|GIGABYTE GeForce GT-240 HDMI Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Tuesday, 05 January 2010|
Page 13 of 14
GeForce GT240 Final Thoughts
NVIDIA's had it rough for the last 18 months or so. Their introduction of the GTX 280 card last year was quickly eclipsed by ATI's Radeon 4800 series, which offered most of the performance of the GTX 280 at a much lower price. Within weeks early adopters who paid $600 for their new GTX 280 cards saw prices tumble by 20% or more. Still, NVIDIA managed to hang onto the performance crown, tweaking the G200 GPU to produce the GTX 285 and doubling them up to produce the monstrous GTX 295. But the recent introduction of ATI's 5800 series cards took even that victory from NVIDIA, offering superior performance at a lower price. With the 5750, 5770, 5850, 5870, and 5970 cards, ATI holds a decisive price/performance lead in the mid-to-high end graphics card range. Their support of the DrectX 11 graphics API in Windows 7 makes NVIDIA's position even weaker; it's interesting to see how NVIDIA, who lectured long and loud on the advantages of DirectX 10 when their cards had it and ATI's didn't, tries to denigrate DirectX 11 support, pointing to the paucity of games supporting it.
NVIDIA has announced their new GF100 "Fermi" GPU architecture, although the presentations they've given so far have concentrated on its used as a general-purpose GPU computing device (GPGPU) and haven't mentioned its graphics capability at all, leading to speculation that there may not be a consumer version of this 3 billion transistor monster. If there is, expect new levels of performance and a price to match.
While waiting for Fermi, NVIDIA is refreshing the low end of their product line, moving the older 9 and 8 series cards to the new 200 series. These new 40nm versions offer the same or slightly better performance in a smaller, lower-power package, and from that standpoint represent a significant improvement over their larger, more power-hungry forebears. They also give NVIDIA some experience in tuning their 40nm process, which they'll doubtless need for the upcoming Fermi GPUs.
NVIDIA has included some notable new features: DirectX 10.1 support (albeit almost two years after ATI), GDDR5 memory on some models (the GeForce GT 240 is the first NVIDIA GPU that can support GDDR5), but consumers need to be aware that the 210-220-240-250 cards are not based on the newer G200 architecture as used in the 260-270-280-290 series cards. To make it even more confusing, many of the older 8x00 and 9x00 series cards are still available (although in most cases you'd be better off with a 200 series card, which would be either faster or smaller/quieter, or perhaps both.) And trying to compare the specifications of cards with different numbers of processing cores, clock speeds, and memory types can be even more confusing. Features such as "NVIDIA 3d Vision Support" only muddy the waters (technically, yes, the GIGABYTE GV-N240D5-512I does support 3D Vision, but since that technology would halve the frame rates of an already marginal gaming card, you'd be crazy to use it).
The GIGABYTE GV-N240D5-512I is positioned in a very tough market segment: if you're looking for a small, quiet card for your HTPC that can decode Blu-ray and supports HDMI 1.3, this card will do that...but an ASUS ENGT220 will do it for $30 less. And if you're trying to upgrade a system you use for games from an integrated video solution or an older, slower card, the GV-N240D5-512I will handle that as well...but for the same $99.95 you could buy a Sapphire 100277HDMI Radeon HD 4770 (which has the same 512M of GDDR5 memory) that offers substantially better performance as can be seen in our tests. If you prefer NVIDIA cards, a mere $10 more will buy you a SPARKLE SXS250512D3-NM GeForce GTS 250 or a Palit NE3TS25NFHD52 GeForce GTS 250, which also offer much better performance...and don't forget that the Radeon 4770 offers the potential to add another card later in Crossfire mode, while the GTS 250 can be paired with another card in SLI mode.
But the GIGABYTE GV-N240D5-512I does manage to fit in a sweet spot: it's the fastest NVIDIA card that supports HDMI 1.3a, and while ATI's new Radeon 5x00 supports it as well, the cheapest card in that series costs more than half again as much as the GV-N240D5-512I.
There's one other niche where this card would be a good fit: as a secondary card in a system already equipped with a higher-end NVIDIA card, where it could be used as a dedicated Physx card or CUDA processor for GPGPU project such as Folding@home.