Review: Dual slot cooling and a factory overclock
A few days ago, Nvidia added a new card to its line up – the Geforce GT 240. We of course pounced on the chance to test it and our today’s test sample comes under the name Gainward GT 240 1024MB D5 HDMI DVI Golden Sample. As we’ve come to expect from Gainward, Golden Sample models usually pack a little something extra, and today’s card is no exception. This card features dual slot cooling and 1GB of GDDR5 memory that will surely be useful for performance, and since it’s a Golden Sample edition, the clocks are slightly higher than reference.
Geforce GT 240 is based on the 40nm, DirectX 10.1 chip known as GT215. Geforce GT240 is intended to replace the already aged mainstream 9600GSO/GT cards.
GT215 packs 96 shader processors (CUDA cores) running at 1340MHz. Reference clocks on the GPU (32 texture filtering and 8 ROP units) are at 550MHz. Gainward on the other hand pushed the GPU to 585MHz and the shaders to 1424MHz. Although Nvidia launched this card priced at $99, the cheapest model in Europe stands at €70, but expect to see the prices drop in the following few days.
Core clocks and numbers of shader processors don’t quite promise top performance, but they should be enough for gaming at 1680x1050 with lower detail settings. Based on performance, GT 240 falls between GT 220 and the 9800 GT, but the variety of other cards in this price segment won’t make GT 240’s life any easier.
Geforce GT 240 comes in two flavors, with GDDR3 or GDDR5 memory depending on the partners, but the choice of 512MB or 1024MB of memory entirely up to the users. Although memory interface is only 128-bit, GDDR5 does well in compensating for that and we’d advise you to purchase a GDDR5 card if possible. The significance of memory is evident from the specs on Gainward GT 240 Golden Sample, as this card offers similar memory bandwidth to that of 256-bit interface cards with GDDR3 memory (in comparison, the Geforce 9600T packs 512MB of GDDR3 256-bit memory and a bandwidth of 57.6GB/s).
GDDR5 reference clocks on the GT240 are at 1700MHz, giving this card 54.4GB/s bandwidth, whereas the GDDR3 memory on the same card runs at 1000MHz and results in 32.0GB/s bandwidth. Thanks to Gainward, the GDDR5 memory on GT240 Golden Sample cards runs at 1890MHz and results in a bandwidth of 60.4GB/s. Of course, while 128-bit interface isn’t that great for performance, it is significantly cheaper allowing for lower pricetags.
Just like the recently announced GT210 and GT220 cards, the new GT 240 card features support for eight-channel LPCM audio and improved DivX, VC-1 and MPEG-2 reproduction. Unfortunately, just like the aforementioned cards, this sub-$100 also comes without a SLI connector.
Still, the lack of SLI connectors won’t get in the way of us putting the GT 240 in charge of PhysX, and Nvidia advises users to use one slower Geforce card, like the GT240, for physics processing, as it will take some load off of your primary graphics card.
Although GT240 doesn’t bring DirectX 11, but rather DX10.1, CUDA based applications are supported, among other things. Today we have more than one application which uses the GPU to improve performance, such as Photoshop CS4, the new Flash Player 10.1 and many video transcoding and post processing programs.
As you’re about to see on the example of Gainward GT 240 Golden Sample card, there’s no need for additional power connectors. The data we received from Nvidia says that this card will consume up to 70W under a load and only 9W when idle. Thermal threshold is 105° C, but everyday operation will never even come close to these temperatures.
The card features DVI, VGA and HDMI (version 1.3a) connectors by default, but the GPU features DisplayPort support as well.