Following ATI's new range of high-end DirectX 11 cards comes nVIDIA's response - a sub-£100 DirectX 10.1 graphics card. We review the Zotac nVidia GeForce GT 220.

Sadly for those expecting a grand battle, it seems nVidia has already conceded this year's round to ATI, unleashing its first DirectX 10.1 card almost a year after ATI, with no clue when we can expect DirectX 11.0.

So let's look at what nVidia has to offer the gamer casting around below £100.

The GT 220 marks new ground for nVidia, not only adding the extra .1 increment to DirectX 10 (albeit a move unlikely to make any significant difference to today's games), but it's also the first nVidia chip based on the 40nm manufacturing process, even if ATI got there first.

Zotac's rendition of the GT 220 stays quite close to of nVidia's reference design, so we find a core clock of 625MHz and a 1580MHz memory clock. The main design of the Zotac nVidia GeForce GT 220 is very modest: a 128-bit memory interface suggesting that games performance is unlikely to be sizzling, although Zotac has gone for the higher 1GB memory configuration.

See also: Graphics cards reviews

And the Zotac nVidia GeForce GT 220 is a very efficient design that generates little heat - when idle, it consumes just 7 watt, impressive for any graphics card, rising to

The Zotac nVidia GeForce GT 220's main competition looks likely to be the ATI Radeon HD 4670 and nVidia GeForce 9600 GT. In tests, the GT 220 always found itself several frames behind the 4670, although it did usually stay within striking distance of the 9600 GT. It's hard to see nVidia keeping its 9600 for much longer, though.

We saw 22fps in Crysis Warhead at 1280x800 resolution, while Left 4 Dead could play at 55fps at the same resolution. And L4D could still manage a playable 35fps at full-HD 1920x1080.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Zotac nVidia GeForce GT 220: Specs

  • nVidia GeForce GT 220
  • 1GB GDDR3
  • 625MHz core clock
  • 790MHz memory clock (1580MHz DDR effective)
  • 400MHz RAMDAC
  • 128-bit memory interface
  • 48 stream processors
  • PCI-E interface
  • no power connectors
  • DirectX 10.1 with Shader Model 4.1
  • OpenGL 3.1
  • HDMI 1.3a and DVI connectors
  • 5-year warranty (with registration)
  • nVidia GeForce GT 220
  • 1GB GDDR3
  • 625MHz core clock
  • 790MHz memory clock (1580MHz DDR effective)
  • 400MHz RAMDAC
  • 128-bit memory interface
  • 48 stream processors
  • PCI-E interface
  • no power connectors
  • DirectX 10.1 with Shader Model 4.1
  • OpenGL 3.1
  • HDMI 1.3a and DVI connectors
  • 5-year warranty (with registration)

OUR VERDICT

The Zotac nVidia GeForce GT 220 is a solid addition to the market, especially if you need a low-power card that'll generate very little heat. While the 4670 is still available, though, we'd recommend that instead, as it offers the same DirectX 10.1 support, but with superior frame rates, at a very similar price. New sub-£100 cards from ATI should be coming out soon too, when we suspect the GT 220 will find it difficult to offer the same bang for the buck.

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