Asus ENGTS250 Dark Knight 1G
The GeForce GTS 250's performance is a cut above that of the GeForce 9600 GT. Asus’ iteration of its GeForce GTS 250 Dark Knight sports 1 GB of RAM in order for the card to remain competitive with newer cards, like the Radeon HD 4770. Asus’ Dark Knight still has the same non-reference cooler as its predecessor, keeping temperatures manageable and the noise level low.
Although Asus doesn’t seem to promote it aggressively, one feature this card has that makes it stand out is efficiency. It has variable 2D/3D clock speeds, like many other cards, but the 2D clocks allow the card to use the least amount of power compared to those in this roundup when used in 2D mode. More on this later.
The ENGTS250 1G Dark Knight comes in an attractive retail package. In addition to the usual driver and utility CDs, there is a Molex-to-PCIe power adapter, a component video output adapter, a DVI-to-VGA adapter, and a DVI-to-HDMI adapter. Once again, we’re unhappy to see that there are no SLI connectors in the bundle (Ed.: these should be included with your SLI-certified motherboard, though).
One extra bonus Asus includes is a 10% off coupon for up to five games or applications, which can be purchased from nZone.com. We were disappointed that a top-tier title wasn't included in the bundle, but at least this lets the buyer choose what he or she wants, instead of being stuck with an unwanted game.
As for the PCB itself, at about 9” long, it’s a little smaller than the GeForce GTS 250 reference build. It requires the standard six-pin PCIe power cable. The similarities to the reference card end there, as this ENGTS250 DK is equipped with 1 GB of memory and sports a powerful custom GPU cooler with four heat pipes. The cooler is large, causing the board to populate two expansion slots. The only downside to this arrangement is that heated air won't be expelled out of the back of your enclosure, as it would with the reference blower.