Recently we saw NVIDIA release some new models to the market, the GT 210 and GT 220. Today they've released another model sitting in the same series; this called the GT 240. While companies continue to tell us this is a mainstream product, we better know it as a low end card.
While we don't doubt that this model will outsell future mid-range and higher end models when they're released, it doesn't make the model any more exciting. In saying that, however, the GT 240 has some pretty cool features like a 40nm core and GDDR5 memory. We'll get into more detail about this in just a moment.
For now we'll jump forward a page and see what's going on in the package department along with taking the time to quickly see what the card itself looks like. We'll then have a closer look at the specifications of the card and then get stuck into the benchmarking and see what kind of numbers this new model can put out.
The Package and Video Card
It comes as no real surprise that there's nothing exciting going on in the package department. The main stand out point for us is the little sticker on the front of the box that makes mention that this particular model is overclocked.
Checking out the card is much like the package, there isn't heaps going on. We've got a smaller heatsink/fan combination going on that sits directly on top of the card. Being a lower end model there's no extra shroud or anything to fancy the card up. Instead we can see our GDDR5 chips and all our other bits and pieces.
In the I/O department it manages to become a bit more exciting with the inclusion of a native HDMI port. As for the other connectors, we've got a VGA port along with a Dual-Link DVI one. Above these we've got our vents where MSI is cut out to make the card look a little bit cooler.
Specifications and Overclocking
MSI tried to put a bit of the marketing spin on me, talking about how great the model could overclock with the help of its Afterburner software. To be honest, most of the time I don't really buy into this, but thinking it might make the product a bit more exciting I decided to take the time.
As for the standard specifications, you can see above the core comes in at 550MHz, the shader at 1340MHz and the 512MB of GDDR5 at 3600MHz which is slightly up on the stock 3400MHz that the standard model comes with.
Firing up the Afterburner software, we have the ability to change the clocks and increase the voltage. To be honest, the voltage ability is a bit weird; it doesn't tell us what we're at or what we're moving to. Instead, you start at 0 and you can go -100 or +100.
We went +100 hoping that MSI wouldn't offer a voltage that would destroy the card. What this allowed us to do was increase the core to 650MHz which in turn pushed the shader to 1584MHz. We also had a look at what we could do with the memory and we managed to get that to 3800MHz.
As for other specifications, we've got a 40nm core, 128-bit memory bus along with CUDA and PhysX support.
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 Kingston Hyper X PC3-16000 2000MHz DDR CL9 (Supplied by Kingston)
Hard Disk(s): Western Digital 640GB SATA 2.0 HDD (Supplied by Western Digital)
Operating System: Windows 7
Drivers: ForceWare 191.07
Today we'll check out the GT 240 against itself in both its stock form and maximum overclock that we achieved. Being a lower end model, we'll of course be changing our tests slightly. We've dropped 2560 x 1600 and removed our AA and AF tests.
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.
Under Vantage we can see that the overclock yields an excellent boost in performance at the P preset. In the higher resolution X preset there isn't much change.
Unigine Heaven Benchmark (DX10 & DX11)
Unigine Heaven Benchmark
Version and / or Patch Used: 1
Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com
Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/products/unigine
New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.
Note: If a card doesn't support DirectX 11 the benchmark will be left out. If it does it will be included along with the DirectX 10 results.
Direct X 10
We again see a nice boost in performance when we overclock the card. What this means for the real world? It's a bit too early to tell.
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).
CINEBENCH doesn't make use of the extra MHz on offer when we overclock. As for the 6800 score, it's pretty standard among NVIDIA cards.
Benchmarks - Badaboom
Version and / or Patch Used: Release 126.96.36.199
Developer Homepage: http://www.nvidia.com
Product Homepage: http://www.badaboomit.com
Badaboom eliminates the frustration of video conversion by providing users with speed, efficiency, quality, and a sleek interface. In a practice that used to take several hours, Badaboom converts feature-length movies in a matter of minutes while keeping the videos looking crisp and clear.
By harnessing the power of NVIDIA CUDA-enabled GPUs, Badaboom offloads the CPU to allow users to continue browsing the Internet or checking email without decreased system performance, making transcoding high-quality video fast, easy, and painless.
Note: With the requirement for a CUDA enabled graphics card to run Badaboom, this means that we can only use NVIDIA based cards for this test.
We convert an AVI version of The Lion King that comes in at 851MB to a 2500kbps 1.4GB MP4 for the iPhone. While we understand that the MP4 version of the file is bigger, we've chosen the maximum bit rate simply to put the most amount of pressure on the cards we test.
There's no surprise that compared to the higher end GTX 260+ that the time to convert our video is longer, but for the most part we're getting pretty good numbers with the overclocked card getting a whole minute shaved off its process time.
Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5
Resident Evil 5
Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com
Product Homepage: http://www.residentevil.com
Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.
