The Asus ENGTS450 TOP DirectCU 1GB is a non-reference design, factory over-clocked Nvidia GeForce GTS450 graphics card. It uses non-reference cooling to keep the card running cool and at a higher core clock speed than that specified by Nvidia. This is Nvidia's mainstream graphics chip based on the 'Fermi' architecture.

Finally, a card has come along to displace the GTS250/9800GTX+ graphics card from its perch in the meanstream graphics card segment. We expect the Asus ENGTS450 TOP DirectCU, and other cards based on the GeForce GTS450 chip to quickly fall in price and become a great card to recommend.

The factory-overclocked, better-cooled GeForce GTS450 from Asus performed well indeed. It supports DirectX 11, and does not even have to lock itself in battle with the Radeon 5770, whose price it is comparable to and is the competing card from the opposition camp. It managed to beat the Radeon 5770 in every synthetic and game benchmark, though not always by a large margin.

Asus ENGTS450 TOP DirectCU: Design

The Asus ENGTS450 TOP DirectCU looks pretty good in its black color theme. The metal heatpipes and heatsink add a dash of color to it. The black plastic sheet over the heatsink might feel a bit flimsy, but it manages to hold on and keep the fan in place just fine. The cooler is of an "open" type though, so not all the heat generated gets forced out of the cabinet. It is short enough to not occupy the full width of a full-ATX motherboard, so most normal PC cabinets sold can easily accommodate it. The cooling and rear grills though, make sure that this card remains a dual-slot one, it will occupy two slots at the rear brackets of a PC cabinet.

It asks only for one PCI-E 6-pin power input. The average power rating (TDP package) of a GeForce GTS450 is about 106W. So to power a system connected to it, even an unbranded PC power supply that claims 400W (or higher) will do. At the rear of the card are the display outputs - dual-DVI, VGA and HDMI ports. Aligned in a single row, they allow for a fair amount of space for grills to act as a heat vent.

Asus ENGTS450 TOP DirectCU: Features

This card has 1GB of GDDR5 video memory clocked at 1000 MHz (translates to 2000 MHz in actuals). The ENGTS450 TOP manages to make for a differentiated offering with its core clock speed of 925 MHz. The stock/reference design cards run a core speed of only 783 MHz, so this is good.

It has a 128-bit memory interface, 192 unified shaders and supports DirectX 11. The package we received had no extras as is the norm in this card's segment. There was simply one quick guide and one molex-to-6-pin power connecter. A CD contained documentation, drivers and additional Asus software for GPU monitoring and tweaking (ASUS Splendid, ASUS Gamer OSD, ASUS Smart Doctor).

Asus ENGTS450 TOP DirectCU: Performance

Tested in the PCWorld.in Labs.

Over the course of our tests, we saw the Asus ENGTS450 TOP DirectCU card challenge the Radeon 5770. To compare performance numbers between cards, view our Top 5 graphics cards chart. On the whole, the tests showed this card to be performing about 30 per cent better than the Radeon 5770 and (thankfully) better than the GeForce GTS250 card which it replaces, by about the same proportion. The higher-end GeForce GTX460 based cards generally perform about 25 per cent better than this overclocked card at their default clock speeds.

To prevent bottle-necks as much as possible, the test-bed consisted of an Intel Core i7 965 processor, Intel DX58SO motherboard, Intel X25-M 80GB SSD, 3GB of Kingston DDR3-2000MHz RAM, Tagan BZ-1300W PSU and Windows 7 Ultimate. We used the latest driver as of the time of writing, v260.89 of Nvidia ForceWare. Numbers mentioned below are only a selection of the wider set of tests conducted.

In a synthetic benchmark like 3D Mark 06, the Asus card posted 17,728 marks. In the High preset of 3D Mark Vantage, it got 11,418 marks.

Onwards to game benchmarks now. For retaining comparability between previously tested cards on PCW, we shall mention performance results attained at the same resolution (Full-HD 1920x1080). First up in Crysis at 1920x1080, 8xAA and Very High settings, it posted 16 fps. In Far Cry 2 at 1920x1080, DX10, 8xAA and Ultra High settings, it posted 55 fps. In Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., it posted 61 fps.

In temperature tests, the Asus ENGTS450 TOP DirectCU showed an idle temperature of 33 °C which jumped to 65 °C at full load. At full load, the fan was only slightly noisy. The idle temperature hovering almost at room temperature was admirable. That the factory-OC is not the last word, you can still adjust voltages and overclock even higher is a good thing for users who want to do so. There wasn't very much headroom left though, so unless you have really good cabinet cooling, we would not suggest further over-clocking it since the gain may not be worth it in practice.

See also:  Group test: what's the best graphics card?

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

See also: Group test: what's the best budget graphics card?

Asus ENGTS450 TOP DirectCU: Specs

  • GTS 450
  • PCI-E 2.0 (x16)
  • D-Sub
  • Dual Link DVI-I
  • HDMI
  • DirectCompute Support
  • Microsoft DirectX 11
  • NVIDIA CUDA Technology
  • NVIDIA nView Multi-Display Technology
  • NVIDIA PhysX-Ready
  • NVIDIA Unified Driver Architecture
  • OpenCL Support
  • OpenGL 4.0
  • PureVideo HD
  • Shader Model 5.0
  • SLI
  • Manufacturing process: 40nm
  • Cores: 192
  • HDCP Ready
  • Core Clock: 925MHz
  • Width: Dual Slot
  • Shader Clock
  • 1GB
  • Memory Bit Rate: 128 Bit
  • GDDR5
  • Retail
  • GTS 450
  • PCI-E 2.0 (x16)
  • D-Sub
  • Dual Link DVI-I
  • HDMI
  • DirectCompute Support
  • Microsoft DirectX 11
  • NVIDIA CUDA Technology
  • NVIDIA nView Multi-Display Technology
  • NVIDIA PhysX-Ready
  • NVIDIA Unified Driver Architecture
  • OpenCL Support
  • OpenGL 4.0
  • PureVideo HD
  • Shader Model 5.0
  • SLI
  • Manufacturing process: 40nm
  • Cores: 192
  • HDCP Ready
  • Core Clock: 925MHz
  • Width: Dual Slot
  • Shader Clock
  • 1GB
  • Memory Bit Rate: 128 Bit
  • GDDR5
  • Retail

OUR VERDICT

This nVidia GeForce GTS450 is factory-overclocked and well-cooled, making for a decent mid-range graphics card. Has nVidia re-learnt the art of providing a sufficiently good mainstream card and returned to the segment in force? Deposing the similarly-priced Radeon 5770 has got to be a preliminary statement of that intent.

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