The GeForce GT 440, an entry-level DirectX 11 video card, can come with two memory configurations: 512 MB GDDR5 running at 3.2 GHz (51.2 GB/s) or 1 GB DDR3 running at 1.8 GHz (28.8 GB/s), both costing exactly the same. So, which is the better option, a GeForce GT 440 with less but faster memory, or a GeForce GT 440 with more but slower memory? Check it out.
In the table below, you can see the differences between the two video cards.
|Video Card||Core Clock||Shader Clock||Memory Clock (Real)|
|GeForce GT 440||810 MHz||1.62 GHz||900 MHz|
|GeForce GT 440||810 MHz||1.62 GHz||1.6 GHz|
|Video Card||Memory Clock (Effective)||Memory Interface||Memory Transfer Rate|
|GeForce GT 440||1.8 GHz||128-bit||28.8 GB/s|
|GeForce GT 440||3.2 GHz||128-bit||51.2 GB/s|
|GeForce GT 440||1 GB DDR3||96||USD 76 – 90|
|GeForce GT 440||512 MB GDDR5||96||USD 76 – 90|
Now let’s take a complete look at the two versions of the GeForce GT 440.
We bought the two GeForce GT 440 video cards from the same vendor, Sparkle. The 512 MB version seems to be a reference model provided by NVIDIA, since it has “NVIDIA” written on it. The 1 GB version seems to be designed by Sparkle.
Figure 1: GeForce GT 440 512 MB GDDR5 (left) and 1 GB DDR (right)
Figure 2: GeForce GT 440 512 MB GDDR5 (left) and 1 GB DDR (right)
Both of them have one HDMI, one VGA, and one DVI-D connector.
Figure 3: Video connectors
In Figure 4, you can see the video cards with their coolers removed. Both use only solid capacitors and ferrite-core coils (which make the regulator present higher efficiency because they present lower energy loss than iron-core coils). The voltage regulator circuit of the 512 MB GDDR5 model has one phase for the graphics chip and one phase for the memory chips, which is a low-end configuration. The 1 GB DDR3 model, however, has two phases for the graphics chip and one phase for the memory.
Figure 4: Video cards with their cooler removed
The GPU heatsink used by these models from Sparkle can be seen in Figures 5 and 6. It is an all-aluminum model with a 65 mm fan.
Figure 5: The GPU heatsink
Figure 6: The GPU heatsink
The main difference between the two cards is, obviously, on the memory configuration. The 512 MB model uses four 1 Gbit GDDR5 memory chips that make up its 512 MB of memory (1 Gbit x 4 = 512 MB). The chips used are H5GQ1H24AFR-T0C parts from Hynix, which support up to 2 GHz (4 GHz DDR), and since this video card memory is accessed at 1.6 GHz (3.2 GHz DDR), there is a 25% margin for you to increase the memory clock rate while keeping the chips inside the maximum they support. Of course, you can always try to overclock the memory chips above their specs.
Figure 7: Memory chip used on the 512 MB GDDR5 version
The 1 GB model from Sparkle uses 16 512 Mbit DDR3 memory chips that make up its 1 GB of memory (512 Mbit x 16 = 1 GB). The chips used are SP64H51208D3-13X parts from a company labeled SPower, however, there is no such company listed on the entire Internet, so it is obviously a sub-brand from another company. Unfortunately, we don’t know who is the real manufacturer.
Figure 8: Memory chips used on the 1 GB DDR3 version
Before seeing the performance results, let’s recap the main features of this video card.
The main specifications for the GeForce GT 440 video card include:
- Graphics chip: NVIDIA GeForce GT 440 running at 810 MHz
- Memory: 512 MB GDDR5 memory (128-bit interface) from Hynix (H5GQ1H24AFR-T0C), running at 1.6 GHz (3.2 GHz, DDR) or 1 GB DDR3 memory (128-bit interface) from SPower (SP64H51208D3-13X) running at 900 MHz (1.8 GHz, DDR)
- Bus type: PCI Express x16 2.0
- Video Connectors: One DVI-D, one HDMI, and one VGA
- Video Capture (VIVO): No
- Cables and adapters that come with this board: None
- Number of CDs/DVDs that come with this board: One
- Games included: None
- Programs included: None
- More Information (512 MB GDDR5 model): https://www.sparkle.com.tw
- More Information (1 GB DDR3 model): https://www.sparkle.com.tw
- Average Price in the US*: USD 76.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between our benchmarking sessions t
he only variable was the video card being tested.
- CPU: Core i3-2100 (3.1 GHz, 3 MB L2 memory cache)
- Motherboard: Intel DH67BL (0110 BIOS)
- Memories: Two 1 GB Crucial CT12864BA1339 modules (DDR3-1333/PC3-10600, CL9, 1.5 V), configured at 1333 MHz
- Hard disk drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 1 TB (WD1001FALS, SATA-300, 7200 rpm, 32 MB buffer)
- Video monitor: Samsung SyncMaster 305T (30” LCD, 2560×1600)
- Power Supply: OCZ StealthXStream 400 W
- CPU Cooler: Intel stock
- Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
- Video resolution: 2560×1600 @ 60 Hz
- AMD video driver version: Catalyst 11.3 (Radeon HD 5670)
- AMD video driver version: 8.84.2 (Radeon HD 6670)
- NVIDIA video driver version: 270.61
- Intel Inf driver version: 188.8.131.520
- 3DMark 11 Professional 1.0.1
- Aliens vs. Predator + Benchmark Tool
- Call of Duty 4 – Patch 1.7
- Crysis Warhead – Patch 1.1 + HOC Bench Crysis Warhead Benchmark Tool 1.1.1
- Far Cry 2 – Patch 1.03
- Lost Planet 2
- StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty – Patch 1.3.2
We adopted a 3% error margin. Thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.
