I made a mistake! I hate to admit it, but with the HD 5970 launching so close to the new GT 240 my focus was on the new high-end model from ATI. While in the process of making sure I had a pair of them, I found myself doing a bit of a "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" to a few companies that wanted to send the GT 240.
It's not that we don't like low-end cards here, it's just that we tend to look at one or two at launch time and then not worry about them much thereon. To be frank, most people don't find them very interesting.
What my "Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs" ultimately resulted in was having a grand total of six GT 240s in my possession. While we made sure one review was ready for the NDA lift, it didn't really solve the issue of covering the remaining five. So what we've done today is get the rest of them together, take some photos, look at some specifications and benchmark them to see if Palit, Galaxy, GIGABYTE, AXLE and TwinTech can offer us something a bit more exciting.
Being a round up, we won't be going into huge details on the cards themselves. We'll have a quick look at the package before doing a quick once over on the card itself. From there we'll have a quick look at the specifications and move onto the next card. Our benchmarking procedure has also slightly changed, but we'll cover that under the Test System Setup.
So with more GT 240s than I can poke a PCI-E slot at, let's look at our first one and see what exactly we have going on here today.
Palit GT 240 1GB Sonic
In typical fashion there's not a whole lot going on with this package. We've got the standard Palit box layout, while inside we find no extra cables or anything, just a quick installation guide along with a driver CD.
Having a look at the card, we've got that typical trademark red PCB from the company. The cooler doesn't look too bad, but isn't anything too fancy. Hopefully it can do something special, but we're not really holding our breath, which you'll understand when you see some of the other coolers on the other cards we have here.
As for connectivity it shares the same Dual Link DVI, VGA and native HDMI setup as all the other cards we have here today.
Like the GT 220 we looked at from Palit recently, this model also falls in as part of the Sonic series. What this means is out of the box the card's overclocked. As you can see above, we have a 585 MHz / 1424MHz / 3780MHz QDR setup. This is up from the stock 550 MHz / 1340 MHz / 3400MHz QDR setup. Unlike the other cards, this one also carries with it 1GB of GDDR5 memory, something that Palit say they're only capable of.
Galaxy GT 240 512MB
Galaxy has crammed their GT 240 into a pretty small box. We like this for two reasons, the first being that it helps keep freight costs down and the second being that it makes us look like we care about the environment and we're saving some trees by using less packaging.
Outside of the box itself there's really not much more to the whole bundle with Galaxy, like Palit, choosing to only include a manual and driver CD.
The Galaxy cooler looks mean and has some serious weight behind it for such a small card. To be honest, though, most of the look is just that, looks. Really, we've just got a standard heatsink/fan sitting under that shroud. While it might look good, we know it's not going to do anything for the cooling. We'll find out just how the heatsink/fan performs, though.
Again, as far as the I/O department goes we've got a Dual-Link DVI, VGA and native HDMI port.
While not being mentioned anywhere, the Galaxy model does seem to be overclocked out of the box. The company has chosen to only bump the 512MB of GDDR5, so instead of a 550 MHz / 1340 MHz / 3400MHz QDR setup, we have a 550 MHz / 1340 MHz / 3600MHz QDR one.
GIGABYTE GT 240 512MB
Again we have another package that doesn't hold any real surprises. We've got a pretty standard setup when it comes to box layout and inside we've again just got a manual and driver CD.
Looking at the card, we can see GIGABYTE have a pretty funky looking cooler going on. Again, though, like the Galaxy one we understand the shroud around it for the most part is just decorative. They have chosen to include an 80mm fan, however, which should help keep temperatures down, which we'll find out for sure soon enough.
As far as connectivity, there are again no changes with a Dual-Link DVI, VGA and native HDMI port included on the card.
Unlike the other two GT 240s we've looked at so far, this one is completely stock when it comes to clocks. That means we've got a 550 MHz / 1340 MHz / 3400MHz QDR setup. So with that said, let's move onto our next GT 240.
AXLE GT 240 512MB
We've heard of AXLE, but haven't had the pleasure of dealing with them until today. Looking at the box, there isn't anything out of the unusual with the most standout bit being the mention that the card comes with an Arctic Cooling cooler. Like the rest of the cards, though, inside is just a manual and driver CD.
