Passively cooled high performance GPUs are quite popular with the HTPC community. NVIDIA GPUs are preferred by many HTPC users because of good software support (LAV CUVID, for example) and the ability to use custom renderers like madVR without losing out on hardware decode acceleration. I have already covered this in detail in a previous piece.

A look at the list of passively cooled GPUs on Newegg reveals that higher end NVIDIA GPUs are not represented well. In fact, we have a number of GT 430 and GT 520 passive models, but only one GT 440 model. On the other hand, AMD's GPUs seem to be quite popular in this space. We have a large number of 6450s. There are two models each of the 6570 and 6670. The 6750, 6770 and even the 6850 have one passively cooled model each.

Zotac is trying to level the playing field here with the introduction of a passively cooled GTS 450.

The GTS 450 Zone Edition comes with a GTS 450 GPU (192 shaders) underclocked to 600 MHz / 1200 MHz. The 128-bit 1 GB DDR3 memory runs at 1333 MHz. Unlike other GTS 450 units, this one will not require a PCI-E power connector. The GTS 450 Zone Edition will have a MSRP of 99 Euros in the EU (with the pricing in the NA market yet to be determined). The unit is currently shipping to retailers and is expected to be out on sale in time for the Christmas shopping season.

Given that even the NVIDIA GT 5xx models seem to be looking a bit dated right now, we asked Zotac as to why this cooling mechanism wasn't put on one of the more recent NVIDIA GPUs. It appears that the thermal limitations of passive cooling required underclocking which NVIDIA wouldn't allow on the 500 series.  We are sure this will turn out to be better than the GT 430 models we have been recommending for HTPC use so far (particularly if you want to use madVR with 1080i60 streams). Will the lower speed DDR3 memory and core clock speeds hurt it when compared to the passively cooled GT440 (for HTPC purposes) ? We will know as soon as the card hits the market.

 

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  • Paul Tarnowski - Thursday, November 24, 2011 - link

    You do know that's it's your web browser that's doing the spell check on the input box, right?

    I mean, yes, a site can interfere with that, and drop it's own, but it would mean figuring out how to do that on each, and every, browser that currently supports spell-check, out there.
    Reply
  • Black1969ta - Thursday, November 24, 2011 - link

    You do realize that Internet is always a proper noun. All Collegiate dictionaries recognize this fact. Also when it comes to Proper names not recognized by the browser's dictionary, you can add that word to the built in dictionary, so that it will get it right the next time. Of course, that does no good when incorrect words are accidentally added into the custom dictionary.

    I have never built one but how loud would a i7-2600k and a GTX560 Ti be if they were on a custom water setup with a dual 120 radiator? I know that it wouldn't be silent, but it would be a good compromise of power and acoustics, right?
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, November 25, 2011 - link

    A water cooled system is as quiet as your 120mm fans on the radiator. I've been using a 2x120 with mid range yate loons for my CPU for a few years to get a large OC with virtually no noise. My IB/NV6xx build will probably expand that to a 3x120 rad so I can add my GPU to the loop. Reply
  • futurepastnow - Thursday, November 24, 2011 - link

    This might make a great cheap, silent workstation card for that kind of use. The slow memory that will hurt in games shouldn't have any effect on CUDA apps. Reply
  • Meaker10 - Thursday, November 24, 2011 - link

    Surely a passively cooled 6770 (which come at full clocks and GDDR5) would be a better choice? Reply
  • jwilliams4200 - Thursday, November 24, 2011 - link

    Not for those who want CUDA. Reply
  • lordmetroid - Friday, November 25, 2011 - link

    If you are using Linux, you generally want to stay as far away as possible from ATI cards cause the proprietary drivers are hell to get working. Reply
  • wolfdale - Friday, November 25, 2011 - link

    I agree. ATI's fglrx drivers are horrid, video tearing to the max. This is why I stick with Nvidia products only. The older version hardware (GTS 450) also allows time for a more mature drivers to be developed, at least in the OSS side of things. I may pick this card up and finally retire my 9800GT Silent Cell. Reply
  • mcquade181 - Saturday, November 26, 2011 - link

    More mature my ass, with Windows 7, more broken is closer to the truth.
    In the Windows arena, nVidia drivers are shocking. So much so that videos played in 32 bit Windows 7 Media Center with a GT520 and the current drivers (Ver 285.62) display a black screen. To get Media Center to work I had to use an older driver (Ver 270.61), which also has (different) problems. All the nVidia drivers have speckling issues with recent cards and DirectX 11.
    I will agree than with Linux, nVidia rules, but I'm afraid that with Windows nVidia simply doesn't work!
    I only went back to nVidia to resolve sleep issues, but am reverting back to an ATI 6450 silent card, which has ample grunt for WMC and most importantly, drivers that work.
    Reply
  • P_Turner - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - link

    Interesting. My recent experience has been pretty much the opposite of the OP's and yours.

    Since I don't play games, I built a new computer in September with the assumption that the combination of a Sandy Bridge IGP and a z68 motherboard would be sufficient for me. The OS is Windows Server 2008 R2, courtesy of the Microsoft DreamSpark program.

    The hardware of the Sandy Bridge IGP was probably OK, but I had nothing but constant problems with the Intel driver. This is one of the few situations where hardware or software that's qualified for use on Win7 64 bit doesn't work on R2.

    The Intel driver always installs on R2 with errors. Video on Netflix tears in every frame with moderate to fast motion. 3d acceleration isn't available in a Win7 64 bit guest running in VirtualBox on the R2 host.

    I gave up and bought a GT 440 during the Thanksgiving promotions. I'm using the latest stable nVidia drivers and I uninstalled the IGP in device manager. All problems were solved immediately.
    Reply

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