One of the main things that I need to keep reminding myself of, is that not everyone can afford video cards that are in 200+ USD range. Not to mention, that most gamers don’t really care what kind of video card they have in their computers just as long as it can play current games that are out today. This is where the Asus ENGT450 video card fits into, the budget minded gamer that wants to support the latest features of Direct X 11 like Tessellation, and Pixel Shader 5.0 that will not break the bank. At the same time these budget minded gamers do not want to sacrifice performance just because it is “affordable”, does not mean it cannot perform. We here at the DGC have gotten our grubby little claws on one of these video cards, and we are going to put this little video card through its paces and see exactly what it is made of. Does it have the stuff to keep up with some of the most demanding games out on the market today? Or the Asus ENGTS450 fall just short of this goal?
Since my main computer (Mini Me) is somewhat unconventional, meaning that not everyone uses a Core i7 970 Hex core CPU in their computers, I had to choose a computer that was more mainstream among us PC gamers. The computer I chose for this task is my smallest of the two computers I have in my house, Minor Me, which doubles up as an HTPC/Gaming platform for my friends and family that comes over to visit me. I will list all of the details of this computer in a little bit, keep in mind that just because this is my smallest computer does not mean it is slow.
- Graphics Engine : NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450
- Bus Standard : PCI Express 2.0
- Video Memory : GDDR5 1GB
- Engine Clock : 783 MHz
- Shader Clock : 1566 MHz
- Memory Clock : 3608 MHz ( 902 MHz GDDR5 )
- RAMDAC : 400 MHz
- Memory Interface : 128-bit
- Resolution D-Sub : Max Resolution : 2048×1536
- DVI : Max Resolution : 2560×1600
- Interface D-Sub Output : Yes x 1
- DVI Output : Yes x 1 (DVI-I)
- HDMI Output : Yes x 1
- HDCP Support : Yes
- Accessories 1 x Power cable
- Software : ASUS Utilities & Driver
- AIWI free bundle
- ASUS Features DirectCU Series
- Dimensions 8.54 ” x 4.37 ” Inch
Starting off on the packing of the Asus ENGTS450 video card, we can see that Asus uses a packaging that grabs our attention. The ENGTS450 video card sports 1 Gigabyte of GDDR5 memory, and that this video card is factory overclocked.
Flipping the packaging over to the back side, this video card is a Voltage Tweak Edition (better known as a VT/VTE). We are also giving some recommended system configurations to use this video card on our computers. I suggest if you are fairly new to computer building you pay close attention to what is listed here. If you have any questions please feel free to ask the helpful people over at Asus forums (located HERE), or ask at one of the many hardware review forums on the internet. You can also send me an email, I will be more than willing to lend out a hand (email address located on the front page)
Asus does make sure that this video card is packaged up nice and tight, and well protected from the rigors of shipping.
Here is what we get with the ENGTS450 video card from Asus. Of course we get the video card (located top center), Asus includes an installation manual, a driver disk that contains some rather useful programs that you may want to use with this video card, a 2 x molex to PCI-E power adapter, and finally, we get a flyer promoting a rather unique motion capture. What this little capability is all about, we can use an iPod touch or iPhone and use either one of the devices to interact with our games (control them). Unfortunately I do not have either of these devices so I could not “test” this out.
Time for us to turn our attention over to the ENGTS450 video card. This video card is not all that big, so we gamers should have no issues on being able to put this video card into our chassis; whether, that be a micro ATX, or a full tower ATX chassis. The one area I have always appreciated from Asus is that they this company goes all out on the overall presentation, and looks of their products, and this video card is no exception. Asus uses an 80mm fan that sits right in the middle of the heatsink that is being used on the ENGTS450 video card, we can also tell that this heatsink is not a reference configuration. Another area I like is that the fin array of the heatsink continues under the fan itself, instead of leaving this area flat with no fins. We also get a quick glimpse of the massive 8mm heatpipes that are being used on the heatsink itself.
Turning the card over to get a quick glance of the backside, the ENGTS450 video card uses 8 GDDR5 memory chips, 4 on the GPU core side, and 4 more located on the backside.
