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Zotac GeForce GT 240 AMP! Edition Review
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Date: Nov 17, 2009
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction and Specifications

 

NVIDIA is launching a new mainstream graphics card today, aimed squarely at consumers in the market for a relatively low-cost upgrade from an integrated graphics solution or older entry-level GPU. The new GeForce GT 240, features a GPU outfitted with 96 processor cores, 8 ROP units, and 32 texture filtering units. In addition, the GT 240 GPU is manufactured using a 40nm process, it features a GDDR5 memory controller (that's also compatible with GDDR3), and unlike NVIDIA's current high-end GPUs, the GT 240 is DirectX 10.1 compatible.

Although its specifications aren't terribly high-end in light of NVIDIA's more powerful GeForces, the GT 240 is actually more advanced than its counterparts in a number of respects. The GeForce GT 240's full list of specifications are below, followed by some images of the first retail-ready GT 240 to arrive in the lab, which came by way of Zotac...


Zotac's GeForce GT 240 AMP! Edition

NVIDIA GeForce GT 240
Specifications and Features


As you can see in the list above, NVIDIA's reference specifications for the GeForce GT 240 call for a 550MHz GPU clock, with shaders clocked at 1360MHz, and either GDDR3 memory clocked at 1GHz or GDDR5 memory clocked at 1.7GHz. At those specifications, the card offers peak textured fillrate of 17.6GTexels/s with 32GB/s (GDDR3) or 54.4GB/s (GDDR5). Also note the total board power, which is nice and low. Idle power of the GT 240 is rated at only 9 watts and peak power is only 70 watts. As such, the GeForce GT 240 doesn't require any supplimentel power.

  

  

   
Zotac's GeForce GT 240 AMP! Edition

The Zotac GeForce GT 240 AMP! Edition we received for testing is somewhat of an upgrade from NVIDIA's reference design. Zotac's offering sports a 600MHz core, with 1460MHz shaders, and 512MB of 2000MHz GDDR5 memory (4000MHz effective).  The cooler on the card is is relatively large and covers the GPU and memory on the front side of the card, with a cooling fan right in middle. It is only a single-slot solution and proved to be relatively quiet during testing.  Outputs on the card consist of single HDMI, VGA, and dual-link DVI outputs, of which two can be used simultaneously.

Zotac's bundle for their GeForce GT 240 AMP! Edition consists of user's and quick-installation guides, a placard listing offers for a number of CUDA-accelerated applications like Badaboom abd vReveal, a driver CD, case badge, an HDMI-to-DVI adapter, and even a pair of 3D glasses.

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Test Setup and Vantage

HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEM: We tested the graphics cards in this article on an Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 motherboard powered by a Core i7 965 quad-core processor and 6GB of OCZ DDR3 RAM. The first thing we did when configuring the test system was enter the system BIOS and set all values to their "optimized" or "high performance" default settings. Then we manually configured the memory timings and disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows 7 Ultimate x64 was installed. When the installation was complete we fully updated the OS and installed the latest hotfixes, along with the necessary drivers and applications.

HotHardware's Test Systems
Core i7 Powered

Hardware Used:
Core i7 965 (3.2GHz)

Gigabyte EX58-UD5 (X58 Express)

Radeon HD 5770
Radeon HD 5750
Zotac GeForce GT 240 AMP!
GeForce GTX 285
GeForce GTX 260 Core 216

6GB OCZ DDR3-1333
Western Digital Raptor 150GB
Integrated Audio
Integrated Network

Relevant Software:
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
ATI Catalyst v9.10b
NVIDIA GeForce Drivers v195.50

Benchmarks Used:

3DMark Vantage v1.0.1
H.A.W.X.
Left 4 Dead*
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars v1.5*

* - Custom benchmark

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
Synthetic DirectX Gaming


3DMark Vantage

The latest version of Futuremark's synthetic 3D gaming benchmark, 3DMark Vantage, is specifically bound to Windows Vista-based systems because it uses some advanced visual technologies that are only available with DirectX 10, which y isn't available on previous versions of Windows.  3DMark Vantage isn't simply a port of 3DMark06 to DirectX 10 though.  With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, in addition to support for the latest PC hardware.  We tested the graphics cards here with 3DMark Vantage's Extreme preset option, which uses a resolution of 1920x1200 with 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering.





The Zotac GeForce GT 240 AMP! Edition card put up some respectable numbers in 3DMark Vantage, but it didn't come close to catching the Radeon HD 5750. The more expensive cards had even larger performance advantages, of course.

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Emeny Territory: Quake Wars


 

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
OpenGL Gaming Performance


Enemy Territory:
Quake Wars

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is Based on a radically enhanced version of id's Doom 3 engine and viewed by many as Battlefield 2 meets the Strogg, and then some.  In fact, we'd venture to say that id took EA's team-based warfare genre up a notch or two.  ET: Quake Wars also marks the introduction of John Carmack's "Megatexture" technology that employs large environment and terrain textures that cover vast areas of maps without the need to repeat and tile many smaller textures.  The beauty of megatexture technology is that each unit only takes up a maximum of 8MB of frame buffer memory.  Add to that HDR-like bloom lighting and leading edge shadowing effects and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars looks great, plays well and works high end graphics cards vigorously.  The game was tested with all of its in-game options set to their maximum values with soft particles enabled in addition to 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering.




The more expensive cards had obvious performance advantages here, but the Zotac GeForce GT 240 AMP! Edition handled ET:QW without issue. At resolutions of 1920x1200 and lower, this game is perfectly playable on NVIDIA's new mainstream part.

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Left 4 Dead

Left 4 Dead
DirectX Gaming Performance


Left 4 Dead

Left 4 Dead is a co-operative, survival horror, first-person shooter that was developed by Turtle Rock Studios, which was purchased by Valve part-way into development. Like Half Life 2, the game uses the Source engine, however, the visual in L4D are far superior to anything seen in the Half Life universe to date. The game pits four Survivors of an apocalyptic pandemic against hordes of aggressive zombies. We tested the game at resolutions of 1,920 x 1,200 and 2,560 x 1,600 with 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering enabled and all in game graphical options set to their maximum values.





The Zotac GeForce GT 240 AMP! Edition performed relatively well in Left 4 Dead. While it couldn't keep pace with the more expensive cards, it did put up playable framerates at 1680x1050 and 1920x1200. And had we lowered the image quality settings, 2560x1600 could have been a possibility as well.

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Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.
DirectX Gaming Performance


Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. is an aerial warfare video game that takes place during the time of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter.  Players have the opportunity to take the throttle of over 50 famous aircrafts in both solo and 4-player co-op missions, and take them over real world locations and cities in photo-realistic environments created with the best commercial satellite data provided by GeoEye.  We used the built-in performance test at two resolutions with all quality settings set to their highest values, using the DX10 code path for the GeForce cards, and DX10.1 path for the Radeons.



The Zotac GeForce GT 240 AMP! Edition handled the H.A.W.X. benchmark fairly well at the two lower resolutions, especially considering its mainstream price point. 2560x1600 was out of reach, but we don't expect many 30" LCD owners will be in the market for a card like the GT 240.

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Power Consumption

Before bringing this article to a close, we'd like to cover a few final data points--namely power consumption and noise. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored how much power our test system was consuming using a power meter. Our goal was to give you all an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idling and while under a heavy workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here, not just the power being drawn by the graphics cards alone.

Total System Power Consumption
Tested at the Outlet


 

 
NVIDIA claims the GeForce GT 240 is a low-power solution, and they are correct. The Zotac GeForce GT 240 AMP! Edition consumed far less power than any of the reference cards, whether under idle or load conditions.

We should also note that the Zotac GeForce GT 240 AMP! Edition was virtually silent throughout testing. At no point during our benchmark session did the cooling fan spin up to a point that was audible over the other system components.

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Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The Zotac GeForce GT 240 AMP! Edition performed well in our testing, considering its mainstream price point. The card wasn't quite able to catch its more expensive competition, but for less than ~$100, the Zotac GeForce GT 240 AMP! Edition is a decent performer. It handled all of the games we tested at 1680x1050 and 1920x1200 with 4x anti-aliasing and 16x aniso (where applicable) without issue, and nearly put up playable framerates at 2560x1600, which is no small feat for a mainstream graphics card.

 

The vast majority of graphics cards sold today fall into the more mainstream price segments that reside below the $200 mark. And it's in this space that GPU manufacturers move a multitude of units and bring in significant revenue. NVIDIA was in need of a mainstream update that delivered good performance, with low power consumption, at a competitive price. And the GeForce GT 240 does just that.


NVIDIA's Reference GeForce GT 240

The GeForce GT 240 isn't a world beater, but then again, it wasn't meant to be. The GeForce GT 240 is meant to sit between the more affordable GeForce GT 220 and the higher-end GeForce 9800 GT, and in that segment it does just fine. If you can afford a somewhat larger investment, we'd recommend looking into a DX11 card like the Radeon HD 5750 which outperformed the GeForce GT 240 across the board, but if you absolutely must stay under $100, the GT 240 is a solid offering that is worlds better than any integrated solution. And it would make for a great dedicated PhsyX solution too.

The GeForce GT 240 will be available immediately for under $99.

     
  • Low Power Consumption
  • CUDA and PhysX
  • Competitive Pricing
  • Quiet Operation

 

  • OK Performance
  • DX10.1 in a DX11 World (almost)



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