ECS GeForce GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card

ECS is the latest company to mix it up with the GTS 250. We take a closer look at exactly what they've done with their variant.
| May 16, 2009 at 1:59 am CDT
Rating: 88%Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction

ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
IntroductionWe've liked the GTS 250 from the word go. While we understand that it's nothing more than a 9800 GTX+, it's got all the features that we want out of a graphics card. For starters, we know that the performance is there; the 9800 GTX+ was no slouch which means the GTS 250 isn't going to be either.Then there's the price. The rebranding of the model and the time it's been around makes the price of the product quite aggressive which is always a good thing. What you end up with is a good valued graphics card that packs quite a punch.Like we've mentioned a few times, though, one of the coolest features of the model is, because it's been out for a while now we see companies mixing it up, be it overclocking the model or going down the aftermarket cooling route.Today we're going to have a look at the GTS 250 from ECS. What we'll mainly be looking for is how it differs to other models we've seen before. Let's have a look at the package before taking a closer look at the card.

The Package

The PackageIt's been a while since we've seen a graphics card from ECS and the box design we have here is something we haven't seen from them before. The middle of the box is mostly taken up with a picture of a female archer. Across the top we have the ECS logo and running down the side we have some NVIDIA logos that relate to some of the features the card offers.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
Moving to the bottom, we have a few little boxes that let us know some of the main features of the card; PCI-E 2.0, DirectX 10, HDCP, HDMI and more. Above that we have the model, which as we've mentioned is the GTS 250 and we can also see that this one comes with 1GB of GDDR3 memory.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
Turning the box over, we just have a run down on what the card is capable of; features like PhysX, GPU Accelerated Transcoding and CUDA can be seen here. We've again got the model, ECS and an NVIDIA logo along with the URL to ECS' website.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
In the paperwork department we have a user manual and an installation guide that tells you how to setup the loop back cable so you can get sound along with video when you're using HDMI. Here we also see a driver CD that doesn't have anything exciting on it. As always, we recommend you go to the NVIDIA website to grab the latest driver for your operating system.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
There isn't a whole lot going on in the cable department; we have two dual molex to 6-Pin PCI-E connectors, the loop back cable we just mentioned above along with a DVI to HDMI connector.

The Card

The CardMoving on to the graphics card we can see that ECS has decided to mix it up in the cooling department. This is the main change we see companies offer. Like most companies we can see it's a pretty big cooler that covers almost the whole card with just a bit of PCB being seen down the right side.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
We can of course see that ECS has added a big sticker to the cooler which lets us know the model and brand. In the center we have a fan that sits over the core and behind it we can see a number of aluminum fins that help move the heat off the core.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
Looking around the card some more, we see a single 6-pin PCI-E connector at the back of the card, which is a bit interesting since we found ECS included two convertors in the bundle. Here we can also see that ECS is using the tension plate across the top of the card which prevents it bending. While no doubt useful, the best feature of it is the look because it makes the card look meaner and better designed, especially when you have a window in your case.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
Closer to the front of the card we have our two SLI connectors which means we can run up to three of these cards together. Next to this we also have the white plug that is used for the loop back cable, which as we've mentioned let's you get sound through the HDMI convertor along with video.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
Here we can see that there's nothing too out of the ordinary; we have two Dual-Link DVI connectors along with a single TV-Out port. As you may have guessed as well, the cooler does make the card a dual slot one which isn't uncommon for mid to high models these days. SpecificationsSince ECS went to the effort to change the cooler on the model, it was a bit disappointing to see that they didn't do anything with the clocks. Of course that doesn't mean you can't overclock yourself, but it's always nice to see companies give us a bit of a bump in both the core and memory department out of the box.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
The default clocks mean we've got a 740MHz core, 1836MHz shader clock and the 1GB of GDDR3 memory coming in at 2000MHz DDR.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage

Test System SetupProcessor(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-BitDrivers: ForceWare 182.50, Catalyst 9.4We've already praised the GTS 250 in our introduction along with having good experiences with the model in the past, but let's have a closer look at the ECS version and see how it compares to some ATI models.3DMark VantageVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct 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.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
Under Vantage we see that the GTS 250 falls to the back of the pack. While this is quite often the benchmark of choice, it's not always so clear. Let's find out how it goes in the real world.

