So, we've already had a look at one NVIDIA GeForce GT 220, now we'll be taking the time to have a peek at our second GT 220, which will probably be our last. What makes this one interesting though is that Palit turned around and slapped the Sonic title on it - and that means extra performance.
To be honest, this was a bit of a shock - we're not talking about a GTX 275, we're talking about a new low-end model. We have to wonder however, is this model worthy of the "Sonic" title, which has impressed us so often in the past? It's been a while since we've seen anything from Palit and the video card they chose to reintroduce us to them was the GT 220 Sonic.
With Galaxy already setting the benchmark for GT 220 performance, we'll find out if Palit are able to improve upon that with a video card that carries the Sonic name.
What we'll do before we have a look at the performance though is quickly take a peek at the package Palit have put together before having a closer look at the card and its specifications.
Let's get started right now and see what it can do!
The Package and Video Card
There's really nothing going on in the bundle. We're not too surprised or disappointed though, as we didn't expect much from the small box.
Looking at the cooler we can see that Palit have opted for a slightly different option when compared to the Galaxy. It doesn't take up the whole card and as far as stickers go, there is only the one on the fan that gives us the Palit logo and their URL.
Apart from a sea of red, there isn't a whole lot more to see with no power connector on the card due to its low-end nature, the card also lacks any SLI connectors, which isn't a shock either.
In the I/O department we see a Dual-Link DVI connector, VGA port and a native HDMI port. While the video card does look like a single slot solution here, the cooler is actually slightly thicker and does take up the second slot on our motherboard. It's something worth noting in the event that you're looking for a single slot solution.
Having a look at the clocks compared to the Galaxy model we looked at earlier we can see that the model is really worthy of the "Sonic" name.
We can see the core has been bumped from 660MHz to 720MHz and the shader clock has gone from 1436MHz to 1566MHz.
Instead of 1GB of GDDR3 Palit have opted for 512MB, in turn they've also bumped that to 1800MHz DDR from 1600MHz DDR. Hopefully the increase in numbers carries with it a nice little performance boost.
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 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 Vista SP1 64-bit
Drivers: ForceWare 191.07
With one GT 220 already tested and the benchmark already set, it was time to see what kind of performance increase the "Sonic" version of the GT 220 carries with it when compared to the Galaxy version we tested earlier on today.
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.
Looking at Vantage performance there isn't a whole lot of extra performance being seen from the Palit GT 220 Sonic.
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.
PT Boats manage to see a better gain; unfortunately at 1280 x 1024, there still isn't enough performance to get us over the 30 FPS minimum.
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).
The Palit version offers a little bit more performance, but it's nothing to get overly excited about.
Benchmarks - World in Conflict
World in Conflict
Version and / or Patch Used: 126.96.36.199
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 is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.
We again see a nice little boost in performance - at 1280 x 1024 we move a good 10% away from that 30 FPS minimum, at 1680 x 1050 we're closing in on at 30 FPS, but we're still two FPS behind. Moving from medium to low should get us there, though.
Benchmarks - 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.
Again we see a nice little boost in performance boost from the "Sonic" edition version of the Palit video card. We're into the 40s at 1680 x 1050 and into the 50s at 1280 x 1024, which isn't too bad at all!
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.
Like PT Boats we see a nice little boost in performance, unfortunately it's not enough to get that 30 FPS minimum we need to see for a good gaming experience.
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. 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.
The extra MHz on offer here pushes the minimum number from 28 FPS to 30 FPS in the minimum section at 1280 x 1024. This is exactly what we want to see when it comes to overclocking - a difference that is going to help improve our gaming experience.
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.
Like we've said before, we want to see an average of about 60 FPS when we don't have a minimum; unfortunately we're still a fair way from that.
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 cooler that Palit have opted for doesn't seem to do as good a job of keeping the core temperature down as the Galaxy version we reviewed earlier today.
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).
The fact that the cooler is a bit thicker though does great things for overall noise levels with the Palit version being a good 10dB quieter.
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.
There isn't a whole lot of difference between the two cards when it comes to power draw. The Palit video card sucks a bit more power at load, but it's nothing to be concerned about.
When Palit said they were sending over their GT 220, I didn't think much of it. When I received the video card though and found out it was a Sonic Edition model, I wondered why they would even bother putting the model in their lineup.
With that said though, once we fired the video card up, and looking at the numbers compared to the Galaxy version, we were surprised at the performance increase the model offered. While the extra MHz looked good in GPU-Z, we weren't sure if it would translate over to our benchmarks - fortunately we're glad to say it did.
If you're happy to spend a few more dollars over a stock model then the Sonic version could be worth it, depending if you're willing to spend the money or think that a gain of around 10% is worth it.
Really, apart from the performance improvements, there isn't a whole lot more to look at, the bundle is on the light side, the cooler isn't exactly fancy and while it causes the Palit version of the GT 220 to run slightly warmer than the Galaxy one we looked at, it manages to be quieter, which for most people is going to be noticeable and appreciated.
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