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GeForce GT 240: Low Power, High Performance, Sub-$100

Nvidia is due for some good news. Does the new GeForce GT 240 provide that? I think that it does.

While the sub-$100 graphics card segment doesn't generate the same excitement as the top-end models, it remains a key market for selling in volume. AMD left a gap in the $70-$110 price range when it axed its Radeon HD 4830. Nvidia has not been able to take full advantage of this due to the relatively high cost of manufacturing its GeForce 9600 GSO and GeForce 9600 GT.

The GeForce GT 240 serves up just what the doctor ordered. The cost-effective 40nm process, combined with a 128-bit memory interface, helps keep production costs down, while 96 stream processors and fast GDDR5 memory keep performance in the ballpark of the venerable GeForce 9600 GT. Pairing the new card with cheaper DDR3 memory will allow the price to drop even further, replacing the GeForce 9600 GSO as strong competition for ATI's Radeon HD 4670.

Along with these important fundamentals, the new GeForce GT 240 provides DirectX 10.1 compatibility, an eight-channel LPCM audio controller, CUDA, PhysX, and GeForce 3D Vision compatibility. Equally important in our eyes, it doesn't require a separate PCIe power connector, which opens it up as an upgrade for folks who don't want to invest the money for a power supply upgrade. And let's not forget the HTPC market: a low-cost, low-power, high-performance card capable of eight channel LPCM over HDMI is sure to be an attractive item.

But the elephant in the room is, as mentioned previously, imminent competition from ATI. The lack of DirectX 11 compatibility might not be an issue in this price segment right now, but in the first quarter of next year, ATI will be releasing the lower-end Redwood and Cedar parts from its Evergreen lineup. Another bothersome tidbit is that Nvidia's new model demonstrates a notable anti-aliasing performance deficit when compared to the GeForce 9600 GT it is replacing. And it is especially difficult to forget the GeForce GT 240's lack of SLI support, something both the GeForce 9600 GSO and GT have always had.  

But none of these issues are show-stoppers today. The point is that Nvidia now has a cost-effective part that it can leverage to not only compete with the existing Radeon HD 4670 when paired up to DDR3, but replace the GeForce 9600 GT when it's armed with GDDR5. Though at-launch pricing is usually high, Nvidia will finally have the flexibility to compete at the entry-level once production has ramped up, and we will undoubtedly see that happen with the GeForce GT 240.

This is good news for the consumer, to be sure. Let's face it. Not everybody can afford a $300 graphics card. Low-cost performers like the Radeon HD 4670, GeForce 9600 GSO, and GeForce 9600 GT have been providing an excellent gaming experience for folks without big dollars to spend, and more solid competition to drive prices down in this space can only benefit us all in the long run. 

The Palit GeForce GT 240 Sonic Edition

Palit has the distinction of selling the only launch-ready GeForce GT 240 with a full gigabyte of GDDR5 RAM, with factory-overclocked GPU, shader, and memory clocks to boot. While the performance advantage of the extra RAM isn't always significant, there will be folks interested in the long-term prospects of having the extra memory on-board (some game settings simply require the extra memory). For these buyers, Palit's Sonic Edition is a favorable GeForce GT 240 option right now.

The Zotac GeForce GT 240 AMP! Edition

Zotac provides some respectably-high factory overclocks on its AMP! Edition cards, and the company's GeForce GT 240 is no exception. Despite its elevated clock rates, this card used slightly less power than our old favorite, ATI's Radeon HD 4670 (all in a small single-slot package, too). If the GeForce GT 240 appeals to you, Zotac's AMP! Edition is definitely worth considering.

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  • 6 Hide
    DeadCat , November 17, 2009 12:10 PM
    awesome for an HTPC!!
  • -5 Hide
    rodney_ws , November 17, 2009 12:13 PM
    Well, it appears I might be the first poster... and that's pretty indicative of how exciting this card truly is. At any price point it's just hard to get excited when a company is just re-badging/re-naming older cards. DDR5? Oh yay! Now about that 128 bit bus...
  • 20 Hide
    Ramar , November 17, 2009 12:17 PM
    I really can't justify this card when a Sparkle 9800GT is on newegg for the same price or less than these cards. Perhaps if energy costs are really important to you?
  • 18 Hide
    Uncle Meat , November 17, 2009 12:19 PM
    Before we get into the game results, something we want to stress is that all of the GeForce cards we used for benchmarking ended up being factory overclocked models, but that our Diamond Radeon HD 4670 sample is clocked at reference speeds.

