What's new
  • Please do not post any links until you have 3 posts as they will automatically be rejected to prevent SPAM. Many words are also blocked due to being used in SPAM Messages. Thanks!

NVIDIA GeForce GT 240 Roundup (EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI, Sparkle)

Status
Not open for further replies.

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal


NVIDIA GeForce GT 240 Roundup

Featuring: EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI & Sparkle



Lately, there is no hiding the fact that ATI’s latest releases are hogging the limelight and have been able to capture the public’s 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 ATI’s 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 ATI’s convincing lead while testing out a 40nm manufacturing process that has been anything but consistent.

Beyond testing the 40nm manufacturing process, NVIDIA’s 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 240’s 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 don’t 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 isn’t 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 won’t 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, Gigabyte’s 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 Sparkle’s 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 today’s GT 240 market and how these cards stand in relation to the competition.


 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
The GT 240 Within a Co-Processing Environment

The GT 240 Within a Co-Processing Environment


We mentioned in the introduction that the GT 240 is marketed as an integral part of the computing ecosystem and through the use of CUDA, NVIDIA is making it happen. While many people have effectively thumbed their noses at CUDA and the whole GPGPU initiative, programmers have continued to develop tools which can harness the power of modern GPUs to accelerate a wide range of applications. Not all programs can make use of GPUs for additional performance but the ones that do stop lower-powered CPUs from becoming a bottleneck and slowing down performance. Considering the GT 240 will likely be paired with one of these lower end processors, NVIDIA’s CUDA can offer consumers enhanced computing performance without the need to upgrade.


The entire idea behind co-processing is to let the CPU work on the tasks it is good at while allowing the GPU to be used for tasks its parallel architecture is designed for. In the past, the graphics processor sat idly by when not running a 3D application while the system’s main processor sometimes got bogged down by certain tasks. In a co-processing environment, the GPU is able to handle intensive tasks such as video editing and HD decoding while the CPU is used for other items. NVIDIA’s goal here is not to replace the CPU but rather compliment it in order to make people’s lives easier.


Most of the people who read this site can be lumped into the “enthusiast” segment in one way or another and use their main computers to play higher-end games. Naturally, all the other tasks a PC can be used for also play a role in their purchasing decisions but if a PC is good enough to play games at high detail settings, it is likely more than good enough for any other day to day tasks.

The mainstream computer market on the other hand is concerned with more basic needs like watching YouTube videos, editing family videos and converting media files for use on their handheld device. As we showed you in past reviews, the inclusion of even a lower-end GPU for these situations can have massive benefits.


Just to reinforce what we are talking about, we have included a slide from NVIDIA which shows the benefits of various lower-end GT 200 series GPUs. As you can see, the benefits in some programs are significant but it is important to remember that most applications out there don’t support GPU acceleration.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
The Specifications of our GT 240 Pile

The Specifications of our GT 240 Pile



According to NVIDIA, the GT 240 will be replacing the 9600 GT in their lineup and it is easy to see how the two cards line up to one another. The first thing that is quite obvious is that there are a number of differences between the two cards with the 9600 GT having higher core clocks and more ROPs than the new 40nm contender. Even though the 9600 GT has less SPs, its higher core clock directly translates into much higher engine / shader speeds which could more than make up for the difference. Meanwhile, the 128-bit memory interface on the GT 240 probably won’t translate into much of a bottleneck for the GDDR5-equipped version but there is no doubt that the GDDR3 products could run into a substantial memory bottleneck.

So what does all of this mean for the GT 240 GDDR5 against the outgoing 9600 GT? In our opinion, the cards will be nearly identical in framerate performance but the 9600 GT could have the edge in situations where engine speeds and ROP performance are paramount. As for the GT 240 1GB GDDR3, it is priced quite a bit lower than the GDDR5 version so we can only assume that a potential memory bottleneck can and will lead to a large gap in performance.


Cards like the Gigabyte 512MB and the Sparkle products we have are all clocked at reference speeds so there probably won’t be too much excitement out of them unless we are talking about the custom cooling solutions being bandied about.

The EVGA GT 240 Superclocked might carry a name that promises sky-high clock speeds but the reality is a bit sad since all we see is a 100Mhz (200Mhz QDR) increase for the GDDR5 memory. Core and shader clocks stay at reference speeds. MSI is in the same boat with memory operating at 3600Mhz QDR stacked up next to otherwise boring core and shader clocks. The Gigabyte GT 240 1GB adds an interesting counterpoint to the chart since it is the only card that makes use of an overclocked core and shader domain even though it is hooked up to slower GDDR3 memory. Also of note is that Gigabyte doesn’t considering this their “Overclocked” model even though the core speed has a 50Mhz bump over a reference card.

