At the recent NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang admitted to the production delays of Fermi, but with the release of the more mainstream-friendly GeForce GTX 460 and GTS 450, Fermi is slowly but surely gaining traction amongst gamers.
To build on its momentum, NVIDIA is now introducing their latest addition to the Fermi family - the GeForce GT 430. As the “GT” moniker denotes, this is a card targeted at budget to lower-end mainstream users. And this is fitting, because the GeForce GT 430 is powered by the GF108, a far more streamlined version of the original GF100 chip that debuted in the GeForce GTX 480. It is also the same chip that powers the GT 415M, GT 420M, GT 425M, and GT 435M mobile GPUs.
On the hardware level, the GeForce GT 430 has effectively only half a GPC (graphics processing cluster). This means it has only two streaming multiprocessors, giving it a total of 96 CUDA cores, 16 texture mapping units and 16 raster operating units, which is a fair bit lesser than the GeForce GTS 450. The GeForce GT 430 is also the first Fermi card to use GDDR3 memory even though it retains a 128-bit wide memory bus. In all and on paper, it is very similar to the GeForce GT 240 that was launched in November last year.
Needless to say, NVIDIA does not claim that the GeForce GT 430 is the answer to all your gaming needs. Instead, it is positioned as the perfect complement to HTPC or media centre setups especially if you into 3D, seeing that it supports 3D Blu-ray playback and HD audio bitstreaming (supported only by the newer ForceWare 260 drivers).
Even so, NVIDIA says gaming can still be done insofar as users are reasonable with their expectations. According to NVIDIA, the GeForce GT 430 will trump integrated graphics solutions, and will handle the 1280 x 1024 resolution nicely as long as you don’t go wild on the in-game graphics quality settings by checking all the boxes or turn everything up to high.
Anyhow, this got us thinking, could you really play modern games with entry-level graphics cards? To find out, we have have put to the test popular entry-level cards from both NVIDIA and ATI, along with the new GeForce GT 430.
Before we begin, here's a quick look at how the GeForce GT 430 stacks up against competitive comparison SKUs.
|Model||NVIDIA GeForce GT 430||
NVIDIA GeForce GT 240
NVIDIA GeForce GT 220
|ATI Radeon HD 5670||
ATI Radeon HD 5570
|ATI Radeon HD 5450|
|Core Code||GF108||GT215||GT216||Redwood XT||Redwood PRO||Cedar PRO|
|Transistor Count||Unknown||727 million||486 million||627 million||627 million||292 million|
|Stream Processors||96 Stream Processors||96 Stream Processors||48 Stream Processors||400 Stream Processing Units||400 Stream Processing Units||80 Stream Processing Units|
|Stream Processor Clock||1400MHz||1340MHz||1350MHz||775MHz||650MHz||650MHz|
|Texture Mapping Units (TMU) or Texture Filtering (TF) units||16||32||16||20||20||8|
|Raster Operator units (ROP)||16||8||8||8||8||4|
|Memory Clock||1800MHz GDDR3||1800MHz GDDR3 / 3400MHz GDDR5||2000MHz GDDR3||4000MHz GDDR5||1800MHz GDDR3||1600MHz GDDR3|
|DDR Memory Bus||128-bit||128-bit||128-bit||128-bit||128-bit||64-bit|
|Memory Bandwidth||28.8GB/s||28.8GB/s / 57.6GB/s||16.0GB/s||76.8GB/s||28.8GB/s||12.8GB/s|
|PCI Express Interface||PCIe ver 2.0 x16||PCIe ver 2.0 x16||PCIe ver 2.0 x16||PCIe ver 2.0 x16||PCIe ver 2.0 x16||PCIe ver 2.0 x16|
|Molex Power Connectors||None||None||None||None||None||None|
|Multi GPU Technology||None||None||None||CrossFireX||None||None|
|DVI Output Support||2 x Dual-Link||2 x Dual-Link||2 x Dual-Link||2 x Dual-Link||2 x Dual-Link||2 x Dual-Link|
|HDCP Output Support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Street Price||Launch Price: ~US$79||~US$89||~US$70||~US$99||~US$79||~US$55|