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Appeared on: Friday, September 24, 2010
Inno3D GTS 450 iChill Freezer Edition review


1. Meet the Inno3D GTS 450 iChill Freezer Edition

Inno3D has released the GeForce GTS 450 Freezer X Series, a graphics card based on Nvidia's GeForce GTS 450 design. The card is equipped with Inno3D's Freezer Edition dual-fan cooler, it has a custom blue color PCB and it is also factory overclocked.

Nvidia 's GeForce GTS 450 promises to deliver the DX11 price/performance in the $139 USD price category. The card has been designed for LAN gamers and it is capable of delivering high DX11 performance with 4X antialiasing turned on at resolutions of up to 1600x1050.

The GeForce GTS 450 is based on the GF106 Fermi chip, it has 192 CUDA cores clocked at 783/1566 Mhz (Gfx/Proc clock) and 1GB/128-bit GDDR5. The GF106 GPU is smaller in size than the previous Fermi chips, it produces less heat, supports higher voltages and hopefully better overclocking performance.

The card has been designed for LAN party gamers and it has been optimized to deliver significantly higher gaming performance than rival's offerings, the AMD HD5750 and the HD5770 series.

Below are the product's specifications compared with other Fermi GPUs:

 
GeForce GTS 450
GeForce GTX 460
GeForce GTX
465
GeForce GTX
470
Stream (Shader) Processors
192
336
352
448
Core Clock (MHz)
783
675
607
607
Shader Clock (MHz)
1566
1350
1215
1215
Memory Clock (datarate MHz)
3608
3600
3206
3350
Memory amount
1024MB
768~1024MB
1024 MB
1280
Memory Interface
128-bit
192~256-bit
256-bit x2
320-bit
Memory Type
gDDR5
gDDR5
gDDR5
gDDR5

Looking at the specs, we can easily understand that the GTS 450 series are meant to be an entry-level product with less Stream (Shader) processors and an 128-bit memory interface compared with its older "brothers". Priced at $139 the card essentially replaces the GTS 250 series and competes with the ATI Raderon HD 5750 series. The product is advertised capable to have high overclocking margins, allowing many manufacturers to introduce their own GTS 450 implementations solutions with higher core/memory voltages.

Nvidia claims that for games and applications that feature tessellation -- the key feature of DX11 -- the GTS 450 is up to 65% faster than the closest competitive product. Even in last generation DX9 and DX10 games, the GTS 450 is faster by over 30%, including in the blockbuster PC title StarCraft II, Nvidia claims.

The GTS 450 also supports NVIDIA PhysX in-game effects and NVIDIA 3D Vision, for palying 3D in games, Blu-ray 3D, and photos.

- Retail package

The Inno3D GTS 450 iChiLL comes into a black box with the "Freezer X series" logo on it . The product isn't supposed to cost much more than the generic GTS 450 series cards.

The package includes the Inno3D GTS 450 iChiLL graphics card, a printed manual, an installation disc, power cable, DVI adapter and a Starcraft promotion card.

The Inno3D GTS 450 iChill Freezer Edition has a custom blue-colored PCB and a dual fan gpu cooler, which is supposed to be very silent. The cooler uses Inno3D's DTH (Direct Touch Heatpipe) technology where the heatpipe is contacted with the GPU directly. The card measures around 23cm.

The Inno3D GTS 450 iChill Freezer Edition has also gold-plated dual DVI-D ports and a mini-HDMI port for high-definition material. The HDMI v1.4 supports xvYCC, Deep color and 7.1 digital surround sound and of course 3D output with the NVIDIA 3D Vision technology. The card requires only one PCI-e power cable, meaning it will work with low- powered power supply units..

After installing the graphics card we can find more details about its main features and specifications. The GPU core runs at 820MHz, memory at 950MHz while Shaders at 1640MHz. As you can see the card is slightly overclocked compared over the stock 783/ 902/1566 frequencies:


2. How we test
- Setup

Here is our test PC setup:

Many games and applications were used in order to measure the performance (FPS) of each card.

DirectX 9

DirectX10

DirectX11

 

- -DirectX9 Settings

For all the tests we used the default settings for 3DMark05 as following:

Again we left all settings to default:

- DirectX10 Settings

We used the three built- in benchmarks to test the performance of each graphics card. We measured the performances at various resolutions using the "Performance" and up to the "Extreme" settings.

We used the built in benchmark with all the details maxed out.

We used the hocbench Crysis benchmark tool at the resolutions of 1280x1024, 1680x1050 and finally 1920x1200. We run the benchmark software with "High" and "Very High" details enabled in order to identify the optimum settings for a decent game play.

We used the built-in benchmarking utility and maxed out all visual details, under both DX9/DX10 and settings up to 16x AA/16x AF.


