MSI GeForce GTS 450 Cyclone 1GB Video Card Overclocked

We've heard rumors about good GTS 450 overclocking. Today we find out if they're true with the MSI Cyclone.

Published Mon, Sep 13 2010 7:26 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:02 PM CST
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Overclocking


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NVIDIA began to set the bar high quite early when it came to overclocking the 400 series. While the GTX 480 didn't show heaps of headroom, the GTX 470 really showed some promise when we added more voltage on the core into the mix. From there we saw the GTX 465 come into the picture which carried with it quite good overclocking ability.

Jump forward to the GTX 460 and overclocking became a huge part of the model. Every model we've tested to date has been overclocked out of the box, and most by a fairly good margin. Getting down and dirty with MSI Afterburner, you really had the chance to achieve even more speed thanks to the voltage increase ability and recently the GTX 460 HAWK from MSI offered us just some insane clocks, tipping almost 1GHz on the core.

While the rumors in regards to the GTS 450 haven't been as strongly filled with overclocking, a few partners have told us there's plenty of headroom still. If you haven't had a look at our standalone MSI GTX 460 Cyclone 1GB review, I recommend checking it out. If you have, though, you'll already know the clocks we ended up with. Before we get into the performance side of things, though, we'll have a closer look at the OC we did achieve.


Internal testing from partners told us that we should get around the 950MHz core clock when it came to overclocking, so that was our aim. As for memory, we didn't know what kind of number we could expect, so we just kept increasing it and increasing it.

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What we ended up with was a core clock of 950MHz as we thought we would get. This is 100MHz over the stock clock that MSI offer and almost 200MHz over the reference clock of 783MHz. This of course has helped push the Shader clock up to 1900MHz which is way up from the reference 1566MHz number.

As for the memory, we ended up with 4500MHz QDR which is almost 1000MHz QDR up from the 3600MHz QDR reference clock. Any higher on both and we began to see the card become quite unstable. Around 960 - 965MHz just wasn't going to happen and the same can be said for 4600MHz QDR.

None the less, these are some very impressive gains. It'll be interesting to see what these clocks do for overall performance.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Mittoni, Noctua and Corsair.

Along with the HD 5770, HD 5750 and GTX 460, we've also got the MSI GTS 450 and the out of the box clocks to see just what kind of gains the 950 / 1900 / 4500MHz QDR setup gets us.

Let's get started!

3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
Buy It Here

3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.

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Straight away we can see a very nice boost in performance. While the card out of the box sits close to the HD 5770, you can see when we begin to crank up the clock speeds it becomes a clear leader. Compared to the GTX 460, though, you can still see the model sits a little back which is warranted with the $100 US price difference.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 2
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

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Heaven performance is already strong for the NVIDIA offering and when we overclock you can see it only improves.

Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5

Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.

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We can see across the board the overclock offers us a strong performance boost that equates to around 10%. Compared to the HD 5770, you can see we're right on the tail of the model here. Before we saw the GTS 450 fall a little back under Resident Evil 5.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X is an arcade-style flight simulator video game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and iPhone OS.

The fundamental gameplay mechanics are similar to those of other console-based flight series. Players take on enemies with over 50 aircraft available. Each mission is at real world locations in environments created with commercial satellite data. A cockpit, first person, and third person view are selectable. The third person view gives the player an external view of both their plane and the target.

Set above the skies of a near-future world, increasingly dependent on private military companies with elite mercenaries who have a relaxed view on the law. As these non-governmental organizations gain power, global conflict erupts with one powerful PMC attacking the United States.

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Like Resident Evil 5 we found that the GTS 450 just sat a little behind the HD 5770. Overclocked, though, you can see the GTS 450 pulls out a win, and at the two most important resolutions as they're at levels that are playable. While the GTS 450 again falls a little behind the HD 5770 at 2560 x 1600, both cards can't give us the 60 FPS average we need, so it's quite irrelevant.

