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Single-Slot Graphics: Whose Card Is Fastest?

Redefining Compact Graphics

Any enthusiast who builds systems to-order for family and friends will, at some point, be asked to work magic with parts that fall outside the realm of traditional. Nowadays, we simply come to expect that any graphics card purporting to be high-end is going to end up eating two expansion slots worth of space. This problem is particularly vexing to gamers, since compact systems often require a card that’s either shorter in length, height, or thickness than the fastest boards, which absolutely tend to also be the largest. We’ve even reviewed so-called performance-oriented graphics card in a half-height format, but that supposedly-compact part still required two slots. What’s a builder with minimal expansion options to do with only one available slot?

When we heard that a few vendors were finally going to buck the trend and nudge us back in the direction of enthusiast-class graphics cards designed to fit within a single slot of space, we invited 17 of our closest industry contacts to take part in a roundup. Four companies promised us a card to test, and only three delivered on that promise. Today we get to see how these three solutions compare.

Single-Slot Graphics Comparison Specifications
Afox Radeon HD 6850 AF6850-1024D5S1ECS GeForce GT 440 NGT440-1GQI-F1MSI GeForce GTS 450 N450GTS-M2D1GD5
GPU Clock775 MHz810 MHz783 MHz
DRAM RateGDDR5-4000GDDR5-3200GDDR5-3606
DVIOne Dual-LinkOne Dual-LinkTwo Dual-Link
HDMIFullFullMini
DisplayPortFull and MiniNoneNone
VGABy AdapterOnboardBy Adapter
Output AdaptersNoneNoneDVI-to-VGA Full-HDMI
Length8.2"6.5"8.3"
Height4.4"4.4"4.4"
Total Thickness0.8"0.8"0.8"
Cooler Thickness0.6"0.6"0.6"
Weight14 Ounces8 Ounces13 Ounces
PCB VersionCustomV1.0000(B)
VRMFour PhasesThree PhasesFour Phases
WarrantyOne YearThree YearsThree Years
  • ta152h
    I'm not sure this needed so many pages to state the obvious (a 6850 board was faster than 440 and 450 boards, the concept is a good one. There are a lot of areas that sites do not cover that should be, and many of them are logistical like this one.

    For example, there are few, if any, reviews on noiseless CPUs (meaning, fanless) and too few if any reviews on GPUs without fans. Small form factors have thankfully been addressed a bit, but some of the smallest sizes are still not represented well in reviews.

    Even if you are into killing evil Zargons with your pimped out main computer (which many are not anyway), there is still a cool factor of a computer that fits in your hand that can be used in other locations like a kitchen, or living room, or both since you can pick it up and move it easily.

    Articles like this, that might not pertain to a main computer (or may), are interesting, since most of us have several computers, and know several people that ask our assistance in making decisions, and there are often criteria like this involved.
    Reply
  • dragonsqrrl
    I've read up to but not including the benchmark results, but is there honestly any question as to which card will perform best? The HD6850 is in a completely different performance segment. I'm just impressed they were able to get it down to a single slot form factor.
    Reply
  • eklipz330
    wonderful idea for an article, for those who have cramped areas
    Reply
  • Yuka
    You could have also included a standard reference board of the 6850 and GTS450 to see if there were any differences in power draw, heat, noise and why not, performance.

    Still, I also like the idea of reviewing different approaches of hardware pieces. We all have different needs, so different hardware (forms) need to be addressed as well 8)

    Cheers!
    Reply
  • Crashman
    dragonsqrrlI've read up to but not including the benchmark results, but is there honestly any question as to which card will perform best? The HD6850 is in a completely different performance segment. I'm just impressed they were able to get it down to a single slot form factor.Afox wanted to present this to prove its solution viable. Lots of people thought it wouldn't work due to the missing 6-pin connector and tiny fan. A couple weeks after Afox released its card, PowerColor announced a single-slot version WITH the 6-pin connector so now you have three choices: Galaxy's 460, Afox's 6850, and PowerColor's 6850.

    The Tom's Hardware team put a lot of effort into getting as many companies onboard as possible for this. PowerColor should have been excluded since its product was actually too late to meet the test deadline, but that's a non-issue since the card didn't show up. And Galaxy, Galaxy Where Art Thou? You would think companies like that would be in touch with ALL the major sites, wouldn't you?
    Reply
  • mister g
    I was looking into these cards because I have a BTX case from Dell, Crashman just listed all the cards I was looking at except for the Afox. However I'm not likely to get any of these since the single slot comes with one big con, a price tag of at least $220.
    Reply
  • jadavis1992
    Where is the Galaxy GTX 460 razor?
    Reply
  • dragonsqrrl
    CrashmanThe Tom's Hardware team put a lot of effort into getting as many companies onboard as possible for this. PowerColor should have been excluded since its product was actually too late to meet the test deadline, but that's a non-issue since the card didn't show up. And Galaxy, Galaxy Where Art Thou? You would think companies like that would be in touch with ALL the major sites, wouldn't you?I wasn't questioning the work ethic of Tom's Hardware's authors and reviewers, you guy's almost always deliver high-quality review material. But thanks for clarifying the situation.

    I really don't know what I would think, I'm completely unfamiliar with the process of acquiring test hardware from companies. Is this really unusual behavior from Galaxy and Power Color (ignoring or passing up a request to review one of their new products)?
    Reply
  • Assmar
    Cool. where can I get 4?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    dragonsqrrlI wasn't questioning the work ethic of Tom's Hardware's authors and reviewers, you guy's almost always deliver high-quality review material. But thanks for clarifying the situation.I really don't know what I would think, I'm completely unfamiliar with the process of acquiring test hardware from companies. Is this really unusual behavior from Galaxy and Power Color (ignoring or passing up a request to review one of their new products)?I believe the OTHER companies simply didn't want to get "shown up" by the bigger card, where ECS and MSI sent a card they knew would lose the performance race in order to show off their lower power consumption and price.

    As for PowerColor, they said they sent one. Either they screwed up, or something happened to the card along the way. Either way, I wasn't going to worry about the cause of this conundrum since it was too late to deal with.

    I really don't know what's up with Galaxy. Chances are they might have simply cut their marketing department.
    Reply