Meet “The Sniper”
In keeping with their gaming character class theme (GTX 480 is the Tank, GTX 460 the Hunter), NVIDIA has dubbed the GTS 450 the “Sniper”. Unable to rely on sheer offensive force, the Sniper must practice precision and discipline to be effective. By focusing his limited weaponry in a specific application, it’s possible to achieve the same kill/death, err… price/performance ratio. That application here is, of course, DX11 gaming on a tight budget.
The GTS 450 utilizes a new Fermi-based chip called GF106, derived from the GF104 used in the GTX 460 (which you can read about here). Using the same 40nm process and with a transistor count of about 1.17 billion, GF106 is technically one-half of a GF104. That isn’t to say that the GTS 450 performs only half as well as the GTX 460 – when you see the benchmarks, you’ll know that is not the case.
As we know from the GTX 460 launch, a fully-functional GF104 actually has 8 streaming multiprocessors, but all GTX 460s have one SM that is disabled from the factory. This was so NVIDIA could maximize yields and provide enough supply of the chips for a smooth launch, though it undoubtedly worked to prevent some cannibalization of the GTX 465/470 market, as well.
With that said, the GTS 450 has 4 SMs, while the GTX 460 has 7. The memory interface is halved from the 256 bits featured on the 1GB version of the GTX 460; it makes up for that with a bump to its core clock speed, though. Put all of this together and you have a graphics card that performs substantially better than you would infer from it being called “half of a GTX 460.”
|GeForce GTS 450 Specifications Comparison|
|Radeon HD 5750||GeForce GTS 450||GeForce GTX 460 768MB||Radeon HD 5770|
|Graphics Processing Clusters||-||1||2||-|
|Graphics Core Clock||700 MHz||783 MHz||675 MHz||850 MHz|
|Stream Processor Clock||700 MHz||1,566 MHz||1,350 MHz||850 MHz|
|Memory Clock||1,150 MHz||902 MHz||900 MHz||1,200 MHz|
|Effective Memory Data Rate||4,600 MHz||3,608 MHz||3,600 MHz||4,800 MHz|
|Video Memory Size||1,024MB GDDR5||1,024MB GDDR5||768MB GDDR5||1,024MB GDDR5|
|Memory Bandwidth||73.6 GB/sec||57.7 GB/sec||86.4 GB/sec||76.8 GB/sec|
|Texture Fill-rate||25.2 Gigatexels/sec||25.1 Gigatexels/sec||37.8 Gigatexels/sec||34 Gigatexels/sec|
|Max Board Power||86 W||106 W||150 W||108 W|
As you can see, the GTS 450’s numbers line up as being a little more than half of the GTX 460’s – one graphics processing cluster, four SMs, 192 CUDA cores, 32 texture units, 16 ROPs, etc. It does, however, have a substantially higher core clock speed, at 783 MHz compared to 675 MHz (a difference of 16%). There is also an additional 256MB of memory, but the memory bandwidth suffers due to a narrower bus. On the bright side, this reduction in horsepower brings a proportional bonus to power consumption; with a TDP rating of 106 watts, the recommended power supply is a mere 400W.
In relation to the Radeon HD 5750, the GTS 450 is really only lacking in memory bandwidth. Although, the 5750’s advantage there is due to the higher-clocked RAM. In our testing, it was a breeze to overclock the GTS 450’s memory to 1,100 MHz (it could possibly go higher) and overcome that deficit for the most part.