After a slew of ATI Radeon graphics cards, it is indeed refreshing to get a nVidia card into our labs. The Zotac GeForce GT 240 is an nVidia-based graphics card that is aimed at budget rigs. Updated 12 August 2010.
The GT 240 is the only DirectX 10.1 card here. With nVidia yet to release budget-priced DirectX 11.0 cards, the GT 240 costs just £80 – but you can buy the DirectX 11.0-capable 5670 for £4 less.
Bigger and wider than its little brother, the GT 220, the 240 is nonetheless quite compact. Its heatsink and embedded fan generate little noise, and the power needs are modest. Consuming just 70W under maximum load, it can’t quite compete in this regard with the 61W 5670 – although in idle mode, it consumes just 9W compared to the 5670’s 14W. It requires no additional power connectors and two digital ports (HDMI and DVI) are included alongside VGA.
Usefully, you also get a pair of paper 3D glasses. These work surprisingly well with nVidia’s 3D Vision technology.
The specifications don’t make for good reading – there’s just 512MB of RAM (perhaps 1GB would be wasted here) and the 240 uses GDDR3 memory. While the 5670’s GDDR5 can quadruple the memory clock speed, GDDR3 can merely double it. And the GT 240 has a slower clock speed to begin with – its 790MHz results in a memory bandwidth of 25.3GBps. GDDR5 versions are available, but even these can’t make up for the GT 240’s other failings.
The core clock speed of 550MHz is 225MHz down on the 5670. Combined with the paltry 96 stream processors, and the GT 240’s 106 gigaflops (GFlops) of floating-point performance is abysmal – the 5670 offers 620GFlops. The GT 240 betters its rival on shaders, but all in all this is a fairly disappointing set of specs.
Given the gulf in features, you might expect the GT 240 to be destroyed in the gaming tests. In fact, it gave solid results, just beating the 5670 in the undemanding Hawx. And in the DirectX 10.x part of Heaven and in Crysis, it never fell more than 2fps behind.
In many respects, the lack of DirectX 11.0 support is a red herring – nobody will buy a card at this price to play DirectX 11.0 games. But the 5670 boasts a superior feature set, and beat it in the majority of our games tests. It’s also £4 cheaper.
Pros: Cheap; low power needs
Cons: Poor spec; not great performance; no DirectX 11.0 support
NEXT: our expert verdict >>