We would like to introduce Nvidia’s newest member of the GF108 Fermi family, the entry-level Galaxy GT 430 which is designed and built for mainstream gaming and especially for multi-media PCs. This means that your GT 430 should be well-equipped to handle any light to moderate gaming situation at 1200×1024 or 1440×900 resolution and with reasonable details and even some filtering applied. This reference GT 430 (pictured below) is Nvidia’s DX11 successor to their very successful DX10.1 GT 220 video card which MrK reviewed here and it is well suited for use in a home theater PC (HTPC) and as an upgrade from a motherboard’s integrated graphics (IG).
Galaxy has also created their own version of GT 430 (pictured below on the right) and you should be able to buy it at etail for its suggested price of $79.95. It is the same suggested price as the older DX10.1 Galaxy GT 220 (pictured below on the left) which can be found now at NewEgg.com for about $65.
This review will bring you the details of our new ($79 MSRP) DX11 GT 430 performance showdown with the ($79 MSRP; now generally discounted) DX10.1 GT 220 and also compared with GTS 450 and HD 5750 – two cards that outclass them in performance and are also much more expensive; in the $119-$149 price range. We are reusing the reference GTS 450 benchmarks that we used three weeks ago when we reviewed it here versus the factory overclocked Galaxy GTS 450 SOC and HD 5570. There you can make a direct comparison with even faster cards, GTS 450 SLI and also compare performance with the venerable 8800 GTX. The purpose of using these faster cards in today’s review is to establish the hierarchy of these cards in overall PC gaming. And naturally, our most important comparison is the GT 430 versus GT 220 to determine the new DX11 mainstream card’s value.
We also overclock Galaxy’s GT 430 to see how it scales in more than 20 modern games. Here is the brand new Galaxy GT 430 pictured together with its box as professionally imaged by Galaxy.
Nvidia released its delayed GeForce GTX based on its brand new Fermi DX11 GF100 architecture back in April of this year. This new Fermi GPU – Graphics Processing Unit – a term originally originated by Nvidia is a continuation of their strategy since their G80 which launched over three year ago to create a General Purpose Processor – co-equal with the CPU – that also renders amazing graphics. Over the past six months, Nvidia has finally completed its entire lineup today with the release of GT 430 -from their top $500 card, the GTX 480 right down to the mainstream $79 GT 430 which will outsell the rest of Nvidia’s line-up by two to one. Of course, most of these sales will be to OEMs as a solid upgrade over integrated graphics. Here is the GF108′s GPU as used in GT 430, pictured below:
Here are the specifications for this 40 nm mainstream gaming GPU. Notice that it has a 128-bit pathway to its 1GB of DDR3 vRAM; nothing has been said about using DDR5 yet, but Nvidia’s partners are now free to use 2GB of vRAM, if they wish. This design is very flexible for HTPC and can also be low-profile or passive design.
Since the Galaxy GT 430 comes with a MSRP of $79, we need to answer the question: Is it worth the premium over integrated graphics that come with many Intel and AMD motherboards? We reviewed AMD’s integrated graphics HD 4290 in our ECS A890GXM-A AM3 Black Series motherboard review. Based on that review, we would have to say that GT 220 will likely beat HD 4890 integrated graphics, but we will actually cover this in Part Two of our GT 430 testing when we review another vendor’s GT 430 in a week or so. For now, before you read about the GT 430′s performance testing here, you can quickly recap its new DX11 architecture and features of the original Fermi GF100 which we covered in our reviews of the GTX 480, published here, here and here. Senior Editor BFG10K reviewed GTX 470 here and here and Senior editor MrK covered GF104′s GTX 465 here.
We also recently examined the performance of Galaxy’s GTS 450 SuperOverclock (SOC) and discussed its architecture, GF 106, a cut down version of GF100/104. Taking it down further to GF108, we now have our current review of GT 430. Here is how Nvidia lines up their competition:
Now we see a performance slot open up for GT 430 in just below the DX11 GeForce GTS 450 (and the DX10.1 GTS 250) to go up against AMD’s HD 5500 series. According to Nvidia, the GT 430 is the DX11 successor to the DX10.1 GT 220 just as the DX 11 GTS 450 succeeds the DX 10.1 GTS 250. We also note that the GT 220 is not discontinued; we mostly see that it is being discounted now down from $79.95 as it is still a very nice upgrade from most integrated graphics solutions.
As with the rest of the Fermi family, the GeForce GT 430 was designed from the ground up to deliver good tessellation performance, which is a major component of Microsoft’s DirectX 11 PC gaming development platform. Tessellation allows game developers to take advantage of the GeForce 400 series GPU’s tessellation ability to increase the geometric complexity of models and characters to deliver far more realistic and visually rich gaming environments.
