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ASUS GeForce GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card

ASUS expands the Dark Knight series with the introduction of a GTS 250 variant. Let's see what they do with it to make it stand out.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Wed, Apr 22 2009 12:37 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:03 PM CST
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction


ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card



The Dark Knight series of graphics cards have been out for a while now, but this is actually the first time we've had a look at any card that's a part of the series. The particular model we're looking at today is the GTS 250 which, while being nothing more than a rebranded 9800 GTX+, has gained popularity due to the aggressive pricing structure that NVIDIA has done on it.

While it might not be anything new technically, it hasn't stopped companies from mixing it up with new coolers, overclocks and different bundles. There are two versions of the GTS 250 under the ASUS Dark Knight series; there's the model we have today which carries with it the upgraded cooling system and stock clocks. And then there's another model available which is also a part of the TOP series and offers an overclocked core and memory clock along with the same cooling design we see on the one we have here today.

While we'll have a closer look at the cooler in just a moment, first we'll take the time to have a look at the bundle that ASUS has put together and then we'll check out the card, have a closer look at the specifications before we move on to benchmark it and then wrap it all up. So with that all said and done, let's get stuck into the box and see what exactly ASUS are offering us here today with the ENGTS250 Dark Knight.

The Package




As far as the overall box design goes there isn't really anything we haven't seen before from ASUS. What is nice, however, is that they've opted for a thinner box. ASUS used to be one of the worst culprits for having those unnecessary huge boxes. As for the design, we can see across the bottom we have the model and clear mention that it's a part of the Dark Knight series. Above that we have some of the main features like 512MB of GDDR3, PCI-E 2.0 along with some of the software that ASUS include like GamerOSD and SmartDoctor.

ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


We also again have mention of the Dark Knight series along with a picture of a aftermarket cooler; next to that we have a sticker that mentions an offer available and finally above that we have the ASUS logo and motto. The rest of the box is taken up by a picture of what pretty much is a dark knight.

ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


Turning over again, we see mention of the model and Dark Knight series, while moving down we have a list of some of the features and below that we have a run down on the software that ASUS include and what it's capable of.

ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


In the paperwork department we have a speed setup guide, S/PDIF setup guide and a piece of paper with a code that entitles you to 10% off a number of CUDA applications and games. As far as CDs go we have a manual on one and the other contains the driver along with a number of programs that we saw mentioned on the back of the box.

ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


As far as cables go we've got all the standard ones, including component out dongle, dual molex to 6-Pin PCI-E power and a DVI to VGA connector. We've also got the DVI to HDMI connector and S/PDIF loopback cable which is quickly becoming more and more common in mid to higher end cards.

The Card




Getting past the package and moving onto the box, we can see that ASUS has mixed it up with the cooler. This isn't much of a surprise since we did see that this was mentioned on the front of the box.

ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


Across the top of the card we can see four heat pipes while the base and the sides offer us a large amount of aluminum fins. The whole cooler is black and looks great against the blue PCB. Since there isn't a cover or anything on the fan, it feels a bit weird handling the card as you feel you have to be a bit more careful; but with most people simply installing it into their system and no longer worrying about it, this shouldn't be a problem.

ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


Looking around the card there isn't anything out of the ordinary. With that said, though, the placement of the two 6-Pin PCI Express power connectors are slightly different than what we're used to seeing.

ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


We can also see that ASUS has opted to use a bracket across the top of the card. Apart from looking cool this just prevents the card from bending. Down towards the front of the card we can also see the two SLI connectors.

ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


While it doesn't look like it, the card is a dual slot one as we can see here. Also present is our standard TV-OUT port along with two Dual-Link DVI ports. We can see that a yellow one is here; this particular one can be used with the HDMI convertor in the package.


Specifications

As we mentioned earlier, there are two versions of the Dark Knight GTS 250; the TOP version which is the overclocked one and the standard model which is the one we have here today.

ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


As we can see above, we have a 740MHz core which is actually 2MHz up on the stock 738MHz and just rounds the number off. We can see the shader clock comes in at 1836MHz and the 512MB of GDDR3 carries the stock 2200MHz DDR clock.

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 182.50, Catalyst 9.2


Today we'll be seeing how the GTS 250 Dark Knight goes against the GTX 260 from NVIDIA and also how it compares to both the HD 4850 and HD 4870 from ATI. Let's get stuck straight into it and see how the card shapes up.


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.


ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


Under our first test we see that the GTS 250 does fall to the back of the pack. With that said, though, Vantage is hardly the most important test.

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.


ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


Under PT Boats we see that the GTS 250 comes out ahead of the ATI offerings here; this isn't a huge surprise, though, as this benchmark does tend to favor the NVIDIA offerings.

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).


ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


We can see under CINEBENCH that most of the cards sit quite close to each other.

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.


ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


Across the board we can see the GTS 250 is able to beat out the ATI offerings at all resolutions with the GTS 250 getting us that 30 FPS minimum we like to see at 1920 x 1200.

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.

ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


Under Warhead we can see the GTS 250 performs well compared to the HD 4800 offerings from ATI at resolutions up to 1920 x 1200.

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.


ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


We continue to see the GTS 250 from ASUS perform well here. Compared to the ATI offerings it performs similar to the HD 4870 with the card breaking that 30 FPS barrier at 1920 x 1200.

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.

ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


It doesn't come as a surprise under Clear Sky that the NVIDIA offerings fall to the back of the pack.

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.

ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


We continue to see the GTS 250 perform well, though it does sit back slightly compared to the other cards here.

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

ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


Under FC2 with AA and AF on, while we don't have the best results on all cards we can see that the GTS 250 performs considerably better than the ATI offerings.


World In Conflict

ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


Under WIC we see the GTS 250 and HD 4850 performing quite similar to each other.


Left 4 Dead

ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


We see again the GTS 250 fall back a bit here, but most of the cards performance isn't great, which is no real surprise.

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.

ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


Here we see the GTS 250 perform very well compared to the ATI offerings with it really only falling behind the bigger GTX 260.

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.


ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


We again see the GTS 250 perform well with it sitting between the two ATI offerings. We're only slightly under that 30 FPS minimum at 1920 x 1200; a quick tweak in the settings would get us over it.

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.

ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


We again see that the ATI offerings perform well under Clear Sky while the NVIDIA ones do fall back under this game.

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.


ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


We can see the cooler that ASUS has chosen does a good job of keeping temperatures down.


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).


ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


Fortunately the coolness that the cooler offers doesn't come at the cost of excess noise.

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.


ASUS GTS 250 Dark Knight Graphics Card


As you would expect, the power draw is below the higher end GTX 260 and compared to the ATI offerings it sits slightly up on the HD 4850 but considerably down in the load department when looking at the HD 4870.

Final Thoughts




The Dark Knight version of the GTS 250 puts a nice little twist on a card that we already love. Not only do you get all those extra software programs that ASUS add to the bundle, but you get a cooler that does a good job of keeping the temperature on the card down without the cost of more noise, too. In a perfect world this is exactly what you want, better performance in cooling and noise.

If that's not enough for you, ASUS has also got a TOP version which has a ramped up core and memory clock to give us even more performance while also using the same cooler that does such a great job.

The Dark Knight series is quickly becoming a nice series from ASUS and we're looking forward to seeing more and more products come into it as time goes on. As we just mentioned before, the fact that you can purchase the TOP variant of the card brings another part of our favorite series into this one.

As usual, you're paying a bit more for the ASUS card; it's currently listed at Newegg for 159.99 U.S. Dollars. For some people it's not going to be worth it, but if you're looking for something that has a better bundle and better cooling than the stock model, you can't really go wrong. If this is not enough, though, as we mentioned you can spend a bit more and go the TOP version of the card where you'll have some more performance on tap.

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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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