3. Futuremark Hall of Fame

We start with the results coming out from Futuremark's benchmarks. These include the results of the 3DMark 05, 3DMark 06 and the 3DMark Vantage software tests.

The Inno3D GTS 450 iChiLL gave 16201 points at the 3DMark 05 benchmark, which is much lower than what HD5570 can deliver:

At the 3DMark 06 benchmark the Inno3D GTS 450 iChiLL scored 13124 points, while the HD5770 was again more powerful scoring 13766 points:

The 3DMark Vantage tests the performance of each card in resolutions. The Inno3D GTS 450 iChiLL seems to perform better than the Club3D HD5770 at the resolutions of 1280x1024 and 1680x1050. At 1920x1200, the cards perform the same:


4. Crysis Warhead, S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call Of Pripyat Benchmark
- Crysis Warhead (DirectX9, DirectX10)

We proceed to the "Crysis Warhead" game, which supports both DirectX9 and DirectX10 rendering modes. The popular game is still the toughest game in our benchmark suite. Below are the test results from all the possible resolutions the anti-aliasing (AA) disabled.

The Inno3D GTS 450 iChiLL performed pretty well with the Crysis Warhead game. The game is playable even at the resolution of 1920x1200 as long as you choose the "Mainstream" quality settings. The "Gamer" seems to be harder to cope with and the the GTS 450 produced around 18 FPS at 1280 x 1024, for both DX9 and DX 10:

Below you can see where the Inno3D GTS 450 iChiLL stands in the competition, at least for the Crysis Warhead game:

The Club HD5770 is faster than the GTS450 series at the Crysis Warhead game under DX9, especially at higher resolutions.

Lets now see the same results under DX10:

Under DX10, the difference between the Inno 3D GTS450 and the HD5770 is smaller, but AMD's GPU seems to have a small lead.

- S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call Of Pripyat Benchmark

The ' S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call Of Pripyat Benchmark' provides detailed information about a system's performance on various graphical modes. This benchmark is based on one of the in-game locations – Pripyat . The testing process includes four stages, those utilizing various weather and time of the day settings (day, night, rain, bright sun). In order to test the system thoroughly the benchmark is provided with a number of presets and options including different versions of DirectX (9.0 10.0, 11), screen resolutions, anti-aliasing etc.This makes it another one of the highly demanding games in our benchmark suite.

For our tests we set the visual details to the highest level and tested the Inno3D GTS 450 iChiLL graphics card under DX10 and DX11 at the resolution of 1920x1200

- DX9

- DX10

- DX11


5. Company Of Heroes

The "Company Of Heroes" is a popular action/strategy game with many funs around the world. The game was the first ever to utilize DirectX10 and features great in-game physics. For this test, we used the maximum quality settings and measured the performance (FPS) of each card.

The Inno3D GTS 450 iChiLL performed better than the rival HD5770 no matter the resolution:


6. Far Cry 2, Left4Dead, StreetFighter IV

- Far Cry 2 (DirectX 9/10)

The 'Far Cry 2' supports both DirectX 9 and DirectX10.

- DX9

The Inno3D GTS 450 iChiLL seems to be ~5FPS slower than the HD5770 under DX9 for all the resolutions. However, as the quality settings become more demanding ("Ultra High") this difference in the FPS is smaller.

- DX10

Enabling DX10 shaders and the "Ultra High" quality settings resulted to an equal performance for the Inno3D GTS 450 iChiLL and the HD5770. The GTS 450 iChiLL will give you a small advantage (~6FPS) with the antializing enabled:

 

- Left4Dead (DirectX 9)

Introduced in 2004, Valve’s Source engine continues to live on in new Valve games. Although this game is not very GPU limited to a significant degree we are using it in our testbed.

We used a custom time demo and measured the performance of the graphics card for the resolutions of 1280x1024, 1650x1080 and 1920x1200, with 16xAF enabled and all visual settings maxed out.

The Inno3D GTS 450 gave an average performance here and it was weaker than the HD5770:

 

- StreetFighter IV (DirectX 9)

Lastly, two more benchmarks from the Streetfighter IV and the Unigine Benchmark Engine (DX10) demonstrating the graphic performance of the graphic card.

Unigine is a proprietary cross-platform middleware, developed by Unigine Corp. It is used as either a game engine or as an engine for VR systems. Unigine currently has support for OpenGL 4.0 and DirectX 11 It supports hardware tessellation and Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO), DirectCompute, and Shader Model 5.0.


7. Dirt 2, Alien vs Predator, Lost Planet 2, Overclocking

- Dirt 2 (DirectX 11)

Colin McRae: Dirt 2 (known as Dirt 2 outside Europe and stylised, DiRT) is a racing game released in September 2009, and is the sequel to Colin McRae: Dirt. The game runs on an updated version of the EGO engine, which powered Codemasters' Race Driver: Grid as well. The engine features an updated physics engine and makes pretty through use of the DX11’s tessellation abilities.

