Nvidia GeForce GTS 450: Hello GF106, Farewell G92

After dutifully serving the mainstream gaming community for three years, Nvidia's G92 is finally being played out. Meet GF106, the little engine behind GeForce GTS 450. Is this 192-core part still potent, or did Nvidia cut too much from G92's replacement?

There’s something about a game of catch-up that inspires urgency. After struggling to bring its Fermi architecture to market six months after AMD launched its own DirectX 11-class Radeon HD 5000-series, Nvidia’s derivative GPUs are now hitting one after the other, in rapid succession.

I’ll admit—I was worried when the company launched its GeForce GTX 465, based on the massive GF100 with nearly half of the chip disabled. Was it having problems with derivative designs?

Then Nvidia introduced the GeForce GTX 460, based on the GF104 graphics processor. That card impressed me. It was, as our respective review mentioned, what GeForce GTX 465 should have been. Then we tested two GeForce GTX 460s in SLI and gave that configuration another Recommended Buy award—not necessarily for what those two boards did against the competition from AMD, but for the fact that they trounced a GeForce GTX 480 at a comparable price. Suddenly, we were seeing solid value from Nvidia.

Now, two months later, the company has another derivative part ready to rock. Its GF106 is, in essence, one half of a complete GF104. But remember that the GeForce GTX 460 is really seven-eighths of a GF104. So, the GeForce GTS 450 is in all actuality a bit more than one-half of a GTX 460.

Enter The Next Cut-Down Fermi-Based GPU

Remember back to the GeForce GTX 480 launch. The company’s flagship was (and still is) based on a cut-back version of the GF100 GPU. This was a consequence of not getting the yields needed to launch with a 512-shader part. The GeForce GTX 460 was (and still is) based on a cut-back version of the GF104 GPU. This was to avoid showing up the GeForce GTX 470 with too much performance.

Today, the GeForce GTS 450 represents Nvidia’s first Fermi-based card based on an unaltered graphics processor, GF106. Update: it turns out that the block diagram Nvidia sent out isn't true to the silicon. The GF106 used on GeForce GTS 450 actually is deliberately handicapped by Nvidia. The only product, thus far, based on an unaltered GF106 is the GeForce GTX 460M mobile graphics module. Here, one ROP partition is turned off and simply "ignored" by Nvidia's team of block diagram marketers.

GF106: The GPU driving GeForce GTS 450GF106: The GPU driving GeForce GTS 450

GF106 is composed of one Graphics Processing Cluster (GPC), with four Streaming Multiprocessors (SMs). Each SM wields 48 shader cores. These are the same “modified” SMs first seen on GF104, equipped with four dispatch units and eight texture units (instead of two and four, respectively). In total, that gives us 192 shader cores, four Polymorph engines (one per SM), and 32 texture units.

One of four wide SMs in the GF106's GPCOne of four wide SMs in the GF106's GPC

The chip’s back-end is similarly cut down to a pair of ROP partitions, each capable of eight 32-bit integer pixels per clock. Nvidia refers to that arrangement as 16 ROPs. Naturally, each partition is associated with a 64-bit memory path, yielding 128-bits aggregate this time around. That’s half of what the GeForce GTX 460 1 GB has available to it, so we expect to see a substantial performance hit with anti-aliasing enabled.

Create a new thread in the US Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
138 comments
Comment from the forums
    Your comment
    Top Comments
  • teeoneimme
    anyone else NOT so excited about this card?
    36
  • welshmousepk
    Slightly underwhelming to be honest. the GTX 460 seems like a way better choice. or a 5770.
    29
  • Poisoner
    Man, G92 still holds it own. What an amazing piece of technology.
    27
  • Other Comments
  • Poisoner
    Man, G92 still holds it own. What an amazing piece of technology.
    27
  • welshmousepk
    Slightly underwhelming to be honest. the GTX 460 seems like a way better choice. or a 5770.
    29
  • IzzyCraft
    Well now that it is competing with the 5750 maybe they will push both down to $100 and we wouldn't need to buy old G92 or R700's :D
    11
  • teeoneimme
    anyone else NOT so excited about this card?
    36
  • skora
    As Chris pointed out with Tessellation, DX11 isn't going anywhere fast with the programmers. I'd say still go for a 1gb 4850 or CF two and really have a powerful GPU subsystem for the $200-$220 price point. By the time they are aged, you'll have 2nd gen DX11 GPUs out and the software will finally be available to use them.
    3
  • eklipz330
    im still chuggin along on my hd 4850... and if i ever needed to, i can crossfire another one for a mere $90, these cards have been overpriced for a year

