GeForce GTS 250: Nvidia's G92 Strikes Again

Test Setup, Benchmarks, And Notes

Test Hardware
CPU
Intel Core i7 965 Extreme (3.2 GHz, 8 MB L3 Cache, 133 MHz Bclk), power-saving settings disabled
Motherboard
Asus Rampage II Extreme (X58/ICH10)
Graphics Cards
BFG GeForce GTX 260 OCX Maxcore 55 896 MB

BFG GeForce GTS 250 OC 1 GB

BFG GeForce GTX 9800+ 512 MB

AMD Radeon HD 4870 512 MB Reference

AMD Radeon HD 4850 512 MB Reference

Powercolor Radeon HD 4830 512 MB
Memory
Corsair Dominator DDR3-1600 8-8-8-24
Hard Drive
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 250 GB 7,200 RPM
Power Supply
Cooler Master UCP 1100 W
CPU Cooler
Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme
Test Software
Operating System
Windows Vista Ultimate Edition x64
AMD Drivers
Catalyst 9.2
Nvidia Drivers
GeForce 182.06

GeForce 182.08 (Beta)
Benchmark Configuration
BenchmarkConfiguration
World in Conflict Very High Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off, 1280x1024/1680x1050/1920x1200, Patch 1009, DirectX 10

Very High Quality Settings, 4x AA / 16x AF, vsync off, 1280x1024/1680x1050/1920x1200, Patch 1009, DirectX 10
Far Cry 2 Ultra-High Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off, 1280x1024/1680x1050/1920x1200, Steam Version

Ultra-High Quality Settings, 4x AA / No AF, vsync off, 1280x1024/1680x1050/1920x1200, Steam Version
Crysis Very High Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off, 1280x1024/1680x1050/1920x1200, Patch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit Executable

Very High Quality Settings, 4x AA / No AF, vsync off, 1280x1024/1680x1050/1920x1200, Patch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit Executable
Left 4 Dead
Highest Quality Settings, 4x AA / 8x AF, vsync off, 1280x1024/1680x1050/1920x1200, DirectX 10, Steam Version

Highest Quality Settings, 4x AA / 8x AF, vsync off, 1280x1024/1680x1050/1920x1200, DirectX 10, Steam Version
Call of Duty: World at War
Highest Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off, 1280x1024/1680x1050/1920x1200, Patch 1.1

Highest Quality Settings, 4x AA / Max AF, vsync off, 1280x1024/1680x1050/1920x1200, Patch 1.1
3DMark Vantage Performance Default, High Quality, Extreme Quality


Notes

BFG supplied us with three boards for this piece: the GeForce GTS 250 OC being reviewed and, at our request, a GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 and GeForce GTX 9800+.

The GeForce GTS 250 OC edition does run faster than a reference GTS 250 otherwise would. The company’s GeForce GTX 9800+ does run at reference speeds, though. Both boards would operate at identical clocks were it not for the overclock.

Further, BFG’s GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 (dubbed the OCX Maxcore 55) employs dramatically higher clock speeds than a vanilla GTX 260 Core 216. Its core runs at 655 MHz (instead of 576 MHz), its shaders operate at 1,404 MHz (versus 1,242 MHz), and its 896 MB of GDDR3 memory are clocked at 1,125 MHz (instead of 999 MHz). At the time of writing, the Maxcore card includes a copy of Mirror's Edge for free, too. So, if you were planning on buying the $43 game, the price of BFG's overclocked $265 GTX 260 Core 216 card looks a little less imposing.

Knowing that the GTS 250 and GTX 9800+ are essentially the same board with 512 MB of memory and a minor overclock separating them, any variation at lower resolution settings without anti-aliasing (AA) and anisotropic filtering (AF) can likely be attributed to the clock speed tweak, while at higher resolutions (and especially with the detail settings cranked up), you’ll see where frame-buffer capacity plays a much more prominent role in determining performance.

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86 comments
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    Top Comments
  • johnbilicki
    "so long as performance goes up or sideways as price goes down, we don’t see an issue with the reintroduction of proven technology"

    ...which (in the context it has been applied) is the same as saying we don't mind nVidia renaming an 8800GT to a 9800GT and then a 9800GT to a whatever 2xx series...and so on and so forth. My point is simple: nVidia is pulling an extremely sleazy marketing scheme on consumers by renaming existing models. If you goof admit it and get on with life; that's why I appreciated the fact that when the first generation of Phenoms were botched AMD gracefully renamed unaffected quads with a 50 (IE 9650 instead of 9600). Trying to remember all the different names of the exact same model is like dealing with someone who IM's you from five different screen names, eventually you just end up blocking them out.
    18
  • curnel_D
    Chris, it's a decent article, but why in the world would you use 512mb models in everyting aside from the 250 and 260. If you would have shown the 1gb 4870, along with a 1gb 9800+, it would have showed a clearer picture of how the 250 is identical to the 9800+/9800/8800GT.