If this lineup looks a bit boring to you, we agree wholeheartedly. The fact of the matter is the core on the GT 240 just can’t be overclocked well when compared to past NVIDIA cards and this directly translates into reference-speed cards littering the market at every turn. Sparkle did just announce pending availability of their X240 and X240G cards that will push the core to 630Mhz but initial indications are that additional voltage was needed to achieve that speed. In addition, it looks like the X240 series will not see widespread release here in North America.

One other thing we should mention here is the NVIDIA reference specs for the GT 240 1GB GDDR3 mention memory clock speeds of 2000Mhz DDR. From what we have seen, NOT ONE of their board partners have implemented this into their boards which is a huge disappointment considering we are sure 400Mhz more would have made this lower-end card into one hell of a contender.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Meet the Manufacturers and their Warranties

Meet the Manufacturers and their Warranties


Note, that in order to compile the warranty information below, we sent each manufacturer a questionnaire to fill out regarding their Customer / RMA support in Canada and in USA. Remember, anything written in the warranty sections comes direct from the manufacturers and your experiences may vary.


EVGA: Always There When You Need ‘em


EVGA. This is the company we have come to know and love here in North America for having some of the most competitively-priced products while offering some of the best customer support service around. They also have their famous Step Up program which allows you to trade in your card (plus cash) for a better product within the 90 days after the original purchase date. The Step Up program, their lifetime warranty, the way they personally manage their online community and the widespread availability of their products have made EVGA a household name among enthusiasts for years now. This Nvidia-exclusive company also has their fair share of overclocked cards in the Superclocked, SSC and FTW product ranges.


Warranty and Support Info

By a long shot, EVGA has one of the best warranties out of all the manufacturers represented here today. If you register within 30 days of your purchase date you will receive their Lifetime Warranty and without registration this diminishes to one year. However, this card carries their 2-year warranty due to its “LR” product designation.

In addition, EVGA has begun offering what they call the EAR or EVGA Advanced RMA EVGA Advanced RMA that can be purchased upon registration to accelerate any RMA you send by providing cross-shipping for your new card. Both Canadian and US RMAs are processed through EVGA’s California facility with the customer being responsible for paying shipping to EVGA but return shipping is covered. Since EVGA labels all RMA shipments as such, customs charges for Canadians should be minimal but one way or another, they not paid by EVGA.

Customer Support URL: EVGA | Support | Home
Customer Support Tel. #: 888-880-3842
Customer Support hours of operation: 24/7 365 days a year



Gigabyte: Movin’ on Up


We all know Gigabyte for their motherboards and graphics cards but there are few that realize this is a company which is also trying to get their feet wet in many other areas as well. From cases to power supplies to gaming mice and netbooks, it seems like they are into nearly every aspect of the computing world. They also have a worldwide presence which means excellent availability of their products wherever you look. While they haven’t made the jump to the big-box retailers like Best Buy and Future Shop here in Canada, their cards can be found at smaller brick and mortar shops as well as from nearly every online retailer.

Warranty and Support Information

Gigabyte offers a warranty length of 3 years on all of their cards with or without registration on their website. However, unlike other manufacturers their warranty goes into effect from the date the card is manufactured which means if the retailer you buy from has had a card in stock for a year, that card will have 2 years left on its warranty when it is sold. All RMAs from the USA and Canada are shipped to their facility in California with the customer playing shipping to Gigabyte while Gigabyte will pay for return shipping. If you want expedited shipping, an extra charge will be added but the option is there for those of you who want your card back fast. In addition, we Canadians are responsible for any and all customs charges.

Customer Support URL: rma_index
Customer Support Tel. #: 626-854-9336 (Option 3)
Customer Support hours of operation: 8:30am – 5:30pm PST (Mon – Fri)
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Meet the Manufacturers and the Warranties (pg.2)

Meet the Manufacturers and the Warranties



MSI: A Speck on the Horizon no More


When we think about high performance graphics cards, MSI isn’t a name that is usually near the top of our lists. We all know their motherboards which until recently have been on a bit of a hiatus here in Canada but they are making a comeback with some strong designs at reasonable prices. When it comes to graphics cards, MSI has begun a marketing push to increase awareness of the fact that they have cards which cater to everyone from the most cost-conscious penny pincers to upscale buyers looking for the best of the best. Even though availability of some of their products remains spotty particularly here in Canada, cards like the GT 240 are allowing MSI to put their best foot forward. One way or another, MSI is and always has been one of the largest manufacturers of both motherboards, graphics cards and other products so we are always interested to see what they have up their sleeves.


