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Conclusion

The new graphics processor from Nvidia codenamed GF106 is definitely a success. Also successful is the first graphics card based on it. It's called GeForce GTS 450. Nvidia thus filled in the last remaining gap in its product line-up and almost completed the transition to DirectX 11. There are only cheaper solutions like the GeForce GT 240 and 220 left which comply with DirectX 10.1, but that’s not a problem. As a matter of fact, even the GeForce GTS 450 can hardly be viewed as a serious gaming graphics card whereas the less advanced and cheaper products are just not meant for running latest 3D games at high resolutions and with maximum graphics quality settings. They are only good for casual games with modest system requirements.

Summing up the results of our tests, we can say we are impressed with the performance of the GeForce GTS 450 considering that it comes from the below-$140 product category. Priced comparably to the Radeon HD 5750, the new card is quite competitive to the more advanced Radeon HD 5770 and, occasionally, even to the Radeon HD 5830. You can see this clearly in the summary diagrams below:

We are quite sure the GeForce GTS 450 has high chance of becoming a bestseller in its product class because it is free from the downsides of the previous generation of entry-level solutions with the Nvidia brand. Particularly, its full support for HDMI and multichannel HD audio formats make this graphics card a perfect choice for building a fast but rather economical and quiet HTPC. It wouldn’t allow you to enjoy Crysis on a Full-HD display, of course, yet many other popular games, such as Far Cry 2, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 or the recent hit StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, run fast enough on the GeForce GTS 450.

As for the good old GeForce GTS 250, the first generation of Nvidia's unified graphics architecture can finally take its rest, having acquired a worthy successor. This generation is helpless in DirectX 11 applications, but even in other games the new GeForce GTS 450 either beats the GeForce GTS 250 or offers the same performance at playable resolutions. Besides, the GeForce GTS 450 seems to have high overclocking potential, so we are sure there will be numerous versions of this card with pre-overclocked frequencies. We shouldn’t forget about the turned-off memory controller, either. If necessary, Nvidia can roll out an improved version of the GF106-based card with a 192-bit memory bus and 24 RBEs. That would be a serious problem for AMD: the Radeon HD 5830 would be not competitive in terms of performance while the Radeon HD 5850, in terms of price. Of course, this situation may change as soon as AMD releases its new generation of Radeon processors, but right now the GeForce GTS 450 is an excellent choice in its price category.

Being rather fast in games, the GeForce GTS 450 is also a good choice for HTPCs. It supports hardware decoding of popular video formats including MPEG2, MPEG4, MPEG4-AVC/H.264, MPEG4-MVC, VC-1, WMV-HD, Adobe Flash 10.1, etc, and is the most advanced of inexpensive solutions that support Blu-ray 3D. Like the GF104, the GF106 processor supports Protected Audio Path and can transmit lossless audio for further decoding on an external receiver via HDMI.

Although not a winner of our HQV 20 tests, the GeForce GTS 450 is quite good at playing Blu-ray and DVD discs. We also expect the manufacturers to release GF106-based products with passive cooling that would be most suitable for a living-room multimedia computer.

Zotac GeForce GTS 450 AMP! Summary

The specific graphics card we have tested, Zotac GeForce GTS 450 AMP!, doesn't have any serious drawbacks. It is faster than the reference sample by 6 to 14% thanks to its factory overclocking. It is almost noiseless and compact, yet its cooler has a dual-slot form-factor. It has to dissipate about 100 watts of heat after all. So, the only notable downside is that this card cannot be installed into a low-profile HTPC system case.

Highs:

  • High performance for its price range;
  • Competes successfully against Radeon HD 5830 in a number of tests;
  • Wide range of supported FSAA modes;
  • Improved CSAA/TMAA quality;
  • Minimal effect of FSAA on performance;
  • CUDA and PhysX support;
  • Fully-fledged hardware HD video decoding;
  • High-quality HD video post-processing with scalability;
  • HDMI 1.3a support;
  • Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio support;
  • Acceptable power consumption and heat dissipation;
  • Low noise;
  • Compact size.

 Lows:

  • Could use TMUs;
  • Lower quality of video playback according to HQV 2.0 results.
 
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