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GeForce GTS 250: Nvidia's G92 Strikes Again

The GeForce GTS 250 In Detail

BFG Shows Off Its GeForce GTS 250

As mentioned, the GTS 250 is a GeForce 9800+ by another name. Thus, its specifications should be easy to remember for anyone already familiar with Nvidia’s lineup.

Manufactured on TSMC’s 55 nm process, the card’s G92 GPU sports 754 million transistors and occupies 230 square millimeters of die space—less than half the size of the GT200. It features 128 unified shader processors, 64 texture units, and 16 ROPs.

Whereas most GeForce GTX 9800+ cards came with 512 MB of GDDR3 memory, reference GeForce GTS 250s will instead include 1 GB of GDDR3, according to sources at BFG and Zotac. Both the older and new G92-based boards employ a 256-bit memory bus, though.

A reference GTS 250 employs a 738 MHz core clock, 1,836 MHz shader clock, and 1.1 GHz (2.2 GHz effective) memory clock. But BFG sent us a sample of its GeForce GTS 250 OC Edition with a faster 750 MHz core and 1.12 GHz memory clock, while the shader clock remained unchanged. 

GeForce GTX 260 Core 216GeForce GTS 250GeForce GTX 9800+Radeon HD 4870Radeon HD 4850Radeon HD 4830
Manufacturing Process55 nm TSMC55 nm TSMC55 nm TSMC55 nm TSMC55 nm TSMC55 nm TSMC
SPs216128128800800640
Core Clock576 MHz738 MHz738 MHz750 MHz625 MHz575 MHz
Shader Clock1,242 MHz1,836 MHz1,836 MHz750 MHz625 MHz575 MHz
Memory Clock999 MHz GDDR31,100 MHz GDDR31,100 MHz GDDR3900 MHz GDDR5993 MHz GDDR3900 MHz GDDR3
Frame Buffer896 MB1 GB512 MB512 MB512 MB512 MB
Memory Bus Width448-bit256-bit256-bit256-bit256-bit256-bit
ROPs281616161616
Price$229est. $149$144$164$139$89

BFG’s card sports two dual-link DVI outputs. And while it supports HDMI output, enabling that feature requires an adapter and audio cable sold separately. It also supports two- and 3-way SLI out of the box; the requisite cables would be included with your SLI-capable motherboard.

Is This A Big Deal?

At this point, we can’t think of a graphics architecture that has been so re-used. But is that necessarily a bad thing, or a problem, for that matter?

Technologically, it isn’t an issue at all. None of Nvidia’s cards support DirectX 10.1, so it’s not like sticking to an older design has an adverse effect on what the GeForce GTS 250 can do versus its GT200-based big brothers. In fact, so long as performance goes up or sideways as price goes down, we don’t see an issue with the reintroduction of proven technology. Moreover, with software support for CUDA, PhysX, and 3D Vision enabled all the way down to GeForce 8-series GPUs (and PureVideo HD supported by everything down to 9-series GPUs), we see no reason to avoid the GTS 250 simply because it’s a rehash of the GeForce GTX 9800+.

The question changes when you look at it from a marketing angle, though. Officially, Nvidia is updating nomenclature to reflect the way its high-end cards (the GTX 260, 280, 285, and 295) are referenced. The GeForce GTS 250 is thus understood to be a more mainstream entry into that same lineup.

If you’re more cynical, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that launching the GTS 250 makes it appear (to the less-informed) Nvidia has been up to something in the mid-range market other than selling former flagships at reduced prices.

Indeed, while a new name for the same tech does open a door for confusion amongst mainstream customers, it’s worth noting that the GeForce GTX 9800+ is being end-of-life’d and should cease to be a redundancy in the company’s lineup soon enough.

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