Needless to say, the new Fermi GF108 GTX 430 brings a lot of features to the table that current Nvidia customers will appreciate, including improved CUDA’s PhysX, great 3D BluRay movie playback, superb tessellation capabilities and a really fast GPU in comparison to their GT200b series. Now let’s see how the Galaxy GT 430 directly compares to the reference GTS 450, XFX HD 5750 and the card it more-or-less succeeds, the Galaxy GT 220. You will soon see that we were also able to overclock our Galaxy GT 430 even further than the 700/1800 MHz reference clocks that Nvidia set and that Galaxy also uses, while remaining cool and very quiet.
Here are the main competitors from last week which will out-class the new Galaxy GT 430 in gaming – a factory overclocked Galaxy GTS 450 (above; we used the reference GTS 450 benchmarks) and an XFX HD 5750 (below) which etail in the $119 to $149 price range.
For this GT 430 evaluation, we will take the stock GTS 450 and HD 5750 benches from our last review and set them head to head in new testing under the same conditions on the same PC, and with our two new contenders – the older DX10.1 Galaxy GT 220 and its successor, the new Galaxy GT 430. Both mainstream video cards are each priced at their MSRP of $79 but the older card can be found at etail for a few dollars less. This evaluation will determine if the new card is worth the difference. As something to note, our Galaxy GT 430 is equipped with 1GB of DDR3 while we are testing the slower DDR2 version of the Galaxy GT 220.
The connections are the same. VGA, HDMI and DVI will run 3 displays and there is no need for any external PCIe power cable; both cards are very “green”. The TDP is rated by Nvidia at a mere 49 watts and they recommend at least a good 300W PSU to power the PC containing it. We can attest to the Galaxy GT 430 as being very quiet as it never appears to go over 52% fan speed, even under load. There is a point where one simply does not hear the GT 430 over the case fans and it does not appear to add any noise. It is also physically a very short card at 5.7 inches long. It is noticeably shorter than the GT 220 and it also requires no additional power beyond what it draws from the motherboard’s PCIe slot. Here is our Galaxy GT 430 pictured in an Intel X58 Gigabyte motherboard.
The Galaxy GT 430 video card comes in a suitable box which protects it in shipping, but it is not a fancy package nor are there a lot of “frills” – Galaxy concentrates on bringing you a great video card with superb support. Inside the box, you will find the driver CD, the most basic of printed instructions, the warranty information and a toll-free 24-hour telephone number where you are guaranteed to talk to someone if you have any issues for the two years that your card is warrantied.
Since the Galaxy GT 430 is also sold in retail, the box clearly states the specifications and the contents of the box (GT 430 video card, driver CD, and quick start guide) on the outside of the box.
Galaxy also gives you five excellent reasons to upgrade to their GT 430:
One of our readers wrote to us and said that he was unable to contact Galaxy tech support over this last weekend, so we investigated. We telephoned the the toll-free number and the Galaxy representative answered immediately and was ready to give us service on a Saturday afternoon. We mentioned that one of their customers had left unreturned voice mails and the Galaxy support person said that they were reviewing them at that very moment; that sometimes they got really busy and the calls had to go to voice mail but the customer inquiries were answered as soon as possible. Great service!
Can you SLI your GT 430 ?
Normally, we would not expect a person buying an inexpensive card to consider SLI’ing it. Quite often a gamer will buy one card and perhaps later on, add a second one. However, Nvidia does not offer SLI support on the GT 430. We notice the GT 430′s lack of any SLI connectors. Nvidia does not support SLI without an SLI bridge connector as AMD does with their lower-end video cards in CrossFire.
Let’s flip the card over.
It is a very clean design and a small PCB if you are used to larger cards such as the triple-slot Galaxy GTX 480 SOC, which dwarfs it. But the important thing to most of us is its performance. We know that the GT 430 can handle multi-media way better than integrated graphics and even better than the GT 220 which excels at it. The Galaxy GT 430 offers DVI and HDMI outputs to connect your PC up to your HD TV and complete 1080p Blu-Ray 3D support enabling theater quality 3D in your home and also with TrueHD and DTS-HD HD audio bitstreaming. You can view and edit your (yes, even 3D) photos and HD video or go online and enjoy a new web experience with Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 and GPU acceleration.
Before we do the performance testing, let’s take a look at the company that makes the GT 430.
Galaxy, established in 1994, is a Nvidia Add-in-Board (AIB) partner which manufactures products from the low-end GeForce 7200 series to the high-end GTX400 series. They manufacture products based on Nvidia’s reference design as well as using their own in-house production facilities to manufacture graphic cards based on their own designs using high-end coolers from Arctic Cooling and others.
Galaxy has shipped to the US for a long time as they built video cards for many of the tier 1 brands in the market today. They realized they could create a brand for themselves and save the end customer the middleman fees. Two years ago they launched Galaxy in the US and their products are now available at Best Buy, Microcenter, Fry’s, Dell.com, Newegg, TigerDirect and many other sites. They have excellent quality and toll-free tech support with a 2 year transferable no-registration warranty.