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Nvidia shuffles OEM deck

OEM PCs equipped with Nvidia graphics cards should really come with a big red warning label explaining the graphics card contained therein will not correspond to a retail equivalent. Not even close.

Nvidia has reshuffled its OEM SKUs in a rather odd manner with three new items: the GTS 450, GT 440 and GT 430. While an OEM build of the GT 430 is just like its retail counterpart (ie: weak on games, strong on video), the other two parts are a bit off the mark when it comes to specifications.

Specs, as listed by Nvidia

The OEM version of the Geforce GTS 450 is actually quite strange. It comes in with less 'CUDA cores' than the retail version (three out of four), yet a much wider memory bus. This means 144 CUDA cores vs the 192 cores on the retail version, and a 192-bit memory bus instead of the 128-bit memory bus. The standard memory configuration on this OEM part is also alluringly deceitful. You get 1.5GB GDDR5, which always looks tastier on the cereal box, while the retail part gets 1GB.

This results in huge memory bandwidth gains but a loss in pure processing power. The cards are otherwise specced in identical fashion (video connectors, power draw, etc...). The resulting card is likely to severely underperform a retail version although retailers, being the cunning runts they usually are, will focus on the "more memory" element of the card to draw in the crowds.

Then comes the GT 440 conundrum. This mid-mid-range part for OEMs also comes with 144 CUDA cores but the core clock, shader clock and memory are outgunned by the GTS 450 in either incarnation. For one, the core clock is set to 594MHz, which is quite low indeed; then comes the memory type and amount. These cards will come in two versions: a 3GB DDR3 and 1.5GB DDR3. Like on the GTS 450, playing with big numbers looks good when it comes to labelling your OEM PC: "3GB of video RAM" will turn a few heads the right way.

On the other hand, Nvidia has opted to include a 192-bit bus, although with DDR3 you'll still struggle with raw throughput. If you happen to have an after-market VGA cooler hanging about, you might want to consider overclocking the hell out of this card... but then again you'll void your precious vendor's warranty.

The great part about the GT 440 is that it draws just 56W, that's about 7W more than a GT 430 and would probably make a far better HTPC card if you could squeeze it onto a low-profile PCB.

Nvidia also launched the GT 430 in OEM version, but this one didn't have any changes to the reference spec. It's already cut-down as it is, if you cut it any more you'd end up with nothing.