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GIGABYTE GeForce GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card

GIGABYTE has taken the time to do something different with the GTS 250. Let's see if it's enough to stand out from the pack.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Wed, Mar 18 2009 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 94%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction


GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card



We know about the GTS 250; it's nothing more than a rebranded 9800 GTX+. While this is annoying to a degree for the less experienced users who tend not to keep up with what's happening, if you are looking for something that is to be a well known contender, then the GTS 250 could well be a good choice.

Since the card is a 9800 GTX+ and it's been out for so long now, companies have been able to offer a good range of options from the word go. Today we'll have a look at what exactly GIGABYTE has done to the card and if it can stand out from the competition.

We will have a closer look at the card itself in just a moment, but before that we'll have a quick look at the package. After we've looked at the card we'll then take the time to get stuck into the benchmark side of things to see the performance of the card.

The Package




GIGABYTE has actually taken the time to revamp the package with a new darker black design which looks great. We can see that most of the box is taken up with a picture of a robot. Across the top of the box we have the brand while across the bottom we have the model along with mention of how much memory comes on the card; in this case 1GB.

GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


To the right of the box we have a couple of stickers; the GTS 250 is part of the new UDV range of graphics cards which, like GIGABYTE's motherboards, carries 2oz of copper in the PCB along with a number of other features that increase the quality of the card. We can see some of the benefits like overclock capability, temperature and power switching loss. Moving down a little more, we have another sticker which in this case makes note of the memory being overclocked.

GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Turning the box over, we have some more information about the UDV features that the card has implemented along with an example of some of the benefits. We also have a standard run down of information and logos which we've become pretty accustomed to seeing.

GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


In the paperwork department we can see that we have just a manual and also included is a driver CD. As always, though, we recommend that you head over to the NVIDIA website and grab the latest drivers.

GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


As far as cables go there isn't a whole lot to see. Along with the S/PDIF loop back cable we have a dual molex to 6-pin to PCI-E connector along with a HDMI to DVI connector.

The Card




Pulling the card out of the box, we see the Zalman cooler really stands out. The particular model we're seeing isn't one we've seen on a graphics card before and it looks pretty impressive with a number of heat pipes coming out of the bottom.

GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


If you look carefully you can see the copper base of the cooler; this helps get the hot air off the GPU and move it through the heat pipes and away from the card. Across the bottom we can see the model number, GV-N250ZL-1GB (the ZL stands for Zalman).

GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Moving around, we can see a single PCI-E connector at the back of the card. While generally speaking this isn't all that interesting, compared to the Palit and Galaxy GTS 250 we recently looked at this is only half of what these two cards required.

GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Closer to the front of the card we see a single SLI connector which is again interesting since we saw Palit and Galaxy include two of these. What this means is that you can only run two of these cards together, but this isn't really a bad thing as running a GTS 250 in Tri SLI is pretty pointless and your money would be better off spent on a single higher end card. Also, if you look carefully we can see the Zalman model mentioned; in this case the particular heatsink fan used is the "VF1050".

GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Moving to the I/O side of things, we can see that there is a Dual-Link DVI connector, VGA connector and HDMI port; an identical arrangement to the Palit and Galaxy GTS 250s. If you need dual DVI connectivity, it's worth remembering that GIGABYTE has included a HDMI to DVI connector in the bundle.


Specifications

As far as clock rates go, the GIGABYTE card seems to carry default GPU and Shader clocks, these being 738MHz and 1836MHz respectively.

GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


As for the 1GB of GDDR3 memory, it carries with it a 2200MHz DDR clock. There isn't really anything too exciting here, so let's just get stuck into the benchmarks and see what it translates to.

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: ForceWare 182.08, Catalyst 9.2


Today we'll have a look at the GIGABYTE GTS 250 up against the Galaxy one and a number of other mid to high-end cards from both ATI and NVIDIA. Let's not delay any longer and get stuck straight into the benchmarks.


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.


GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


In our first test we can see that the GIGABYTE offering is a little faster than the Galaxy one.

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.


GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Under PT Boats we again see that the GIGABYTE offering is a little faster. Compared to the other card, we see the GIGABYTE GTS 250s performance is above the ATI offerings at the higher resolution.

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).


GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Under CINEBENCH we find that most of the cards perform very close to each other, with the the HD 4870 being the only card that really shines.

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.


GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Looking at WIC, we can see that we've got a pretty playable result at 1680 x 1050. At 1920 x 1200 we're running a little low for our taste, but moving from very high to high settings would give us the extra few FPS we need.

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.

GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Warhead brings not only the GTS 250 to its knees, but most of the other cards here as well. At these settings we're not going to be playing this game at any resolution with any card.

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.


GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Looking at Far Cry 2, we can see that we've got a playable configuration at 1920 x 1200. An extra few FPS would be nice, but we're above that 30 FPS minimum we like to see which is the main thing.

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.

GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Clear Sky sees the ATI offerings come out well ahead, which isn't much of a surprise. On a whole the GTS 250 doesn't perform great under Clear Sky.

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.

GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Left 4 Dead sees the GTS 250 fall to the back of the pack. Looking at the averages, we're not going to run in to any trouble playing L4D at resolutions of up to 1920 x 1200.

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

GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Turning on AA and AF, we see all the cards struggle. Against the ATI offerings, though, the GIGABYTE GTS 250 performs well.


World In Conflict

GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


We again see performance come down with these settings. Compared to the ATI offerings we see that the card sits around the same performance as the HD 4850 here.


Left 4 Dead

GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


With AA and AF turned on under L4D we see the GTS 250 fall to the back of the pack again. With that said, though, none of these setups are going to let you play L4D at these settings.

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.

GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Here we see all cards perform quite similarly. At the higher resolution, though, we do continue to see the GTS 250 pull out a win compared to the ATI offerings.

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.


GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Looking at FC2 under Windows XP, we see that the GTS 250 slightly falls behind the ATI offerings. At 1920 x 1200 we can see that we're just under the 30 FPS minimum we like to see. Fortunately, with just a small detail drop we could get the minimum we want.

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.

GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Under Clear Sky we again see the NVIDIA offerings lag behind the ATI ones. This continues not be a surprise, though, with this particular game always favoring the red team.

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.


GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


It was really interesting to see the temperature of the GIGABYTE GTS 250. I actually found myself checking it a number of times to make sure there wasn't a mistake.


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).


GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Noise levels on the GTS 250 from GIGABYTE are pretty impressive with it being one of the quieter cards we have here today.

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.


GIGABYTE GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card


Like the temperature, we can see that the usage is down when compared to the Galaxy based off the same model card.

Final Thoughts




Up until our last few tests there wasn't anything too exciting about the card. Sure, the card performed like we thought it would in the numbers game, but upon looking at the temperature of the card along with the power usage, it was simply amazing to see just how well the card performed compared to the others here.

It's good to see that GIGABYTE is using the same technology that's been implemented into their award winning motherboards. While at first I thought this was going to be more gimmicky than anything else, once we really got down to the testing side of things we can see that there's some real advantages to the UDV technology that GIGABYTE has implemented.

At 154.99 U.S. Dollars from Newegg, the GIGABYTE version of the GTS 250 is one of the more expensive ones available. For around $20 less you could get something that's clocked higher and is going to perform faster overall, but honestly what we see here from GIGABYTE makes this an excellent buy.

While the package might be a bit on the light side, with good connectivity, excellent cooling and just an excellent set of features packed onto this version of the GTS 250, we highly recommend it to anyone looking at a graphics card under $150 who is able to play most games at resolutions of up to 1920 x 1200.

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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.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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