MSI GeForce GTS 450 Cyclone 1GB Video Card

The GTS 450 is looking the goods already. Let's see what the Cyclone version from MSI can do for us.

Published Mon, Sep 13 2010 3:44 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:02 PM CST
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Package


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We've already had a chance to look at one GTS 450 and it managed to do a good job impressing us. While Galaxy chose to push the price higher than what we'll see other variants of the model come in at, they did choose to ramp up the clock speeds on the card.

The Cyclone series has always been about the cooler, but also offers an overclock. While generally not the highest clocked series in the MSI line up, it's not the most expensive one either. Dialing back both the clocks and the price, it'll be interesting to see how the model fairs, especially when it comes to overall performance and value.

We wonder if it's worth saving some money with a slightly lower clocked card or if you should just spend the extra dollars associated with a version like the Super OC from Galaxy. Before we get right into that, we'll first see what's going on with the package before we take a closer look at the card, and more importantly, the clock speeds MSI decided on.

Let's not delay any longer and just get into it.

The Package

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Like the Galaxy version, and just most video cards in general these days, there's not a whole lot going in the package. As far as what we've got, there's a manual, quick user guide, driver CD with Afterburner, dual Molex to 6-Pin connector, DVI to VGA connector and a mini HDMI to HDMI connector. Nothing to get all that excited about; not really much of a surprise, though, as we already mentioned.

Card and Specifications

The Card

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Looking at the card, it looks all too familiar. The Cyclone cooler isn't anything new to us; it's clearly a working model for MSI, though, so what's the point in changing to something else? We're a huge fan of the cooler. As for the rest of the card, like the Galaxy we have the single 6-Pin PCI-E connector and single SLI connector.

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What differs is the connectivity on offer. While Galaxy opted for a Dual-Link DVI / VGA / HDMI setup, MSI have gone a more traditional twin Dual-Link DVI setup and added a mini HDMI port that we've seen on a few NVIDIA models lately. Fortunately, MSI was also kind enough to include a mini HDMI to HDMI adapter in the bundle, so if you're using HDMI, you'll be able to use it straight out of the box.


As we mentioned in the introduction, being part of the Cyclone series means that the card is of course overclocked. While we won't go into too much detail about the reference GTS 450 as we covered it a bit in our Galaxy GTS 450 Super OC review, we will say that the reference clocks for the model are 783MHz on the core, 1566MHz on the Shader and the 1GB of GDDR5 memory on a 128-bit bus comes in at 3600MHz QDR.

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The MSI one comes in with an 850MHz core; this in turn has bumped the Shader clock up to 1700MHz. Unlike the Cyclone version of the GTX 460, MSI have chosen to bump the memory clock up in this case to 4000MHz QDR. This is a really nice overclock from MSI and should yield some good 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.

We'll be checking the MSI Cyclone version of the GTS 450 against the slightly higher clocked Galaxy card, the ECS GTX 460 Black along with both HD 5700 series cards from AMD; the HD 5750 and HD 5770.

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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Out the gate performance is again very strong compared to the competition and we see the card get a win against the HD 5700 offerings.

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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Tessellation continues to be a strong attribute for NVIDIA and we again see very strong performance here.

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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While the MSI GTS 450 Cyclone lags behind the HD 5770 here, what's interesting is that both cards are still only offering us playable FPS up to 1920 x 1200. To lift the FPS at 2560 x 1600 you would need a detail drop on both cards. In saying that, it would be easier to get those extra frames from the HD 5770 because in this instance it's a good chunk faster.

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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Compared to the Galaxy offering, we can see the MSI falls just below that 60 FPS average we want at 1920 x 1200. A bit of an OC on the core, or a slight detail drop would give us the numbers we need. Saying that, 59 FPS; you're probably going to be fine anyway.

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 all but the GTX 460 struggle to get an average of over 60 FPS at any resolution here. Ultimately the MSI is clocked only slightly lower than the Galaxy offering and it shows as it's only slightly slower.