Warranty and Support Info

MSI’s warranty length is the usual 3-years (with registration) as seen with other board partners but there is a bit of fine print here as well. Basically, within that 3 years the parts and labor is completely covered for two years while ONLY the parts are covered in the third year. That means after the first two years of warranty coverage, all repair and handling expenses will be charged to you if you RMA your card to MSI. The cost isn’t extreme; a mere $45CAD per RMA’d item after the first 2 years and $65CAD if you are requesting out of warranty repairs.

To lessen the sting of what amounts to a mere 2-year bumper to bumper warranty, Canadians can take solace in the fact that MSI –like BFG- has an RMA facility that is based in Canada. Residents of the US of A return their cards to California and as with Canada, MSI pays for the shipping to you but won’t front the money for the shipment to their facility.

Customer Support URL:
USA: http://us.msi.com/company_service.asp
Canada: Welcome to MSI(Canada) RMA Department

Customer Support Tel. #:
USA: 626-581-3001
Canada: 1-888-614-6674

Customer Support hours of operation: USA/ Canada: 9am – 6pm PST



Sparkle: The new kid on the block


To those of you who are reading this review and live anywhere else other than North America, Sparkle isn’t the new kid on the block at all. Indeed, they have been OEMing cards for several of Nvidia’s board partners for some time now. Even though this Taiwan-based company is one of top selling GPU brands in other parts of the world, their presence here is relatively minor. With only a few select retailers offering their cards in North America, Sparkle is looking to take things to the next level with widespread availability soon.

Warranty and Support Information

Sparkle now backs all of their cards with a newly-introduced A+SAP 3-year warranty Sparkle A+SAP Announcement. For RMA purposes, both Canadian and US residents will have to pay shipping to Sparkle’s offices in California but return shipping is paid by Sparkle themselves but turn-around time is guaranteed to be under 72 hours. No other repair or handling fees will be charged. In addition, Canadian residents won’t have to worry about duties for the return shipment as they will be paid in full by Sparkle.

Customer Support URL: Sparkle Computer
Customer Support Tel. #: 626-333-3311
Customer Support hours of operation: 9:30am – 5:00pm PST (Mon – Fri)
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
EVGA GT 240 Superclocked & Gigabyte GT 240 512MB

EVGA GT 240 512MB GDDR5 SuperClocked


Manufacturer Product Page: Click Here
Product Number: 512-P3-1242-LR
Warranty: 2-Years (with registration)
Price: Click here to compare prices




It has been a long while since we last looked at an EVGA card around these parts but time doesn’t seem to have changed their packaging one iota. We still get the black and orange colours but considering the lower-end nature of this product, the only protection it has is a single bubble wrap sleeve. Accessories are also basic with only a driver CD being included.


The EVGA GT 240 Superclocked won’t really win any awards for originality when it comes to its overall look but it is good to see the stunning black PCB from higher end cards make an appearance here. In addition, since the move to the 40nm manufacturing process, these middle of the pack cards no longer need an external PCI-E power connector.

The one distinguishing feature of EVGA’s GT 240 is its length when compared to the other cards we are featuring in this roundup. At 7 ½” it is about 1/2” longer than most other GT 240s on the market.



EVGA doesn’t stray from the reference design when it comes to output connectors with a single DVI, VGA and HDMI connector.



Gigabyte GT 240 512MB


Manufacturer Product Page: Click Here
Product Number: GV-N240D5-512I
Warranty: 3-Years
Price: Click here to compare prices



Gigabyte’s GT 240 packaging isn’t anything to write home about but it does do the job of making this product stand out from others on the shelf. Meanwhile, the card is well protected within the confines of its case but doesn’t come with any accessories to speak of other than a drive CD and quick start guide.


The one defining item on this card is its heatsink shroud. Love it or hate it, Gigabyte seems to have designed this one to look a bit shark-like but regardless of its oddball look, we’ re a bit disappointed it isn’t a single slot affair. Below the large 80mm fans resides a simple aluminum-finned cylindrical heatsink that doesn’t actively cool the GDDR5 memory but should work quite well when taking care of the heat from the core. Luckily, Gigabyte stuck with a relatively compact design that is only 7” long.

The backplate sticks to the reference design with connectors for DVI, VGA and HDMI.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Gigabyte GT 240 1GB & MSI GT 240 512MB OC Edition

Gigabyte GT 240 1GB


Manufacturer Product Page: Click Here
Product Number: GV-N240D3-1GI
Warranty: 3-Years
Price: Click here to compare prices



The box of this card is identical to the 512MB version as are the accessories (or lack thereof). However, what distinguishes the 1GB version is a slightly different overall design.


To be honest, where the 512MB version’s heatsink design looked odd; this one just looks downright cheap with a vast expanse of plastic taking up way too much space. That being said, we have no doubt this card will offer some amazing temperatures with an 80mm fan and the addition of higher-end chokes is always good to see. As for the backplate; it takes up a single slot and features the expected assortment of outputs.



