Review – EVGA G210 Graphics Card

07Sep11

After getting my 27″ monitor I needed a graphics card with Dual Link DVI that could do 2560×1440. I didn’t want to spend a load, and I wanted something without a fan (and associated noise) – the EVGA G210 was the cheapest I could find – £23.05 from Scan.co.uk (with free delivery courtesy of the AVForums offer).

Installation

Pulling the old card and plugging in the new one was the usual PCI-E faff, but not too traumatic. When Windows 7 started up again it treated it as a ‘Standard VGA’ rather than going straight to Windows Update for new drivers, which I had to kick off manually. Pulling down and installing the drivers took an age – it’s a huge package, doubtless stuffed with cruft that I’ll never need or want. Once installed I was able to turn the resolution right up and enjoy my screen at its best.

Performance

I was replacing an old ATi Radeon X800, which was fairly mid range at the time I bought it (and ran cool enough to be passively cooled – at least after adding an enormous after-market heat sink). I was therefore expecting a substantial jump in performance given over 5 years of GPU evolution, and thought that even a low end card would smash my old one. My expectations were however ruined – whilst 3D performance (measured using Windows Experience Index) had picked up nicely (3.3 -> 5.9) the Desktop Aero performance has cratered (5.1 -> 2.9). If I’d bothered to look at more detailed specs perhaps I’d have picked up on pathetic memory bandwidth (and if I’d cared enough to splash a bit more money then maybe an AMD 6450 might have been more in order).

Conclusion

In normal use I haven’t noticed the drop in 2D performance, so maybe it doesn’t really matter that much. I do however get a pin sharp and huge desktop, which was the whole point, so overall I’m happy with it. Maybe I should have spent the extra £10 or so on the AMD card, but it’s not something I’m going to lose any sleep over.

PS I think I was right about the old X800 card not doing DVI digital output during startup. The new G210 certainly does let me see what’s going on every step of the way.



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