Getting a better look at the memory that is being used on the ENGTS450 video card, we can tell that these are GDDR5, that operate at 1000 MHZ (times by 4 because of the nature of this memory type, effective memory frequency is 4000MHz) at 1.5 volts. Now according to the specifications, the memory on this video card is clocked at 902 MHz (3608 effective), this is rather interesting information. Not in a bad way, this is just telling me as an overclocker, I have a lot more head room on the memory frequencies.
The ENGTS450 also fully supports SLI configuration, so if you are looking for a bit more punch on your gaming rigs, we can always add a second ENGTS450 for even faster, more potent rampages in our games. Unfortunately this video card does not support Nvidia’s multi-monitor configuration 3D Vision Surround.
Looking at the rear IO ports, Asus includes an HDMI port for our HTPC (or to hook up to their ML2xx Series monitors, review can be found HERE), a standard D-SUB connector (center blue 15 pin monitor port), and finally we get a DVI port.
Like most video cards out today, the ENGTS450 video card will take up the next available PCI expansion port of our computer systems.
I had to investigate the 8mm Direct Touch Heatpipe heatsink that is being utilized on this video card. Well, the heatsink is exactly what is stated on the box, that it is indeed a Direct Touch Heatpipe design heatsink. I should also mention that this heatsink is not all that small. I also grabbed a pair of precision calipers to measure the thickness of the heatpipes and they are 8mm in diameter. This should keep the temperatures down on our ENGTS450 video card. The next question is how well does this cooler do under some rather heavy overclocking? Only time will tell.
This is the only area I was not impressed about, I feel that Asus could have done a bit better job on the base of this heatsink. I used my small Philips screw driver for a reflection test, as we can see, we can barely make out a ghostly image of the screw driver on the base of this heatsink.
A quick snapshot of the naked ENGTS450 video card with the heatsink removed.
An up close shot of the GPU core that is being used on the ENGTS450 video card from Asus.
|CPU||Core i5 750
|Memory||Corsair 1600 MHz
|Video Card||Asus ENGTS450, Gigabyte 5670
|Hard Drives||Seagate 320Gig 2.5″ Momentus HDD|
|CDRom Drive||Lite-On Blu-ray|
|Power Supply||Cooler Master 1000 Watt
|CPU Speeds Used||4Ghz
|Operating System Used||Microsoft Windows 7
|Video Card Cooler
||Koolance CPU 360>Danger Den 240 GTX Radiator
For testing purposes only, since I do not use a physical computer monitor on this computer as it serves as an HTPC, all my testing will be performed using a resolution of 1280 x 720 (720p). The reasoning behind this is because for some odd reason the 1080i (1920 x 1080 resolution) HDTV I am using does not properly display images that are out of the 16:9 ratio. Not to mention I did not want to try and kill the overall performance of the ENGTS450 video card going moving to a 1080i (1920 x 1080). For the results I used the average of 3 runs per benchmark, and or game, this will ensure my results are accurate as possible. I will be comparing the ENGTS450 video card to a Gigabyte 5670 video card, the drivers used for this testing are 267.59 on the ENGTS450 , and AMD Catalyst 11-4 (preview) on the 5670. A fresh Windows 7 OS (Operating System) install was performed prior to the official benchmarking runs with both video cards. I will be adding some newer benchmarks I have not run before on top of the standard “Video Benchmarks”. As time progresses, I will be including more of these types of benchmarks into the video card reviews I do. Time for me to list the benchmarks/games used on this review and their settings used.
I did not force AA or AF of the games through the Nvidia Control Panel, or AMD Catalyst Control Panel. As it does not always work, so I will only be using the in-game AA/AF settings if applicable.
