With the recent announcement of its new GF106 graphics processor and the GeForce GTS 450 card based on it Nvidia has finally got rid of outdated technologies and architectures in all of its gaming solutions. Forcing the good old GeForce 8 architecture into retirement, the new graphics card has proved to be highly successful. As our tests suggest, it is competitive to the Radeon HD 5770 and even occasionally to the Radeon HD 5830. That is an excellent performance for a $129 product and a serious claim to superiority in this price segment.
Like the more advanced Fermi solutions, the GeForce GTS 450 offers full support for Nvidia SLI technology that allows combining several graphics cards into a single multi-GPU subsystem. Such configurations are not very popular unless in extremely fast gaming platforms that accommodate up to three GeForce GTX 480 or four Radeon HD 5870 cards. Negative factors like power consumption, which is very high, and noise, which is often unbearable if you don’t wear headphones, are not important for users of such platforms. They just want to have the highest speed possible whatever the price or other inconveniences may be. In some ways, these are just demo configurations highlighting the benefits of a particular graphics architecture rather than gaming computers for everyday use.
On the other hand, benchmarking multi-GPU solutions built out of mainstream graphics cards yields interesting data that we can analyze to predict the performance of future products from AMD and Nvidia. For example, our recent tests of a GeForce GTX 460 SLI tandem helped us understand what we can expect from the proposed dual-processor card, a successor to the GeForce GTX 295, if it ever comes out. Benchmarking results of inexpensive multi-GPU solutions may also be interesting to users who are planning to upgrade their graphics subsystem in two steps. This is quite easy nowadays since mainboards with two PCIe x16 slots are very common.
So these are the reasons for us to benchmark two GeForce GTS 450 cards in SLI mode. This tandem has the following characteristics compared to higher-class single-GPU solutions:
From a technical standpoint, the GeForce GTS 450 SLI tandem is somewhere in between the GeForce GTX 460 1GB and GeForce GTX 470, being somewhat ahead of both in terms of texturing speed. This tandem looks a well-balanced solution, yet the release of a new GeForce GTX 460 version with 384 active ALUs and 64 texture-mapping processors would make it unnecessary. Nobody would bother to take the trouble of messing with two cards, connecting bridges and driver settings if he can have the same performance from a single graphics card for the same or even less money.
On the other hand, if you already have one GeForce GTS 450 and your mainboard has a second PCIe x16 slot and supports SLI technology, you may indeed consider purchasing a second such card to nearly double your computer's graphics performance at rather low cost.
So, we are going to perform such tests in this review. We will also discuss a new version of the GeForce GTS 450 card produced by ASUSTeK Computer. Being a TOP series product, it claims to be the fastest GeForce GTS 450 available!