Asus GT240 1GB Review

RHKCommander959 - 2010-05-04 06:52:14 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: RHKCommander959   
Reviewed on: May 18, 2010
Price: $TBD

Introduction:

Nvidia has finally released the GTX 480 and other cards in the 400 series family – skipping over the 300 naming scheme. GT 240's and similar still trickle out from manufacturers, though. Based on the G92 architecture, it is essentially a modern 8800. GT 240's are proving to be great PhysX and Folding@Home graphics cards, provide DirectX 10.1 inexpensively, and do not require auxiliary power in either 6-pin or 8-pin PCI Express formats, as they run solely off of the PCI Express slot they are installed in. ASUS has provided another GT 240 with 1GB of GDDR5 clocked at 1700 MHz, with the GPU clock at 550 MHz and shaders at 1340 MHz The shader speed is very low on GT 240's and should have a decent amount of overclocking headroom. The memory BUS is 128bit and memory bandwidth speed is balanced with the GDDR5, which is cheaper per IC than GDDR3 and more efficient, and the smaller memory BUS means that the graphics card is all around more cost efficient – a smart move by Nvidia. The GT 240 can support DVI, VGA, and HDMI output – most users will not need an adapter to use the graphics card immediately.

The GT 240 is not SLI compatible, except for the SLI + PhysX mode where this graphics card can be used for PhysX processing solely. Most have overclocking headroom to spare and provide great PhysX processing power, if used on their own they do decently, but don't expect high-end gaming out of this card. If used for the right purpose they can be great graphics cards, though.

 

Closer Look:

The box has an Orc creature prominently in the center, with a badge and bold World of Warcraft logo to the right that shows off the “exclusive” gifts from ASUS – a free World of Warcraft 14-day trial and a door hanger similar to the ones that other companies provide, except this one is all about WoW and not the card. The 14-day free trial is also available for free from Blizzard directly as a 10-day free trial. The left side has ASUS company logo at the top left and ENGT240 at the bottom left with supported features such as Nvidia PhysX and CUDA. Turning to the back side shows some basic features and specifications, and at the bottom, the recommended system requirements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The side has another ASUS logo and ENGT240, 1GB GDDR5, and a sticker with the part and serial number, UPC, and other numbers. Opening up the box we find the graphics card is protected in the standard anti-static bag. Other than the graphics card, the box includes a “I'm raiding, leave me alone” door hanger, driver disk, manual on a disk, and a quick guide manual to setting up the card. Personally I wouldn't put the door tag up, but maybe some WoW fans would – looks like a decent door hanger, I suppose.

 

 

 

Time to examine the graphics card!

Closer Look:

Nvidia has a few different options available for configuring the GT 240 cards - either 512MB or 1GB of graphics memory are available size options in both GDDR3 and GDDR5 IC flavors. All circuit boards have been the same length so far and most, if not all of them, come with DVI, VGA, and HDMI output mounted. The board does not feature SLI connections, as the GT 240 series does not support SLI - these cards can however be used in a SLI+PhysX environment where the GT 240 would serve as a PhysX processor. Another missing feature is the lack of auxiliary power connections - these cards draw all of their power through the PCI Express slot, which is rated for 75 Watts and goes to show that these cards have low energy requirements. The lower power requirements stem from the carefully designed operating speeds of the core and memory - 550 MHz core, 1340 MHz shader, and 1700 MHz memory and when combined with a refined circuit board and die shrink, produces a card capable of running off the PCI Express slot power output. The heat sink is reminiscent of ASUS Gladiator heat sinks equipped on other graphics cards that they produce, and is similar in size to the Arctic Cooling Accelero L2 Pro that was mounted on the GT 240 from ECS that I reviewed earlier this year. The fan used only has two wires, so RPM sensing is impossible. Flipping to the back side we see no back plate which is typical for GT 240's, and a clean and relatively empty back side, although there are a few globs of electronics in the usual places - mainly behind the core. Four memory IC's are on each side - the four on the top are hidden by the heat sink, while the rear ones are all exposed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ASUS GT 240 supports the most common visual output standards - DVI, VGA, and HDMI. Personally I prefer dual DVI, because an adapter to VGA can be had for cheap if necessary. Adapters to convert VGA to DVI do exist though, but are less available and do not provide full functionality. The heat sink hovers over small capacitors and four of the eight memory chips. Even the top side is fairly barren of electronics, except for the microelectronics. The heat sink uses standoffs similar to the ones used for motherboards in computer cases to bolt to the graphics card and when combined with the thick base, provides the clearance over the small capacitors and other electronics.

