|by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig | March 7, 2010|
NVIDIA GeForce GT 240 Roundup (EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI, Sparkle)
NVIDIA GeForce GT 240 Roundup
Featuring: EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI & Sparkle
Lately, there is no hiding the fact that ATIís latest releases are hogging the limelight and have been able to capture the publicís attention with a near-perfect mix of performance, efficiency and pricing. NVIDIA does have competing DX11 cards on the way but until that time, their offerings are few and far between. There are still a few GTX 260s and GTX 285s bumming around but the only area where there is still any meaningful NVIDIA presence is in the mid to low range market with the GTS 250, GT 240, GT 220 and GT 210 series of cards. While these products may not represent the best of the best at first glance, they still hold their own and with some recent price cuts, have become much more appealing for the budget gamers out there.
The release of the GT 240 went virtually unnoticed but it is now aimed right at the one market segment where ATIís products are showing their vulnerable underbelly. The 5000-series hit the nail straight on the head in every price category over $150 but the offerings in the sub-$100 market are lacking. This provides the perfect opportunity for NVIDIA to whittle away at some of ATIís convincing lead while testing out a 40nm manufacturing process that has been anything but consistent.
Beyond testing the 40nm manufacturing process, NVIDIAís plan for the GT 240 was to offer gamers a card that would allow them to play games at reasonable settings while offering a giant leap in efficiency over past cards. Granted, DX11 is quite obviously the next big thing but for the vast majority of the GT 240ís life cycle, this new API will only be used in a few games. We have also seen in the not too distant past that sub-$100 cards just donít provide the horsepower needed to enable DX11 features anyways. One way or another, NVIDIA aimed the GT 240 to replace the 9600 GT while being the first card in the green camp to offer DX10.1 functionality.
Budget gaming superiority isnít the only target of the GT 240. It also does away with the somewhat archaic S/PDIF connector on G92-series cards and incorporates all audio pass-through onto the PCI-E interface which in addition to HDMI 1.3a compatibility and PureVideo HD could make it an excellent HTPC card. NVIDIA also has their CUDA technology that will allow the GT 240 to perform GPU compute tasks such as PhysX processing and video transcoding on a level unseen by even the fastest CPUs around.
In this review we will be looking at six GT 240 cards from four different manufacturers and while you wonít see any highly overclocked cards among the bunch, all of them are unique in some way or another. EVGA is represented by their Superclocked version that uses higher than reference clock speeds, MSI sent in their MD512/D5 OC Edition that has an interesting looking heatsink in addition to receiving an overclock. Meanwhile, Gigabyteís two cards come from two totally different price ranges: the stock 512MB GDDR5 card and a slightly higher clocked 1GB DDR3 product that uses a unique heatsink design. Finally there are Sparkleís two competitors and like the Gigabyte cards they represent both the 512MB and 1GB models.
All in all, this combination of cards should give you a pretty accurate cross section of todayís GT 240 market and how these cards stand in relation to the competition.
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