While the cooler being used isn't one we've seen before, it does carry the typical AC design that we've become accustomed to seeing. It's pretty big, has heaps of fins and looks pretty mean.
Like everyone else, AXLE has the same setup as far as connections go with the Dual-Link DVI, VGA and native HDMI port.
Checking out the specifications, you won't find anything out of the ordinary here with the model carrying the default 550 MHz / 1340 MHz / 3400MHz QDR clocks.
TwinTech GT 240 512MB
It's been a while since we've seen anything from TwinTech, but it's nice to see that the company still uses the metal package. It's just nice to see something a bit different than the norm. As for the contents, there's nothing we haven't already seen with TwinTech including a driver CD and manual only.
Having a look at our final card, there's nothing we haven't really seen from the other models. We've got quite a large cooler sitting over the top of the GPU. TwinTech decided not to add any kind of shroud, so while it doesn't look all that exciting, it's sure to just do its job.
Connectivity like the rest of the bunch also holds no surprises with the same Dual-Link DVI, VGA and native HDMI port that is seen on all the other cards.
As for the specifications of the model, there's nothing here that we haven't seen in the last two cards with the clocks coming in at the reference speeds which mean 550MHz on the core, 1340MHz on the shader and 3400MHz QDR on the 512MB of GDDR5 memory.
Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage
Test System Setup
Processor(s): Intel Core i7 920 @ 3.8GHz (190MHz x 20)
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P (Supplied by Noctua)
Motherboard(s): GIGABYTE EX58-UD5 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)
Memory: 3 X 2GB Kingston Hyper X PC3-16000 2000MHz DDR CL9 (Supplied by Kingston)
Hard Disk(s): Western Digital 640GB SATA 2.0 HDD (Supplied by Western Digital)
Operating System: Windows 7
Drivers: ForceWare 195.55
With the cards being a bit slower than some of the more regular cards we test like the higher NVIDIA ones, we've made a few changes to our benchmark line-up. While we're still including all our new programs, we've chosen to only bench at 1680 x 1050.
This is the main resolution these cards are able to play at, so it seemed pointless to really test any higher. In saying that, we've left all our game presets the same which means they're between High and Maxed Out, depending on the game. We'll make a note when it comes to a game and how much lower we would need to go in detail level to smoothen out the frame rate if need be.
It probably also comes as no surprise that we've dropped our AA and AF tests for the exact same reasons as above. We've still got a fully loaded line-up including new games like Resident Evil 5 and Batman Arkham Asylum along with NVIDIAs own video converting tool, Badaboom.
Let's get started!
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here
3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.
3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.
We can see the three stock clocked cards all perform very close to each other. The Galaxy offers us a little bit more performance with the extra bump in memory speed, while the Palit comes out on top thanks to its core and memory clocks being increased.
Unigine Heaven Benchmark (DX10)
Unigine Heaven Benchmark
Version and / or Patch Used: 1
Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com
Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/products/unigine
New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.
Note: If a card doesn't support DirectX 11 the benchmark will be left out. If it does it will be included along with the DirectX 10 results.
Direct X 10
Our top three stock clocked cards again perform very close to each other. Again, though, the Galaxy offering with its bumped memory clock gives us a slight boost while the Palit offering gives us the biggest thanks to the higher clocks, not just on the memory, but also the core.
Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10
Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net
CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.
MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).
There's not much between the five cards thanks to CINEBENCH not making any use of an overclocked card.
Benchmarks - Badaboom
Version and / or Patch Used: Release 188.8.131.52
Developer Homepage: http://www.nvidia.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.badaboomit.com/
Badaboom eliminates the frustration of video conversion by providing users with speed, efficiency, quality, and a sleek interface. In a practice that used to take several hours, Badaboom converts feature-length movies in a matter of minutes while keeping the videos looking crisp and clear.
By harnessing the power of NVIDIA CUDA-enabled GPUs, Badaboom offloads the CPU to allow users to continue browsing the Internet or checking email without decreased system performance, making transcoding high-quality video fast, easy, and painless.
Note: With the requirement for a CUDA enabled graphics card to run Badaboom, this means that we can only use NVIDIA based cards for this test.