 

 

Time to take a peek at drivers and software!

Closer Look:

After installing the video card, users will need to install drivers to properly initialize it. Nvidia has drivers and extra software that can use PhysX and CUDA - two supported technologies that enable software to run faster than before for video encoding as well as other types of number crunching; Folding@Home makes good use of Nvidia cards as well. Ntune can be downloaded and is added to the Nvidia Control Panel to enable overclocking, fan control, as well as resolution and output quality and control through the standard Nvidia Control Panel. Ntune can also adjust settings on some Nvidia chipset boards. PhysX and 3D Stereoscopic vision are also enabled in Nvidia Control Panel. Inserting the driver disc will bring about an auto-play window with options for installing drivers and software.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Installing the Nvidia driver is really straightforward, just agree to terms and conditions and click next a few times. Once the drivers are done and the system has been reset to reinitialize the video card, settings can be adjusted; there are five groups to choose settings from after installing Ntune. 3D handles in-game settings such as anti-aliasing. Display covers everything that affects visual display on devices such as monitors; the output can be rotated, colors enhanced, brightness adjusted, resolution changed, and so on. Performance allows the graphics card and system to be overhauled and monitored for safe temperatures. Stereoscopic 3D is where users go to turn 3D on or off for Nvidia cards using either 3D Vision technology or anaglyph technology - the anaglyph technology only requires a pair of red and blue 3D glasses that are usually free/cheap, whereas the 3D Vision costs a bit more - special LCD glasses and a 120Hz monitor. Video is just that, video quality adjustments. Next, Badaboom can be properly installed; Badaboom does not require a system restart before the first run, so on to the program!

 

 

 

Once installed, Badaboom empowers users to quickly convert and compress movies for devices such as smart phones, portable media devices, and the Internet aided by Nvidia CUDA technologies. The program is fairly basic so users shouldn't have too hard of a time getting it to do what they need from it, though it only installs as a free limited time trial. Clicking on the advanced tab can also be daunting, as there aren't a whole lot of options but the ones that are there may not immediately make sense. The program can make use of DVDs, DVD files, and other files for converting and compression.

 

 

vReveal is another video program but it is able to clean up and fix videos. Say you were shaky while recording a special moment - vReveal can help fix it. If the video is too poorly compressed, it can try to fix that too! vReveal is powered by Nvidia CUDA GPUs to use their parallel processing power and greatly save time over CPU based applications. This software is great for people who have many home videos or people who record TV or other video sources, and for those that like to upload their own files to YouTube or Facebook. There are free demos of Badaboom and vReveal available at their respective websites.

 

 

Now we can test out the ECS GT 240 512MB!

Specifications:

GPU (Graphics Processing Unit)
Powered by NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 240 GPU
Fully supports Microsoft® DirectX® 10.1
Fully supports OpenGL® 3.2(Requires R190 drivers or later)
GPU Clock
550 MHz
Shader Clock
1340 MHz
Memory Clock
1700 MHz
Memory Interface Bus
128bit
Memory Type
GDDR5 
Memory Size (MB)
1024 MB
Bus Standard
Supports PCI Express 2.0 interface
Microsoft® DirectX®
10.1
Output
DVI-I, VGA and HDMI Output

 

Features:

 

 