    Meh.

    And there are MASSIVE rumours saying that Nvidia is hand-picking the review models sent to reviewers, even confirmed by HardOCP. Addressing that in this article would have been great.
    13
  • curnel_D
    ProximonWell, caveat emptor. If the average consumer can't be bothered to google up a benchmark and just assumes a new name equals a better GPU, then they get what they deserve.A dual slot cooled video card that is just slower than a 4850 could be a good thing if they work the price low enough.

    Yes, I agree with that totally if we're talking about the demographic these forums target. But that's absolutely absurd if you count everyone.

    The "average joe" is usually a hobby gamer who has a full time job, if not two, a wife, kids, generally lower pay compared to the white colar IT job market, and just doesnt have the time for all of the 'homework'. And even then, alot of people still wouldnt know what those benchmarks mean, or even where to find them on google if they know what the word benchmark means at all.

    It'd be the same if Ford released a new Mustang called Mustang GTX250. But in reality, it was identical to the Mustang GT with a different name and better tires. Ford would catch all kinds of hell for it, which is exactly why they dont do it.

    But Nvidia apparently think's they're above the average consumer, and hopes to get a one-up on them to get rid of all of their oversupplied chips.

    Dont sell yourself short, but dont give these companies credibility for doing what they're doing. Nvidia has been very anti-consumer lately, and they shouldnt get any reason to excuse it.
    12
  • Other Comments
  • Anonymous
    i wonder what would be the stand of 4850 and 4870 with 1gb frame buffer
    10
  • thepinkpanther
    when the GTX4xx series i guess nvidia will launch the g92 refresh yet again, this time as an entry level graphics card.
    9
  • xx12amanxx
    Hmm no mention of the slower model's Nvidia is going to push instead of these cherry picked Oced model's.I heard these Oced model's were just for reviewers and that most of these cards will actually be slower model's with even less performance.
    3
  • johnbilicki
    "so long as performance goes up or sideways as price goes down, we don’t see an issue with the reintroduction of proven technology"

    ...which (in the context it has been applied) is the same as saying we don't mind nVidia renaming an 8800GT to a 9800GT and then a 9800GT to a whatever 2xx series...and so on and so forth. My point is simple: nVidia is pulling an extremely sleazy marketing scheme on consumers by renaming existing models. If you goof admit it and get on with life; that's why I appreciated the fact that when the first generation of Phenoms were botched AMD gracefully renamed unaffected quads with a 50 (IE 9650 instead of 9600). Trying to remember all the different names of the exact same model is like dealing with someone who IM's you from five different screen names, eventually you just end up blocking them out.
    18
  • Anonymous
    Good review, but i missed the noise and heat comparative
    0
  • cangelini
    xx12amanxxHmm no mention of the slower model's Nvidia is going to push instead of these cherry picked Oced model's.I heard these Oced model's were just for reviewers and that most of these cards will actually be slower model's with even less performance.


    Cherry picked? It's a retail product.
    8
  • curnel_D
    Chris, it's a decent article, but why in the world would you use 512mb models in everyting aside from the 250 and 260. If you would have shown the 1gb 4870, along with a 1gb 9800+, it would have showed a clearer picture of how the 250 is identical to the 9800+/9800/8800GT.

    Meh.

    And there are MASSIVE rumours saying that Nvidia is hand-picking the review models sent to reviewers, even confirmed by HardOCP. Addressing that in this article would have been great.
    13
  • Anonymous
    If I'm not mistaken didn't the 9 series and the HD4XXX series launch at about the same time effectively putting them into the same class? So why does everyone love to compare the 2XX series to the 4XXX cards and on top of that usually giving the ram advantage to nvidia i.e. comparing 1GB cards to 512MB cards?
    -11
  • sohei
    i think Nvidia want's to marry this card with us ...love with force is not possible ...we need a new "woman" from nvidia not other clothes ...Nvidia has enough experience with clothes ...they should enter in fashion business like Microsoft
    -8
  • vaskodogama
    huh, anyway, I don't like the naming of GT200 cards anyway! AMD's got better price, and naming scheme!
    thepinkpantherwhen the GTX4xx series i guess nvidia will launch the g92 refresh yet again, this time as an entry level graphics card.

    I Agree!
    2
  • nerrawg
    Conclusion in this article finally gets to the point, after having compared OCed cards against vanilla. Good article - yet "The Real Story" might be missing out on a few more valid points.

    1. All of the AMD 4800 cards can be easily overclocked, especially the cheap 4830 which often OCs over 700 Mhz on its GPU clock. This will effect the value evaluation, because the 9800+/250 is gonna have to OC pretty well to match it bang for buck, and seeing as the tested cards are already OCed, well I really wonder if it has that headroom?

