Zotac GeForce GT 240 Review

Posted on Feb 21 2010 - 5:48am by daniel

zotac-card

GeForce GT 240

ATI has been plugging the low-end mainstream market of their 5 series DirectX 11 cards with the launch of several cards: the HD 5450, HD 5570 and HD 5670 are the most recent additions. With Nvidia’s Fermi launch still several weeks away, the GT 240 bolsters the GTX-200 series and hopes to take the fight to ATI’s previous generation star of the graphics world without extra PCI-e power connections – the Radeon HD 4670.

Although a lower performance chip, the Zotac GeForce GT 240 is actually considered more advanced than many of its predecessors in the GTX-200 range. For starters, it’s DirectX 10.1 compliant as well as GeForce 3D-vision ready but perhaps the jewel in the crown is the GDDR5 memory support. Theoretically, this gives double memory bandwidth per clock allowing the GT 240 to compete in terms of memory bandwidth with cards using GDDR3 and a 256-bit memory interface as well as keeping costs down.

Today’s GeForce GT 240 comes courtesy of the vendor Zotac; introducing the Zotac GeForce GT 240 512MB graphics card…

Features

  • NVIDIA GeForce Cuda: NVIDIA GeForce series graphics processors are the epitome of graphics performance, and deliver phenomenal frame rates with stunning visuals in the latest 3D games and applications.
  • NVIDIA PureVideo HD: NVIDIA PureVideo HD technology empowers ZOTAC GeForce-series graphics cards with HD playback capabilities for vivid visuals and hardware decoding of Blu-ray disk formats.
  • Firestorm: ZOTAC Firestorm allows users to fine tune their graphics card to extract maximum performance from ZOTAC GeForce 8, 9 and GTX series graphics cards by enabling users to overclock GPU engine, memory and shader clock speeds and GPU fan-speed.

Specifications

Model ZT-20403-10L
Interface PCI Express 2.0 x16 (Compatible with 1.1)
Chipset Manufacturer NVIDIA®
GPU GeForce® GT 240
Core Clock 550MHz
Stream Processors 96
Shader Clock 1340MHz
Memory Clock 2000MHz
Memory Size 512MB
Memory Interface 128-bit
Memory Type DDR3
DirectX DirectX 10.1
OpenGL OpenGL 3.1
DVI Port 1
HDMI Port 1
VGA Port 1
Tuner None
RAMDAC 400MHz
Max Resolution 2560 x 1600
RoHS Compliant Yes
SLI Supported No
Cooler Active (With fan)
Dual-Link DVI Supported Yes
Windows Vista Certified for Windows Vista

Zotac GeForce GT 240 512MB

The packaging is typical Zotac with an orange and black box giving rise to a muscular, gold-emblazoned figure with shining eyes. The enclosed accessory bundle is also what you’d expect with a card from this price range: a couple of different manuals, driver CD and a DVI to HDMI adapter.

zotac-gt-240-pack

With the card GeForce 3D-vision ready, a set of Nvidia 3D glasses are found within the box too but I hasten to add they’re not the same pair of active LCD shutter glasses from the 3D vision kit – that really would have been an impressive freebie.

Visually the card looks great with its silver heatsink and orange fan sitting atop the black PCB (emphasising the vendor if it wasn’t already clear). As a single-slot card, the aluminium heatsink is relatively low profile with just four spring-screws required to attach it securely. The active cooler covers both the GPU and the memory but is only directly attached atop the GT215 chip.

The single bracket has three outputs in ascending size order starting with a HDMI port, then a VGA output and finally a DVI port.

Zotac-GT240-Outputs

 

As mentioned previously, the card does not require any additional power from PCI-e connections and so should be a big rival to the ATI Radeon HD 4670. Unfortunately, SLI configurations are not supported and so the GT 240 can only act as a standalone card. Whilst this may seem logical as most users will upgrade instead of buying a second card for an SLI setup, it is a little disappointing as many lower-end cards have included an SLI bridge connector.

Based around the same GT200 architecture as all previous members of the GTX-200 series, the GT 240 is actually a little more advanced than many of its predecessors certified for CUDA and PhysX use as well as being GeForce 3D-vision ready. It could also be considered a little ironic that the GT 240 is DirectX 10.1 compliant in light of Nvidia’s campaign a little while back classing it as “useless”.

Although the performance and features of the GeForce GT 240 are nothing new, the GT215 core is a completely new silicon chip built around a 40nm fabrication process at TSMC. The reference model has a core clock of 550MHz, 512MB of GDDR5 clocked at 1700MHz (3400MHz effective) and shaders running at 1340MHz.

