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Appeared on: Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Gainward GT220 Vs Inno3D GT210

1. The Inno3D GeForce GT210

Nvidia has recently released its first 40nm GPUs with the entry level GeForce GT 220 & GeForce 210 graphics cards. These two new entries to the 200 series pack quite a punch when comparing the shaders. GT220 has around 50% more shaders than 9500GT, and 210 100% more than 8400GS, according to Nvidia. Generally, both GeForce GT 220 & GeForce 210 brings some extra graphics processing power for everyday applications at an affordable price.

Today we put side by side the Inno3D GT 210 and the Gainward GT220. Before running the benchmarks, let's see some extra information about these two solutions.

- Inno3D GT210

As one of Nvidia's partner, Inno3D has launched the Inno3D GeForce 210 . As we previously mentioned, the card offers enough graphics processing power to modern PCs to deliver beautiful graphics, video, responsive photo editing and a Premium Windows 7 Experience.

The new Inno3D GeForce G210 surpasses its’ predecessor (GeForce 8400GS) with high 3DM Vantage benchmarks while achieving optimized performance with all the latest features in the market. Below are the product's features:

The Inno3D GT210 is a low profile card mostly aimed for the HTPC market. It comes with an 40nm GT218 chip, 16 processing cores, 8 groups of TFU, 8 groups of TAU, 4 groups of ROP and a 512MB SDDR3 memory (64bit). The core/memory/shaders clock are 598/1066/1402MHz respectively, with support for DirectX 10.1, OpenGL 3.0, PureVideo, PhysX, and especially CUDA, a feature Nvidia advertises a lot.

- The package

The Inno3D GT210 comes in a small box and retail for just ~€40, VAT included.

The package is fully decorated with numerous teasing logos and of course the sticker for the CUDA support, which accelerate many applications using the GPU and essentially reducing the load of the CPU.

Let's open the box. The graphics card is packaged into an anti-static bag. Other than the card itself, you will find just an installation kit and a CD-ROM with drivers and software. Don't expect to see any games or connectors - we have to do with a low-priced product here aimed at the entry market.

The card is really small compared to the currently sold Nvidia GTX2xx series. Powered by a 40nm GPU, the card does not need any additional external power besides the PCI E interface.

Removing the Inno3D cooler will unveil the Qimonda SDDR3 chipset and the Infineon mofsets.

The Inno3D GT210 offers VGA, HDMI and DVI-D outputs making it a truly universal product for most users.

We installed the graphics card and fired up GPU-Z utility. As you can see below, the GPU core runs at 589MHz, the memory at 533MHz and the Shaders at 1402MHz.

For our tests we installed the Nvidia Ver. 195.39 of drivers.

2. The Gainward GeForce GT220

Gainward's implementation of the GeForce GT220 design is the Gainward GT220, which comes with with 1GB of DDR3 memory and promises to offer even higher performance than the GT210 series:

- Retail package

The Gainward GT220 retail package would cost you around € 80 (including VAT), which is almost two times the price of the Inno3D GT210 series.

The package includes the graphics card, an installation kit and a CD-ROM with drivers and software:

The board of the GT220 series looks more solid and its also bigger in height compared with the GT210 cards. As we mentioned for the Inno3D GT210 products, the Gainward GT220 does not require any extra power supply to operate:

The available outputs include a VGA, an HDMI and a DVI-D ports:

According to GPU-Z, the Gainward GT220 is clocked at 645MHz (GPU), its memory runs at 790MHz and the Shaders operate at 1403MHz. As a result, this product features much higher clockings than the Inno3D GT210 series:

3. Testbed, benchmark software
- Setup

All the test were conducted using the following PC setup using the same version of graphics drivers.

Many games and applications were also used to evaluate the performance of each graphics card. The FRAPS software was also used to measure the in game performance when needed.

DirectX 9


4. DirectX 9, DirectX 10 Software
- Testbed DirectX9

For all the tests we used the default settings of the 3DMark05 software as you can see below:

Again we left all the settings to default:

- Testbed DirectX10

We used the three built- in benchmarks to test the performance of each graphics card. We measured the performances at various resolutions using the "Performance" and up to the "Extreme" settings.

We used the built-in benchmark with all the graphics detail settings maxed out.

We used the hocbench Crysis benchmark tool at the resolutions of 1280x1024, 1680x1050 and finally 1920x1200. We run the benchmark software with "High" and "Very High" details enabled in order to identify the optimum settings for a decent game play.

We used the FRAMEBuffer benchmark tool at 1280x1024, 1680x1050 and finally at 1920x1200. All the possible quality levels were set in order to get an idea of what each graphics card can offer.

