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GeForce GTS 250: Nvidia's G92 Strikes Again

Test Setup, Benchmarks, And Notes

Test Hardware
CPUIntel Core i7 965 Extreme (3.2 GHz, 8 MB L3 Cache, 133 MHz Bclk), power-saving settings disabled
MotherboardAsus Rampage II Extreme (X58/ICH10)
Graphics CardsBFG 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
MemoryCorsair Dominator DDR3-1600 8-8-8-24
Hard DriveSeagate Barracuda 7200.10 250 GB 7,200 RPM
Power SupplyCooler Master UCP 1100 W
CPU CoolerThermalright Ultra 120 Extreme
Test Software
Operating SystemWindows Vista Ultimate Edition x64
AMD DriversCatalyst 9.2
Nvidia DriversGeForce 182.06
GeForce 182.08 (Beta)
BenchmarkConfiguration
World in ConflictVery 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 2Ultra-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
CrysisVery 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 DeadHighest 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 WarHighest 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 VantagePerformance 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.

Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • i wonder what would be the stand of 4850 and 4870 with 1gb frame buffer
    Reply
  • thepinkpanther
    when the GTX4xx series i guess nvidia will launch the g92 refresh yet again, this time as an entry level graphics card.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • Good review, but i missed the noise and heat comparative
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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?
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • 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!
    Reply