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Galaxy GeForce GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card

Today we see the new GTS 250 launched, which is a merely a relabeled 9800 GTX+, which is simply an overclocked 9800 GTX.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Sun, Mar 1 2009 11:00 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:04 PM CST
Rating: 93%Manufacturer: Galaxy

Introduction


Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card



Today we see the release of the GTS 250. Now, we're not going to sugarcoat it; this card is a 9800 GTX+ which we saw come out around August of last year. The thing about the 9800 GTX+, however, is that it's nothing more than an overclocked 9800 GTX, which was a card we saw released at the end of March last year.

What you have here is essentially a 12 month old card with some increased clocks. We're not sure if NVIDIA wanted to celebrate the 9800 GTX birthday by re-releasing, but for whatever reason we have a new name on what is really a 12 month old card.

That's all the cynical comments, though; there are pros to a rehashed card. For starters, at launch there's no reason there should be any issues with the card, since it's been around so long. There's of course also the price which should be a lot more attractive than when it launched. And finally, if it ain't broke, why fix it?!

These are the kind of things we're going to cover when we rap the review up with our final thoughts. But for now, let's have a look at the package before checking out the card itself and its performance.

The Package




Upon checking out the Galaxy box, we can see the name across the top of the box while the middle is taken up mainly by a picture of a spider on a web. Here we can also see the Xtreme Tuner sticker, which is Galaxy's own overclocking software.

Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Across the bottom of the box we have a number of logos, one of which is a new one. We can see that there is mention of this card being 3D Vision ready, which is of course the new 3D gaming technology released a few months ago. To make use of it, though, you will need the glasses and a compatible monitor. Moving along the bottom of the box, we also see that the card is HDMI ready and we of course see the model mentioned and the fact that the card comes with 1GB of GDDR3 memory on a 256-bit memory bus.

Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Turning the box over, we've just got a bit of information on the technology present in the GPU and what it's capable of. We also have a bit of a blurb on PhysX and a run-down on SLI and what's needed to get it going.

Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Moving inside the package, we've got a fair bit going on here. Apart from the standard manual and driver disc, we have the Xtreme Tuner software that we saw mentioned on the front of the box along with a user guide on how to operate it. Finally, we have another piece of paper that lets us know how the HDMI loop-back cable works.

Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


In the cable department we have two dual molex to 6-pin PCI Express power connectors, an S-Video TV-Out cable, S/PDIF cable to get sound through a HDMI port and also a S-Video to Component convertor.

The Card




Looking at the card for the first time, we can see another reason why rehashed models aren't a bad idea. Because they've been around for so long, there are usually some good aftermarket coolers available by now.

Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


In this case Galaxy has taken advantage of that and decide to use an Arctic Cooling Accelero Twin Turbo cooler, which you can clearly see packs dual fans along with a number of copper heat-pipes protruding from the bottom. Behind the two fans we can see all the aluminum fins which help get the hot air away from the GPU.

Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Having a closer look at the card, we can see that it uses dual 6-pin PCI Express connectors for its power. Just behind the cable we also have another small connector that is used in with the SP/DIF loop-back cable to get sound through the HDMI port.

Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Closer to the front of the card we have two SLI connectors; what this means is that we can have up to three of these cards running at the same time. This might be a bit difficult, though, with the cooler taking up just over two slots.

Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Finally, looking at the I/O side of things we can see that Galaxy has missed it up a bit. While we do have the standard Dual-Link DVI connector and TV-Out port, Galaxy has also taken the time to place a native HDMI port on this card.


Specifications

As you would expect, the GTS 250 uses the same clock speeds as the 9800 GTX+. As you can see below, we have a core clock of 738MHz while the shader comes in at 1836MHz and the 1GB of GDDR3 memory comes clocked in at 2200MHz DDR.

Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


It was interesting to see that Galaxy didn't choose to overclock the card, since they had gone to so much effort to install a new cooler on it and change the I/O side of things. If you do want to overclock, though, you can fire up Xtreme Tuner and do it yourself.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage


Test System Setup

Processor(s): Intel 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 OCZ Technology PC-12800 DDR-3 8-8-8-24 (OCZ3G1600LV6GK)
Hard Disk(s): Western Digital 300GB Velicorapter (Supplied by Western Digital)
Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista SP1 64-Bit
Drivers: Catalyst 9.1, Forceware 182.06


Today we'll take the time to see how the GTS 250 performs against the HD 4850 and HD 4870 from ATI, while also seeing just how far it sits behind its big brother, the GTX 260.


3DMark Vantage

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.


Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


In our first test we see that the GTS 250 really does fall to the back of the pack. It even falls behind the HD 4850 in both settings here.

Benchmarks - PT Boats: Knights of the Sea


PT Boats: Knights of the Sea

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Developer Homepage: http://en.akella.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.pt-boats.net/





PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a naval action simulator that places gamers in charge of a mosquito fleet of the Allied Forces, Russia or Germany during the height of World War II.

Using the latest Direct X 10 technology PT Boards - Knights of the Sea manages to apply a lot of stress to the components of today which in turn gives us quite an intensive benchmark.


Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


The NVIDIA favored PT Boats paints a different picture with the new GTS 250 performing well and at the highest resolution it's able to outperform both HD offerings from ATI.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10


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).


Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Under CINEBENCH we see all but the HD 4870 performing very close to each other, with very little separating them.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
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) and the Xbox 360.

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 is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.


Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Under WIC we see performance is very similar to the HD 4870 with it being only slightly behind at the playable resolutions. We can see that the GTX 260 offers a good boost in performance, though; especially at the higher resolution.