We used the built-in benchmarking utility and maxed out all visual details, under both DX9/DX10 and settings up to 16x AA/16x AF.

5. Benchmarks - FutureMark Hall Of Fame

The Futuremark benchmarks have been highly discussed among gamers and reviewers. For your information we post the results coming from 3DMark 05, 3DMark 06 and of course the latest 3DMark Vantage benchmark. Here you can have a rough idea of what can you can expect from each tested graphics card.

As it was expected, the Gainward GT220 and the Inno3D GT210 series don't perform as well as many other graphic cards:

In fact, the Gainward GT220 was very weak, while the Inno3D GT210 gave the lowest 3DMark 05 score we have ever measured in our labs. These figures indicate that the Gainward GT220 could give you some decent 3D performance, while the Inno3D GT210 is only capable for "basic" 3D gaming.

The 3DMark 06 scores are also very low:

Finally, the 3DMark Vantage gives scores after testing each card at various resolutions and up to 1920x1200. The Inno3D GT210 gave unreliable scores (due to low FPS), while the Gainward GT220 was more powerful but still, it was s lower than the Nvidia 9600GT series. Despite the not so encouraging results, we hope that the tests that follow using with real games will show some better performances.

6. Benchmarks - Crysis (DirectX10)

Let's fire up the very demanding Crysis game. While most of the graphics cards offer acceptable frame rates at 1280x1024 (high quality settings), we cannot say the same for the two Inno3D GT210 and the Gainward GT220 products.

The Gainward GT220 gave just 17 FPS (average), while the Inno3D GT210 struggles to complete the test with just.6.0 FPS:

Enabling the very high quality settings isn't a great idea but anyway we post the scores below for your information. As you can see, both GeForce GT210 and GT220 lack of enough horsepower to run this game:

7. Benchmarks - Crysis Warhead (DirectX9, DirectX10)

Compared to the original Crysis title, the latest "Crysis Warhead" features visual improvements in both the DirectX9 and the DirectX10 rendering modes.

Below you can see the test results we got at after testing the graphics cards at the possible resolutions with anti-aliasing disabled.

The Inno3D GT210 would theoretically perform decently at the resolution of 1280X1024 only. Even with the visual details set to ":Low", the card gave rather low scores, with an average rendering speed of 25.27. The lowest scores should be above 30FPS for action games like "Crysis Warhead", meaning that you cannot actually play Crysis with the GeForce GT210 series:

The performance of the Gainward GT220 is much better. You can go up to 1920x1200 using the " Performance" visual details, having good average FPS in both DX9/DX10 modes. If you stay at the 1280x1024 or lower and the DX9, you may be able to play game even at the "Mainstream" visual level.

So you'd better leave the rest modes to more powerful graphics cards.

The rest modes are for more powerful graphic cards..

8. Benchmarks - Company Of Heroes v1.71 (DirectX 10)

Company Of Heroes is a popular action/strategy game with many fans around the world. it was the first game ever to take advantage of the DirectX10 and also offers impressive game physics. Though this would be a less demanding game for the cards we test today, we maxed out all the visual details and measured the FPS performance of each card at resolutions of up to full HD.

However, the benchmark results were again disappointing. The Inno3D GT210 could give you some performance if you lowered all the visual details and use the DX9 shaders. In our comparison tests, the card gave really low scores.

On the other hand, the GT220 showed some descent performance but again, you will need to cut down the visual details and make some trial tests until you find the sweet point that will give you acceptable frame rates:

9. Benchmarks - Far Cry 2 (DirectX 9/10)

Far Cry 2 supports both DirectX 9 and DirectX10 and its graphics engine is much lighter than the one used by the Crysis game. This allows most of the graphics cards to perform nicely, even at 1920x1200 with 16xAA/16xAF enabled. But let's see what the Inno3D GT210 and Gainward GT220 solutions can do here.

Unfortunately, the Inno3D GT210 is still very weak. In the DX9 mode and with the resolution set at 1280x1024, the card managed to give an average FPS of just 17.22, using the lowest visual details available. As you realize, choosing the the DX10 mode and increasing the visual/resolution settings is out of question here..

On the other hand, the more powerful Gainward GT220 gave better results and could give you a more acceptable performance even at 1920 x 1080, as soon as you select the "High" visual detail settings.

10. Benchmarks - -Half Life 2 Episode 2 (DirectX 9), Left4Dead, StreetFighter IV

- Half Life 2 Episode 2 (DirectX 9)

Half Life 2 is a first person shooter game that everybody has played and loved. In Episode 2, the game came with several visual improvements and optimizations allowing all the tested cards to generally perform well.

