The GeForce 9800 GTX+ Gets Updated

BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 Video Card

This morning at the CeBIT tradeshow, NVIDIA announced the new GeForce GTS 250 1GB graphics card. As many of you know, the GeForce GTS 250 1GB is an update to the highly popular GeForce 9800 GTX+ graphics card. What many thought was just a re-launch of the GeForce 9800 GTX+ graphics card isn't quite the full story. The GeForce GTX 9800 GTX+ was launched on June 19th 2008 in order to play the act of the spoiler to the launch of the Radeon HD 4850 graphics card. The card has done well over the past nine months, but it has had several tweaks done on it and was given a new name. The new GeForce GTS 250 will hit retail shelves on March 10th, 2009 and will be available in 512MB and 1GB models at $129 and $149, respectively. Let's take a look at the changes made to the GeForce GTX 9800 GTX+ to understand why the name was changed.

BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 Graphics Card

For starters, the MSRP on the 512MB frame buffer version of the GeForce GTS 250 is now just $129, which is lower than the $169 MSRP on the GeForce 9800 GTX+.  That being said, the PNY GeForce 9800 GTX+ can be picked up for $124.99 after rebate today, so it will be interesting to see how soon the rebates come out for the GeForce GTS 250. With the stock market hitting a twelve year low consumers have to be value conscious, and since the GeForce GTS 250 supporting PhysX, SLI, GeForce 3D Vision, and CUDA it should get some attention at this price point. The 1GB version of the of the card should be of interest to those that play games at larger resolutions as the extra frame buffer is where the performance boost will come from.

Product highlights include:

BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 Specifications

Hardware product differentiators between the new GeForce GTS 250 board and original GeForce 9800 GTX+ board include:

BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 1GB

When it comes to clock speeds the GeForce GTS 250 has clock speeds that remain the same as the 9800 GTX+. The GPU core clock is 738MHz, 1836MHz for the shaders, and 1100MHz (or 2200 MT/s) for the GDDR3 memory. That being said, let's take a look at the card and jump into the performance numbers.

The BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250

BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 Video Card

The BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 uses a single-PCB design with an improved cooling solution over that of the older GeForce 9800 GTX+. The cooler might look familiar as it is basically the same one that is used on the GeForce 8800 GTS cards from last year.

BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 Video Card DVI Connectors

The back of the BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 graphics card is pretty bare since no memory chips or components happen to be located here.

BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 Video Card DVI Connectors

The air from the cooling fan blows air across the inside of the plastic fan housing over the heat sink and is exhausted out the rear of this dual-slot card.  The picture above gives you a visual reference for where the hot air goes.  This picture also shows the rear output connectors on the BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250, which are a pair of dual-link DVI-I connectors.

BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 Video Card PCIe Power Connectors

The BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 video card requires a 475 Watt or greater power supply with a minimum of 26 Amps on the +12V rail. It also required that the power supply have one 6-pin PCI Express power connector. The max board power (TDP) per card is 150 Watts.

BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 Video Card SLI Header

The BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 supports Triple-SLI technology for those wanting superior gaming performance. The card includes a pair of SLI headers in order to connect up to three cards together with the SLI bridge connector. Next to the SLI headers is the 2-pin Toslink digital audio cable header that is used to bring the on-board audio to the video card in order for it to be outputted through the HDMI connection on the card.

Retail Box and Bundle

BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 Retail Box Front

The retail box that the BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 comes in is covered in the specifications and a list of what comes inside on the front.

BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 Retail Box Back

Turning the retail box over, we see even more marketing text in a couple different languages. The BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 retail box isn't lacking any text, so let's take a peak inside.

BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 Retail Bundle

The BFG Tech bundle included with the GeForce GTS 250 graphics card includes a single DVI-to-VGA adapter, a quick install guide, a dual 4-pin molex to single 6-pin PCIe power adapter, case badge stickers, a 10% off coupon, and the drivers CD.

The Test System

The Test System:

All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit with Service Pack 1 installed. All benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. All of the modules were run in triple-channel mode at 1866MHz. The NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards were benchmarked with Forceware 185.65 drivers, the ATI Radeon HD graphics cards were tested with 9.4 CATALYST drivers. The ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 motherboard was run using BIOS 0302 with the processor running stock settings and the Corsair 6GB memory kit was running at 1866MHz with 8-8-8-24 timings.