    its a shame that ati's cards didn't drop in MSRP. hell, the hd 5850 is finally approaching it;s MSRP of $250 from a year ago. I was hopign last year by around this time, hd 5870 would be ~$200... it's not even close =[
    7
  • Jzcaesar
    Man, I was hoping to see some overclocking; hopefully, they'll be included in another article. But I agree with Chris: the 450 is a bit disappointing at $130.
    2
  • one-shot
    YAWWWWNN....This card is putting me to sleep. I'm going to bed.
    22
  • duk3
    I'd like a gtx 460 maxcore.
    Perhaps a gtx 485 aka gtx 460 X2 would be nice as well.
    -4
  • sandypants
    Just bought a second 4870 1 GB to complete my CF setup which was planned 1.5 years ago. Only $130 from Newegg. 4870 vs 450 is not a tough choice if you are buying for a dedicated gaming rig. The 4000 series are still very adequate.
    21
  • cmartin011
    sleep sounds good, not impressed at all. nvidia wasted money on a card slower than previous generations, should have renamed the G92 again with a smaller die, less power more value what were they thinking???
    15
  • megamanx00
    No, it can't play Crysis :D
    8
  • tocbuxu
    Well i should stick w/ my 2 years old OC'ed GTS250
    1
  • Tamz_msc
    Quote:
    The silver lining here is SLI. With two GeForce GTS 450s rendering cooperatively, we’re seeing 190% of a single card’s performance consistently. If two GeForce GTS 450s run $260 or so, then you’re looking at a $40 premium over a single GeForce GTX 460 1 GB at $220. We’re not as excited as we were after comparing two GTX 460s to a single GTX 480. But still, SLI’s tremendous scaling potential remains a reason to keep two of these cards in mind for a future upgrade.

    This is the only reason to get this card, though the price will have to drop to something around 100$ for people to get these cards in SLI.
    2
  • dragonsqrrl
    hmmm... not terribly impressed. Power consumption and heat levels look good, and SLI scaling is excellent once again. And I guess it does hold its own against the HD5750, barely. The GTX460 definitely did a better job of catching my attention. I guess I was just expecting a little more performance out of a 192 SP gf106, especially considering their plan to replace the g92. One thing that struck me when reading the specs was the memory bandwidth, it just seems a bit too low for a GPU of this complexity. The GTS450 probably should've had a higher stock memory frequency, though I'm not sure how much of a difference it would've made.
    0
  • experimentxx
    Still can't match the current outgoing radeons.. 450 offers 5750 performance for the price of 5770.. The new amd radeon cards would probably kill NVIDIA, again.

    Would have considered this card last year though.
    4
  • cangelini
    JzcaesarMan, I was hoping to see some overclocking; hopefully, they'll be included in another article. But I agree with Chris: the 450 is a bit disappointing at $130.


    Hi Jz!
    I know, the overclocking stuff is always sexy to look at. The thing is, when someone tells me "Check out the overclocking on this card--it's a beast," then I know the boards are hand-picked. It's only worthwhile to look at overclocking if you take a retail card and compare it against a competitor's retail board as well. We'll have something like this in the near future. For the time being, though, don't stress too much over the lack of overclocked results--if you can't buy the clocks we'd see, then it's not worth the trouble, right? :)

    All the best!
    Chris
    14
  • stingstang
    sandypantsJust bought a second 4870 1 GB to complete my CF setup which was planned 1.5 years ago. Only $130 from Newegg. 4870 vs 450 is not a tough choice if you are buying for a dedicated gaming rig. The 4000 series are still very adequate.

    Agreed. Unfortunately since the 5700 series is the SAME as the 4700 series, ATI did something with the marketing, and it's extremely hard to find a real 4870 online. I have 2 of them from 2 years ago. I JUST started using crossfire playing the single player of starcraft 2, and I don't get any performance out of it. Reason? Uses more than 4gb of RAM during heavy load. Daaaang!
    -11
  • super_tycoon
    you guys ought to do an article about SLI _and_ CF scaling. Compare it across different architectures and see if it'd really be worth getting another 4000 or 9000 series card versus buying into a more recent generation (it makes sense if you subtract from the cost of the card the money you can get from selling your older card)

    it is also worth noting that newegg's stock of last gen performance cards is tiny (just six gtx 200 cards left!) and perhaps this should be taken into consideration as well
    3
  • luke904
    eklipz330im still chuggin along on my hd 4850... and if i ever needed to, i can crossfire another one for a mere $90, these cards have been overpriced for a yearits a shame that ati's cards didn't drop in MSRP. hell, the hd 5850 is finally approaching it;s MSRP of $250 from a year ago. I was hopign last year by around this time, hd 5870 would be ~$200... it's not even close =[


    the msrp of the 5850 is 289, not 250
    5870-389
    -4