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Sparkle fleshes out low-profile, silent GeForce graphics cards

by Parm Mann on 16 March 2010, 12:21

Tags: Sparkle

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qawmm

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If you're in the market for a low-profile NVIDIA GeForce graphics card for your next HTPC build, there's usually a good chance Taiwanese manufacturer Sparkle has you covered.

Hoping to appease the needs of silent computing fanatics, said manufacturer has today expanded its HTPC-friendly range with a trio of "Low Profile Silent Series Graphics Cards" solutions.

Starting off the new introductions is a passive take on NVIDIA's entry-level 40nm GeForce 210. Keeping to reference speeds, the card features a GPU clocked at 589MHz and 16 stream processors clocked at 1,402MHz. The 512MB of DDR2 memory connects via a 64-bit interface and comes clocked at a slightly-lower-than-reference 800MHz.

The card retains NVIDIA's default VGA, HDMI and DVI outputs, but replaces the fan with a single heatsink that'll help achieve that goal of silent computing.

Offering a little more potency, Sparkle's GeForce GT 220 and GeForce GT 240 take a similar, low-profile and fan-less approach. The cards make use of two chunky copper heat pipes at the front of the PCB, wrapping round into a long heatsink at the rear.

The GeForce GT 220 features a GPU clocked at 625MHz, 48 stream processors clocked at 1,360MHz and 1GB of DDR3 memory connected via a 128-bit interface and running at 1,400MHz.

Topping off the range, the GeForce GT 240 makes use of a GPU clocked at 550MHz, 96 stream processors at 1,340MHz and the same 1GB of memory hooked up to a 128-bit bus and clocked at 1,400MHz.

Featuring fourth-generation PureVideo HD hardware decoding and 7.1 digital surround sound via HDMI from an on-board controller, as well as support for DirectX 10.1, PhysX and CUDA, the cards look like decent options for the HTPC crowd.

There's sadly no mention of pricing or availability, though.



HEXUS Forums :: 9 Comments

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Sound info is incomplete.

Is the 7.1 sound PCM or can it output DTS-HD/DolbyTrueHD directly to the amp?

If it doesn't support the latter then it's probably better to avoid these cards for HTPC.
Since nvidia don't currently have a "pass-thru" capable card, it'll only be 7.1 channel LPCM, and
since that won't be protected path, it'll be downsampled. However, most people won't be able
to tell the difference, so as long as it works, I suspect the average punter will be happy. Remember that the PS3 (pre-slim) didn't do pass-through either, but was still considered one of the better blu-ray players.

I suspect the main advantage of these cards over ATI's 5xxx series is the satellite HD decoding issues with ATI's HD cards, if that's relevant to you. Also, the 220 and 240 have quite good image quality, so passive versions of those are quite attractive. (See reviews of ATI 5 series on Anand for explanation of how the different grades of cards enable/disable video processing features).
Why didn't they just call them the 300-series?
Irien
Since nvidia don't currently have a "pass-thru" capable card, it'll only be 7.1 channel LPCM, and
since that won't be protected path, it'll be downsampled. However, most people won't be able
to tell the difference, so as long as it works, I suspect the average punter will be happy. Remember that the PS3 (pre-slim) didn't do pass-through either, but was still considered one of the better blu-ray players.

Point taken, though my previous card only supported 7.1 as PCM and the difference between DTS-HD and DTHD was noticable through my amp.

Irien
I suspect the main advantage of these cards over ATI's 5xxx series is the satellite HD decoding issues with ATI's HD cards, if that's relevant to you.

It was but has been resolved in Catalyst 10.2.

Irien
Also, the 220 and 240 have quite good image quality, so passive versions of those are quite attractive. (See reviews of ATI 5 series on Anand for explanation of how the different grades of cards enable/disable video processing features).

Indeed, though personally, without decent audio passthrough I know I'd be replacing it pretty soon. I don't think it would make me happy ;)

As with most things, it'll come down to price, which is unfortunately lacking from the article. No more than 30-40 quid I've have thought.
MonkeyL
As with most things, it'll come down to price, which is unfortunately lacking from the article. No more than 30-40 quid I've have thought.


For the G210, you're probably near enough. The GT220 is likely to be ~ £50, and the GT240 ~ £70, I'd guess. A passive, low profile GT240 wouldn't be a bad bet for a little lan party box either (as long as you don't plan to cart a 24" monitor to the lan with you ;) ) - an interesting alternative to the Radeon 5570..