Review of ZOTAC GeForce GT 220 1GB GDDR3

ZOTAC GeForce 220 with 1GB GDDR3 is a new card targeted towards the low end market. It has a customized cooling system and should satisfy most consumers looking for a card with good High Definition capabilities.

 

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INTRODUCTION

In July 2009, NVIDIA began the transition to a 40nm manufacturing technology with two new models destined for the low end market: the GeForce GT 210 and GT 220. They were actually never destined to be sold as full retail cards but as the market has developed, NVIDIA now has full retail version of both of them.

 

The basic model (GT 210) has the “gt218” GPU which has 16 “CUDA cores”; a 64-bits interface; 512MB GDDR2 memory; 1 D-Sub, 1 DVI and 1 HDMI exit. The reference model runs on the following frequencies: 589MHz, 1402MHz and 790MHz (GPU/Shader/Memory). It replaces the old 9400 GT in NVIDIAS lineup.

 

 

The NVIDIA GT 220 reference card is based upon the “GT216” GPU which has 48 “CUDA cores”; a 128-bits interface; 1024MB GDDR3 memory; 1 D-Sub; 1 DVI and 1 HDMI exit. The reference model runs on the following frequencies: 625MHz, 1360MHz and 790MHz (GPU/Shader/Memory). It sells at around $60-$80 and it replaces the old 9600 GT and 9500 GT cards.

 

Today I will be taking a look at one of Zotac’s cards with the NVIDIA 220 layout. Zotac currently has four models based on the GT 220 GPU. The card I will be taking a closer look at today is the model “ZT-20201-10L”, here are its specifications:

 

ZOTAC 220 GeForce GT 1GB DDR3 ZT-20201-10L

GPU

GeForce GT 216

Manufacturing technology

40nm

CUDA Cores

48

Chipset clock

625MHz

GPU Core clock

1360MHz

ROPs

8

Memory

1GB GDDR3

Memory speed

1580MHz

Bus width

128bits

Memory bandwidth

25.3GB/s

Cooling system

Active single slot

Video exits

DVI-I (up to 2560×1600)
HDMI (1.3A audio + 7.1)
VGA (up to 2048×1536)

Compatibility with SLI

No

External feeding

Not required

Maximum consumption

58w at full load and 7w at idle mode

Supported technologies

DirectX 10.1
HDMI xvYCC
HDMI Deep Color
Digitalis 8-channel Surround Sound (HDMI)
NVIDIA Unified Architecture
NVIDIA PhysX
NVIDIA CUDA
NVIDIA Lumenex Engine
NVIDIA GigaThread
NVIDIA PureVideo HD technology

 

 

THE BUNDLE

In the box I found the graphic card itself in an antistatic plastic bag. The card is accompanied by a licensed copy of 3DMark Vantage; a CD with drivers and software; a sticker and a manual. No brackets, adapters or cables are included in the bundle.

 

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IN DETAIL: ZOTAC GEFORCE GT 220 1GB DDR3

The first impression I had of the card was that is clearly looks like an end level card. The cooling solution is a rather small single slot cooler with a tiny fan. The cooler has the capacity to be “self regulated”, i.e. it adapts its rotation speed automatically depending on the load on the card.

 

I also noted that the cooler is in contact with the memory chips in addition to the CPU. The card feels like quality with great robustness in both finish and construction.

 

 

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The card occupies one PCI-Express slot and measures 157.5 mm in length and 111 mm in width. It has one DVI-I; one HDMI 1.3a (supports 7.1 audio) and one VGA connector. These connectors will let us connect the card to more or less any monitor or HD TV.

 

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NVIDIA has focused on making this card compatible with the latest requirements for a multimedia PC. The feature with digital audio through the HDMI port is great because it goes directly through the PCI-Express port without needing a cable via a typical S/PDIF bridge from the sound card.

 

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TEST SYSTEM

Here are the specs of the test system I used for this review:

 

Test System

Processor

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.40GHz

Motherboard

Asus Rampage Extreme

Graphics card

ZOTAC 220 GeForce GT 1GB DDR3

Soundcard

SupremeFX X-Fi

Memory

G.Skill F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ

Hard disk

Seagate Barracuda 7200,12 500 GB

Power supply

Antec TruePower Quattro 850w

Case

Antec Skeleton

 

 

 

Operating system and software

Operating system

Windows 7 64bits

System drivers

ForceWare 191.07
DirectX August 2009

Test software

3D Mark 06
3D Mark Vantage
Furmark 1.7
Unigyne Heaven Benchmark

Test games

The Last Remnant
Street Fighter IV
Resident Evil V
Weak May Cry 4
Far Cry 2
Crysis Warhead

Other software

CPU-Z 1.49
GPU-Z 0.3.8
OCCT 3.1

 

 

Normally when testing graphics cards, I always set the graphics settings to max (in the game menus), but because this is a low end card I had to set the graphics settings to medium or low. Also, I didn’t activate filters.

 

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TEST WITH BENCHMARKING SOFTWARE

 

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The results obtained by this ZOTAC were not very encouraging. Already after the software benchmarks I can tell you that this card is not for playing the latest 3D games, at least not in good graphics quality or high resolution.

