An aging GPU is put to good use. This card packs plenty of graphical power into a small and cool package.
The GV-N250ZL-1GI uses Nvidia’s GeForce GTS 250 chipset, which launched a few months ago to very little fanfare.
This is because it’s the sixth design based on Nvidia’s G92 GPU, which has been around since late 2007, most recently appearing as the 9800 GTX+ (and previously in the 8800 GT, 8800 GTS, 9800 GT and 9800 GTX). Owners of any of these cards who are looking to upgrade should steer well clear of a GTS 250.
It’s not all bad, though. The GTS 250 is smaller than previous G92 cards at only 207mm long, and takes up a single expansion slot in your PC, although a large card in the neighbouring slot could obstruct the fan’s airflow. In addition, it requires only one 6-pin power socket. This means the card will be compatible with most PCs.
The GV-N250ZL-1GI has had some notable upgrades over the GTS 250 reference design. Gigabyte has brought its ‘Ultra Durable’ branding across from its motherboard range, which means this card has extra copper at the core of its PCB and uses high-quality capacitors and ferrite chokes. Gigabyte claims these features increase power efficiency and reduce GPU temperatures. It comes with 1GB of memory, too – more than you usually find on a mid-range card.
The most obvious addition is a heatsink from cooling specialist Zalman. It’s an impressive piece of engineering, with four heatpipes, plenty of surface area and a large fan. The latter makes little noise, even when the card runs at full tilt. It’s both cooler and quieter than the Radeon HD 4770.
Performance is impressive, if not outstanding. We managed to get Crysis to run at a smooth 30fps by reducing anti-aliasing to 2x. In Call of Duty, it produced smooth frame rates even at the highest resolutions, achieving 50.1fps at a full HD resolution of 1,920×1,080. It’s marginally quicker in our games tests than our current favourite, the HD 4770, but then it costs around £28 more.
We managed to overclock our card’s GPU from 740MHz to 830MHz. This speed boost gave us 60fps in Call of Duty 4 and 30fps in Crysis.
This card shows that the aging G92 GPU isn’t quite ready for the scrapheap. If you’re looking for a fast graphics card but don’t have the space or power supply to handle a high-end model such as the GTX275, this is a good buy. If power and space aren’t an issue, an ATI HD 4870 with 512MB of RAM is slightly faster and costs around the same. Most casual gamers will find the HD 4770 perfectly suitable for their needs, though, and far easier on their wallets.
|Interface||PCI Express x16 2.0|
|Slots taken up||1|
|Graphics Processor||Nvidia GeForce GTS 250|
|GPU clock speed||740MHz|
|Architecture||128 stream processors|
|Power leads required||1x 6-pin PCI Express|
|3DMark Vantage 1680||4,047|
|Call of Duty 4 1680 4xAA||54.5fps|
|Call of Duty 4 1440 4xAA||63.7fps|
|Crysis 1680 High 4xAA||27.3fps|
|Crysis 1440 High 4xAA||32.7fps|
|Warranty||one year RTB|