Benchmarks - PT Boats: Knights of the Sea

PT Boats: Knights of the SeaVersion and / or Patch Used: Benchmark DemoDeveloper 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.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
Favoring NVIDIA cards we see the GTS 250 perform well above the others under PT Boats.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10

CINEBENCH R10Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10Developer 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).
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
We see that there isn't a whole lot of difference between the HD 4850 and GTS 250 from ECS.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict

World in ConflictVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper 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.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
Across the board we see the performance in the minimum departments being quite close between the GTS 250 and HD 4770. 1920 x 1200 with a small detail drop isn't going to be a problem here for the model.

Benchmarks - Crysis Warhead

Crysis WarheadVersion and / or Patch Used: unpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: AirfieldDeveloper Homepage: http://www.crytek.comProduct 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.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
We see the GTS 250 pulling out the win across the board with it coming out ahead of both ATI models.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch LongDeveloper 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.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
It's interesting to see in the minimum department the GTS 250 offers playable numbers up to 1920 x 1200, which are similar to the HD 4870. In the average section, though, we see the HD 4870 pull ahead. While good, it's not as important as the minimum and that 30 FPS average we see at 1920 x 1200 is perfect.

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

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear SkyVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.5.07Timedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper 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.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
With Clear Sky favoring ATI cards we see that the GTS 250 from ECS falls to the back of the pack.

Benchmarks - Left 4 Dead

Left 4 DeadVersion and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam UpdateTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper 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.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
Under L4D we again see the card fall back a little bit, but offering good numbers across the board.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AFOur 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
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
We see ATI cards really fall in this test and here is no different; the GTS 250 comes out significantly in front, albeit you're not going to be playing FC2 with these settings on any card here.World In Conflict
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
We see the GTS 250 fall to the back again, but with minimums being too low on all models this setup isn't reasonable for any model we have here.Left 4 Dead
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
We again see the GTS 250 fall to the back under L4D.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict - XP

World in ConflictVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper 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.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
We see the GTS 250 perform well in the minimum department. While the averages are a bit lower than the HD 4870, the card continues to offer playable numbers.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2 - XP

Far Cry 2Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch LongDeveloper 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.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
We again see the GTS 250 perform well under FC2, but for some reason ATI cards have always done quite well in FC2 under Windows XP.

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

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear SkyVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.5.07Timedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper 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.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
Again favoring ATI offerings we see the GTS 250 fall to the back of the pack here.

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.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
The temperature on offer from the GTS 250 is considerably more attractive than the ATI offerings.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).
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
These low temperatures also come at low noise levels, which is exactly what we want out of a cooler.

Power Consumption Tests

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.
ECS GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card
Power draw on the model sits between both ATI offerings and is nothing to really worry about.

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsThe GTS 250 continues to be a good model and if you want to game at 1680 x 1050 at high detail or 1920 x 1200 at medium to high then it's a great option for people who don't want to spend big money.While it's a bit disappointing to see ECS not overclock the card, we can see the cooler does an excellent job of keeping the temperature of the core down while not screaming out any serious dB.We also find the bundle is a bit on the light side, but this isn't uncommon with ECS products. What we tend to find is that they like to offer a higher valued product and what we have here is a card that performs well at some good resolutions and doesn't cost a bucket load.We've seen a lot of GTS 250 cards from companies and while the ECS model doesn't stand out from the pack with other brands giving us an overclock and aftermarket cooling, it hits the mark when it comes to value. If you want a GTS 250 that has a good cooling option, want to overclock yourself or simply don't care about overclocking while not worrying about the bundle, then the ECS GTS 250 is a good option. If you want a bit more and you're happy to spend a few more dollars then you might have a look at some other versions of the model.
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