All Information courtesy of ASUS

Testing:

Testing the ASUS GT 240 is done following a strict guideline that I adhere to - the video card is benchmarked and the results are tallied up on pages six to fifteen. For the game tests, Far Cry 2, Crysis Warhead, Darkest of Days, Call of Duty: World at War, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Resident Evil 5, Left 4 Dead, and the benchmarks 3DMark 06 and 3DMark Vantage. Since the GT 240 isn't very powerful, it is tested with lower game/benchmark settings and compared to other graphics cards at the same settings that perform and cost somewhat similarly. After all that testing, I will repeat the testing after overclocking the card to a higher, but stable speed.

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

I am amazed by how far the ASUS GT 240 was willing to overclock! All testing was completely stable at the speeds 650 MHz core, 1745 MHz Shader, and 1850 MHz memory, equating to approximate gains of 18%, 30%, and 9% respectively. I managed to hit the wall for MSI Afterburner and other overclocking software for shader speed, while the core and memory were at their own inherent speed limitations. At stock idle, the GPU core was running at low to mid 20's °C and load overclocked somewhere in the mid to high 40's °C depending on the test.

 

 

  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Crysis Warhead
  3. Darkest of Days
  4. Call of Duty: World at War
  5. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II
  6. Batman: Arkham Asylum
  7. Resident Evil 5
  8. Left 4 Dead
  9. 3DMark 06 Professional
  10. 3DMark Vantage

Testing:

Far Cry 2:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built specially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real-time effects and damage. This next generation first-person shooter comes to us from Ubisoft, surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this Far Cry game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Performance between the ASUS and ECS GT 240's line up similarly, 1 FPS apart rounded up. The difference could be the 1GB of memory on the ASUS versus the 512MB on the ECS, or just within standard error/rounding. Overclocking gained nearly 15% performance bringing better performance than the Sapphire 4670 consistently.

Testing:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the storyline of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and Aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again lining up as they should - the ECS and ASUS GT 240 are neck and neck at stock until higher resolutions, where the ASUS pulled ahead a frame. Overclocking brings good gains once more, although oddly enough, performance gains weren't as high at 1280x1024 as they were on other resolutions. The 4670 doesn't come close with Crysis Warhead and the overclocked settings were giving double the frames of the INNO 3D GT 220 in the higher resolutions.

Testing:

What would testing be if you did not show both sides of the fence? In this test, PhysX was set to low, while leaving the remaining settings intact. You have seen time and again where the ATI cards suffer when PhysX is enabled. Mirror's Edge and Cryostasis are two prime examples. Darkest of Days is no different. What happens in this test shows that, although the game can be played by cards from the red team, the video effects and quality are diminished.

Game Settings:

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Darkest of Days had gains of 3 FPS per resolution for the overclocked results - the 4670 came out far ahead with this game. Overall, the frame rate of all the cards save for the mid-range ones, were low.

Testing:

Activision's Call of Duty: World at War goes right back to the bread and butter of the franchise - WWII FPS action. In this rendition, you start off in the South Pacific and move through a series of missions that flip back and forth between the Russian front and the island hopping advance toward the Imperial Japanese homeland. Included is a mission on Peliliu Island, arguably one of the more difficult and costly battles in the Pacific theater. The gameplay in the single player mode is rather short, but the game makes up for this shortcoming in online gameplay. If you thought COD4 looked nice, this game is amazing with the graphics maxed out playing at a large resolution. This game just may be my reason to move to a 30-inch monitor. I will use Fraps to measure a section of gameplay in the Semper Fi map on Makin Island to compare performance of these video cards.

Settings:

 

 

  

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

Call of Duty: World at War shows the three GT 240's scoring similarly, with gains over 20% in FPS from overclocking. At stock, the GT 240's score slightly better than the 4670 and when overclocked, the ASUS pushes itself between the 4670 and 4770.

