It is at the $100 mark that the separating line between gaming and nongaming graphics cards goes. All modern graphics solutions above that line are more or less capable of running today's games (perhaps not all games or not at all display resolutions, but anyway). The cheaper products are meant for multimedia applications in the first place such as decoding and reproducing HD video. If used for gaming, they are usually required to run either old or simple games, something like the Sims series.
It is in the sub-$100 category that we can see Nvidia's junior Fermi-based solution, the GeForce GT 430 card, take its residence. As our earlier tests showed, Nvidia's desire to make the new entry-level GPU as simple as possible affected the performance of GF108-based products most negatively. Lacking half the texture-mapping units and raster back-ends in comparison with the GF215 (GeForce GT 240), the GT 430 proved to be inferior to its predecessor in most of our gaming tests.
We can remind you that the GeForce GT 240 itself had been likewise inferior to the GeForce 9600 GT, so we can see a clear trend towards lower performance among Nvidia’s low-end products. Performance is sacrificed for the sake of functionality. For example, the GF108 features an improved video processor and supports Protected Audio Path. This shift towards broader functionality at the expense of performance is quite justifiable in sub-$100 products.
However, many of our readers showed an interest in the results of the GeForce GT 430 in gaming tests and inquired about its overclocking potential. Our general position towards overclocking graphics cards is that that’s hardly a rewarding business. If the card is already fast enough, the extra 10-15% of speed you can get by safe overclocking just won’t be really needed. And if the card is too slow at its default clock rates, it is very likely to remain slow even with those extra 15% added to its frame rate.
On the other hand, it is entry-level products that benefit the most from overclocking, therefore we are going to return to the Fermi Ultra Lite once again and see what that tiny chip is capable of when overclocked. People from Axle were kind to offer us to test their GeForce GT 430 version with the model name of AX-GT430/1GSD3P8CDI. We’ll call it just Axle GeForce GT 430.
Packaging and Accessories
Like the Axle Radeon HD 5670 we reviewed earlier, the Axle GeForce GT 430 comes in a plain-looking box which is mostly white. Not a very popular color among graphics card makers, by the way.
Besides a picture, there is information about the card's memory and solid-state capacitors on the front of the box. Such capacitors are employed more and more often nowadays. Besides the graphics card, the box contains a few accessories.
The accessories are in fact limited to an installation guide and a CD with drivers. The guide is concise but should help an inexperienced user to install and run the card. There is also a leaflet in the box warning about dangers that might damage the card, like a failure of the cooler's fan.
There are no cables or adapters in the box but you won’t need them since the Axle GeForce GT 430 is equipped with three types of connectors: DVI, D-Sub and HDMI. Overall, the packaging and accessories of the Axle card are up to the product class the GeForce GT 430 belongs with. Therefore we don't have any complaints about them.