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Sparkle ONE GTS 450 1GB OC Single Slot Review

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SKYMTL

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With all of the new products being introduced into NVIDIA’s lineup, the prices of many 400-series cards have been falling with meteoric speed. As a result, the GTS 450 has found itself playing second fiddle to higher-end GTX 460s which can be bought for under $130 after rebates are applied. The $120 GTS 450 looked completely overpriced and outmatched but prices have gradually fallen in line with expectations and recently hit a highly affordable target of $90 to $110.

Naturally, the possibility of buying an efficient mid-range graphics card for about a hundred bucks is an appealing prospect and our interest was piqued. Most partner cards have adhered to the reference design and clock speeds but we found some very unique GTS 450s that cater to certain markets. One of these is the foremost product in Sparkle’s new ONE series of HTPC-oriented single slot cards.

Dubbed the GTS 450 ONE OC Edition, Sparkle has fundamentally departed from the reference design in order to create a card with a focus on optimal thermal dissipation in a single slot form factor. We have already seen this goal achieved with XFX’s HD 5770 Single Slot but there is always a price premium and a drop in overall cooling performance involved.

Sparkle’s goals for this card reflect those of XFX’s aforementioned HD 5770 but with a few additional challenges thrown in for good measure. In this case, the single slot GTS 450 has been given a very slight core speed bump and the memory has also been overclocked. We don’t expect much in the way of a performance increase but the increase in thermal output may have some effect on temperatures. As expected this card also holds a $20 premium over most reference cards on the market. That may not sound like much but in this price bracket, every dollar counts.

The GTS 450 ONE OC seems to have the features some users are looking for but it will be interesting to see whether this card is really worth the extra money.

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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12,841
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The Sparkle ONE GTS 450 OC Single Slot

The Sparkle ONE GTS 450 OC Single Slot


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Sparkle has two different lines: their standard series of products and the Calibre-branded cards which usually crank up the excitement to 11 by offering high overclocks and some wicked custom cooling solutions. The ONE series falls into the “standard” category but it still carries increase clock speeds but they haven’t been pushed enough to really affect performance numbers.

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Much like the single slot card that rests within its protective confines, the box for the Sparkle ONE GTS 450 has been on a diet and is extremely slim. Inside rests the card along with a DVI to VGA dongle and a single 24” mini HDMI to HDMI adaptor.

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Aside from the fact that it sports a single slot heatsink, Sparkle’s card uses a front-mounted fan which pushes air into one’s case. This kind of setup may cause some issues in smaller HTPCs since it runs contrary to a case’s natural airflow direction. Nonetheless, this is the only direction in which the hot air can go since there isn’t any space on the backplate for an exhaust grille.


Other than the change to this card’s heatsink design, Sparkle has decided to stick to NVIDIA’s reference design. The only real difference we could discern is a blue PCB replacing the standard green one.

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Since the ONE sports a reference PCB, it’s 8 ¼” length mirrors that of standard card.

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The backplate connector layout retains the dual DVI and single HDMI 1.4 configuration mirrors that of most other NVIDIA cards. However, the HDMI 1.4 connector does give this card an edge over AMD’s HD 5700 series which made due with HDMI 1.3 compatibility.
 

SKYMTL

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Another Sparkle Card: The GTS 450 OC

Another Sparkle Card: The GTS 450 OC


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Sparkle sent us another GTS 450 card to look at which is simply an overclocked version but with a custom dual slot heatsink sitting atop the core. As you can see above, its specifications line up with those of the ONE OC we looked at on the previous page. Due to these similarities we won’t be including this particular card in our performance charts but will be detailing its thermal and power consumption results in the appropriate sections.

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The packaging and accessories for this card are basic but it is still good to see a 24” mini HDMI to HDMI adaptor included alongside the usual Molex to 6-pin and DVI to VGA adaptors.

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Sparkle’s card uses custom heatsink which is topped by a single 80mm fan which pushes cool air down onto the aluminum fin array. According to our contacts with other board partners, this type of setup is used to cut down on cost since the reference heatsink NVIDIA provides with their cards is an expensive option when compared to a simple design like this.


Once again we have a card which uses the reference PCB (albeit in blue) and components but has an upgraded heatsink design.
 

