In this test, we will be taking a look at a mainstay of many GPU folders due to its power-to-price ratio: the GeForce GT240 from nVidia. The card we'll be using here was manufactured by MSI.
The box is relatively small compared to the those of high-end cards, suggesting a fairly compact form-factor. Among the many logos and stickers on the box is one stating "Military Class". Don't worry, this card isn't a secret army weapon designed to sterilise your prize rubber cactus; it's just a name used by MSI to designate cards especially suited to overclocking, due to higher-quality components and power management capabilities.
The contents of the box are kept to a minimum in keeping with the military theme:
- The graphics card
- A CD containing the graphics drivers
- Two leaflets containing truly invaluable installation tips
No cable adaptors are provided, though you're provided with a choice of three connectors: 1x VGA, 1x DVI, and 1x HDMI. This can however be an annoyance for those wishing to connect two or more monitors using the same cable type. For this, you'll have to buy the adaptor(s).
The drivers CD is fairly extensively loaded up with useful content:
- The nVidia drivers
- The Afterburner overclocking utility from MSI
- The MSI Live Update utilities
- The CUDA-powered Badaboom video conversion tool
- Links to nVidia and MSI's websites
- A demo version of PowerDVD 7
- A 60-day trial version of Norton Internet Security 2010
- A trial version of TMPGEnc 4.0 Xpress
The GPU powering this card is interesting in more ways than one. nVidia has finally decided to phase out its old G92 card and the variations derived from it. The chip powering the GT240 is named the GT215. This card is part of the same wave as the G210 and GT220, and is therefore placed near the top of the mid-range market. The GT240 is positioned as the successor to the 9600GSO and 9600GT.
The GT215 heralds the 40nm manufacturing process that will be used for the next generation GF100 chip (also known as the GTX4xx). We will see during this test if the process is delivering tangible benefits. nVidia did not see fit to impose a standard manufacturing specification on the memory cards used in the GT 240, meaning one can find versions that have GDDR3 or GDDR5, both in 512 MB and 1 GB capacities. The memory frequencies are not fixed, and similarly vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. This GPU supports Compute Capabilities 1.2, as with the G210 and GT220. CC 1.2 is very close to 1.3, which the GTX2xx series utilise, with the sole exception that the double precision calculations are not supported in 1.2. The GT215 is clocked at 550 MHz and offers 96 CUDA compute units clocked at 1340 MHz. It is capable of delivering 255 GFLOPS in its mandatory single precision mode.
MSI has opted to equip this card with GDDR5 128-bit memory, which is clocked at 1800 MHz. The cooling system consumes two slots - however, it does not directly expel air from the computer case, even if an air vent is directly facing the outputs.
Note that the GT240 is the first nVidia card to support audio output over HDMI. Combined with its relatively small size, this card should fit easily into most machines provided they have space for the dual-slot cooler. Finally, the card is fed entirely by the PCIe slot, meaning it is designed to use up to 75W.