We convert an AVI version of The Lion King that comes in at 851MB to a 2500kbps 1.4GB MP4 for the iPhone. While we understand that the MP4 version of the file is bigger, we've chosen the maximum bit rate simply to put the most amount of pressure on the cards we test.
We can see that all but one model comes in at over 10 minutes. The extra MHz on offer from the Palit Sonic version of the model gives us a nice little boost in encoding times.
Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5
Resident Evil 5
Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com
Product Homepage: http://www.residentevil.com
Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.
Getting into the real world games, we can see what we've seen in our earlier synthetic tests. The stock clocked offerings all perform quite close to each other. The increase in memory clock from Galaxy gives it a slight edge while the Palit and its increased clocks in both memory and core give it the win.
With no minimum, we want to see an average of around 60 FPS and we're close, but backing off slightly from our max in-game settings should lift it with no real dramas.
Benchmarks - Far Cry 2
Far Cry 2
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.03
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com
Buy It Here
The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.
The top four cards here perform all quite close to each other. The only card that shows us any real difference is from Palit and again that's thanks to the company choosing to overclock both the core and memory.
We're still a good chunk away from the 30 FPS minimum we want, a decent drop in detail or a lesser drop and a move back in resolution should fix the issue and bring us a lot closer to that 30 FPS minimum we want to see.
Benchmarks - World in Conflict
World in Conflict
Version and / or Patch Used: 184.108.40.206
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.massive.se
Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com
World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10).
The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game that is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards. We use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.
WIC hasn't always played nicely with overclocked cards and here is no different. While the top four cards all perform within an FPS of each other, the Palit GT 240 Sonic which carries with it the highest clocks falls back a little.
Moving to medium or dropping the resolution here should bring the minimum FPS up to the 30 mark which is what you really want for the smoother game play.
Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum
Batman Arkham Asylum
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.rocksteadyltd.com
Product Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com
Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.
Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.
Note: With support for PhysX NVIDIA based cards will be tested with the technology on and off, while ATI cards will be tested with the technology off due to it not being supported on their cards.
Across the board we get some good frame rates with the worst being a minimum of 40 FPS coming from the stock clocked cards, which is still plenty. Galaxy and their slightly overclocked RAM gives us a slight boost while again the Sonic model from Palit which is clocked the highest comes out on top.
Benchmarks - Darkest of Days
Darkest of Days
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.phantomefx.com
Product Homepage: http://www.darkestofdays.com
Darkest of Days takes the player through time into historic battles in an effort to save key individuals from certain death. The battles range from Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 to fighting in Pompeii as ash and fire rain down from an erupting Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Other locations include the battles of Antietam and Tannenberg, and a German World War II P.O.W. camp. There are different missions in every time period and the game takes about 4 hours to complete.
The game features over twenty weapons, both from the original time period as well as those brought back from the future. In addition, there are artillery weapons from different time periods to assist in battle.
Note: With the PhysX set to Medium or High, Darkest of Days takes advantage of the NVIDIA PhysX abilities. For that reason we will test ATI cards at the Low preset, while NVIDIA based cards will be tested at Low and High.
PhysX set to Low
Darkest of Days is pretty intensive and as we mentioned before, with no minimum we want to see an average of around 60 FPS. Again, the Palit manages to pull out the win due to its highest clock speeds. You're going to want to drop the detail back a bit on all models, however.
Benchmarks - BattleForge
Version and / or Patch Used: Auto Patched at Load
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.ea.com
Product Homepage: http://www.battleforge.com
The Gods have disappeared and the old sun has died, letting a vile twilight engulf the world of Nyn. In exchange for all treasures the mortals possessed, the evil giants agreed to forge a new sun and hurl it into the sky.
But the deal was betrayed, the treasure stolen and now the mortals flee the wrath of the giants. Under the light of a new sun the mortals stumble into a world changed and twisted by an age of twilight. The long journey home has become a conquest of survival.
Note: Supporting DirectX 11, we have separated the graphs for NVIDIA and ATI cards. While the numbers between the two brands can be compared, you have to make note that ATI based HD 5000 series cards are running DirectX 11.
DirectX 10 (NVIDIA and Older ATI Cards Only)
BattleForge is extremely intensive. If we were looking at minimums we would be happy, but unfortunately we're not. While the Palit comes out ahead and the Galaxy falls a little behind that, you're going to find yourself dropping the detail and resolution in this game.