The GeForce GTC 295 Test System

Here is the Intel LGA 1366 Test platform:

Intel Test Platform






Live Pricing



Intel Core i7 965



ASUS P6T Deluxe



6GB Corsair DDR3 1866MHz


Video Card


Radeon HD 4870X2


Hard Drive


Western Digital VelociRaptor




Intel Reference


Power Supply


Cooler Master 1000W




Thermaltake Spedo Advance


Operating System


Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit

GPU-Z 0.3.3 Details on The New Cards We Tested:

Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 OC:

Radeon HD 4850

ASUS Radeon HD 4890:

Radeon HD 4870

GeForce GTX 275:

GeForce GTX 275

Crysis Warhead

Crysis Warhead

Crysis Warhead updates and refines the gameplay of Crysis through a side story plot involving Psycho, one of previous protagonist Nomad's allies. The game is a parallel story that follows Sergeant Michael "Psycho" Sykes, a character from the original Crysis, as he faces his own trials and challenges on the other side of the island during the time period of the first game. It features new fully customizable weapons, vehicles and enemies, along with new multiplayer content. It also showcases a new, enhanced and optimized version of Cry Engine 2.

Crysis Warhead Benchmark Settings

Playing in “Gamer” mode automatically sets resolution to 1280x1024 and optimizes the other settings around this resolution. We ran the HOC benchmark utility with very high image quality settings to benchmark Crysis Warhead.

Crysis Warhead Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 performs the same as the EVGA GeForce 9800 GTX+ 512MB at both resolutions in Crysis Warhead with very high image quality settings.

Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2 is a first-person shooter video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It was released on October 21, 2008 in North America. Crytek, the developers of the original game, were not involved in the development of Far Cry 2.

FarCry2 Screen Shot

Ubisoft has developed a new engine specifically for Far Cry 2 called Dunia, meaning "world," "earth" or "living" in Parsi but also used in many languages. The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers realistic destructible environments, special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system and non-scripted enemy A.I. The engine takes advantage of multi-core processors as well as multiple processors and supports DirectX 9 as well as DirectX 10. Only 2 or 3 percent of the original CryEngine code is re-used, according to Michiel Verheijdt, Senior Product Manager for Ubisoft Netherlands. Far Cry 2 also supports the amBX technology from Philips. With the proper hardware, this adds effects like vibrations, ambient colored lights, and fans that generate wind effects.

For our testing today, we benchmarked exclusively in DirectX 10 with 8x AA enabled at 1280x1024 and then without AA turned on at 1920x1200.

Far Cry 2 Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 performed the same at the GeForce 9800 GTX+ once again, so I enabled 8x AA in Far Cry 2 to see if I could see any benefit from the 1GB frame buffer on a 24" gaming LCD. Sure enough, with the AA cranked up to 8x a 10% difference was noted between the two cards and the GeForce GTS 250 was even able to beat out the Radeon HD 4870 512MB.

Stalker: Clear Sky

Year 2011. Five years passed since the Second Disaster, which eclipsed the events of April 1986. The Zone is shaken by frequent and powerful blowouts, which move anomaly fields, opening new routes to previously inaccessible locations. Stalker factions fight for the new territories and key points. A lot of stalkers die, but newbies keep on arriving. The action takes place one year prior to the events of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, one year before Strelok's most successful trip to the center of the Zone – the third one. We will learn about Strelok and his squad from another character's vantage point.

Image Description

The Zone is waiting for you ahead, new locations and unknown threats, spatial holes and monsters hiding in the fog, pitch-black nights and saving rays of a rising sun. Try to avoid anomalies and hide from blowouts, discover the Zone and collect artifacts, cure radioactive irradiation and fight for any stalker faction you like! Only then you will uncover the truth about Strelok and how he happened to get inside the death track and receive the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. tattoo on his arm.

STALKER Clear Sky Benchmark Settings

STALKER Clear Sky Benchmark Settings

Benchmark Results: The BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 1GB did 15% better than the GeForce 9800 GTX+ 512MB in this tough benchmark at 1920x1200.

Call of Duty: World At War

Call of Duty: World At War

Call of Duty: World at War completely changes the rules of engagement by redefining WWII gaming and thrusting players into the final tension-filled, unforgiving battles against a new ferocious enemy in the most dangerous and suspenseful action ever seen in WWII.

Powered by Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare technology, Call of Duty: World at War brings an uncensored edge to combat, as soldiers face the most harrowing and climatic European and Pacific battles in which an enemy, who knows no surrender and no retreat, will fight to the last breath, unleashing an arsenal of lethal surprising tactics. Peril and danger lurk throughout the battlefield as players combat the unknown risk of the new chaos of battle.

