NVIDIA’s GeForce GT 240: The Card That Doesn't Matterby Ryan Smith on January 6, 2010 12:00 AM EST
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In wrapping things up, perhaps it’s best if we start off with the most positive news. Asus and EVGA have been able to take NVIDIA’s GeForce GT 240 and make from it some of the coolest and quietest cards we have ever tested. The Asus GeForce GT 240 GDDR5 in particular has the best balance of noise and GPU temperatures that we have ever seen, and if you don’t mind a double-wide card it’s for all practical purposes a well-cooled passively-cooled card – it’s that quiet.
Meanwhile the EVGA GeForce GT 240 GDDR5 Superclock not only does a good job of fitting the GT 240 in to a single-slot design, but it showcases the strong overclocking potential of the GT 240 GPU. Its only shame is that for a factory-overclocked card it really isn’t a notable overclock, thanks to the fact that EVGA is trapped by the 75W power ceiling for a PCIe card without secondary power plugs.
And that’s really all of the good news that there is.
I hesitate to call the GT 240 a “bad” GPU – neither NVIDIA or AMD have made a truly bad product in a number of years. Every product has its place if NVIDIA, AMD, and their partners can find it and put it there. However the DDR3-based GT 240s get quite close to this mark with their poor performance compared to their equally-priced GDDR5-based counterparts, and for that reason we must suggest to avoid the DDR3 GT 240 at all costs. If you have to get a GT 240, then get one with GDDR5, as the performance difference is simply too much to ignore.
Ultimately, NVIDIA and their partners repeated the GT 220 launch, having failed to find the right place for the GT 240 in the consumer market. As a result even for well-designed cards like the Asus and EVGA cards, they’re just not desirable cards worth purchasing at these prices.
The root of the problem is that NVIDIA has built other, better cards. Performance-wise the GT 240 is a fair replacement for the 9600 GT, a card that it trades blows with most of the time. It’s not any better in performance than the 9600 GT and the DX10.1 and VP4 video decode functionality are of very limited use, but if the 9600 GT were to disappear from the market and be replaced by the GT 240 at a lower price-point, I don’t think anyone would complain.
But with an MSRP of $99, that’s not what the GT 240 competes with. $99 is solidly in 9800 GT territory, with deals regularly bringing even top-tier manufacturers’ cards down to as low as $79. So even if you throw a rebate on a GT 240 card (we found the Asus for $85 after rebate), you’re still competing with 9800 GT cards. The GT 240 is no match for the 9800 GT when it comes to performance, so to price it at the same point is a mistake.
Worse yet for the GT 240 are the so-called “green” 9800 GTs. These cards are clocked slightly lower than a regular 9800 GT (550/1375/1800 versus 600/1500/1800), but in return their power consumption is low enough that they can forgo the PCIe power connector. There goes the GT 240’s power advantage, and such a 9800 GT is still going to be faster than the GT 240.
In some ways NVIDIA is a victim of their own success here. The G92(b) chip that the heart of the 9800 and GTS 250 series is an extremely popular chip that has sold well for over 2 years now, and there are no signs of that stopping in the near future. Unlike the GT200 chip found in the GTX200 series, the G92b has not yet been discontinued, so it’s going to continue to butt heads with the GT 240.
Like the GT 220, the GT 240 is a card that is going to be a card that only OEMs could love. It’s going to nicely fill out their spec sheets but it’s not going to bring lower prices or better performance to consumers.
For the price of the GT 240 it performs too slowly, and for the performance of the GT 240 it costs too much. We cannot under any circumstances recommend buying a GT 240, there are simply better cards out there for the price.