Temperature and Sound Tests
With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).
There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.
The Arctic Cooling on the AXLE card is doing wonders for the temperature, keeping it way down. The TwinTech, GIGABYTE and Galaxy are all fairly close to each other while the Palit does manage to run a good chunk warmer than the other cards. Mind you, 54c isn't anything we would be worried about anyway.
Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.
After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).
Those cool numbers from AXLE come at the cost of some serious noise. The Arctic Cooling heatsink/fan screams along. Both the TwinTech and Galaxy cards sit quite close together while the Palit noise levels are a fair bit lower than both of them.
The quietest card comes from GIGABYTE which managed to still put out some reasonable temperatures.
Power Consumption Tests
Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).
There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.
The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.
So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.
Apart from the Palit offering which seems to draw a bit more power at load, all the cards sit fairly close together in both load and idle power draw. Nothing we would be worrying about at all with the system load being only around 200 Watts.
Before we wrap it all up, let's first have a quick rundown on each model and see what exactly our thoughts are on them individually.
Palit GT 240 1GB Sonic: It came as no surprise that the Palit offering was going to come out on top thanks to the extra MHz on offer in both the core and memory department. The biggest problem with the card was the amount of heat it generated. Saying that, though, the numbers weren't concerning, but it's something worth noting.
This seems to be a bit of a trade off for the high out of the box speeds; there's no doubt that if you want a fast out of the box GT 240, the 1GB GDDR5 model from Palit is the best option.
Galaxy GT 240 512MB OC: The extra boost in memory clocks gives the card a small performance increase over the stock models. We wouldn't get too excited, but if you want a bit more out of the box power, it's not a bad card.
From the looks perspective it does have one of the coolest looking coolers and while it's a little louder than the quietest ones we have, it's not the loudest and still manages to keep our core temperature at a reasonable level. What Galaxy brings to the table at the end of it all is one of the best valued GT 240s.
GIGABYTE GT 240 512MB: Probably one of the dark horses out of the pack. The cooler, while looking nice, I thought wouldn't do all that much when it came to cooling ability. What it managed to do, however, is offer some good temperatures at excellent noise levels.
If you're looking for a high quality GT 240 that's going to be whisper quiet, this is the model worth looking at. The only card similar to it when looking at noise levels is the Palit model which manages to come in considerably warmer.
AXLE GT 240 512MB: If noise isn't an issue for you and you just want something that's going to run cool, this is going to be the GT 240 for you. The temperatures we pulled off the card give us a whole lot of faith when it comes to overclocking the model.
If you're trying to avoid noise levels, you want to avoid this card. But if you want something that's going to run cool and look even cooler, the Arctic Cooling AXLE GT 240 could well be the card for you.
TwinTech GT 240 512MB: There's not a whole lot that stands out with the TwinTech GT 240; it really sits under the radar a bit. Pricing is pretty good, performance is what you would expect, noise levels sit nicely in the middle and so do the temperatures.
What you really have here is a good all round GT 240 that manages to do well in everything, but not really stand out when compared to some of the other cards which run cooler, louder and faster. If you're looking for a good, solid GT 240 and like the cooler design that TwinTech is offering us, this is a great pick up. If you want to spend more you can get a higher clocked model, or something that runs a bit cooler. But if you don't, this is a fantastic option.
If you're looking for a GT 240, the chances are we've got something here for you. We're so glad that we didn't end up with two cards that were the same. Out of the five, they all have their own individual strengths.
If you want something quiet, look at the GIGABYTE offering. If noise isn't an issue but you want something that's going to be cool running, then check out the AXLE one. Want something that's a bit faster out of the box and looks mean? The Galaxy offering is nice and if you want even more out of the box power and double the amount of memory, check out the Palit version. If you're not sure exactly what you want or need, check out the TwinTech which is a good value card that goes well in most regards.
This really could've been one of those round-ups that has five cards that carry with them the same cooler and clocks. But I'm so glad that the models that arrived have been mixed up in one way or another, be it overclocked or something fancy in the cooling department.
All the models offer us something, be it Value, Features or Performance which means the awards for each card are deserved. You just need to decide which award is more important. Once you've done that you'll probably have found the GT 240 most suitable for you.
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