Power Consumption and Conclusions
Power consumption on these low end consumer GeForce cards falls into line with the Radeon HD 4670 at idle and actually runs at about 20 watts lower under a full load.
It should seem pretty obvious now that neither the GeForce 210 or the GeForce GT 220 are going to win any awards for performance. Not only that, but both of these cards are woefully underpowered when compared to AMD’s previous generation Radeon HD 4670 graphics card that sells for LESS than the GT 220. NVIDIA is making a conscious decision here to not compete on the performance front as it seems obvious that they could make a faster chip (higher clocks, more shaders) and at least match the 4500/4600-series cards in our modest gaming tests. Instead they are pushing other aspects of their graphics technology in hopes to persued buyers.
Now, while the GeForce cards lose the head to head battles, you can still do some very modest gaming on these cards. And chances are if you are interested in a sub-$100 graphics card like this, you are going to be just as content playing games at 1280×1024 as you are at 1680×1050. Obviously discerning gamers will be looking elsewhere anyway…
One area that the new GeForce 210 and GT 220 cards do stand out is in additional features. Our Galaxy models both features HDMI outputs standard which definitely add to the value of the card for use in home theater PCs or for users that want to use a TV as a primary monitor.
Another big push from NVIDIA is, of course, CUDA support. NVIDIA touts the ability of these low cost GPUs to run “more than a dozen” CUDA-accelerated applications like Nero Move It, Cyberlink PowerDirector 7 and MotionDSP vReveal. The environment for GPU computing is definitely picking up steam (though a bit slower than we had hoped) and NVIDIA’s application support is definitely ahead of that from AMD. While I still think the use cases for GPU computing are too specific to make individual GPU purchasing decisions based on them, if you are at all interested in what GPU-accelerated applications can help with the 40nm NVIDIA GPUs are a great place to start.
Finally, the GeForce 210 and GT 220 fully support Blu-ray and HD video decoding (as well as HD Flash video very soon) so even if you have a low end CPU in your system viewing Blu-ray titles won’t be an issue. Of course, AMD’s cards ALSO support HD decode acceleration.
Pricing and Availability
Both of these cards are already widely available; you can find them in stores at Best Buy and you can find other brands of both GPUs at Newegg. The GeForce 210s start at about $45 while the GT 220s are starting at $69. While the gaming performance of the new 40nm GPUs is really not even in question, the extra features might pursued some VERY light gamers to lean towards these NVIDIA options.
While we can’t fault Galaxy for this at all, the new GeForce 210s and GT 220s have a hard time standing up against the almost exactly one-year-old Radeon HD 4670 card. The gaming performance of the AMD option just blows away NVIDIA’s new parts and the added benefit of CUDA-support is really the only outstanding feature that might tempt us into picking up an NVIDIA offering. NVIDIA will still likely sell a ton of these GPUs to OEMs building systems on the cheap where gaming performance isn’t a selling point, but computer-savvy users will likely look elsewhere.