 

 

 

GAMING TEST PART 1

 

Far Cry 2 with graphics setting at “Extreme quality”:
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Far Cry 2 with graphics setting at “High quality”:
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Crysis Warhead with graphics setting at “Very high quality”:
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Crysis Warhead with graphics setting at “Average quality”:
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Crysis Warhead with graphics setting at “Low quality”:

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I decided to start with testing the card out in only two games: Far Cry 2 and Crysis Warhead. As I suspected, the card didn’t produce anyway near satisfactory performance with the highest quality settings (with DX10) in these games so I decided to do all the following testing at the medium setting of graphics quality with no active filters.

 

 

But even at medium graphics quality the gaming experience is poor with these very demanding games. I had to set the graphics quality to low to get a steady frame rate above 30 FPS.

 

 

GAMING TEST PART 2

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In this second batch I have included games which are not as demanding as the games in the first batch. Generally these games gave a much better gaming experience with nice looking graphics, as long as I didn’t enable filters and set the graphics quality to the highest settings. But with Resident Evil 5 I again encountered too low frame rates for my own taste.

 

 

 

HD VIDEO

In order to analyze the performance of the ZOTAC GeForce GT220 1GB DDR3 when replaying HD video I measured the average CPU load (%) during a 5 minute period while playing HD content.

 

I did the measurements in two resolutions: 720p (H.261) and 1080p.

 

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As you can see from the graph above the HD content replay worked very well with this card and the load on my CPU was not much to talk about.

 

I also did not encounter any problems with the digital audio out through the HDMI port. I connected the card to my HD TV through the HDMI port and selected the HDMI port as the sound output connector under Windows and the audio was excellent.

 

 

OVERCLOCKING, COOLING AND POWER CONSUMPTION

I had great expectations for the overclocking features of the ZOTAC GeForce GT220 1GB DDR3. The main reason for my expectations was the fact that this is the first NVIDIA card with a 40nm GPU. I have also heard other oveclockers who have succeeded in overclocking GT 220 cards as far as 15% and above.

 

I was with a bittersweet taste that I had to conclude that the max overclocking I could squeeze out of this card was a meager 6% gain. In numbers this means that I managed to overclock the card from the factory settings at 625/790/1360 (GPU/Memory/Shader) to 662/802/1440. I used the “FireStorm” program developed by ZOTAC.

 

ZOTAC GeForce GT220

 

The cooling solution worked very well. The idle mode temperature was 28 C and 52 C in full load. When overclocked the card’s temperatures came in at 29 C in idle mode and 54 C at full load.

 

I would say that this card can generally be categorized as quiet, the fan doesn’t go up to full speed very often but when it does it is quite noisy. It is possible to control the fan’s rotation speed manually and I set it to 40% and at that level it was practically inaudible. I had no problems with excessive heat at this level, even when running the card at full load.

 

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In addition to the lesser heat which is generated thanks to the 40nm manufacturing technology, I noticed that the power consumption was exceptionally low with this card. I measured my entire system’s power drainage and in idle mode it was 109 W and 156 W at full load.

 

Considering that these numbers are substantially lower that what I have received in previous reviews of graphics cards with the same system, NVIDIA’s claim of a power consumption of only 7W in idle mode and 58W at full load should be correct.

 

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REAL WORLD RESULTS OF THE OVERCLOCKING

I wanted to see if the rather small overclocking I managed to achieve with this card made any real difference in real life gaming situations and with benchmarking software. Here are the results:

 

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As suspected, the IRLG (In Real Life Gaming…hehe) gains from the overclocking were minor.

 

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

Clearly the ZOTAC GeForce GT220 1GB GDDR3 is not a card for serious gamers. I wouldn’t even say that it’s a card for any kind of gamers. Of course at the price level around $60-$80 one should not expect anything else than a low end to average performance.

 

 

But this doesn’t mean that the card sucks. If you are building a HTPC and you are a very occasional gamer, this card can be an excellent option thanks to the 7.1 digital audio through the HDMI port and the possibility of decoding HD video by hardware. Also the card is cool and silent and of small dimensions. So for media/HTPC building purposes I have to say that this is an excellent card.

 

Pros:

  • Finish
  • Small dimensions
  • Operating temperatures
  • Low power consumption
  • 7.1 audio through HDMI connector
  • Quiet fan


Cons:

  • High price/performance ratio

 

 

ZOTAC 220 GeForce GT 1GB DDR3

Included accessories

1.5/1.5

Quality and finish

1.25/1.5

Performance

2/3

Cooling (noise and temperature)

2/2

Overclocking

0.5/1

Price

0.5/1

Total

7.75/10

 

The final score is 77.5 out of 100 owls, and we give the “ZOTAC 220 GeForce GT 1GB DDR3″ our Recommended Award.

 

 

 

TestSeek Labs Recommended 2009 Award

 

 

 

Thanks goes out to Zotac for letting me review this case.

 

 


Author: Manuel González Fernández

Translator: Vince Emiloz Sanderson

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