Review: A wholle lotta memory + native HDMI out
Geforce GTS 250 is a card based on the G92 core, found on many Nvidia’s cards including the 8800 GS, 8800 GT, 8800 GTS, 9800 GT, 9800 GTX, 9800 GTX+ and 9800GX2. The only difference between the 9800 GTX+ and the GTX 250 is a somewhat different PCB, but since both cards use the same core, the GTX 250 is nothing but a glorified 9800 GTX+. The core is built in 55nm and packs 754 million transistors.
Nvidia launched the GTS 250 with 512MB and 1024MB of memory, but Gainward decided to go the extra mile and offer its BLISS GTS 250 card with 2048MB of memory. Additional memory however couldn’t fit on just the front of the PCB, so 1024MB was placed on each side of the PCB. The back of the PCB also houses a large metal plate used for cooling the memory chips.
Gainward BLISS GTS 250 2048MB Limited Edition uses non-reference cooling, and it’s a dual-slot cooler with a fan in the middle, which blows air towards the heatsink. The fan is mounted on the plastic “hood”, and you can control its RPM. The fan runs almost silent in idle mode, but in workload scenarios it unfortunately runs a bit louder than the reference GTS 250’s fan. However, it’s still not too loud, and we can’t say we were bothered by it.
The heatsink is quite large, and the cooling fins are partly touching the heatsink’s copper base, and where they’re not, the heatpipes are in charge of heat transfer. The following photo shows the heatsink from below, and we see that the front memory is covered with a smaller metal plate. The card packs 16 GDDR3 memory chips in total. The memory is Hynix’s H5RS1H23MFR-N2C, meaning it’s a 0.8ns memory rated at 1200MHz.
The card has 4+1 phase system for power regulation, and uses OnSemi voltage regulator with no software voltage change support.
Gainward didn’t push the memory to its max, and so it runs at 1100MHz on the card, which is GTS 250’s reference memory clock. The core on the other hand got overclocked, albeit slightly, and it runs at 745MHz for the core and 1848MHz for shaders. Note that reference clocks are 738MHz for the core and 1836MHz for shaders.
The I/O panel features an analog VGA port, one DVI and one HDMI port. It’s become somewhat customary to provide a DVI-to-HDMI dongle so the customers can use the DVI port as HDMI out but since this card already has native HDMI, the box contains a dongle that does the opposite in case a need for a second DVI out arises. You can use HDMI to route video, but if you want to use just one cable to bring both audio and video to your HDTV, you’ll have to use the provided SPDIF cable and connect it to your motherboard’s/soundcard’s SPDIF out to your graphics card’s SPDIF in. The card is powered via two 6-pin power cables.
The card has a red PCB and it’s a bit difficult to tell whether Gainward’s cards use Geforce or Radeon. The following photo also shows Gainward’s HD 4850 card, but Gainward also offers its HD 4850 Goes Like Hell which shares the cooling solution with our today’s test sample – the GTS 250 2GB.
As far as we recall, Gainward was the first partner to have native HDMI on Geforce graphics cards. Some Gainward’s cards feature DisplayPort, but not many users need it at the moment, so HDMI out on GTS 250 2GB cards is probably a much more appealing feature.
The packaging says that this DirectX 10 card packs 2048MB of memory and that it’s not your ordinary GTS 250.
Inside you’ll find the graphics card and the accompanying documentation, the driver CD, SPDIF audio cable, PCI-Express power cable and the HDMI-to-DVI dongle.