With no minimum we really want to see an average around the 60 FPS mark. It's clear that's not possible with the card at stock speeds. At overclocked, however, we see a good boost in performance which pushes out 1680 x 1050 numbers over the 60 FPS average we want.
Benchmarks - Far Cry 2
Far Cry 2
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.03
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.
Leaving our preset to very high, it's interesting to see that the GT 240 is still able to put out some decent numbers, especially when overclocked. With that said, they're still a bit low to consider playable, but moving to high or medium would fix this issue.
Benchmarks - World in Conflict
World in Conflict
Version and / or Patch Used: 188.8.131.52
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 that is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards. We use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.
Again, we see a big boost in performance when it came to overclocking the card. The overall numbers are still a bit low unfortunately at our very high preset, but dropping the preset, like with Far Cry 2, will yield a nice boost.
Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum
Batman Arkham Asylum
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.rocksteadyltd.com
Product Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com
Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.
Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.
Note: With support for PhysX NVIDIA based cards will be tested with the technology on and off, while ATI cards will be tested with the technology off due to it not being supported on their cards.
Without PhysX on we see we're above the 30 FPS minimum at both resolutions. The overclocked card manages to give us a bit more breathing room. As for performance when PhysX is enabled, the hit brings the numbers down to an unplayable level. For that reason we simply didn't worry about including the results.
Benchmarks - Darkest of Days
Darkest of Days
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.phantomefx.com
Product Homepage: http://www.darkestofdays.com
Darkest of Days takes the player through time into historic battles in an effort to save key individuals from certain death. The battles range from Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 to fighting in Pompeii as ash and fire rain down from an erupting Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Other locations include the battles of Antietam and Tannenberg, and a German World War II P.O.W. camp. There are different missions in every time period and the game takes about 4 hours to complete.
The game features over twenty weapons, both from the original time period as well as those brought back from the future. In addition, there are artillery weapons from different time periods to assist in battle.
Note: With the PhysX set to Medium or High, Darkest of Days takes advantage of the NVIDIA PhysX abilities. For that reason we will test ATI cards at the Low preset, while NVIDIA based cards will be tested at Low and High.
PhysX set to Low
With the GT 240 overclocked we again see some good numbers. Without the minimum being attainable, we want to get an average of around 60 FPS. Unfortunately we're again a little far from that. Moving down to medium and keeping PhysX at low should combat this issue, however.
Benchmarks - BattleForge
Version and / or Patch Used: Auto Patched at Load
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.ea.com
Product Homepage: http://www.battleforge.com
The Gods have disappeared and the old sun has died, letting a vile twilight engulf the world of Nyn. In exchange for all treasures the mortals possessed, the evil giants agreed to forge a new sun and hurl it into the sky.
But the deal was betrayed, the treasure stolen and now the mortals flee the wrath of the giants. Under the light of a new sun the mortals stumble into a world changed and twisted by an age of twilight. The long journey home has become a conquest of survival.
Note: Supporting DirectX 11, we have separated the graphs for NVIDIA and ATI cards. While the numbers between the two brands can be compared, you have to make note that ATI based HD 5000 series cards are running DirectX 11.
DirectX 10 (NVIDIA and Older ATI Cards Only)
The extremely intensive BattleForge does nothing for the GT 240. If we were looking at minimums we would be happy, but since this is an average there's nothing to get excited about at all.
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.
Temps aren't too bad; the overclocked card with increased voltage ran slightly higher, but 1c isn't anything to worry about.
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).
As for noise levels, at 65dB this isn't a quiet card. However, this is pretty common in these lower end cards that have smaller fans which spin at a higher RPM.
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.
Power draw isn't bad for the low end card. You're not going to need anything too special when it comes to purchasing a power supply.
Thanks to the voltage tweaking ability that MSI includes, the GT 240 manages to offer some serious performance possibilities at an extremely aggressive price. While it's just another model we find ourselves putting up with till the much awaited GT 300 series greets us, this mainstream low end card is going to bring a smile to a lot of people.
It's funny to see that ATI started with the top end and have started moving down, while NVIDIA are starting at the bottom end and slowly moving up. While we prefer the ATI method for the simple reason we love high end cards, it's exciting to see as each new model comes from NVIDIA that we've got a bit more performance and some decent overclocking capabilities.
We also see the same technologies that will be implemented in the higher end models. The 40nm core seems to be working well for NVIDIA. The big overclock we were able to achieve ultimately shows us that. It's also nice to see the company has finally jumped on the GDDR5 bandwagon.
The Afterburner software from MSI does a good job of giving the GT 240 a bit of life and ultimately offering us some pretty decent performance. Out of the box the performance is just ok and having a look at our benchmark results, we're able to achieve some decent scores at our very high presets. Out of the box you'll probably be looking at 1680 x 1050 at Medium when it comes to gaming, but if you overclock you should be able to either move to 1920 x 1200 or remain at 1680 x 1050 and move the graphics preset up a level.
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