We installed the the game patch and measured the in-game performance of the Inno3D GTX460 768MB graphics card at 1920x1200 and with the AA enabled:

The Inno3D GTS 450 has good performance here and it is more powerful than the Club3D HD5570.

- Alien vs Predator Benchmark v1.03 (DirectX 11)

Rebellion has released a standalone DirectX 11 PC benchmark test based upon its shooter Aliens vs. Predator. The benchmark test requires a graphics support supporting DirectX 11, which are used to produce such fancy features as tessellation, advanced shadow sampling and DX11 anti-aliasing.

We used the default settings of the benchmark (resolution: 1920 x 1200, Texture Quality: 2, Shadow Quality: 3, Anisotropic Filtering: 16, SSAO: ON, Vertical Sync: OFF, DX11 Tessellation: ON, DX11 Advanced Shadows: ON, DX11 MSAA Samples: 1).

The Inno3D GTS 450 gave an average ~22.60 FPS, which can be considered as good result for a mid-range card.

 

- Lost Planet 2 Benchmark (DX9/DX11)

The Lost Planet 2 benchmark allows you to measure the performance of your graphics card using a a pre-configured route within the game. The benchmark can be run under both DX9 and DX11. The Inno3D GTS 450 iChiLL performed well at the resolution of 1280x1024. A more powerful solution is required in order to enjoy the game at higher resolutions:

 

- Overclocking

Finally, we are ready to test the overclocking abilities of the Inno3D GTS 450 iChiLL. NVIDIA is heavily promoting the overclockability of the card to the press, so let' s move on to the tests.

For our overclocking tests we used the latest MSI AfterBurner utility which also allows you to unlock the card's voltages allowing further tweaking. We enabled the 'Core Voltage' slider (though the 'settings' tab). The Core Voltage slider can go very high to further increase the overclocking margins although we feel that you won't need to go very high here. The 'Core' and 'Shader' sliders are synched and move as one, allowing you to play with the 'Memory' slider as well. The package also includes the 'MSI Kombustor' application that stresses your graphics card and test its stability.

While we attempted to get some decent overclocking results, our attempts using the MSI's AfterBurner or Nvidia Performance Utilities were not very successful. Our system kept locking after a few-minute test with the Kombustor software. We also used some retail games in order to test the stability of the card but we noticed the same behavior.

We managed to get a fairly stable 900MHz core and 950MHz memory frequencies. These are not as high as many other reviewers have posted online in their articles. Although the GTS 450 iChill is factory overclocked we hoped to push overclocking a little bit more..


8. Final thoughts

The Inno3D GTS 450 iChiLL is factory-overclocked Nvidia GTS 450 graphics card with a great cooling solution on board designed by Arctic Cooling. The twin fan cooler was so silent we could barely hear it.

The GTS 450 series is a replacement of the GTS 250 series, offering a better performance. While we agree with that, the competition from AMD is very hard. With the HD5750 and HD5770 series already available on the market a year now, we think that the Nvidia's first Direct X 11 solution for the mid-range market cannot easily make the difference. Several online stores confirm that the HD5770 is almost priced at the same price range as a GTS 450 graphics card. And for the same money, you get a performance that is not any higher than the HD5750 or the HD5770 series.

The factory-overclocked Inno3D GTS 450 iChiLL can compete with the HD5750 and in some cases with the HD5770 cards much easier than a generic GTS 450 implementation, but consider that Inno3D's customization will cost you some extra bucks more. That's not as much as you may think, as we are talking about some extra €10~15 . Of course the card worth it, and it is highly recommended to choose an over clocked GTS 450 solution if you are thinking of buying Nvidia's latest offering.

On the positive side, the GTS 450 series is armed with all the latest technologies from Nvidia (3D gaming, HDMI 1.40) which makes it a future-proof purchase. The graphics card will perform great at resolutions of 1280x1024 with AA enabled, or at 1680 x 1050. On the other hand, we are not very excited about the graphics card's overclocking performance, although the card is advertised to have great overclocking potential.

We expected something more exciting and possible faster for NVIDIA's first mid-range DX11 class product. A 256-bit version of the card would be highly welcomed, and could make the GTS 450 more competitive.

The Inno3D's team did their best to make the GTS 450 more attractive. They certainly succeeded with the GTS 450 iChiLL. Although we are sure the card could be factory-overclocked a little more, the GTS 450 iChiLL delivers exactly what it supposed to, nice DirecX11 gaming for the latest titles at resolutions of up to 1680 x 1050, silent operation and a cool sub €150 EUR.



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