Benchmarks - Mafia II

Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
Buy It Here

Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

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We see a very similar picture to H.A.W.X. - We can see that at 1920 x 1200 the GTS 450 and HD 5770 struggle to get near that 60 FPS average. At 1680 x 1050, though, we're almost able to achieve it. At this resolution the GTS 450 at 950MHz again pulls out the win.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

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Under Lost Planet 2 we see all cards struggle. This was one where we did see the GTS 450 shine quite brightly against the HD 5770, though, and the overclock just makes the card that little bit brighter.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator

Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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While the card still remains just behind the HD 5770, it does manage to close the gap. At these settings, though, we see that all the cards struggle to hit that 60 FPS average we need. You're really going to need to drop detail level down even at the lower resolutions.

Benchmarks - Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Elezen (Male)
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Final Fantasy XIV, also known as Final Fantasy XIV Online, is the fourteenth installment in the Final Fantasy series. The game is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game and is developed and published by Square Enix. The game takes place in a land called Hydaelyn, mainly in a region named Eorzea, which will have a contemporaneously aesthetic blend of science fiction and classic fantasy elements.

The battle and job systems will be different from the one previously used in Final Fantasy XI, which utilized experience points and level-based progression. Final Fantasy XIV is being designed to utilize a skill-based progression[15] system similar to that of Final Fantasy II. Character races will resemble and allow players to create avatars similar to ones in Final Fantasy XI. Group play has been de-emphasized, and now solo and group play have been balanced. Weapon use will alter "character development".

Note: Final Fantasy XIV gives us a score and not a normal FPS rating, our understanding is that anything around 2000 points or above is considered playable.

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We see a good boost in performance here and at the higher resolution the HD 5770 is able to just hold out.

Benchmarks - Street Fighter IV

Street Fighter IV

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

While Street Fighter IV features models and backgrounds rendered in 3D, the gameplay remains on a traditional 2D plane, with the camera having freedom to move in 3D at certain times during fights, for dramatic effect. Producer Yoshinori Ono has stated that he wanted to keep the game closer to Street Fighter II. A new system called "Focus Attacks" ("Saving Attack" for the Japanese version) has been introduced, as well as Ultra moves. The traditional six-button control scheme returns, with new features and special moves integrated into the input system, mixing classic gameplay with additional innovations.

All the characters and environments in Street Fighter IV are rendered as 3D models with polygons, similar to the Street Fighter EX sub-series Capcom produced with Arika. However, there are a couple of key differences. Art director and character designer Daigo Ikeno, who previously worked on Street Fighter III 3rd Strike, opted for non-photorealistic rendering to give them a hand-drawn look, with visual effects accented in calligraphic strokes, ink smudges and ink sprays during the fights.

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Under Street Fighter IV we saw both the GTS 450 Cyclone and HD 5770 perform very close to each other. The extra MHz on offer helps give the GTS 450 the win at all resolutions.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
Buy It Here

The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

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Far Cry 2 saw again the GTS 450 and HD 5770 really battle it out. Like Street Fighter IV, though, we see that when at 950MHz the GTS 450 pulls ahead at the resolutions that matter. In this case 1920 x 1200 and below where we see a minimum above 30 FPS.

Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman Arkham Asylum

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.

Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.

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Across the board we see strong performance and the closest thing to a loss the GTS 450 at 950MHz gets here is a dead heat draw at 2560 x 1600.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.

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Across the board we see a good performance boost from the GTS 450 at 950MHz. Unfortunately it's irrelevant for the most part due to the fact that at these settings you're just not getting playable numbers.

Benchmarks - PhysX Tests

PhysX Tests

Here we're able to find out when PhysX is turned on in games that support it what kind of frame rates we're able to get. We always set PhysX to the highest possible in game settings while also keeping detail at its highest.

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Mafia 2 PhysX performance doesn't matter as our numbers are so low. Batman AA paints a slightly different picture, though; you can see we're able to break into that 30 FPS minimum we need at the lowest resolution.

Temperature Test

The temperature of the core is pulled from MSI Afterburner with the max reading used after a completed run off 3DMark Vantage and the Performance preset.

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Due to the extra voltage it doesn't come as much of a surprise that there's a little extra heat. Nothing to be worried about, though.

Sound Test

Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

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Noise levels have also gone up a little. Again, it's nothing to be worrying about, though, with it just tipping the 60dB mark.

Power Consumption Tests

Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a SSD hard drive is used with a single CD ROM and minimal cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

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Power draw goes up ever so slightly, but again it's nothing major.