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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Across the board we see the cards struggle under Lost Planet 2. With that said, the MSI Cyclone continues to outpace the HD 5770 here.

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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Again, a very intensive game and we do see all cards struggle. Comparing the Galaxy and MSI, only an FPS separate the two cards 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 saw the updated drivers did wonders for FF XIV performance and even though the MSI Cyclone is clocked slightly lower than the Galaxy, it continues to have a good jump on the HD 5750.

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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Across the board we've got strong numbers with the MSI Cyclone performing almost identical with the HD 5770.

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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Performance is a little up and down here when compared to the HD 5770. Fortunately we've got playable FPS at 1920 x 1200 and below which is impressive on a card at this price point.

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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Compared to the HD 5770, here we see the MSI Cyclone wins sometimes and trails at others. Not much separates them, though, and more importantly we've got playable FPS at all resolutions.

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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Apart from something older like Street Fighter IV we do see the GTS 450 struggle when it comes to AA performance. The card isn't really designed for AA at these high resolutions; the maximum AA you could run would be at around the 1680 x 1050 mark, and even then it wouldn't be on all games.

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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At this price point PhysX isn't so much an option unless the GTS 450 was sitting next to a GTX 460 or higher. The price point does make it an attractive option for people on higher end NVIDIA offerings wanting a boost in PhysX performance.

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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The Cyclone cooler continues to be a star, offering us an impressive temperature read out here of only 52c.

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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What's great about that temperature number is that MSI have been able to do it with minimum noise.

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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Compared to the Galaxy, power draw is a little lower in both idle and load. Like we mentioned in our Galaxy review, though, we're not really dealing with big numbers here anyway.

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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Overall in our TPR graph you can see the GTS 450 Cyclone performs neck and neck with the HD 5770. What's helping bring that number up is strong 3DMark Vantage and Unigine Heaven performance.

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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You can see thanks to that $135 US price tag the value of the GTS 450 Cyclone is very strong. It's not all that far behind an overclocked GTX 465 which to date has been the king of value for money.

Final Thoughts

For me I'm finding the GTS 450 Cyclone from MSI a little more of a stand out product than the GTX 460 version of the card. Yes, it's slower, but unlike the GTX 460 version, the out of the overclock is stronger when compared to the reference clocked card. I was honestly surprised to see the clocks of the card when I opened up GPU-Z, and to then see that MSI had opted to increase the memory clock as well was just icing on the cake.

Compared to the Galaxy version, the MSI version also works out to be slightly better value. That's because it's clocked only slightly slower and carries with it only a small performance difference, yet $135 US against $150 US is 10% cheaper and you can see how that affects our TVR graph on the last page.

Overall the GTS 450 is a better valued card than the GTX 460. With that said, it caters for a different market; people who have the budget for a GTX 460 wouldn't choose this over a GTS 450 and people who only have a budget that stretches to the GTS 450 won't be buying a GTX 460.

The most important thing about the GTS 450 is that NVIDIA didn't do what they did with the GTX 460 and completely kill the model above it. The GTX 460 killed the GTX 465 in one foul swoop; you went from a card (GTX 465) that did begin to show some serious life for the 400 series to a card (GTX 460) that just completely blew everything else off the market in its price range and up to $100 more. The GTS 450 on the other hand perfectly caters for people who want to spend less than $150. If you want to game at a higher resolution, and have a bigger budget, the GTX 460 is a very good upgrade.

Outside of the good out of the box overclock and aggressive retail pricing, though, the Cyclone cooler as always is wonderful. It's quiet and does an excellent job of keeping the core temperature down.

If all that wasn't enough, MSI organized the latest version of Afterburner, V2, which can now be grabbed from the MSI Afterburner website, That lets us really get stuck into overclocking of the model. We'll be saving the results of that one for an article coming online shortly, but let me give you a sneak peak.

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As you can see, we managed quite the overclock, so keep an eye out for that article which will be showing up on a TweakTown website real soon.

Again we've got another great variant of the GTS 450 and thanks to an aggressive out of the box overclock and aggressive price tag, MSI has managed to stand out.

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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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