From the remains of Russia and the ruins of Berlin, to the beach and jungles of the deadly Pacific Theater, the volatile action takes on added depth as players employ new features that previously were only available in multiplayer, including perks, rankings and online stats in up to full four-player cooperative gameplay. New infantry and vehicle-based weapons, like the potent flamethrower, bring the battlefield ablaze.

Call of Duty: World At War

Call of Duty: World At War

Benchmark Results: The BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 1GB performed roughly the same as the GeForce 9800 GTX+ 512MB at 1280x1024, but at 1920x1200 it was found to be 13% faster. 

3DMark Vantage

3DMark Vantage

3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware. 3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.

3DMark Vantage

The Extreme settings were used for testing, so a resolution of 1920x1200 was used.

3dmark Vantage Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: 3DMark Vantage shows the ATI Radeon powered cards in the lead with the BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 1GB slightly ahead of the GeForce 9800 GTX+ 512MB when run at 1920x1200 with Extreme settings.

Power Consumption and Temperatures

For testing power consumption, we took our test system and plugged it into a Seasonic Power Angel. For idle numbers, we allowed the system to idle on the desktop for 15 minutes and took the reading. For load numbers, we measured the peak wattage used by the system while running the game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky at 1280x1024 resolutions with high image quality.

Total System Power Consumption Results

Power Consumption Results: The BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 has great power consumption numbers and the idle score was much lower than the cards available at roughly the same price point. Even at load the BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 has the lowest power consumption, which is impressive. The BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 gets two thumbs up for power consumption as the revised PCB and die shrink helped big time. It looks like the GeForce GTS 250 1GB uses ~30W less power at idle and load when compared to the GeForce 9800 GTX+.  

Temperature Testing Results

Since video card temperatures and the heat generated by next-generation cards have become an area of concern among enthusiasts and gamers, we want to take a closer look at how these cards generate heat under load. In order to get proper temperature readings of both the ATI and NVIDIA graphics cards I used GPU-Z to monitor and log the GPU temperature. As you can see from the screen shot above, the idle state of the BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 drops the GPU frequency down to 300MHz and the memory down to just 100MHz. With this reduction the idle temperature of the BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 is just 36 degrees Celsius!

Thermal Testing

Temperature Testing Results

Power Consumption Results: The BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 has very impressive thermals, to say the least. It idles at 36C and runs at 61C when playing Stalker: Clear Sky! No other card can come close to these low temperatures and this is with the stock cooler! The GeForce GTS 250 might not be ground breaking on the performance front, but it shines when it comes to temperatures and power consumption!

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 1GB

The BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 1GB performed roughly the same as the original GeForce 9800 GTX+ 512MB, which makes sense since both cards have the same 'engine' under the hood. The BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 1GB's larger 1GB frame buffer came into play when the image quality was cranked up or when running at resolutions above 1920x1200. In games like Call of Duty: World at War and FarCry 2 we were able to see a 10-13% performance improvement from the extra frame buffer. The GeForce GTS 250 didn't put a world of hurt on the GeForce GTX 9800+, as many of you would have guessed without reading any of this.

The BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 really shines when it comes to power consumption and thermals. NVIDIA has taken a ton of negative press in recent weeks about changing the name of the GeForce GTX 9800+ and doing nothing else other than releasing a 'new' graphics card with the G92 core that has been around for over a year now. The GeForce GTS 250 does indeed have the G92 core, but thanks to a die shrink and a 1.5" shorter PCB it has become a very power efficient and coolly running card.

Something else that some of you might find interesting is that the GeForce GTS 250 will be SLI-compatible with existing GeForce 9800 GTX+ cards that are on the market today. That means you can mix and match cards (with the same frame buffer) and be able to run SLI with them. That said, there really isn't much more to talk about as our readers know all about PhysX and CUDA support, which is something ATI graphics cards can't do.

As mentioned in the introduction, the new GeForce GTS 250 will hit retail shelves on March 10th, 2009 and will be available in 512MB and 1GB models at $129 and $149, respectively. AMD adjusted the prices on their Radeon HD 4800 series the day before the launch of the GeForce GTS 250 in a nice little marketing move, so you can find the ATI HD Radeon 4850 512MB for $124.99 after rebate and the ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB for $149 after rebate. Either way you go you'll end up with a killer graphics card for under $150, and that is hard to complain about! 

Legit Bottom Line: The BFG Tech GeForce GTS 250 1GB is a solid performing graphics card with good power efficiency!