Benchmarks - Crysis Warhead


Crysis Warhead

Version and / or Patch Used: unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Airfield
Developer Homepage: http://www.crytek.com
Product Homepage: http://crysiswarhead.ea.com/
Buy It Here




Crysis Warhead updates and refines the gameplay of the original game through a sidestory plot involving Psycho, one of previous protagonist Nomad's allies. The game is a parallel story that follows Sergeant Michael "Psycho" Sykes, a character from the original Crysis, as he faces his own trials and challenges on the other side of the island during the time period of the first game.

It also showcases a new, enhanced and optimized version of CryEngine 2 using full DX10 extensions and is the first game developed by Crytek's Budapest studio.

Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Under Warhead we again see the GTS 250 perform well against the HD 4870 with it coming out in front for the most part.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2


Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
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.


Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Looking at Far Cry 2, we again see that the GTS 250 is able to beat out the HD 4870 once again at certain points. Both cards are playable at these settings at up to 1920 x 1200. While the GTS 250 is slightly faster at 2560 x 1600, its minimum is just too low to make it enjoyable.

Benchmarks - S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky


S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.5.07
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.gsc-game.com/
Product Homepage: http://cs.stalker-game.com/en/
Buy It Here




S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, is the stand-alone prequel for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, a first-person shooter computer game by Ukrainian developer GSC Game World.[3] The game consists of a roughly 50/50 mix of new areas and old, remodeled areas from the previous game. The X-ray graphics engine has been updated to version 1.5 and includes DirectX 10 support (later patch 1.5.06 included DirectX 10.1). Additionally, the AI received an overhaul to accommodate the new faction wars feature.

Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Clear Sky has always favored the ATI offerings and here is no different. We can see that the GTS 250 does fall to the back of the pack and for the most part we can see that the HD 4850 is able to beat out the GTX 260.

Benchmarks - Left 4 Dead


Left 4 Dead

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.l4d.com/
Buy It Here




Left 4 Dead uses the latest version of Valve's Source engine, with improvements such as multi-core processor support and physics-based animation to more realistically portray hair and clothing, and to improve physics interaction with enemies when shot or shoved in different body parts. Animation was also improved to allow characters to lean realistically when moving in curved paths.

Rendering and artificial intelligence were scaled up to allow for greater number of enemies who can navigate the world in better ways, such as climbing, jumping or breaking obstacles. Lighting has been enhanced with new self-shadowing normal mapping and advanced shadow rendering that is important to convey information about the environment and player actions.

Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Under Left 4 Dead this is the first time we have seen the GTS 250 get a clear loss in a game that doesn't favor either manufacturer.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF


High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.


Far Cry 2

Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Cranking up the AA and AF, we see the ATI offerings fall to their knees and the NVIDIA ones really shining, including the GTS 250.


World In Conflict

Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Under WIC we find the HD 4850 and GTS 250 perform similar with the HD 4850 just pulling out the win.


Left 4 Dead

Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Under L4D we again see the ATI offerings come out ahead; nothing changes when we turn on AA and AF.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict - XP


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
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) and the Xbox 360.

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 is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.

Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Moving over to XP and looking at WIC, we see the GTS 250 again performing well with it beating out the ATI offerings in the more important minimum FPS category.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2 - XP


Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
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.


Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Under XP we can see that the HD 4870 gets the jump on the GTS 250, but the card does still hold the lead over the HD 4850 here.

Benchmarks - S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky - XP


S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.5.07
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.gsc-game.com/
Product Homepage: http://cs.stalker-game.com/en/
Buy It Here




S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, is the stand-alone prequel for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, a first-person shooter computer game by Ukrainian developer GSC Game World.[3] The game consists of a roughly 50/50 mix of new areas and old, remodeled areas from the previous game. The X-ray graphics engine has been updated to version 1.5 and includes DirectX 10 support (later patch 1.5.06 included DirectX 10.1). Additionally, the AI received an overhaul to accommodate the new faction wars feature.

Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Clear Sky again sees the ATI cards shine and the NVIDIA ones fall to the back of the pack.

Temperature and Sound Tests


Temperature 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.


Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Compared to the HD 4870, the GTS 250 temps are pretty good and under 60c is a good place to be.


Sound Tests



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).


Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


The big cooler does a good job of keeping the noise level down with it being the quietest card under load.

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.


Galaxy GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Based on older technology, the card does draw a fair bit of power, but it's still not quite as high as the HD 4870.

Final Thoughts




The first thing we have to talk about here is the price. When the 9800 GTX launched almost 12 months ago, it was $300 to $350. Today a 9800 GTX+ can be had for as low as $160. You just have to look at the performance as well to know that it's excellent value. For the most part the GTS 250 is able to offer you a good gaming experience with high to very high detail at up to 1920 x 1200.

You have to wonder, why should NVIDIA spend time and money creating a new graphics card for the $160 - $220 market when they can use a card that was released 12 months ago? - Yes, they could have just dropped the price of the card again, but then it wouldn't get the attention a new "model" would get.

The main thing to remember is if you have a 9800 GTX, don't buy a GTS 250; you're just not going to see a performance increase. If you're running off something older, however, and you want a new graphics card around the $200 mark, the GTS 250 / 9800 GTX+ is a great option. The card does represent very good value considering the HD 4870 starts at around $200.

Sure, it does fall back a few times; under Vantage it goes to the back of the pack and Clear Sky shows it struggling, but that's not uncommon with NVIDIA cards under that benchmark. We also see under L4D it does fall back a little as well; but under some of the top games like Far Cry 2, Crysis Warhead and World in Conflict, it pulls out some good wins and even beats out the more expensive HD 4870.

It's a pain that NVIDIA has started a bit of a trend with this whole rehashed name thing, but at the end of the day if you're getting a good deal, who are you really to complain? - Plus, let's face it; saying you have a GTS 250 versus a 9800 GTX+ does sound cooler.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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