Testing:

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II is a real-time strategy game that is significantly different than its predecessor, with improved AI and an improved physics engine. You can play either as single player in campaign mode, or in a multiplayer game where Microsoft's Live ranking system can be used.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gains were similar to Crysis Warhead, where the low resolution had a small gain of 2 FPS and the other two had big gains of 9-11 FPS. Overclocked it fell right in line behind the GTS 250 and far past the 4670.

Testing:

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a newer game that brings together two bitter rivals, the Joker and Batman. The Joker has taken over Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. Your task is to rein the Joker back in and restore order. This game makes use of PhysX technology to create a rich environment for you to become the Dark Knight.

Game Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Batman: Arkham Asylum is very playable at medium settings and even the GT 220's put out solid scores. Overclocking gains were huge, again ranging from 14 to 22 FPS. Overclocked results were nearly identical to the ASUS 4770 and while at stock, testing the 4670 still wasn't a worthy competitor.

Testing:

Resident Evil 5 is the sequel to one of the best selling video games of all time. You play the game as Chris Redfield, a survivor of the events at Raccoon City, who now works for the BSAA. Sent to Africa to find the genesis of the latest Bio Organic agents, you meet up with another BSAA operative and work together to solve the problem. The game offers incredible 3D effects and co-op multiplayer.

Game Settings:

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another game that scaled well with overclocking, as gains over 20% were recorded! At stock, the 4670 got smoked and with overclocking, the GT 240 was able to beat out the 4770 again and fall behind the GTS 250.

Testing:

Left 4 Dead is a new release from Valve that leaves you as part of a group of survivors in a world where an infection has rapidly turned the populace into a zombie horde. Your goal is to make it to a rescue point, all while fighting what seems like overwhelming odds. Along the way there are safe houses where you can replenish your weapons and health. The movie "I Am Legend" comes to mind to set the stage for this game. But unlike the movie, there are four characters and not just a lone gun and his faithful companion. The horde is not at all like the typical slow walking, foot shuffling zombies. These zombies are quick and work with pack mentality. You have but one job; survival!

Settings:

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

Left 4 Dead was very playable with medium settings as well. At stock speeds, the GT 240 proved to be superior to the 4670 again, but the mid-range cards left the pack in the dust. Overclocking helped quite a bit and would allow for the settings to be cranked up a bit.

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest begins. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 
 

  

 

 

 

The GT 240 fell far away from its stronger brother - the GTS 250. Even overclocking left a decent gap between the ASUS GT 240 and the ASUS 4770 in 3DMark 06.

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista-based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. "Entry" is 1024x768 progressing to "Extreme" at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

Settings:

  

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The GT 240's fell between the low and mid-range cards. Overclocking pushed the scores up a solid amount, but not enough to meet the mid-range cards. At high, the ASUS card manages to pass 4000 points.

Conclusion:

Highly 'overclockable' and cool running, the ASUS GT 240 provided solid performance in its price group and overclocked surprisingly well for being a low to mid-range card. The high shader speed that I achieved would work great towards pumping work units out in Folding@Home and the overall performance could make this a good upgrade for computers suffering from on-board video, as it is a drop-in upgrade requiring only an open PCI Express slot. The free World of Warcraft gift bundle was entertaining to find as a gift, but on a side note, the free trial is also available directly from the WoW website, though the door hanger only comes with the ASUS GT 240!

The great operating temperatures and overclocking capability make this a great graphics card. During testing, it ran completely stable at stock and at overclocked settings once I found what the limitations were. The included accessories were more numerous than with the other GT 240's that I've reviewed, as well. The only con that immediately comes to mind, is that the free game wasn't a better game and that it was only an already free-trial. The ASUS GT 240 is not the biggest kid on the block, but offers up more than just casual gaming performance, with the ability to use many of the applications on the market that make use of CUDA to enhance the user experience with programs such as vReveal and Badaboom. Throw in the better than stock cooling and you have a lower cost, but not quite entry level card, that runs cool and overclocks to boot.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: