the option of pushing it up to 1,920×1,080. These results are roughly in line with ATI’s slightly cheaper HD 5750. In our DirectX 11 S.T.A.L.K.E.R test it produced 22.0fps, which neatly bisects the HD 5750’s and 5770’s scores.
Physically, the card is nothing to get excited about, which is no bad thing. It requires the usual single PCI-Express 6-pin power connector, and draws a maximum of 160W under load – so you shouldn’t need a new power supply. It runs fairly cool, just like the GTX 460, and so shouldn’t overheat your PC. The attached cooler blows air into the case, rather than out of an exhaust, unfortunately. There’s the usual pair of DVI outputs and Nvidia’s slightly annoying use of a mini HDMI connector, rather than the more common full-sized one.
For £100 the GV-N450-1GI is a decent graphics card, but it simply isn’t quick enough to dethrone the HD 5770. That card, our long-running favourite, is now available for only a few pounds more if you shop about, and it’s consistently quicker in our tests, most noticeably in Crysis with an extra 4fps. If the GTS 450 was £10 cheaper, then it would have won an award, but for now you should buy an HD 5770 instead, or stretch your budget to the faster GTX 460 768MB.
|Interface||PCI Express x16 2.0|
|Slots taken up||2|
|Graphics Processor||Nvidia GeForce GTS 450|
|GPU clock speed||810MHz|
|Architecture||192 stream processors|
|Power leads required||1x 6-pin PCI Express|
|3DMark Vantage 1680||5,990|
|Call of Duty 4 1680 4xAA||57.6fps|
|Call of Duty 4 1440 4xAA||68.1fps|
|Crysis 1680 High 4xAA||29.4fps|
|Crysis 1440 High 4xAA||36.7fps|