Geforce GT 430 arrives for the masses

Fleshing out its already meaty offer of Fermi-derived graphics products, Nvidia has snuck in today the Geforce 430 GT, an entertainment-orientated card aiming at bottom-of-the-barrel users.

Nvidia is pitching it as an HTPC card that delivers a lightweight gaming experience but full entertainment features. The Geforce 430 GT's pedigree, as listed by Nvidia includes: 3D Blu-ray, DirectX11 support, HDMI 1.4a, PhysX, CUDA, TrueHD and DTS-HD lossless audio codecs, apart from Hardware assisted video decode. This sounds quite good if you consider

That's about all the good name-calling we'll do here, 'cos the GT 430 is, despite a 'new' core, not much more than a severely cut-down Fermi. To start off, it's based on the new GF108 derivative, a 585 million transistor chip that sports just two SM clusters, each one squeezing 48 cores for a total of 96 cores. The core is clocked at 700MHz (1.4GHz shader) and memory is either 1.8GHz or 3.6GHz (effective) depending on the model.

If you did your maths homework, you know this to be exactly half a GTS 450 (transistor count, CUDA cores, etc...). For example, the GTS 450 has exactly twice the tranny count, at 1.17 billion. Actually, since we're on the subject of things cut in half, the memory bus is actually something that wasn't cut in half. The GT 430 will be available in both (1GB) DDR3 and GDDR5 options, but considering the limited performance of the GPU itself, it shouldn't make much of a difference which one you pick up.

The HDMI connector supports the 1.4a standard, so it is capable of playing back 3D content. It also supports, as standard, the VGA and DVI-I. You also needn't worry about hooking it up to a particularly powerful PSU as it draws just 49W.

None of the launch partners (you can find a list here) has decided to come out guns blazing with single-slot or passively cooled designs, at least from the models we've seen. Well, some are actually single slot, but then there's this awkward heatsink-plus-fan combo that encroaches on the neighouring PCI/PCIe slot. Considering this card isn't about the gaming but about the "free" video acceleration you can give your system on the cheap, a PCIe x1 should be a welcome opportunity for some older/smaller HTPCs out there.

Nvidia's Geforce GT 430 should fill in that $70-$90 gap nicely with very light duty performance for games but enough grunt to power an entertainment system at home.