- 3DMark11 Default Performance settings
- 3Dmark Vantage Default Performance settings, No Physx during the comparison with the 5670, I will include separate Nvidia Ageia Physx run
- Unigine Heaven 2.1 Direct X 11 High Tessellation, 1280 x 720 No AA/No AF, also 4x AA/16 AF settings were used
- Alien Vs. Predator Direct X 11 Default settings 1280×720
- Stone Giant Direct X 11 High Tessellation, 1280 x 720 Default settings
- Darkest Of Days Direct X 10 1280 x 720 No AA/No AF, 4x AA 16x AF Ageia Physx turned off during comparison, I will include separate Ageia Physx run
- Dirt 2 Direct X 11 1280 x 720 All settings maxed No AA/No AF, 4x AA
- Dragon Age 2 Direct X 11 1280 x 720 No AA/No AF, 4x AA
- Video Rendering Default settings
- Video Memory Bandwidth Testing Default settings
- GPGPU/GPCPU OpenCL Native/Bandwidth Testing Default settings
- Media Transcoding HDTV H264 1280 x 720 30p, 2 x 16 bit Audio @ 192k Bp/s
SiSoft testing is the newer addition of benchmarks I am going to include in all of my video card reviews, as I stated earlier expect this type of testing to expand as time goes on.
Please keep in mind these results are based off an HTPC environment at a resolution of 1280 x 720. Running this video card at a full 1080i (1920 x 1080 resolution) brought this video card performance to its knees.
Starting off, one of the most widely used benchmarks out there today, 3DMark Vantage. We start to get a feel of the level of performance the Asus ENGTS450 video card has in store for us. Compared to the much smaller 5670 video card from Gigabyte, this video card stood no chance against the ENGTS450 video card.
Turning our attention over to a newer benchmark program that Futuremark produced that fully supports Direct X 11’s features. Once again we see that the Asus ENGTS450 just clearly smokes the Gigabyte 5670 video card in overall performance we get from this small affordable video card.
Unigine Heaven has pretty much became a standard for testing video cards with us gamers/overclockers alike. The Asus ENGTS450 still puts up some rather impressive numbers for us.
Stone Giant is another benchmark that we gamers/overclockers came to add to our list of performance measurement of our video cards, this benchmark can, and will, bring a video card to its knees. Especially when we gamers/overclockers set the Tessellation to max. The ENGTS450 shows no signs of slowing down, while the 5670 video card struggles to give us a frame rate in the low 20’s.
Alien Vs Predator is another fascinating benchmark/game we gamers came to admire, and this game title fully supports some of the most advanced features of Direct X 11. The ENGTS450 video card still keeps on with its beating to the 5670.
Darkest of Days is a rather unique benchmark/game in its own right, this particular game puts us gamers back in history during some of the most famous battles of WW1, and the American Civil War. The ENGTS450 video card keeps on giving us some rather nice playable frame rates, even when I set the AA up to a 4 and AF to 16, could not bring this video card to its knees.
Dirt 2 is favored among all racing type of gamers, also supporting Direct X 11. I can not blame us gamers for liking this game title, as it looks absolutely gorgeous. Looking at these frame rates, I was getting with the ENGTS450, I could have very easily cranked the resolution to 1080i (1920×1080) and still get playable frame rates.
Dragon Age 2 is a game that has a tendency of sucking us gamers into a rich storyline, with great action, so it be wrong of myself not to include this great game title in the results. Similar to the Dirt 2 testing, we could have easily cranked the resolution to a true 1080i with no issues and still manage some rather decent frame rates with this game title.
Time for the other types of included benchmarks. SiSoft has recently given us users a chance to look at how our video cards handle different aspects of video card performance that is not directly related to gaming. Since more and more of us PC users are using our computers as HTPC’s, the need to have a video card that encodes and decodes our HD movies fast has become a necessity.
Now time for us to look at how the memory bandwidth of the ENGTS450 video card stacks up. Looking at these numbers, it shows us that the internal Data Transfer rates are slightly slower than the Gigabyte 5670. But looking at the Internal memory bandwidth numbers, the ENGTS450 takes the lead.
Open CL is a new standard on which programs will have a parallel processing capabilities with our computers, by combining the CPU and the GPU together to perform various tasks that we do with our computers. More information about OpenCL can be found at Wikipedia’s website HERE. Looking at SiSoft’s testing results of OpenCL testing, we can see that during the Double testing the Asus ENGTS450 was able to outperform the 5670 video card. During the floating portion of testing the 5670 was able to squeeze out a small lead.
