Gainward and Gigabyte GeForce GT 220
Based on the more advanced GT216 processor, the GeForce GT 220 occupies the next step in Nvidia’s line-up of DirectX 10.1-compatibles. This model is represented by two products in this review: a Gigabyte GV-N220OC-1GI and a Gainward GeForce GT220 1024MB.
The box with the Gigabyte GV-N220OC-1GI is larger than the box of the above-discussed Gigabyte GV-N210OC-512I, but is designed in the same way. The only addition is the text about the use of an 80mm fan.
This time around, the memory type is indicated correctly. The card indeed comes with DDR3. Inside the box there is a foam-rubber tray that protects the graphics card from any hazards during transportation and storage. The accessories are even fewer than those included with the Gigabyte GV-N210OC-512I: a user manual, an installation guide, and a disc with drivers.
We found no cables or adapters in the box.
Gainward’s version comes in a miniature box that is as compact as the Gigabyte GV-N210OC-512I’s. The company’s traditional picture of an angel, this time in orange tones, is used in the box design.
There is more useful information here than on the Gigabyte card. Besides the type and amount of graphics memory, you can learn what connectors the card has, what DirectX version it supports, and what tech process its GPU was manufactured on. Besides the graphics card, packed into a blister wrap, the box contains a quick installation guide and a disc with drivers.
As you can see, neither card comes with gorgeous accessories as both belong to the bottom market segment. They do not need any adapters, though. You don’t have to connect an external power cable while each card has a full selection of native connectors including HDMI. Now, let’s see how they are designed.
The two versions of the GeForce GT 220 from Gigabyte and Gainward look completely different. The single thing they share is that both use non-reference PCBs and coolers and both are very compact. The full-height form-factor does not allow using these cards in low-profile system cases.
The Gigabyte GV-N220OC-1GI differs from Nvidia’s reference sample more than the Gainward GeForce GT220 1024MB which deflects from the reference design in details only. The Gigabyte version obviously has a more advanced cooling system with an 80mm fan installed on a rather massive heatsink. The Gainward is equipped with a smaller heatsink and a 60mm fan.
Each heatsink is fastened to the PCB with four spring-loaded screws, but Gainward’s cooler also has two plastic bars that prevent misalignment. The graphics core of the Gigabyte card does not have this kind of protection. It was easy to take the coolers off. Here is what we saw then:
Gainward’s card is populated more uniformly. The top right part of the Gigabyte’s PCB is almost empty. The Gigabyte GV-N220OC-1GI’s 2-phase GPU voltage regulator uses low RDS (on) MOSFETs and is controlled by an uPI Semiconductor uP6205. The memory voltage regulator has only one phase with three MOSFETs and is controlled by an uP6161 chip.
The power system of the Gainward GeForce GT220 1024MB follows a 2+1 design, too, but the controllers are located on the reverse side of the PCB while the regulators are placed on both side of the PCB. The GPU and memory voltage regulators are controlled by uP6210 and uP6161 chips, respectively.
Each card carries 8 DDR3 memory chips: Hynix H5TQ1G63BFR-12C on the Gigabyte GV-N220OC-1GI and Samsung K4W1G1646E-HC12 on the Gainward GeForce GT220 1024MB.
The memory chips have identical specs, however: a capacity of 1Gb (16Mb x 64), a voltage of 1.5V, and a rated frequency of 800 (1600) MHz. Each graphics card has a local memory bank with a capacity of 1 gigabyte and a 128-bit memory bus. The reference GeForce GT 220 has a memory frequency of 790 (1580) MHz and the Gainward GeForce GT220 1024MB has the same. Unlike them, the Gigabyte GV-N220OC-1GI has a slightly pre-overclocked memory frequency of 800 (1600) MHz. The resulting difference in memory bandwidth is negligible, though.
Both cores have the same marking, but the sample installed on the Gainward card is somewhat younger. It was made on the 21st week of this year while the GPU of the Gigabyte card was manufactured on the 25th week. Note that the graphics core of the Gainward GeForce GT220 1024MB has a plastic protective frame. The GT216 die is compact at less than 100 sq. millimeters but its specs are far from impressive, either. As we noted above, the GT216 is in between the G94 and the G96 in specifications, having 48 shader processors, 16 texture-mapping units and 8 RBEs. These resources are too scanty for modern heavy applications like Crysis Warhead or S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat, but should be enough for simple games, high-definition video and PhysX acceleration.
The reference GT216-based card has main and shader domain frequencies of 625 and 1360MHz, but both reviewed versions are pre-overclocked: the Gigabyte GV-N220OC-1GI is pre-overclocked to 720/1566MHz and the Gainward GeForce GT220 1024MB, to 645/1403MHz. The GeForce GT 220 can be used for playing undemanding games, so this overclocking may prove to be of some practical worth.
Both cards have the same connectors: DVI-I, HDMI and D-Sub. They do not support SLI and have no connector for S/PDIF. As we said above, the new 40nm GPUs from Nvidia can receive audio via PCI Express. This implementation of audio-over-HDMI is not as handy and universal as the integrated audio core of the Radeon HD series GPUs, but it is better than Nvidia’s previous implementation which was limited to the capabilities of the S/PDIF interface.
Overall, the Gigabyte GV-N220OC-1GI and Gainward GeForce GT220 1024MB seem to be equals in terms of specifications and performance even considering the pre-overclocked frequencies of the former card. The Gigabyte card has a better cooler, though. The large heatsink with an 80mm fan brings a promise of lower noise and higher cooling performance. Like every theoretical supposition, this one needs checking out in practice. That’s what we are going to do in the next section of the review.