Continuing Nvidia's proud tradition of re-releasing the same hardware over and over, what we have here today is a new 9800GTX+. Which was an overclocked and die-shrunk 9800GTX. Which was an overclocked G92 8800GTS.
Before dismissing it as mutton dressed up as lamb however, it would only be fair to judge the card on its merits, so pablo shall abide.
If you need some convincing that this is still the same product underneath, have a look at the specs below. Surprisingly, the GTS 250 isn't even clocked higher than its predecessor which somewhat breaks the trend, but the 1GB variant which I have for testing is a new, slighty shorter board design with supposedly less power draw than the older cards.
The Zotac card pictured comes equipped with a reference dual-slot cooling solution. As you can see it's a good few centimetres longer than the standard 4850 sitting next to it. There is a single 8pin power connector on the top of the card and supplied in the box is a dual 6pin to 8pin PCIE adaptor for those without a 8pin PCIE plug on their PSU - generally only modern 600w+ power supplies come with one of these.
To get some idea of how the GTS 250 performs we're going to pit it against the 512MB 4850 and 4870 cards from ATI at a resolution of 1680x1050 using our standard suite of test games. Once the 512MB and 1GB versions from XFX turn up later this month we'll do another full run with some more cards and with higher resolutions, but for now this should give you a fairly good indication of where it sits...
Interesting - last time I pitted a 512MB 9800GTX+ up against a 4850 last year they were almost neck and neck, but now the almost identical GTS 250 is beating it out every time. Either Nvidia must be doing something right in their driver department (drivers used were 182.08 for Nvidia and 9.2 for ATI), or the extra 512MB of RAM on this 1GB is actually helping at the "low" resolution of 1680x1050.
The slightly more expensive 4870 still holds its own against the Nvidia card though, despite having less memory. Trackmania Nations Forever is the only title where the GTS 250 manages to equal the 4870, but it gets fairly consistently trodden on in the other titles.
So stay tuned for the full report on the new Nvidia cards next month - or in the mean time you can pick up this 1GB Zotac GTS 250 from PlayTech for $399 with a free copy of XIII Century - Death or Glory.
Our thanks to PlayTech for providing our GTS 250 sample.