SKYMTL

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Test System & Setup

Test System & Setup

Processor: Intel Core i7 920(ES) @ 4.0Ghz (Turbo Mode Enabled)
Memory: Corsair 3x2GB Dominator DDR3 1600Mhz
Motherboard: Gigabyte EX58-UD5
Cooling: CoolIT Boreas mTEC + Scythe Fan Controller (Off for Power Consuption tests)
Disk Drive: Pioneer DVD Writer
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB
Power Supply: Corsair HX1000W
Monitor: Samsung 305T 30” widescreen LCD
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate N x64 SP1


Graphics Cards:

Sparkle ONE GTS 450 1GB OC
Sparkle GTS 450 1GB OC
NVIDIA GTS 450 1GB (Reference)
GTX 460 768MB (Reference)
EVGA GTS 250 1GB (Stock)

ATI HD 5770 1GB (Reference)
XFX HD 5750 1GB (Reference)


Drivers:

NVIDIA 260.63
ATI 11.2


Applications Used:

Aliens Versus Predator
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
DiRT 2
Far Cry 2
Just Cause 2
Metro 2033
Starcraft 2
Unigine: Heaven


*Notes:

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT OUR BENCHMARKING PROCESS PLEASE SEE THIS ARTICLE

- All games tested have been patched to their latest version

- The OS has had all the latest hotfixes and updates installed

- All scores you see are the averages after 3 benchmark runs

All game-specific methodologies are explained above the graphs for each game

All IQ settings were adjusted in-game
 

SKYMTL

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Aliens Versus Predator (DX11)

Aliens Versus Predator (DX11)


When benchmarking Aliens Versus Predator, we played through the whole game in order to find a section which represents a “worst case” scenario. We finally decided to include “The Refinery” level which includes a large open space and several visual features that really tax a GPU. For this run-through, we start from within the first tunnel, make our way over the bridge on the right (blowing up several propane tanks in the process), head back over the bridge and finally climb the tower until the first run-in with an Alien. In total, the time spent is about four minutes per run. Framerates are recorded with FRAPS.


1440 x 900

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1680 x 1050

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1920 x 1200

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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12,841
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BattleField: Bad Company 2 (DX11)

BattleField: Bad Company 2 (DX11)


To benchmark BF: BC2 we used a five minute stretch of gameplay starting from the second checkpoint (after the helicopter takes off) of the second single player mission up until your battle with the tank commences. Framerates are recorded with FRAPS.


1440 x 900

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1680 x 1050

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1920 x 1200

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
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Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
DiRT 2 (DX11)

DiRT 2 (DX11)


Being one of the newest games on the market, DiRT 2 cuts an imposing figure in terms of image quality and effects fidelity. We find that to benchmark this game the in-game tool is by far the best option. However, due to small variances from one race to another, three benchmark runs are done instead of the normal two. It should also be mentioned that the demo version of the game was NOT used since after careful testing, the performance of the demo is not representative of the final product. DX11 was forced through the game’s config file. In addition, you will see that these scores do not line up with our older benchmarks at all. This is due to the fact that a patch was recently rolled out for the game which included performance optimizations in addition to new graphics options.

1440 x 900

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1680 x 1050

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1920 x 1200

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Far Cry 2 (DX10)

Far Cry 2 (DX10)


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Even though Far Cry 2 has its own built-in benchmarking tool with some flythroughs and “action scenes”, we decided to record our own timedemo consisting of about 5 minutes of game time. It involves everything from run-and-gun fights to fire effects. The built-in benchmarking too was then set up to replay the timedemo and record framerates


1440 x 900

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1680 x 1050

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1920 x 1200

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Just Cause 2 (DX10)

Just Cause 2 (DX10)


Just Cause 2 has quickly become known as one of the best-looking games on the market and while it doesn’t include DX11 support, it uses the full stable of DX10 features to deliver a truly awe-inspiring visual experience. For this benchmark we used the car chase scene directly following the Casino Assault level. This scene includes perfectly scripted events, some of the most GPU-strenuous effects and lasts a little less than four minutes. We chose to not use the in-game benchmarking tool due to its inaccuracy when it comes to depicting actual gameplay performance.


1440 x 900

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1680 x 1050

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1920 x 1200

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Metro 2033 (DX11)

Metro 2033 (DX11)


There has been a lot of buzz about Metro 2033 which has mostly centered on its amazing graphics coupled with absolutely brutal framerates on even the best GPUs on the market. For this test we use a walkthrough and combat scene from The Bridge level which starts at the beginning of the level and lasts for about 5 minutes of walking, running and combat. Famerates are measured with FRAPS and Advanced PhysX is turned off.


1440 x 900

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1680 x 1050

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1920 x 1200

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