Review: 40nm core and DirectX 10.1 support
Going along with its plans to transition to 40nm, Nvidia has another desktop graphics card for us today dubbed the GT 220. Our readers are well aware of the name GT 200 for some time now, and while Nvidia launched the GT 220 OEM version back in July, it was time for the retail version as well. The aforementioned OEM card had a quiet introduction, and since you couldn't purchase it without buying an entire rig, we guess some of you didn't even know it existed.
Geforce GT 220 is a 40nm card with 48 shaders at 1335MHz, 615MHz core and 790MHz memory. It comes with 1GB of GDDR3 memory on a 128-bit interface, which is less than ideal when considering the ever growing requirements for pleasant or even decent gaming. While we'd rather see more bandwidth on the GT 220, meaning pairing up GDDR3 with 256-bit memory interface, such a move would certainly negatively reflect on this card's pretty appealing price tag.
Judging by the number of stream processors, currently called CUDA cores by Nvidia(ns), we can't expect wonders from GT 220's performance, so more memory would've been an overkill. Other specs list 8 ROPs and 16 texture filter units. Price and performance-wise, GT 220 can be considered a low-end card, and it currently goes for about 60 euro.
An interesting feature is the DX10.1 support on the GT 220, as AMD has had it for a while now and Nvidia argued that such a feature is somewhat pointless. So, the AMD-promoted DX10.1 games can be played with Nvidia's hardware as well. Other features worth noting include PhysX and CUDA app support, but we can't forget the fact that the GT 200 brings 1.3a HDMI support, including the uncompressed 7.1 channel audio.
The next DX10.1 card Nvidia plans to launch is the Geforce GT 210, and its story is identical to the GT 220's - OEM version introduced in July 2009 and the clocks and configuration haven't changed. The GT 210's core still runs at 589MHz GPU, shaders at 1402MHz while the DDR2 memory with a 64-bit interface runs at 500MHz.
It seems Nvidia allowed its partners to clock ther cards as they see fit, so it's safe to assume that we'll soon see GT 220 cards clocked over 700MHz.
Among the models featured in Gainward's offer is the BLISS GT220 1024MB DDR3, factory overclocked Geforce GT 220 on the picture below.
The card we see is dubbed GT220 1024M sDDR3 128B CRT DVI HDMI. The GPU runs at 645MHz, shaders at 1403MHz and the memory runs at 790MHz (1580MHz effectively).
The cooler isn't large, but it's still too wide to fit the width of one slot on the motherboard. At a glance we thought that BLISS GT 220 will get pretty loud due to the small fan, but the card ran silent all the way. The fan is mounted on a plastic bracket, located above the aluminum body.
The card comes with a reference configuration - 1024MB of memory combined with 128-bit memory interface. It's worth noting that while 512MB of memory should be enough for core support on the GT 220, Gainward decided to stick to 1024MB. The memory in question is Samsung K4W1G1646E-HC12.
The I/O panel features VGA, HDMI and dual-link DVI outs. The box is small, just like the card, and holds the installation CD and manual.
Motherboard: MSI P45D3 Platinum ( Provided by: MSI );
Processor: Intel Core 2 QX9770 Extreme edition at 3.6GHz ( Provided by: Intel );
Memory: Corsair Dominator 12800 7-7-7-24 ( Provided by: Corsair);
HDD: WD VelociRaptor 300G 10,000RPM ( Provided by: SmoothCreation );
Driver: ForceWare 191.07, Catalyst CCC 9.9 Vista 32 SP1
We compared the GT 220 with the reference Geforce 9500 GT card (512MB of GDDR3) and with one of the fastest Geforce 9500 GT cards - Galaxy 9500 GT OC (512MB of GDDR3). Of course, we included a couple of faster but not much pricier cards in our testing.
Gainward GT 220 runs up to 50% better than the reference 9500GT. Of course, the 1GB frame buffer contributed greatly to the result.
Far Cry 2
Gainward GT 220 beats the reference 9500 GT by more than 22% on all tested resolutions. Galaxy's 9500 GT holds up nicely and while it's clocked higher, it comes with less memory. Unfortunately, choosing maximum detail level in this game didn't allow for pleasant gaming, which means that the GT 220 is a card aimed at casual gamers who don't care for high detail settings, rather than hard-core gamers.
Left 4 Dead
Left 4 Dead sure knows how to value speed, and we see that Gainward GT 220 does really well. Even 1600x1200 with antialiasing and maximum detail settings results in a playable framerate. The reference Geforce 9500 GT ran from 20% to 29% slower than Gainward's GT 220.
World in Conflict
Although Gainward GT 220 ran up to 37% better than the reference 9500GT, it wasn't enough to tackle the Geforce 9600 GSO running at reference clocks and featuring 384MB of GDDR3. Even an overclocked Galaxy 9500 GT manages to keep up with the GT220, reminding us that nothing changed in the value segment of the market, and if Nvidia plans to beat AMD there, then they better come up with another ace.
HAWX brings a treat for the GT220, as the DX10.1 support results in beating the Galaxy 9500GT OC card. Note that the Galaxy 9500GT OC scored pretty similarly to the GT220 in the previous tests.
Consumption and Noise
During our testing, the entire test rig consumed about 71W in idle, and up to 158W during more intensive scenarios. GPU temperatures were at about 32 degrees Celsius in idle, and up to 60 degrees Celsius during intensive tests. We must say that the fan was pretty quiet both in idle and workload scenarios.
We've seen the GT 220 in action, but we can't say that it left grand impressions. After powerful and fast cards such as GTX 260 or GTX 285, we've been expecting a card that will shift the low-end and entry-level segment odds in Nvidia's favor. Judging by what we've seen today, Gainward GT 220 is a good card for those who aren't craving top performance, but it's still priced too high compared to the Geforce 9600GSO. We included the Geforce 9600 GSO in our testing, and as you can see it proves to be much faster in gaming tests.
Geforce GT 220 comes with a 40nm core and DX10.1 is another novelty as well, although less important now that DX11 cards are out. Geforce GT220 is also Nvidia's first card to feature internal HDMI 1.3a standard support, including uncompressed 7.1 channel audio. If you decide to purchase this card, you'll get a native HDMI out, dual-link DVI and VGA out.
Gainward's card should be available priced at about 60 euro. So, if you're looking for a card that consumes less and performs better than the 9500GT, and don't intend on waiting for entry-level DX11 cards, this one's for you.