We ran this benchmark at resolutions up to 1920 x 1200 with 4xAA and 16AF enabled and the visuals set at "Highest Details".

As it was expected, the The Inno3D GT210 gave very low scores again.

The Gainward GT220 showed a better behavior and gave some good FPS for its category, although you might need to drop Anti Aliasing in order have an extra performance boost:

- Left4Dead

For this game, we used a custom timedemo and measured the performance of the graphics card at resolutions of up to 1920x1200 with 16xAF enabled and all visual settings maxed out. For the FPS measurements, we used the embedded console.

The Inno3D GT210 isn't a graphics card that could provide any serious 3D performance. On the other hand, the GT220 could be used with this game if you lower the visual details and stay with the resolution of 1280x1024.

- StreetFighter IV

Lastly, two more benchmarks from the Streetfighter IV and Unigine benchmark demonstrate the graphics performance of the two tested cards.

11. CUDA compatibility, Overclocking
- CUDA Compatibility

Both the Inno3D GT210 and the Gainward GT220 products support Nvidia's CUDA technology, which can accelerate various tasks as soon as you use a software that supports CUDA.

A common scenario would be the video playback as well as video/audio encoding. CUDA would be very useful for a product such as the "weak" GT210 series, since it could give an extra performance boost when the card is powering an HTPC.

For our tests we used CyberLink's PowerDVD 9 with the latest updates installed. Our tests showed that enabling the hardware acceleration significantly drops the utilization of the CPU.

The results are impressive. With the hardware acceleration enabled, the CPU Usage dropped down to 1%, meaning that all the rendering load had passed to the GPU leaving our CPU available for other tasks.

The benefit of hardware acceleration could not be very obvious in powerful systems, but users of low powered systems (like Atom systems) would highly appreciate it. CUDA could also help a lot in applications like Photoshop, TMPGEnc etc.

- Overclocking

The overclocking margins of any graphics card highly depend on their factory clockings (core/memory) as well as on the efficiency of their cooling system. We were curious to see which would be the limits of the Inno3D GT210 and Gainward GT220 cards due to their 40nm design.

Since the Rivatuner utility didn't support the GT220/GT210 cards out-of-the-box, we used Nvidia's own OC tuner.

The best score for stable operation we got with the Gainward GT220 was 699MHz/1578MHz/900MHz for core/shaders/memory. The results are very good and have in mind that a more efficient cooler could allow you to obtained even higher overclocking:

Passing to the more underpowered Inno3D GT210 and by following the same method, we managed to get even much higher overclocking margins. The card gave a stable operation at 753MHz/1655MHz/639MHz for the core, shaders and memory, respectively. We should note here that although a good overclocking could benefit such underpowered graphics card, don't expect any serious improvements with demanding games like Crysis.

12. Final words

Both the Inno3D GT210 and Gainward GT220 are Nvidia's first two products based on a 40nm GPU. These entry-level graphics cards promise to offer good performance with HD playback at a fraction of a cost.. After spending many hours using and testing the two graphics cards, we summarize our final thoughts.

The Inno3D GT210 is a good graphics card for office use and HD playback, especially when installed in an HTPC. It has a low height, it is noiseless and it doesn't need any external power. The CUDA technology is available and offers low CPU usage when the application supports it, as we experienced using Cyberlink's PowerDVD 9 software. The low price of the card make it ideal for OEMs who need to use it in low cost PCs.

Gaming is also possible with the Inno3D GT210 but in most cases you have to set all the visual details down to the lowest level and decrease the resolution in order to get an acceptable frame rate (higher than 30FPS). have in mind that the specific products is not aimed at gamers after all.

The Gainward GT220 would cost you double the money you would spend for the Inno3D GT210 but it is also a better solution in terms of gaming performance. The card is higher and bigger than the Inno3D GT210, it supports the CUDA technology and has three outputs (VGA,DVI, HDMI). But the real difference is the good gaming performance of Gainward's solution, even with demanding games like Crysis with the visual details enabled "High details." However, comparing the GT220 graphics card with other products such as ATI's 4770 series, the GT220 is weaker although it is equally priced. This will not help the sales of the GT220 series.

We overclocked both cards using Nvidia's tools and the results were very good, especially for the GT210. Although this overclocking cannot significantly change the performance of the card in demanding games or applications, it adds some extra horsepower.

The Inno3D GT210 is aimed at entry-level users who need HD playback, low noise operation and some very basic gaming. The Gainward GT220 is much better in 3D Gaming, offers HD playback but would cost you more.

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