ECS GeForce GTS 450 1GB Black Video Card

Today we see the Black treatment given to the ECS GTS 450. Let's skip the stock clocks and push it to its limits!

Manufacturer: ECS
14 minutes & 10 seconds read time

Introduction and Package


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The Black Series from ECS is quickly becoming a bit of a personal favorite thanks to the massive Arctic Cooling cooler that the company implements on the series. And while it does take up three slots, for so many people it's not that big of a deal with people using onboard sound and networking these days, and most still avoiding dual card setups.

Since we've looked at a few GTS 450s already, I figured we'd look at this one a little differently. What we saw from the Black version of the GTX 460 was one of the higher clock speeds when it came to overclocking. We've got our fingers crossed the same kind of clock speeds will be achieved on the GTS 450.

So while we won't be testing the standard clock speeds today, we will be testing the overclocked ones we can achieve. While normally in an OC article we would avoid the package and card, because we haven't actually looked at the ECS GTS 450 Black yet, we'll be including that information today. So let's get into the package and card before we have a look at what clocks ECS offer us out of the box, but more importantly what we're able to achieve ourselves.

The Package

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Checking out the package, there's not much going on with a DVI to VGA and DVI to HDMI connector being included. As for the box saying GTX 450, that's just a typing error. Originally it looked like NVIDIA was going to call the model the GTX 450, but it was changed at the last minute. ECS had their boxes ready and the initial samples that went out carried with it the wrong name. This is a GTS 450.

Card and Specifications

The Card

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The stand out to the whole card is the cooler that we mentioned in the introduction. It takes up just over two slots which is something that you will need to take note of as it will make your third motherboard slot almost useless as well.

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Looking at the rest of the card, there's a single 6-Pin PCI-E connector at the back of the card, a single SLI connector across the top and connectivity is offered via two Dual-Link DVI connectors and a single mini HDMI port.


Out of the box the card carries with it an 850MHz clock which helps boost the Shader to 1700MHz. The memory has also been bumped to 4000MHz QDR; it's not the highest out of the box overclock, but it's fairly strong. It seems like a waste not to put that massive cooler to use, so as we mentioned in the introduction, we've taken the time to overclock it further ourselves.

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What we ended up with was a very strong overclock. The core got to a massive 1000MHz; this pushed the Shader clock to 2000MHz and we got another 400MHz QDR out of the memory, pushing that to 4400MHz QDR.

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.

Because we've already looked at a lot of GTS 450s including ones that are both slower and faster, we decided to just concentrate on the overclocking side of things on this one. Apart from those results with 1000MHz on the core, we've included the MSI GTS 450 Cyclone, Sapphire HD 5750, GIGABYTE HD 5770 and the Black version of the ECS GTX 460.

Let's get started!

3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
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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 out the gate we can see the big performance boost on offer from the ECS GTS 450 Black. Hopefully this will translate well in our game benchmarks.

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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Under Heaven we again see a strong performance boost.

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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Across the board we see strong performance with the overclock. At the highest resolution you can see we're not all that far from that 60 FPS average we need to see, which is great considering the price range of the card.

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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At 1920 x 1200 you can see the GTS 450 Cyclone performed just below that 60 FPS average we need. The ECS at 1GHz sees a 10 FPS boost which puts us well above that number we need.

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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While we see most the cards struggle under Mafia II with our in game settings maxed, you can see the ECS Black at 1GHz gets us only a single FPS behind that number we need, which is very impressive.

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 again a good performance boost, but unfortunately we don't see high numbers here due to how intensive LP2 is.

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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Like LP2 we again see a nice performance boost. Performance overall under AvP is quite low due to the intensive settings.

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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Checking out Final Fantasy XIV, we see a good performance jump again, and more importantly, playable numbers at both presets.

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 high numbers and a good boost in performance. We couldn't ask for much more.

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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At 1920 x 1200 we can see that we managed to just scrape past the 30 FPS minimum we need. The ECS Black at 1GHz saw a nice boost in performance which placed us in a great position at 1920 x 1200 and lower.

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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Batman AA numbers across the board are good, including 2560 x 1600 performance.

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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While we no doubt see a good boost in performance, we do see the GTS 450 does struggle under games when AA is turned on; with the less intensive SF IV being the exception.

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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While Mafia II numbers are low, we see under Batman AA the ECS performs strong. We're above 30 FPS at 1680 x 1050, and not all that far from it at 1920 x 1200.

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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With the size of the cooler it doesn't come as much of a surprise how well the cooler goes.

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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The good news is that those low temps don't come at the cost of noise, just taking up a third slot.

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's a little higher than most of the other GTS 450s we've tested; this is due to the extra voltage and the overclock being pumped through the card.

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 performance is very strong. We see a good jump on performance over the MSI version when we overclocked it to 950MHz. The card continues to sit a fair bit behind the GTX 460, but against ATI we see its performance is also very strong.

Final Thoughts

ECS is using a simple, but very effective formula. Grab a well-priced card, slap a giant cooler on it and give it a boost in clock speeds. Of course, if you're going to spend more to buy a version with such a great cooler, it seems silly not to take full advantage of it and try boost the clocks even more.

You can see even with the extra voltage running through the card it was still the coolest GTS 450 and one of the quietest, which is very impressive. Of course, this does come at the cost of taking up another slot than most cards these days; three in this case. If you don't need the slots, though, want to overclock, want something quiet and something that's going to keep temperatures down, it's a small trade off.

We've looked at a lot of GTS 450s since launch and to be honest we see a lot of them offer us something different. Palit offered us a 930MHz core and while the card was quiet, it ran quite warm. Galaxy offered us a good OC without the high heat, but the card was a little louder than others. GIGABYTE and MSI offer some good coolers that take only two slots while offering more aggressive pricing. And ECS today offers us the best cooling solution out of the lot. What it's done is give us the ability to overclock very high. That comes at the cost of the card taking up an extra slot, and while we don't have the price yet, no doubt it'll be slightly more expensive than some of the cheaper ones we've looked at.

The ECS like a lot of the other GTS 450s we've looked at brings something else to the table. For some it's not something they're going to be interested in, while for others it'll be the complete opposite and this will be the GTS 450 they've been waiting for.

With all of that said and done, it's also got to be mentioned that we achieved a 1GHz core clock on an NVIDIA card; something that has eluded us for a while with the MSI GTX 460 HAWK being the closest to get to it. Today, no more; no longer are AMD the only company able to offer us cards with a 1GHz core clock.

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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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