A first look at the GTS 450
NVIDIA reference card:
NVIDIA has kindly supplied NV News with a GTS 450 reference card. It was quite interesting to see a green PCB; I haven't seen one that color on a new video card in a long time.
So basically the reference GTS 450 looks just like the rest of the Fermi cards, and we can expect that other AIB/IHVs to sell cards that look similar to or exactly like the reference unit. At 8.25” it is on the short side which will make it an easy fit for tight cases, and the single PCIE 6-pin connector indicates that this card doesn’t quite require the same of a power supply as cards like the GTX 460/465/470/480. The heatsink looks like that of the GTX 460, but is different in that it is 100% extruded aluminum with no heatpipe. This indicates that NVIDIA is confident in this GPUs ability to stay cool.
EVGA's GTS 450 FTW Edition
EVGA, a graphics card and motherboard manufacturer out of Brea California, has provided gamers with innovative graphics solutions dating all the way back to their Geforce 4 MX 440 which utilized a custom cooling design not seen in other products. They have a huge market presence and are known for their superior level of customer service as well as a large fan base.
Their GTS 450 FTW Edition represents the best EVGA has to offer with regards to this GPU. To quote EVGA Product Manager Jacob Freeman regarding the FTW edition’s advantage over ordinary reference model-based units:
“The cards are hand selected to be the best of the best, also there are some BIOS tweaks to ensure stability and improve OC’ing performance even more.”
The FTW Edition's clock speeds appear to be heavily increased over the reference card. The core speed increase from 783 to 925 is an 18% factory overclock, and the memory speed increase from 3600 to 4100 is a 14% increase. This is a huge jump, and hopefully it equates to measurably higher benchmark and gaming performance. Bandwidth has improved from to 57.7 to 65.7GB/s, a 14% increase. Thankfully the EVGA FTW stil uses a single PCIE power connector, indicating that it, like its reference card sibling, can put up with lower-spec power supplies.
Let’s take a look at what the consumer gets when they purchase an EVGA GTS 450 FTW:
The box is differently constructed than their higher-end units, being more compact in size.
- EVGA GTS 450 FTW Graphics Crad
- EVGA Driver/Software Disc with EVGA Precision Tuning Utility
- DVI to VGA Adapter
- 6-pin PCI-E Power Adapter
- User Guide
- Quick Start Guide
One notable omission is the mini-HDMI adapter that was present in the EVGA GTX 460 and 460 boxes. However, given that most budget users will probably only hook their cards to their older or lower-resolution/spec DVI monitors, this omission may be a moot point.
As this is a model ending in “TR”, it is covered under EVGA’s Limited 2-year warranty. While not as robust as their lifetime warranty, this is still more than adequate coverage for the card.
Overall, this looks to be a cost effective bundle that gives the buyer their basic needs along with EVGA’s great warranty system and customer support.
The EVGA GTS 450 FTW and NVIDIA reference card appear to be almost exactly alike.
I did notice that some of the capacitors were slightly different part numbers. I didn't look up the model numbers so I'm not sure if they're just differently sourced, or of different values/tolerances/construction. The EVGA card also has a couple tiny resistors on the top right quadrant of the PCB on the front where the reference card has none. I can't be sure of the reason for these extra resistors, but I can only assume that it was a design choice by EVGA to improve reliability. stability, and/or clockspeed increase capabilities. Maybe EVGA will one-up this card down the road with something featuring a higher-rated power phasing system, 2 PCI-E connectors and a heatpipe-based cooler.
... Or maybe that’s the GTX 460’s job.
The GTS 450 looks a lot like the GTX 460 as well:
However, the PCBs are quite different, and the GTX 460's cooler is beefier with the addition of a copper heatpipe.
Another added bonus of the EVGA GTS 450 is access to EVGA's overclocking utility, EVGA Precision.
This tool features granular hardware monitoring capabilities, fan adjustment, and of course clock speed adjustment. I also recently noticed that EVGA Precision has the capability to display monitoring information on Logitech keyboards with LCD displays.
Next: Testing Environment