MSI GT 240 512MB OC


Manufacturer Product Page: Click Here
Product Number: N240GT-MD512-OC/D5
Warranty: 3-Years
Price: Click here to compare prices



MSI seems to be moving towards a fighter theme with their newer box designs and their GT 240 OC seems to have the venerable F-15 as its “mascot”. On the interior of the box we see the card is extremely well protected but there are no accessories to speak of.


In our opinion, the MSI card is one that really stands out from the crowd with its all-black PCB, massive chokes and dual slot backplate. We’re actually happy to see MSI has no qualms with changing out the reference backplate for one of their own since it does give a distinct look to the whole affair. The heatsink has a pretty straightforward design with an aluminum fin array and a centrally mounted fan.


 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Sparkle GT 240 512MB & Sparkle GT 240 1GB

Sparkle GT 240 512MB


Manufacturer Product Page: SPARKLE Computer
Product Number: SXT240512D5-NM
Warranty: 3-Years
Price: Click here to compare prices



Even though Sparkle isn’t necessarily as well known here in North America as the BFGs and EVGAs of this world, they are trying to make some serious inroads and their box design exudes a subtle confidence. Its design is muted but we would have liked to have seen some additional internal protection of the card itself since all that lies between it and the outside world is the exterior package and an anti-static bag. As with other cards, there are no accessories to speak of.


With a blue PCB, one wouldn’t be blamed if they mistook this card for a Gigabyte product but the purple fan should be reason enough to guide anyone away from that assumption. Speaking of the heatsink, it is made of aluminum and is slightly higher than a usual single slot cooler but not by much. Otherwise, this is your run of the mill dolled up reference GT 240.



Sparkle GT 240 1GB


Manufacturer Product Page: SPARKLE Computer
Product Number: SXT2401024S3-NM
Warranty: 3-Years
Price: Click here to compare prices



The box design for the 1GB card is exactly the same as the 512MB SKU but the card is actually encased in bubble wrap for a bit of added protection. The accessory list is nonexistent though our card included a code to get 10% off the download of The Sims 3.


Once again we see the usual 7” PCB associated with the GT 240 but unlike the 512MB version of this card, this one has a much more basic cooling assembly which allows it to retain single slot status. The downwards airflow caused by the fan should help cool off the DDR3 memory modules. Meanwhile, the backplate is more of the same; it seems NVIDIA’s reference solution suited all of the board partners in this roundup.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Test System & Setup

Test System & Setup

Please note that this test system was specifically picked out to run our budget GPUs hand in hand with a configuration that doesn't cost more than $500CAD for the CPU, motherboard and memory.

Processor: Intel Core i5 750 @ 2.67Ghz (Turbo Mode Enabled)
Memory: 2x2GB OCZ Platinum PC-15000 @ 6-7-6-17 1066Mhz DDR
Motherboard: MSI H57M ED-65
Cooling: Thermalright TRUE
Disk Drive: Pioneer DVD Writer
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB
Power Supply: Corsair HX520
Monitor: Samsung 305T 30” widescreen LCD
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate N x64


Graphics Cards:

EVGA GT 240 Superclocked
Gigabyte GT 240 512MB
Gigabyte GT 240 1GB
MSI GT 240 OC
Sparkle GT 240 1GB GDDR3
Sparkle GT 240 512MB GDDR5
Sapphire HD 5670 1GB GDDR5
Sapphire HD 5570 1GB
ATI HD 4650 512MB
ATI HD 4670 512MB
Sparkle GT 220 1GB GDDR3
EVGA 9800 GT 512MB (Reference)
EVGA 9600 GT 512MB (Reference)
Palit 9600 GSO 384MB (Reference)



Drivers:

ATI 10.2 WHQL
NVIDIA 195.62 WHQL


Applications Used:

Batman Arkum Asylum
Borderlands
Dawn of War II
DiRT 2
Dragon Age: Origins
Far Cry 2
Left 4 Dead 2


*Notes:

- All games tested have been patched to their latest version

- The OS has had all the latest hotfixes and updates installed

- All scores you see are the averages after 2 benchmark runs

All game-specific methodologies are explained above the graphs for each game

All IQ settings were adjusted in-game
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Batman: Arkham Asylum

Batman: Arkham Asylum (DX9)


Even though Batman: AA has its own in-game benchmarking tool, we found that its results are absolutely not representative of real-world gaming performance. As such, we used FRAPS to record run-through of the first combat challenge which is unlocked after completing the first of The Riddler’s tasks. It includes close-in combat with up to 8 enemies as well as ranged combat. In addition, we made sure to set the smoothframerate line in the game’s config to “false”. No AA was used as the game engine does not natively support it.


1680 x 1050



1920 x 1200

 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Latest posts

Twitter

Top