Conclusion

There’s really no way to sugar-coat this, so we won’t: the performance of the GT 220 is abysmal. Or rather, the pricing is.

The GT 220 is a value card, and that’s something we can appreciate. But for a value card to be a good value, it needs to be at the right price. NVIDIA wants to see these cards sell for $69-$79, with the best cards (those with GDDR3) selling at that $79 price point. However depending on your taste for rebates, we can get a Radeon HD 4670 for between $59 and $69, or on the NVIDIA side a 9600GT for between $69 and $85.

Either one of these cards is simply going to beat the GT 220 silly; it was never meant to compete with a 64SP NVIDIA card, or a 320SP AMD card. And don’t even get us started on the 4850 that Newegg is selling for $85 right now…

Certainly the GT 220 has some positive points. We’re glad to see that NVIDIA has finally ditched the S/PDIF cable and gone internal to enable additional HDMI audio formats, and the ability to finally offload MPEG-4 ASP decoding to the GPU is intriguing. Similarly we’re happy to see DirectX 10.1 support arrive on an NVIDIA part, and the 7W idle power usage on this card is amazing.

But so many of these things are just catching up – AMD had a card that could do DX10.1 and additional HDMI audio formats a year ago. The only thing NVIDIA has going right now is that they’re benefitting from this being a 40nm product, thanks to the lower power usage and lower production costs.

Ultimately we think this has the makings of a very good HTPC card. It’s the quietest actively cooled card we have, it runs cool, and it’s the only thing that can offload MPEG-4 ASP (or at least, will be once support is enabled). But we just can’t justify paying this much more for less performance, especially when there are passively cooled 4670s that can meet/beat the GT 220’s acoustic performance. It’s frustrating to see what’s going to be a very good HTPC card price itself right out of the market.

At the end of the day the GDDR3 GT 220s need to be priced at under $60 to be performance competitive with existing AMD and NVIDIA cards. And the cards with slower memory should be priced even lower (then again, when did memory configurations ever make sense at the low-end?). But at this point such a thing is basically a pipe dream.

As for the Palit GT 220 Sonic Edition that we’re looking at today, Palit really can’t do anything to escape the GT 220’s larger problems. With its slight factory overclock it’s going to be among the fastest GT 220 cards, but it’s a bit like being the king of a desert island. It will get you respect, but it doesn’t mean that very many people are going to want what you have.

This is turning out to be a rough fall for NVIDIA. AMD has them undoubtedly beat in price-to-performance on the high-end of the market. And with today’s launch of the GT 220, it looks like AMD has them beat on the low-end too. There are very few NVIDIA cards that offer the right level of price and performance right now; the GT 220 is not one of those cards.

We’d like to once again thank Palit for providing us with their GT 220 Sonic Edition for today’s launch

Temperature & Noise
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  • chizow - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    Is this the one you're referring to Ryan?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a...E1681412...

    From all reports and feedback I've seen, that Asus part is 96SP for $40 AR (was actually $35 at one point!) just as Ben stated.

    I don't really care about this segment of parts for actual 3D so you may be right. I was only interested in that Asus 96SP because it was identified by many users as "the card" to get for dedicated PhysX on a budget. I was hoping to find a low-power consumption candidate on 40nm for dedicated PhysX, but it seems these parts have too few SP to be viable.
    Reply
  • BenSkywalker - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    Why not include benches of the nV part that you quoted the price for then(btw- NewEgg is also listing one of the 384MB 96SP 9600GSOs for $56.49)?

    It is rather misleading to put it mildly that you decide to include benches for one part that is quite a bit cheaper, and quite a bit slower, and then quote the price on the next rung up on the performance ladder. It would be akin to showing benches for the GTX275 and lamenting it because the GTX285 was so expensive, it doesn't make any sense.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    Which part? The 9600GT, or the 48SP GSO?

    What you see are all of the low-end cards we were able to get our hands on for this article.
    Reply
  • jordanclock - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    The graphs on the "Temperature and Noise" page are high-to-low. Usually they're the opposite, following the idea that lower numbers are better. I know, I know, it's a lame nitpick.

    As for the card: If they added this checkbox feature for OEMs (which I believe) then why bother allowing for retail distribution? This card really doesn't bring anything that isn't already done with cards they already have available. Seems like a rather silly release.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    Fixed. Thanks. Reply
  • jonup - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    Ryan, the Palit table shows their 1GB card's frame buffer as 512MB. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    Seems recently there have been a lot of low-end cards with 1GB of memory onboard. Is this just a marketing ploy, or is there actually some scenario where it would be useful to have lots of memory but not much processing power? Reply
  • Concillian - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    The 1GB on low end cards is a marketing thing. The "average consumer" equates more memory with performance and generally have little to no knowledge about the importance of GPU type, speed, or graphics memory bandwidth.

    nVidia and ATi have been taking advantage of this to help add profit margin since at least the GeForce 4 MX generation.
    Reply
  • Zingam - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    This will be one craptastic graphics card for the masses! Yay!

    Good luck, NVIDIA!
    Reply
  • Dante80 - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    This could have been a killer HTPC card...one year ago.

    I understand the need for nvidia to come up with sth for this market segment, and I like very much both the improved audio and the low power consumption.

    But lets be honest here. This card has no place in the current retail market. It merely looks as a project to max margins for OEM use. OEMs can market a "Brand new card with a smaller process, DX10.1 support and 1 whole GB of memory goodness", but retail vendors and nvidia will have a hard time convincing anyone to buy this instead of going for a 9600 or a 4670.

    Since margins seem godly, nvidia should lower the price and try to saturate the market segment with these cards in a HTPC (suicide) mission. That would at least make sense to consumers.

    Reply

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