Still being unable to respond to the massive onslaught of AMD’s graphics department in the sector of gaming graphics cards, Nvidia decided to make a flanking maneuver and announced a few inexpensive products based on its new 40nm GT215, GT216 and GT218 GPUs. These cards are called GeForce GT 240, GeForce GT 220 and GeForce 210, respectively, and we covered them in our articles Nvidia GeForce 210 and GeForce GT 220 Review: Revenge of the Low-End? and Palit GT 240 Sonic and Gainward GeForce GT240 1024MB GDDR5 GS: Worthy Replacement for GeForce 9600 GT. The new cards proved to be quite good as they had finally acquired DirectX 10.1 support and a fourth-generation PureVideo HD engine that offers full-featured hardware decoding for both H.264 and VC-1 (with the earlier versions of Nvidia’s video engine, bit stream processing and entropy decoding for VC-1 had been the CPU’s responsibility). Coupled with the comprehensive support for audio-over-HDMI, this was a real breakthrough for Nvidia, although the developer still had forgotten to implement Protected Audio Path. As the result, Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio formats can still be output via HDMI only by AMD’s Radeon HD 4000/5000 series.
Anyway, the GeForce 210, GeForce GT 220 and GeForce GT 240 are really good solutions for their class, especially as the GeForce GT 220 can be used for some gaming at low resolutions. The GeForce GT 240, in the GDDR5 version (Nvidia’s GPUs can utilize this high-speed memory type at last), is not much inferior to its successful predecessor GeForce 9600 GT. Thanks to its enhanced multimedia capabilities, the GT 240 is a good choice for an advanced HTPC that may be used for casual gaming.
AMD, on its part, did not want to stop its progress after releasing successful Juniper (RV840) based products like Radeon HD 5770 and Radeon HD 5750. January 14, the company announced a new addition to the Radeon HD 5000 series in the way of the Redwood (RV830) GPU which had indeed been scheduled for a Q1 release.
The senior Redwood-based model, Radeon HD 5670, was already covered in our Almost a Gaming Card: ATI Radeon HD 5670 512 MB Review. We found it to be better than the GeForce GT 240 GDDR5 but not quite fast in modern games, especially DirectX 11 ones. However, the Redwood-based series includes at least two more models, Radeon HD 5570 and Radeon HD 5550, which were announced in early February, and we did not cover the multimedia capabilities of the new card in terms of decoding HD video and audio formats. Those capabilities can make the Radeon HD 5000 series highly appealing for HTPC users.
Besides that, on the 4th of February AMD added one more GPU to its line-up. It is codenamed Cedar (RV810) and is the simplest of the new GPUs from AMD. It is supposed to be used on cheapest graphics cards and complete the Radeon HD 5000 series in the low-end sector, making the Radeon HD 4000 series products based on the RV710 core obsolete. We have not yet tested any Cedar-based solutions before, but have the chance of doing that now.