    The memory on the Diamond Radeon HD 4670 is clocked 200Mhz below reference speeds.
  • 2 Hide
    rodney_ws , November 17, 2009 12:21 PM
    Also, the 9600 GSO was on the Egg for $35 after MIR a few weeks/months back. No, that's not a top-tier card, but at $35 that's practically an impulse buy.
  • 9 Hide
    Anonymous , November 17, 2009 12:37 PM

    Looking at what cards people actually have (8800gt mostly), I think there are very few that would want to upgrade to this. Give us something better, Nvidia! The only reason why Ati doesn't have a 90% market share right now is that they can't make 5800s and 5700s fast enough.
  • 8 Hide
    jonpaul37 , November 17, 2009 12:42 PM
    the card is pointless, it's Nvidia's attempt to get some $$$ before an EP!C FA!L launch of Fermi
  • -8 Hide
    jonpaul37 , November 17, 2009 12:43 PM
    The card is pointless, it's Nvidia's attempt to get some $$$ before an EP!C FA!L launch of Fermi.
  • 9 Hide
    JofaMang , November 17, 2009 12:45 PM
    No SLI means they want to force higher profit purchases from those looking for cheap multi-card setups. That's dirty. I wonder how two 4670s compare to one of these for the damn near the same price?
  • 1 Hide
    KT_WASP , November 17, 2009 12:54 PM
    I too noticed the discrepancy in your stated numbers for the Diamond 4670. In the article it states 750MHz / 800MHz (1600 effective). But then in your chart it states 750MHz / 1000MHz (2000 effective).

    So, which one was used? Reference is 750/1000 (2000 eff.) Diamond had two versions, I believe, one at the reference speed and one at 750/900 (1800 eff.)

    Just trying to understand you pick so we could better understand the results.
  • 4 Hide
    hundredislandsboy , November 17, 2009 1:00 PM
    No idea what Nvidia is thinking with the the release of this card sine a new 9800 GT is $89. They either have to drop the price of these GT240s to below $70 soon or it'll be huge loss. But maybe not. The only reason I an think of as to why Nvidia made this card is they had a bunch of spare parts lying around and rather than junk them, try to squeeze out some pennies. But then again ATI is playing the same game so if you can't beat them, join them!
  • 0 Hide
    Aircraft123 , November 17, 2009 1:01 PM
    This card is nice but the price just is not right. For the same price you could get a 9800GT or save $20 (at least) and get a 4670

    From the benchmarks the change in performance isn't worth that large ramp up in price.

    BTW I have a 4650 going in my HTPC
    and 2 XFX4890s in my desktop/gaming computer
  • 6 Hide
    cleeve , November 17, 2009 1:26 PM
    rodney_ws At any price point it's just hard to get excited when a company is just re-badging/re-naming older cards.

    The GT 240 isn't a rebadge, it's a new GPU based on the same architecture as the GTX 200 series.

  • 7 Hide
    nforce4max , November 17, 2009 1:26 PM
    These cards are a waste of money. A used 9600gt/gso can be had for less. Even my 8800gtx cost me less and I am using it now. Even my vintage 7900gtx duo (early gx2) holds its own.
  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , November 17, 2009 1:29 PM
    Uncle MeatThe memory on the Diamond Radeon HD 4670 is clocked 200Mhz below reference speeds.

    Absolutely right, fixed!
  • 4 Hide
    cleeve , November 17, 2009 1:35 PM
    Aircraft123From the benchmarks the change in performance isn't worth that large ramp up in price.

    I totally agree with you, however launch pricing is always high.

    Remember, we don't get to see the actual launch pricing until you do. The article was written before the GT 240 was for sale, and we were told it was a sub-$100 card.

    The reason I've been positive about this card is that production costs should be low enough for Nvidia to compete on price very quickly. For example, look at the GeForce GT 220: $80 at launch a couple weeks ago, it's already down to the low $60 range.

    You'll need to use common sense. At $110, the Radeon 4850 is the obvious winner, and at $90 the 8800 GT is the way to go.

    But pricing should fall into place with the DDR3 GT 240 at Radeon 4670 prices, and the GDDR5 GT 240 just under 9600 GT prices. That's where the new card is a recommended buy.
  • -3 Hide
    cyberkuberiah , November 17, 2009 1:37 PM
    deadcatawesome for an HTPC!!

    yes , indeed.
  • 6 Hide
    dark_lord69 , November 17, 2009 1:48 PM
    If you are going to spend close to $100 on a video card then you might as well get the ATi HD 4870.
    I found it for only $11 over the sub $100 range.
    The performance difference would DEFINITELY be worth $11.
  • 1 Hide
    noob2222 , November 17, 2009 2:10 PM
    Not a bad article, but very misleading however. Sub $100 tested with cards over $100?

    At that price its competing with the 4770s not the 4670. But this is an Nvidia article, gotta make them look good by omitting certain facts.

  • 6 Hide
    rdhood , November 17, 2009 2:24 PM
    What dark_lord69 and noob2222 said. The 4670 is starting to see after-rebate prices of just $40. The $100 price point is closer to the 4770.
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