Passively cooled high performance GPUs are quite popular with the HTPC community. NVIDIA GPUs are preferred by many HTPC users because of good software support (LAV CUVID, for example) and the ability to use custom renderers like madVR without losing out on hardware decode acceleration. I have already covered this in detail in a previous piece.

A look at the list of passively cooled GPUs on Newegg reveals that higher end NVIDIA GPUs are not represented well. In fact, we have a number of GT 430 and GT 520 passive models, but only one GT 440 model. On the other hand, AMD's GPUs seem to be quite popular in this space. We have a large number of 6450s. There are two models each of the 6570 and 6670. The 6750, 6770 and even the 6850 have one passively cooled model each.

Zotac is trying to level the playing field here with the introduction of a passively cooled GTS 450.

The GTS 450 Zone Edition comes with a GTS 450 GPU (192 shaders) underclocked to 600 MHz / 1200 MHz. The 128-bit 1 GB DDR3 memory runs at 1333 MHz. Unlike other GTS 450 units, this one will not require a PCI-E power connector. The GTS 450 Zone Edition will have a MSRP of 99 Euros in the EU (with the pricing in the NA market yet to be determined). The unit is currently shipping to retailers and is expected to be out on sale in time for the Christmas shopping season.

Given that even the NVIDIA GT 5xx models seem to be looking a bit dated right now, we asked Zotac as to why this cooling mechanism wasn't put on one of the more recent NVIDIA GPUs. It appears that the thermal limitations of passive cooling required underclocking which NVIDIA wouldn't allow on the 500 series.  We are sure this will turn out to be better than the GT 430 models we have been recommending for HTPC use so far (particularly if you want to use madVR with 1080i60 streams). Will the lower speed DDR3 memory and core clock speeds hurt it when compared to the passively cooled GT440 (for HTPC purposes) ? We will know as soon as the card hits the market.

 

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  • lordmetroid - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - link

    There is also an undeclocked passively cooled ASUS ENGTS450 model. It would be very interesting to see how they perform against each other and can they play any games. Perhaps it would be useless to test new games like Crysis 2 but Quake Wars which I know have been used for benchmarking in the past would be very interesting too see how it performs. Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - link

    Interesting! I couldn't see it on Newegg.. Do you have a link for the ASUS unit? Reply
  • jwilliams4200 - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - link

    newegg does not carry it, but other online stores do:

    http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=ENGTS450+...

    There is also a fanless Sparkle GTS 450:

    http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=en&q...

    But I like the looks of the new Zotac one. The fins are oriented in the proper direction for easy airflow from front-to-back of the case.
    Reply
  • tzhu07 - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - link

    I've always thought that the GPU was the last remaining noisy component that has yet to be silenced at the high end.

    We have CPU coolers that can run passively and cool a 2600K, powerful hybrid 600W+ PSUs that only spin up under high enough loads, silent SSDs...

    GPU noise still seems to be a problem. We still cannot get the high end cards to be inaudible under load.
    Reply
  • KorruptioN - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - link

    GPUs have been getting bigger and more resource-intensive for a while now - backwards from what CPUs have been doing lately. Having to buy new cases to fit monster 250W video cards is not a trend I like very much. Reply
  • Marlin1975 - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - link

    Why? The GTS450 is a dead chip. Teh GTX550 replaced it. Reply
  • mlcloud - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - link

    Did you even read the article...?

    "Given that even the NVIDIA GT 5xx models seem to be looking a bit dated right now, we asked Zotac as to why this cooling mechanism wasn't put on one of the more recent NVIDIA GPUs. It appears that the thermal limitations of passive cooling required underclocking which NVIDIA wouldn't allow on the 500 series. "
    Reply
  • mczak - Thursday, November 24, 2011 - link

    Plus if you underclock a GTX550, you pretty much exactly get a GTS450 anyway...
    That said, the memory bandwidth will really hurt. Going for ddr3 instead of gddr5 makes sense probably for power reasons, but there is no excuse for sacrificing even more performance by only using pathetic ddr3-1333 instead of ddr3-1600, there is almost nothing to gain for power, and it doesn't save much money neither.
    Reply
  • l_d_allan - Thursday, November 24, 2011 - link

    Might be in the market for passively cooled upgrade to use with PhotoShop CS5. However, I'm feeling pretty satisfied with the HD-3000 graphics on the 2600K .... 6.4 / 6.4 on Win-7-64 Experience Index so I may stay with the embedded HD-3000.

    I am ignorant on whether the HD-3000 has CUDA capabilities that I think PhotoShop can use for filters and rendering.
    Reply
  • fluxtatic - Thursday, November 24, 2011 - link

    No, indeed - CUDA is NVIDIA's.

    Interesting, this, as the GTS450 I've got is by far the noisiest component I've got in my desktop. However, mine is factory-OC'd to 850, and I'll occasionally bump that up to 900 or so. The most modern thing I can put specs to is GTA IV, where it was getting around 60 fps with everything high @1680x1050. I wonder what downclocking it that far will do.

    FWIW, though, a friend recently build an SB system with an NVIDIA card lower on the scale than mine (can't recall which offhand) and has been quite happy with the performance in CS5. He only paid maybe $70 or so for it, as I recall.

    I'd say this could be a win for the green team - AT is right that there has been a severe lack of options on the passive front for NVIDIA.

    Incidentally, can't any tech sites use (or modify) a dictionary for the comments/forums that has more tech words/brands? AMD, NVIDIA, CUDA, overclock, downclock, etc., all show up as mis-spelled (not Intel, though, interestingly...) First tech site to get this right wins the internet! (really? 'internet', too? I don't care what you say, it's not a proper noun to me.)
    Reply

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