NVIDIA has been slowly trickling out GeForce 400 series graphics cards since April 2010 when the company first launched the GeForce GTX 480. Today, NVIDIA is releasing another new DX11 graphics card, but this time around it is an entry level card with an MSRP of just $79.99. This is a very popular price point for video cards and one where NVIDIA has been lacking a DX11 offering for nearly eight months now as the ATI Radeon HD 5500 series has had no direct competition there.
The GeForce GT430 is aimed at entry level and mainstream users who want to build a multimedia or HTPC and possibly do very light gaming. We are talking about gaming at resolutions of 1280×1024 and below here. If you are talking DX11 titles, even at those resolutions you’ll need to turn down the eye candy to get smooth performance. NVIDIA appears to be okay with this as they designed the GT 430 GPU to be an entry level card where full 1080p HD video playback, image/video editing and Blu-ray 3D are more of an issue. The NVIDIA GeForce GT 430 will replace the GeForce GT 240 in the NVIDIA product line-up, so if you currently own one of those cards it has now been deemed ‘old’ and has been replaced. NVIDIA knows that this market is a very big deal and with the launch of the GeForce GT 430 video card they hope to dominate this little slice of the market.
What do you get for $79? Well, for starters the GeForce GT 430 is based off a brand new ‘Fermi’ core that goes by the name of GF108. This is the fourth core that uses ‘Fermi’ architecture by NVIDIA for desktop graphics cards. The GF108 is a new, smaller die that should be more cost effective since NVIDIA can get more cores from each wafer that TSMC produces for them.
The core that the GeForce GT 430 is using is the GF108. The new GF108 core can be seen in the diagram above. The GF108 is still manufactured at TSMC using their advanced 40nm processor. The GF108 consists of 585 million transistors, which is a far cry from the 1.17 billion transistors on the GF106 (GTS 450) and the 1.95 billion transistors used on the GF104 (GTX 460). NVIDIA might have trimmed down the transistor count, but the GeForce GT 430 still ships with 96 CUDA cores, 16 texture units and 4 ROPs. The memory subsystem of the GeForce GT 430 consists of two 64-bit memory controllers (128-bit) with 1024MB of DDR3 memory. NVIDIA said that no immediate plans are in the works to bring out GDDR5 variants in the near future, but you never know. The graphics core clock is 700MHz, while the CUDA Cores run at 1400MHz. Memory speed is 1800MHz. The GeForce GT 430 includes one GPC with two Streaming Multiprocessors (SMs), two frame buffer partitions (FBs), and one half ROP partition (four ROP units).
NVIDIA will have just a single sku in the GeForce GT 430 series, but it should be available with either 800MHz or 900MHz memory clock speeds. The reference GeForce GT 430 ships with a 700MHz Core GPU clock, 1400MHz shaders and 1GB of DDR3 memory running at 800MHz (1600MHz effective) on a 128-bit interface. The slide above shows 900MHz on the memory clock, but we have yet to see a card actually running at these speeds by default. As you can see from the presentation slide above the GT430 is 5.70″ in length and features either single or dual-slot cooling designs.
Looking at the detailed specifications we can see that the GeForce GT 430 graphics card with 1GB of DDR3 memory has 28.8 of total memory bandwidth, which is a fair amount less than we see on the GeForce GTS 450 (57.7 GB/s) GeForce GTX 460 1GB (115.2 GB/s w/ 256-bit bus) and 768MB (86.4GB/s w/ 192-bit bus) video cards. Other notables include the 128KB L2 cache and a Thermal Design Power (TDP) of just 49 Watts.
Before we move on to taking the GT430 apart, let’s make sure we are all clear on pricing for NVIDIA’s DX11 video card lineup. Prices may vary depending on the region, but expected MSRP’s at launch to be as follows:
Let’s take a closer look at the card and then move on to the performance benchmarks!