    2. 4850s and particularly 4870s come in much hotter versions than the vanilla flavors - ex. sapphire toxic etc. The prices of these models will be important to consider.

    3. The G92 architecture is from what I have seen sketchy performance wise in SLI compared to the 4800 series in Crossfire. I am not sure of this, but I would be cautious of using a G92 card if you where planning on using a multicard setup, atleast from the tests I have seen. It would be interesting to see direct tests between a GTX 250 SLI and 4830/4850 CF setup. I'd put my money on the CF solution and I'd love to be proved wrong for Nvidia's sake.
    10
  • Proximon
    Well, caveat emptor. If the average consumer can't be bothered to google up a benchmark and just assumes a new name equals a better GPU, then they get what they deserve.

    A dual slot cooled video card that is just slower than a 4850 could be a good thing if they work the price low enough.
    -4
  • trinix
    Not everyone is a tech person, they'll ask friends and family about performance and the tech person in the family might prefer the nvidia or the ati card and recommend that one over the better one.

    Also at shops the knowledge isn't always better. I've seen people behind the counter, who don't know the difference between ddr1 and ddr2 memory and will just tell you they don't have it.

    Rebranding is evil, but if that's the way Nvidia can keep making money and stay alive, I'd rather have that than the solo reign of Ati.
    2
  • curnel_D
    ProximonWell, caveat emptor. If the average consumer can't be bothered to google up a benchmark and just assumes a new name equals a better GPU, then they get what they deserve.A dual slot cooled video card that is just slower than a 4850 could be a good thing if they work the price low enough.

    Yes, I agree with that totally if we're talking about the demographic these forums target. But that's absolutely absurd if you count everyone.

    The "average joe" is usually a hobby gamer who has a full time job, if not two, a wife, kids, generally lower pay compared to the white colar IT job market, and just doesnt have the time for all of the 'homework'. And even then, alot of people still wouldnt know what those benchmarks mean, or even where to find them on google if they know what the word benchmark means at all.

    It'd be the same if Ford released a new Mustang called Mustang GTX250. But in reality, it was identical to the Mustang GT with a different name and better tires. Ford would catch all kinds of hell for it, which is exactly why they dont do it.

    But Nvidia apparently think's they're above the average consumer, and hopes to get a one-up on them to get rid of all of their oversupplied chips.

    Dont sell yourself short, but dont give these companies credibility for doing what they're doing. Nvidia has been very anti-consumer lately, and they shouldnt get any reason to excuse it.
    12
  • jeverson
    I'm just curious... When nVidia launched the 9800+ you were able to SLI it with the regular 9800 series. Does this mean you will be able to SLI the GTX 250 cards with either a 9800 or 9800+? Would be nice to know.
    3
  • salem80
    Why Tom's Hardware use GTS 250 Overclocked version ?????????????
    -10
  • Pei-chen
    Chris, you should really consider sending Kevin, Tuan and Jane to training. Kevin and Tuan can't keep facts straight and Jane is simply blogging.

    Using GTS 250 as example, Kevin and Tuan reported that 250 is using 512 bit memory bus. I almost went over to Anand to check the spec. before clicking on this article.
    5
  • nerrawg
    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Nvidia-GTS250-Twintech,7150.html

    As stated above, found it at the bottom of article, 512 bit is listed as only difference between 9800+ and 250 - but its not in this article - I trust Chris on this one
    3
  • Pei-chen
    xx12amanxxHmm no mention of the slower model's Nvidia is going to push instead of these cherry picked Oced model's.I heard these Oced model's were just for reviewers and that most of these cards will actually be slower model's with even less performance.


    Curnel_D…. And there are MASSIVE rumours saying that Nvidia is hand-picking the review models sent to reviewers, even confirmed by HardOCP. Addressing that in this article would have been great.

    Are you two idiots? GTS 250 is the same as 9800+ GTX. If Nvidia can sell retail 9800+ at 738MHz why would they need to cherry pick GTS 250 at the same clock?

    If every GTS 250 is running at 850MHz vs 738 on 9800+ you can say Nvidia is binning better chip for 250 but they are running at the same speed.
    -2
  • curnel_D
    Pei-chenChris, you should really consider sending Kevin, Tuan and Jane to training. Kevin and Tuan can't keep facts straight and Jane is simply blogging.Using GTS 250 as example, Kevin and Tuan reported that 250 is using 512 bit memory bus. I almost went over to Anand to check the spec. before clicking on this article.

    I actually prefer jane over kevin and tuan both. She might be blogging, but most of the time it's interesting, and never misleading or downright untrue.

    Both Kevin and Tuan are total morons IMO. Are they college kids doing a practicum or something? Because there's no way they actually have any journalism credibility. They're even the laughing-stock of other forums on a consistant basis.
    0