ZOTAC GT 730

zotac gt 730The Zotac GT 730 (ZT-71101-10L) is a big step up from the GT 710 and GT 720. The Kepler GK208 processor is clocked at 902 MHz and has compute performance of around 720 GFLOPS

First off the card using a PCI Express x16 slot which means it can be installed in any available slot. Many machines have available PCI Express x16 slots which is the niche that Zotac is pursuing.

The card is actively cooled but the Zotac GT 730 is made at 28nm which has a few advantages. The GT 730 has two Kepler 2.0 SMX unit which improves the capability. Our EVGA GT 640 also has two SMX units.

NVIDIA GT 730 REFERENCE CARDS

CARD VERSION GT 730 64-bit DDR3 GT 730 128-bit DDR3 GT 730 GDDR5
CUDA cores 384 64 384
Base Clock 902 MHz 700 MHz 902 MHz
Memory Clock 1.8 Gbps 1.8 Gbps 5 Gbps
Standard Memory 2048MB 1024MB 1024MB
Memory Interface DDR3 DDR3 GDDR5
Memory Interface Width 64-bit 128-bit 64-bit
Memory Bandwidth (GB/s) 14.4 28.8 40
Microsoft DirectX 12 API 12 API 12 API
OpenGL 4.4 4.4 4,4
Bus Support PCI Express 2.0 PCI Express 2.0 PCI Express 2.0
HDCP yes yes yes
HDMI yes yes yes
Graphics Card Power 23W 49W 25W

The Zotac GT 730 is equipped with 2GB of GDDR5 memory featuring roughly 30.5 GB/s bandwidth which is better than the reference card.NVIDIA Kepler block diagram

The Zotac card comes in half height half length (HHHL) form-factor and is shipped with both a standard and low profile bracket. The graphics board has minimal (49W) power consumption. The idle power is very attractive as well.

With 384 CUDA , The GT 730 has dramatically more performance which affords it a big step for gaming. Even 7th generation games are largely playable in medium graphics.

Today there is a wide range of games that support the DirectX 11 features. Games still generally support DirectX 9 for XP users. Today many games support a span of DirectX versions in order to have the widest compatibility. With XP retired, DirectX 11 will be the platform for the next 5 years anyway.

The Kepler GK107 GPU is  features 1,300 million transistors. By comparison the 8800 series had 700 million transistors. The die for the GT 730 is 11×11 mm making a yield of about 500 devices on a 300 mm wafer using 28 nm. This compares to the 24×24 mm size of the GTX 260 on the 65 nm line.

Kepler is a further refinement over the previous Fermi line. The SMX modules have more compute and less control logic and as such are more efficient at demanding compute tasks.

Kepler uses 192 CUDA cores in each SMX module while the older Fermi uses only 32 CUDA cores. The GT 730 has two SMX units to give it 384  total  CUDA cores.

Compared to the previous GT 430 the new GT 730 dramatically better. It also uses less power. Compared to the old 8600 GT the modern mainstream cards are now dramatically more powerful for a lot less cash.

Kepler also redesigned the control logic to make it more parallel friendly. The modular design will continue with the next generation as the DirectX 11 API matures. Many DX11 features that are being marketed by NVIDIA have actually been around since the XP period. Vista redesigned the graphics system which pushed video card designs and DirectX 11 is simply the refinement of the DX10 work.

The new GTX GPUs embed additional new technology but for the end-user nothing really changed other than raw performance and power management. The GT 730 has 384 active cores. Made on a 28 nm line, the Zotac GT 730  power draw copes with the PCI Express slot easily.

The CUDA cores with Kepler are not as powerful as Fermi, however, the SMX design is more capable which is why it’s faster. When comparing CUDA cores with Fermi and Kepler, the Kepler are roughly half as powerful. Kepler is redesigned to provide generally more parallel processing for games.

One of the advantages of the SMX design is that each can be used independently. This is helpful for threaded game engines that need more compute performance that the CPU can deliver.

This is why games like Rage perked up considerably when tested with the GT 640. Clearly the Kepler architecture is very favorable for games looking forward. Rage features a new engine which is one of games we considered when testing this card.

Unlike consoles, the GT 730 can deliver quality games at the full 1920×1080 easily.

  • Idle/2D power mode: approx. 5W
  • Blu-ray & DVD playback mode: approx. 25W
  • Full 3D performance mode: varies – worst case TDP 49W
  • DX12 (feature level 11.0)
  • OpenGL 4.4
  • 6½” length, 4⅜” full height, single slot

The reference NVIDIA GT 730  is roughly 902 MHz. NVIDIA does not run this car faster, so that it can stay within the PCI slot power limits.

PORT OPTIONS

The Zortac GT 730  comes with a  DVI-I, HDMI amd VGA. Adapters for VGA and HDMI are widely available.

HDMI is the option we tested the card with, which quickly demonstrated how bad the sound is with PC LCD panels. HDMI is a separate sound system so it can be disabled in favor of better sounding solutions. We use some low cost Altec Lansing speakers that are drastically better sounding than the PA238QR panel. Video cards with HDMI invariably have integrated audio which works fine with a suitable home theatre system. The Altec Lansing speakers have ports for audio in and out making them equally flexible.

GTX 260 GTX 470 GTX 570 ZOTAC GT 730
Shaders 192 448 480 384
Core Clock (MHz) 576 607 732 902
Shader Clock (MHz) 1242 1215 1644 N/A
Memory Clock (MHz) 999 1647 1900 8010
VRAM Size 896 MB 1280 MB 1280 MB2 2048 MB
VRAM Width 448-bit 320-bit 320-bit 64-bit
Feature Size 65 nm 40 nm 40 nm 28 nm

At idle you can expect a temperature of 28-35° C but once pushed to 100%, the temperatures will rise to ~70-80° C. The passive cooler eliminates noise complaints.

AS TESTED

CHASSIS RaidMax Mid Tower Chassis
MB Asus P8H61 LE/CSM
CPU Intel i3-2100
RAM 4096MB Kingston DDR3-1333
GPU Zotac GT 730
PSU Corsair CS450M
MON Acer AL1916
KB/M Microsoft Wireless Desktop 2000 & Wacom Bamboo Capture
HD WDC WD5000AAKX
OS Windows 10

PERFORMANCE

All of the benchmarks are available here.

VIDEO CONVERSION

We use video conversion tools as part of the creation of game video files. Using a CUDA enabled converter with H.264 can be as much as 2x faster. Using 2 threads is enough to raise the GPU usage to 90% as the encoder executes discrete cosine transforms in vast numbers. Most modern video tools now have options for both AMD and NVIDIA users.

DIRECTX 12

A a games developer conference in early 2014, Microsoft announced DirectX 12 which will ship with the next Windows release. DX12 is a refinement intended to take better advantage of the multithreaded capability of DX11 cards.

In general any gaming grade DX11 card will run DX12 fine. NVIDIA Kepler and Maxwell both very suitable. DX12 will be rapidly supported by games in 2015 following the next Windows release.

CONCLUSION

The Zotac GT 730 is a low cost solution for a media center PC if  all you want is to revive an old rig. Extra displays are another angle for the card. A restaurant could feed televisions easily with this card. Being single slot and using a DVI-HDMI adapter, 2 HDMI 60″ televisions can be driven with menus etc.