Current-generation mainstream graphics cards such as the Nvidia GeForce GT 240 and Radeon HD 5670 offer good performance at a sweet price point. For around Rs 5,500, you can get a card that can handle the latest games at full HD resolution with visual effects set to medium or high. Since these cards are power-efficient, you don’t need to upgrade your power supply unit either; an entry-level 350W PSU would suffice. It’s been quite a while since the GeForce GT 240 has been out and at present, every vendor has at least two variants of the card. The GT 240 comes configured with DDR3 and DDR5 memory, plus you can choose between 512 MB and 1 GB variants.
We got our hands on a 1 GB DDR3 variant of the GT 240 by Galaxy. The core and memory of the card run at stock speeds of 550 MHz and 900 MHz respectively. Till date, apart from the Zotac GT 240, we haven’t come across any GT 240 cards with a single-slot design. This one too is a dual-slot card thanks to the design of the cooler, which comprises a one-inch high finned aluminum heatsink with a 65 mm fan fitted at the center. The memory chips lie under the heatsink and hence get cooled by the fan.
Even though the card features a standard design, the aluminum housing fastened to the heatsink gives it a distinctive look. Although iIt doesn’t serve any purpose apart from covering the electronics towards the rear.
Fab process: 40 nm; Memory: 1 GB DDR3; Memory bus width: 128-bit; Core | Memory speed: 550 MHz | 900 MHz; DirectX support: 10.1; Video outputs: D-sub, DVI and HDMI.
We plugged this card into a mainstream PC powered by the AMD Athlon II X4 920 CPU and 4 GB DDR3-1333 RAM, with a standard 500W power supply .
We compared this card to the Palit GT 240 Sonic Edition, which is a 1 GB DDR5 variant of the GT 240, and the Radeon HD 5670 with 512 MB DDR5 memory.
The 3DMark Vantage scores clearly tell us where each card stands. The Radeon HD 5670 is the leader of the pack, followed by the Palit GT 240 Sonic, and then the Galaxy GT 240. We now have to see how these scores translate into real world performance.
Left 4 Dead: This game is so light that even mainstream cards can handle it at 1920×1080 with visual effects beefed up. There was hardly any perceivable difference in frame rates between the DDR3 and DDR5 variants of the GT 240. However, gameplay was smoother on the HD 5670, especially at 1920×1080.
Crysis Warhead: The Galaxy GT 240 just about managed to handle the game at 1680×1050 with the Mainstream preset. At 1920×1080, the game was playable, but it stuttered in some segments with heavy visual effects. The Palit GT 240 Sonic was slightly better off, and the Radeon HD 5670 was absolutely smooth.
Batman Arkham Asylum: This game features very good visual effects and is optimized to run smoothly even on entry-level cards with effects turned off. At 1680×1050 with effects set to Very High, it ran smoothly at 57 fps, and even at 1920×1080, gameplay was smooth at 49 fps. Here, the Palit GT 240 Sonic and Radeon HD 5670 performed significantly better, with the average frame rate as high as 64 fps at 1920×1080.
Just Cause 2: This game is so heavy on eye candy that it brings mainstream graphics cards to their knees even at low settings. With all the fancy visual effects like the bokeh filter and SS ambient occlusion turned off and other settings kept at low, the game ran at 31 fps at 1680×1050. The Palit GT 240 Sonic was around 5 fps faster. However, the HD 5670 was a clear winner, with 45 fps at 1680×1050 and 40 fps at 1920×1080, which is very respectable.
The average price of a 1 GB DDR3 variant of the GT 240 is Rs 5,200 and 1 GB DDR5 variant costs Rs 1,000 more. Priced at Rs 5,000, this card is a very good bargain if you'd like to build a gaming PC on a shoestring budget. At the moment, our favorite is the 512 MB DDR5 variant of the Radeon HD 5670, which costs Rs 5,700. It’s more powerful, consumes less power, generates less heat, and supports DirectX 11.
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