Total Performance Rating (TPR)

Total Performance Rating

The TPR graph is a combination of all our benchmarks in which NVIDIA and ATI are on an even playing field.

The TPR number is a combination of:

3DMark Vantage, Heaven Benchmark V2, Resident Evil 5, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., Mafia 2 (PhysX Off), Lost Planet 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Final Fantasy XIV, Street Fighter IV, Far Cry 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum (PhysX Off) and our four High Quality tests which include Mafia 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Street Fighter IV and Far Cry 2.

All of the benchmark results achieved are then combined into a single number. As this graph will grow over time and cards won't be re-tested, next to each model you'll find the driver version that was used when the card was benchmarked.

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At 950MHz you can see that the GTS 450 clearly cements its place as a faster card than the HD 5770.

Total Value Rating (TVR)

Total Value Rating

The TVR graph is the TPR score divided by the price of the video card. The price of the video card is based on the list price of the model on In the event the card isn't listed, it will be based on the U.S. $ MSRP given to us by the manufacturer.

In the event we can't source a price from either, the product will not receive a TVR rating. As with our TPR graph, the amount of video cards on the list will grow over time and the price of the model won't change from what it was when first reviewed. For this reason the U.S. $ price that the card is based off will be included next to the name of the model.

In the event you want to find the TVR rating yourself based on the current price, all you have to do is simply divide the TPR number by the list price.

TVR numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number; 100.3 will be 100; 100.8 will be 101 and 100.5 will be rounded down to 100.

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That $135 US price tag and aggressive overclock means that the value really does sky rocket on the product.

Final Thoughts

The first thing that has to be said is, yes, I understand that the HD 5770 can be overclocked as well, and while that would paint a slightly better picture for the HD 5770 in this case, the bottom line is that the model doesn't have anywhere near the OC potential of the GTS 450. The only model in the whole ATI line up that has any real OC potential is the HD 5970 which can achieve some very impressive clocks. Outside of that model, most ATI cards offer a good, moderate overclock; but nothing like the levels we're seeing from NVIDIA lately with cards like the GTS 450 and GTX 460.

As for how our clocks should compare to other peoples, multiple companies have told us that you should be reaching around the 950MHz mark when it comes to the core, so we're fairly confident you should be able to achieve that. The only thing that will differ is the memory clock. Depending if you're benching or gaming will also determine what you end up with. If you're wanting it as your OC for when you game, you might just dial it back a little, something around 925MHz should be very easy.

There's really two main points that need to be made, though. The first is that while the model is better value than the GTX 460, when it came to overclocking the two models they are clearly for two different budgets. If someone has a under $150 US budget, they don't walk out of a store with a $230 US GTX 460. The same when budgets are reversed. What NVIDIA have done, is if your budget is under $150 US, you walk out of the store with a GTS 450 and not a HD 5750 or HD 5770, and if your budget is over $200, you walk out with a GTX 460 and not an ATI equivalent.

The other point that needs to be made is the high resolution performance. We've seen NVIDIA struggle with 2560 x 1600 gaming a bit with the 400 series and here's no different, because quite often we see that ATI is able to outperform the GTS 450 at this resolution, even when the GTS 450 is at 950MHz. What's so important about this is that it's irrelevant; these cards aren't designed to run at that resolution and just because the HD 5770 can get 44 FPS vs. 40 FPS at 2560 x 1600, neither card is going to be playable. At resolutions when the cards are scoring above 60 FPS, though, we see that the NVIDIA card, especially at 950MHz is able to take out the win almost every time.

What took AMD four models; the HD 5750, HD 5770, HD 5830 and HD 5850, NVIDIA have really been able to destroy in two, the GTS 450 for the first two, and GTX 460 for the latter two.

The question now? What does AMD do? Drop the price on all models that will be getting replaced by the 6000 series in October and onwards to help everyone get rid of surplus stock. AMD can't make their offerings better; they can only make them cheaper.

NVIDIA could've probably offered us a stock clock on the GTS 450 of 850MHz, much in the way they could've offered us a higher one on the GTX 465. I've said it before, though, doing so doesn't create the same buzz. NVIDIA know how to market a product, and marketed one they have. The GTS 450 is going to slide into a lot of peoples machines.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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