Nvidia GeForce GTS 450: Hello GF106, Farewell G92


So here’s the deal. For the most part, Nvidia’s GeForce GTS 450 does what the company says it’s supposed to. It generally lands in between the Radeon HD 5770 and 5750 performance-wise. And, if Nvidia is correct with its pre-launch pricing projections, it’ll cost somewhere around $129.

Maybe it’s the fact that we’re all jacked up on Mountain Dew. Maybe it’s the fact that we’re used to talking about more enthusiast-class graphics products. Or maybe it’s the fact that last generation’s cards still make for good gaming solutions. Whatever the reason, it’s genuinely difficult to get excited about something we saw from AMD 11 freaking months ago, priced to match.

But I’m not going to limit my nerd rage to the GeForce GTS 450. Even AMD’s Radeon HD 5750 is a tough sell if you’re already rocking an older G92-based card or a Radeon HD 4850. You can find previous-generation products from both AMD and Nvidia selling brand new for $90 bucks or so. If you’re a cash-strapped gamer looking for legit value, I don’t see any problem buying up those boards on the cheap until they’re no longer available.

As a pure play on performance for your dollar, stepping up to the latest DirectX 11-class cards won’t really net you a lot of additional speed. Instead, what you get is lower power consumption, media-oriented features like high-def audio bitstreaming over HDMI, and support for Microsoft’s most current 3D API. To the degree that each of those highlights applies to you, upgrading from a GeForce GTS 250 to a GTS 450 may or may not be worth it. But it’s a lot like buying the 2011 Lexus IS when you already own the 2010 model. Are you really going to get that tweaked over new wheels and LED daytime running lights?

With GeForce GTX 460 768 MB cards selling for as little as $170 (after rebate) on Newegg, I say save up an extra $50 and buy the more exciting card. GF104 uses more power under load, sure. But it also supports bitstreaming in an HTPC environment and DirectX 11. Shoot, the GTX 460 and GTS 450 occupy the same dimensions, so it’s not like you’re giving anything up there.

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.

Stepping up to a faster card is the only way you’re going to see noticeably faster frame rates in the games you play today. To that end, I’m staying bullish on the GeForce GTX 460. GF106 simply cuts too much “oomph” off of the Fermi architecture to whet my whistle. Hopefully, Nvidia can get this one down to the $100 range sooner than later.

Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • Poisoner
    Man, G92 still holds it own. What an amazing piece of technology.
  • welshmousepk
    Slightly underwhelming to be honest. the GTX 460 seems like a way better choice. or a 5770.
  • 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
  • teeoneimme
    anyone else NOT so excited about this card?
  • 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.
  • 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 =
  • 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.
  • one-shot
    YAWWWWNN....This card is putting me to sleep. I'm going to bed.
  • duk3
    I'd like a gtx 460 maxcore.
    Perhaps a gtx 485 aka gtx 460 X2 would be nice as well.
  • 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.