During the bandwidth testing of SiSoft OpenCL benchmarks, we can see a similar pattern appear as we had with the previous OpenCL testing. But this time the 5670 video card had a bit more of a larger lead during the memory bandwidth testing.
Time for us to see how these two video cards stack up during the transcoding portion of SiSoft. This is where we will use the video cards to convert a video from one format to another video file format. Looking at these numbers it appears that both video cards are fairly even in performance, considering we are only dealing with kB/s (1000 Bytes per second). Where as we normally deal with either MB/s or GB/s.
Enabling the Ageia Physx on the ENGTS450 video card gave me a nice little score increase over having the Physx turned off. Now 3DMark Vantage handles Ageia Physx differently from a real world Scenario, as we can see that having Ageia Physx turned on that the video card increases the overall CPU score. Lets see how the ENGTS450 handles Physx in an actual game.
Now this is an actual real world Physx testing of the ENGTS450 video card. As we can see once we enabled the Ageia Physx in Nvidia’s Control Panel (allowing the video card to process all the extra visuals, like more smoke, more explosions, sparks, etc. etc.) We can see that our performance gets cut in half from when we had the Physx turned off.
Overclocking the Asus ENGTS450
It would not be fun if I did not at least try and overclock the ENGTS450 video card. Since this video card is a Voltage Tweak addition, I will include runs with/with out voltage added to the GPU core of this video card. These numbers are here just to give you an idea of the level of performance gain if you so choose to overclock.
As I upped the core frequencies of the GPU, the memory frequencies start to get an increase of our scoring in 3DMark11. By adding voltage to the GPU core and bringing the video card’s core speed up to a staggering 1000MHz has really given us a nice little performance boost over then the default core speeds of this video card. The below screen shots are me using Asus Smart Doctor to overclock the ENGTS450 video card.
Default core speeds of the Asus ENGTS450 video card
Overclocked ENGTS450 video card with no voltage added
Extreme Overclock Settings voltage added to the GPU core.
As we can see the Asus ENGTS450 video has quite a bit of overclocking headroom. I ended up maxing out the GPU core speed slider quite quickly, telling me if I had access to another overclocking utility that allowed me greater overclockability, I can possibly go even farther if I wanted to.
|Default Core speeds Idle
|Default Core speeds Full Load||54°C|
|Overclocked 952/3902 Idle
|Overclocked 952/3902 Full Load||61°C
|Extreme Overclocked 1000/3902||34°C|
|Extreme Overclocked 1000/3902||66°C|
For temperature testing the Asus ENGTS450 video card, I will be using MSI Kombustor for 45 minutes to get my full load temperature reading. I will be recording the highest achieved temperature reading during this full load GPU testing. To get my idle temperatures I will allow the ENGTS450 video card time to idle down for 30 minutes after each MSI Kombustor stress test.
I like to try and keep my video cards temperatures below the 70°C mark. The heatsink that Asus has in play on the ENGTS450 video card works flawlessly. Despite the fact it is not even a smooth base it handles the temperatures quite well. These results are based on a Ambient room temperature of 21°C (72°C), so your results may very greatly from my own.
The little Asus ENGTS450 video card has impressed me. It has a lot of potential that in the right hands, can make this little wonder turn some rather impressive numbers. Its small form factor will give us gamers the flexibility of using this video card in a micro ATX chassis. I did hook up a Kill-A-Watt meter to my HTPC just to see how much power I am actually pulling from the wall with the Asus ENGTS450 video card, to my surprise my HTPC computer was only pulling 251 Watts or power from the wall while it was being overclocked to a 1000Mhz on the GPU core, and 3902 MHz on the memory, this is a system wide wattage reading. The price of this great little video card that I saw around the internet puts the Asus ENGTS450 video card on or around the 135USD mark, this video card may be affordable, but it has shown us that it has some serious clout in regards to the performance it gives us. Time for me to give this little video card a rating and wrap things up.
Now I recommend that you (readers) take a look at my rating system (HERE), so you can get an idea on how we do things here at DGC. This video card not only was able to do what it was listed to do, it went above and beyond what I expected from this little video card. So I give the Asus ENGTS450 Video card a Respectable and well earned,
9 out of Ten and the:
Golden Dragon Award