When NVIDIA launched the GT200 class of GPUs, first with the GeForce GTX 260 and GTX 280, people were wondering when mainstream versions of these top-end cards will hit the store shelves. They never did. Instead, NVIDIA went ahead with the dual-GPU GeForce GTX 295, and later the improved single GPU based GTX 285 and finally the GTX 275.
These cards are meant for high-end users and while over a year has passed since their introduction, we've yet to see a single mainstream GT200 class card. Unless you are a keen follower of the graphics scene, however, you might not know that in July, NVIDIA released two low to mid-end SKUs to OEMs with little or no fanfare. These are the GeForce GT 210 and GT 220. Now, NVIDIA is making the GeForce GT 220 retail ready, and we are eager to see if this is the mainstream GT200 class GPU we have been waiting for.
Sadly, first impressions are not promising because the GeForce GT 220 packs only 48 CUDA cores (aka stream processors). In comparison, a 'mid-range' GeForce GTX 260 packs 216 CUDA cores, giving us the indication that the GT 220 is probably going to be really low-end. In fact as a rough gauge, the GT 220 would rank between a GeForce 9500 GT and a 9600 GT model going by the number of stream processors equipped in them. And our suspicions were confirmed when we noticed that the two GT 220 cards that landed in our labs didn't require power connectors - a trait common in most low-end cards. Thankfully, the GT 220 brings about full DirectX 10.1, PhysX and CUDA support.
Clock speeds, if you are wondering, are as follows: 615MHz at the core, 1335MHz at the shaders and 1580Mhz DDR at the memory. These are the clock speeds found on the OEM versions, and according to sources on the Internet, vendors are given free rein as to what clock speeds to use. Therefore, there are no strict 'reference' clock speeds so to speak, and it is no surprise that our two cards from Galaxy and Palit sport higher clock speeds. But before we go on to introduce the cards, here's a quick look at how the 'reference' OEM model of the GeForce GT 220 stacks up against competitive comparison SKUs.
|Model||NVIDIA GeForce GT 220||NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT||NVIDIA GeForce 9500 GT||ATI Radeon HD 4670||ATI Radeon HD 4550|
|Transistor Count||Unknown||505 million||314 million||514 million||242 million|
|Stream Processor Clock||1335MHz||1625MHz||1400MHz||750MHz||600MHz|
|Texture Mapping Units (TMU) or Texture Filtering (TF) units||Unknown||32||16||32||8|
|Raster Operator Units (ROP)||Unknown||16||8||8||4|
|Memory Clock||1580 MHz DDR||1800MHz DDR||1600MHz DDR||2000MHz DDR||1600MHz DDR|
|DDR Memory Bus||128-bit||256-bit||128-bit||128-bit||64-bit|
|PCI Express Interface||PCIe x16 ver 2.0||PCIe x 16 ver 2.0||PCIe x16 ver 2.0||PCIe x16 ver 2.0||PCIe x16 ver 2.0|
|PCIe Power Connectors||None||1 x 6-pin||None||None||None|
|DVI Output Support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|HDCP Output Support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|