BFG GeForce GTS 250 OC 1GB Reviewccokeman -
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Just because the GTS 250 fits nice and snug in that x16 slot doesn't mean that your job is finished. Once you start up the system and have it running, you have to get the drivers installed so that the card knows how to function properly to give you the best combination of gaming performance and visual quality. You will want to start by inserting the driver disc and installing the drivers; the better solution is to download the latest drivers directly from nVidia so that you are assured of getting the latest performance and game compatibility improvements. This option is the recommended method as there is no telling the time that the card has been on the shelf. Once the installation GUI opens up, follow the prompt and before you know it the drivers are installed and you are ready for action after the required system reboot.
Once the driver installation is completed and you restart the system, you can make your way to the nVidia control panel. In the control panel you can make adjustments to the visual quality and performance characteristics of the GTS 250. These adjustment can be coarse or fine depending on the area that is chosen. Under the 3D settings tab you can make a coarse adjustment to optimize for performance or quality or let the 3D application decide. You can fine tune the performance with managing 3D settings and last, but not least, you can enable or disable PhysX optimizations. If by chance you are running dual video cards, the SLI configuration is done here as well. On the display tab you manage all of the display functionality such as the display size and color settings. The third section, Video and Television, deals with the color and image quality settings. There are a couple of add ins that bring more functionality as well as a greater game experience. If you use the nVidia 3DVision system there will be an additional tab specifically for that so you can enable and disable the functionality.
There are a few technologies that can be used with nVidia graphics cards to take advantage of the massive performance potential designed into the company's cards. First off there is CUDA, a programming language that takes advantage of the parallel computing power of the nVidia GPU. There are already many applications that take advantage of this technology. Badaboom from Elemental Technologies uses the technology to reduce the time it takes to convert media files between different formats. There is Arcsoft's Total Media Theatre that uses CUDA technology to upscale video to HD levels by leveraging the performance of the GPU to increase the frame rate to a steady 30 plus FPS. When run in the compare mode, CPU usage peaks in the high 80+ percent range and offers reduced performance. When using CUDA technology to get the GPU to do the work, the CPU load drops to the 2 to 3% range, resulting in far superior performance.
One of the other application that uses the technology is one that is near and dear to our hearts, Folding @ Home. What this program does is use the parallel computing power of the nVidia GPU to simulate protein "folding." What is this, you ask? Well, when proteins don't fold correctly the result is some really heinous diseases such as Cancer, Alzheimer's, BSE (Mad Cow), and Cystic Fibrosis. By simulating how chains of amino acids fold or misfold, researchers hope to find cures for these diseases and more. You can find more information here. If you decide to join the ranks of the people looking for a cure, make sure you select team 12772.
One enhancement that nVidia has had success with is PhsyX technology. This technology is used to enable a more realistic gaming experience. Glass that shatters and stays in the environment instead of just fading away into the floor, curtains and cloth that move realistically and react to impacts and the wind, realistic smoke and bullet fragments and ricochets that do more than just flash on a wall. All of these things are visual enhancements that PhysX acceleration brings to the table. As of the end of 2008, there were three major game manufacturers commited to developing games using PhysX technology. These manufacturers are Take Two Interactive, Electronic Arts and THQ. One PhysX heavy title already out is Mirror's Edge