Moreover, the GeForce GT 240 has four texture-processing clusters (TPCs) each with 24 steam processors and 8 texture management units (TMUs) giving a total of 96 processor (CUDA) cores. 8 Raster Operation Units (ROPs) work in unison to give the 128-bit memory interface.

Where does the GT 240 fit in?

In terms of Nvidia cards, the Zotac GT 240GT 240 should slot in between the GT 220 and the GeForce 9800GT but more importantly it should compete much more closely with ATI’s 4670 – a card which had previously dominated the mainstream market without the need for extra PCI-e power connections.

Essentially, the inclusion of GDDR5 memory in the Nvidia GeForce GT 240 should help bridge the gap between 128-bit memory interface cards (such as the GT 240) and cards with a 256-bit memory interface like the 9800GT and 9600GT cards.

Testing Procedure

The testing process for graphics cards involves an array of games and synthetic benchmarks designed to test each card over a range of game types and at a number of different graphical stress levels.

With the current most popular gaming resolution taken to be 1280×1024 and 1680×1050 for wide-screen users, it follows that these resolutions are the ones used across all forms of testing.

Each individual title has a set of specific graphics settings which benchmark the card at low, medium and high levels using the resolutions outlined above. Between each level, only one particular variable is adjusted allowing linear comparisons between each test. For example, only the Anti-Aliasing settings are changed between one such level thus allowing the effect this single variable to be seen directly instead of showing difference in frame rates from multiple adjustments of multiple variables.

Before testing is commenced, the previous graphics drivers are completely removed and the computer restarted and configured for the new video card. For every benchmark program, tests are conducted three times and an averaged result taken and displayed in the review. In the event of very inconsistent results, the test is re-run until concordance is obtained.

The Test Setup:

Processor Intel Core i7 C0 920 @ 2.66GHz
Motherboard Asus P6T SE
Graphics Card Various (See Below)
Memory OCZ Gold Triple Channel PC3-10666 @ 1333MHz, 9-9-9-24 @ 1.65v
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 500GB
Power Supply Sapphire Pure 950W
Enclosure Cooler Master ATCS-840
OS Windows Vista 64-bit SP2

Benchmark Applications

  • 3Dmark Vantage
  • Furmark
  • Crysis Warhead
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky
  • Far Cry 2
  • Dawn of War II

Graphics Cards Tested

  • Zotac GeForce GT 240 512MB (ZT-20401-10L)
  • Zotac GeForce GTS 250 AMP! 1GB (ZT-20102-10P)
  • Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 1GB (21162-00-50R)

3Dmark Vantage

3Dmark Vantage is a computer benchmarking tool creating by Futuremark and designed to test the DirectX 10 performance of a graphics card. A 3Dmark score is obtained from the test providing an overall measure of a system’s 3D gaming capabilities based on real-time 3D graphics and processor tests. A specific GPU score is also calculated from the test and it is this, alongside the 3Dmark score that are recorded in this article.

Furmark

Furmark is an intensive OpenGL Benchmark which uses fur rendering algorithms to obtain a measure for the performance of a graphics card. The fur rendering process, when adapted, is also extremely good at overheating the GPU enabling the application to be used as both a benchmark and a stability and stress test.

The benchmark has a range of variables that can be adjusted to test the cards at different levels that are similar to most games: resolution, MSAA, duration and so on. Note that a graphics card compliant with OpenGL 2.0 is required.

For this process, benchmarks were run for 60 seconds at three different levels; both minimum and average frame rates were recorded.

Crysis Warhead

Crysis Warhead is the sequel to Crysis and developed by Crytek. The game, a science fiction first-person shooter, uses the CryENGINE3 graphics engine which has set the standard in terms of graphics and texture quality with both games making for harsh tests for any graphics card.

The Airfield time demo looped three times will be used to benchmark Crysis Warhead. Each loop has a limited frame count of 2000 and so a total of 6000 frames will be run for each test of the Nvidia GeForce GT 240

STALKER: Clear Sky

Developed by the Ukrainian developer GSC Game World, the first person shooter that is S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky is the prequel to S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. Using the updated X-Ray 1.5 graphics engine, Clear Sky was originally a DirectX 10 title allowing for enhanced graphical effects including volumetric light and smoke, wet surfaces and depth of field blurring.

The 1.5.06 patch brought about the inclusion of DirectX 10.1 but it has taken latest patch (1.5.07) to get the title to an acceptably stable and finished state of affairs.

A time demo is used for testing with individual average frame rates recorded for day, night, rain and sunshafts.

Far Cry 2 (DX9)

Far Cry 2, the sequel to the initial Far Cry first-person shooter, continues the franchise from Crytek which started in 2004. Created by Ubisoft, Far Cry is now entirely independent from its creators with its own Dunia graphics engine. The engine is comparable to CryTek’s CryEngine 2 used on Crysis and supports a range of technology including dynamic weather, full day/night cycles and non-direct lighting.

The title supports both DirectX 9 and DirectX 10.0 under XP and Vista respectively. Testing was done through the internal benchmarking tool with minimum and average frame rates taken.

Far Cry 2 (DX10.0)

Far Cry 2, the sequel to the initial Far Cry first-person shooter, continues the franchise from Crytek which started in 2004. Created by Ubisoft, Far Cry is now entirely independent from its creators with its own Dunia graphics engine. The engine is comparable to CryTek’s CryEngine 2 used on Crysis and supports a range of technology including dynamic weather, full day/night cycles and non-direct lighting.

The title supports both DirectX 9 and DirectX 10.0 under XP and Vista respectively. Testing was done through the internal benchmarking tool with minimum and average frame rates taken.

Dawn of War II

Set in the world of Warhammer 40,000, Dawn of War II is the sequel to the original Dawn of War with countless unworldly beasts and monsters found with the game. DOW II is a real-time strategy game relying on tactical squad play for success to be achieved.

Created by Relic, DOW II is thought to be one of the best real-time strategies of the previous decade. Built around the Essence 2.0 graphics engine, the game allows for impressive graphics levels and high units caps during multiplayer skirmishes.

Thermal Testing & Power Consumption

To test both the thermal capabilities of the Nvidia GeForce GT 240′s cooler and the power consumption of the card, the stability and stress test (Xtreme Burning Mode) from the Furmark benchmark suite is run for 5 minutes (300 seconds) with the temperature and power consumption values recorded at the end.

Temperature readings are taken from Furmark with a power metre at the wall taking the wattage for the whole system.

Results Analysis

As expected, the Zotac GeForce GT 240 comes in well short of the HD 5850 and GTS 250 cards. Without cards such as the Radeon HD 4770, Radeon HD 4670 and 9800GT to compare against it’s difficult to gauge the performance of Nvidia’s latest budget card.

Looking just at the numbers, the card performs reasonably well at 1280×1024 resolutions and using a very crude guide of 30 frames per second for a game to be smoothly playable, the GT 240 is fine until the Anti-Aliasing levels are bumped up. When this happens, the frame rates simply drop away down to single figures in some cases. We can’t be too critical here however as this is the same for most budget cards.

Despite the cooler not looking particularly big, the delta T values are very respectable at just 12 and 42 degrees at idle and load respectively and significantly reduced from both the 5850 and GTS 250. Naturally, the power consumption figures are down too without any PCI-e connections.

Gaming aside, Nvidia’s CUDA technology is really coming on strong transforming GPUs into more general application based accelerators instead of being solely gaming orientated.

Overall, it’s a pretty strong showing for the Nvidia GeForce GT 240 and much more likely to complete in the low-end mainstream market with ATI’s budget cards. Essentially, this GPU is perfect for HTPC users with its low noise levels and low profile design.

The £70 price tag is also in the right ball park and around the same sort of level as the ATI cards.

Conclusion

Although the DirectX 11 Nvidia cards are by far and away much more highly anticipated than the GT 240, a card which has similar features and performance to that of Nvidia’s older GTX-200 series GPUs which have been out for a couple of years now, the GPU does have some merits.

As a budget card, the Zotac GeForce GT 240 512MB proves a point – Nvidia are able to produce some affordable mainstream cards that can rival the ATI competition which in recent years has dominated this end of the market. Certainly, for HTPC users and other enthusiasts using budget rigs and monitors up to about 1280×1024 resolutions, the card would slot in nicely. The inclusion of a HDMI port makes it an even more enterprising card for HTPC customers.

The overall package is well put together with everything that needs to be there in place and the added 3D vision glasses a little bonus utilising the GeForce 3D vision technology – something that previous GTX-200 series card do not feature. Indeed DirectX 10.1 is another small upgrade over the GT 240s predecessors.

At around the £70 mark, the Zotac GeForce GT 240 512MB is well priced and set on a much more even playing field with the HD 4670 and 4770 that have been out for quite some time. While we await Nvidia’s DirectX 11 offerings, the GT 240 is definitely a good card but perhaps not a great card. However, if the GPU does appeal to you, the Zotac edition is well worth considering.

Pros

  • GDDR5 memory support
  • Price point
  • Low power consumption
  • Quiet operation

Cons

  • SLI not supported
  • Still no DirectX 11 support

80

 

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