Call of Duty 4 is a DirectX 9 game implementing high-dynamic range (HDR) and its own physics engine, which is used to calculate how objects interact. For example, if you shoot, exactly what will happen to the object when the bullet hits it? Will it break? Will it move? Will the bullet bounce back? It gives a more realistic experience to the user.
To get accurate results, we had to disable the 80 FPS limit in the game. To do this, input the command, “/seta com max fps 1000” (minus the quotes) into the console (` key). It can be set to any number greater than 200.
We ran this program at two 16:10 widescreen resolutions, 1440×900 and 1680×1050, maxing out all image quality controls (i.e., everything was set to the maximum values in the Graphics and Texture menus). We used the internal game benchmarking feature, running a demo provided by NVIDIA called “wetwork.” We are putting this demo here for downloading if you want to run your own benchmarks. We ran the demo five times, and the results below are the average number of frames per second (FPS) achieved by each video card.
|Call of Duty 4 – Maximum||1440×900||Difference|
|GeForce GT 440 (512 MB GDDR5)||62.1||9%|
|GeForce GT 440 (1 GB DDR3)||56.8|
|Call of Duty 4 – Maximum||1680×1050||Difference|
|GeForce GT 440 (512 MB GDDR5)||45.8||13%|
|GeForce GT 440 (1 GB DDR3)||40.4|
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is a very popular DirectX 9 game that was released in 2010. Though this game uses an old version of DirectX, the number of textures that can be represented on one screen can push most of the top-end graphics cards to their limits (especially when the graphics settings are set at “ultra”). StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty uses its own physics engine that is bound to the CPU and thus does not benefit from PhysX.
We tested this game at 1440×900 and 1680×1050. The quality of the game was set to the “medium” preset, disabling both anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering. We then used FRAPS to collect the frame rate of a replay on the “Unit Testing” custom map. We used a battle between very large armies to stress the video cards.
|StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty||1440×900||Difference|
|GeForce GT 440 (512 MB GDDR5)||78.1||2%|
|GeForce GT 440 (1 GB DDR3)||76.4|
|StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty||1680×1050||Difference|
|GeForce GT 440 (512 MB GDDR5)||73.6||3%|
|GeForce GT 440 (1 GB DDR3)||71.6|
Crysis Warhead is a DirectX 10 game based on the same engine as the original Crysis, but optimized (it runs under DirectX 9.0c when installed on Windows XP).
We used the HardwareOC Crysis Warhead Benchmark Tool to collect the data for this test. We ran this program at 1440×900 and 1680×1050 at “high” image quality (but with no anti-aliasing and no anisotropic filtering) and using the Airfield demo. The results below are the number of frames per second achieved by each video card.
|GeForce GT 440 (512 MB GDDR5)||28.2||8%|
|GeForce GT 440 (1 GB DDR3)||26.1|
|GeForce GT 440 (512 MB GDDR5)||22.4||11%|
|GeForce GT 440 (1 GB DDR3)||20.2|
Far Cry 2 is based on an entirely new game engine called Dunia, which is DirectX 10 when played under Windows Vista with a DirectX 10 compatible video card.
We used the benchmarking utility that comes with this game at 1440×900 and 1680×1050, setting image quality to “high” (with no anti-aliasing) and running the “Ranch Long” demo three times. The results below are expressed in frames per second and are an arithmetic average of the three results collected.
|GeForce GT 440 (512 MB GDDR5)||22.4||5%|
|GeForce GT 440 (1 GB DDR3)||20.2|
|GeForce GT 440 (512 MB GDDR5)||49.34||4%|
|GeForce GT 440 (1 GB DDR3)||47.36|
Aliens vs. Predator is a DirectX 11 game that makes full use of tessellation and advanced shadow rendering. We used the Aliens vs. Predator Benchmark Tool developed by Rebellion. This program reads its configuration from a text file (our configuration files can be found here). We ran this program at 1440×900 and 1680×1050, with texture set at “low,” shadows set at “low,” no anisotropic filtering and no anti-aliasing.
|Aliens vs. Predator||1440×900||Difference|
|GeForce GT 440 (512 MB GDDR5)||20.0||9%|
|GeForce GT 440 (1 GB DDR3)||18.4|
|Aliens vs. Predator||1680×1050||Difference|
|GeForce GT 440 (512 MB GDDR5)||16.5||6%|
|GeForce GT 440 (1 GB DDR3)||15.6|
Lost Planet 2 is a game that uses a lot of DirectX 11 features, like tessellation (to round out the edges of polygonal models), displacement maps (added to the tessellated mesh to add fine grain details), DirectCompute soft body simulation (to introduce more realism in the “boss” monsters), and DirectCompute wave simulation (to introduce more realism in the physics calculations in water surfaces; when you move or when gunshots and explosions hit the water, it moves accordingly). We reviewed the video cards using Lost Planet 2 internal benchmarking features, choosing the “Benchmark A” (we know that “Benchmark B” is the one recommended for reviewing video cards, however, at least with us, results were inconsistent). We set graphics at “medium,” no anti-aliasing and DX11 at “full,” at 1440×900 and 1680×1050. The results below are the number of frames per second generated by each video card.
|Lost Planet 2||1440×900||Difference|
|GeForce GT 440 (512 MB GDDR5)||29.0||8%|
|GeForce GT 440 (1 GB DDR3)||26.8|
|Lost Planet 2||1680×1050||Difference|
|GeForce GT 440 (512 MB GDDR5)||20.4||6%|
|GeForce GT 440 (1 GB DDR3)||19.2|
3DMark 11 Professional measures Shader 5.0 (i.e., DirectX 11) performance. We ran this program at 1440×900 and 1680×1050, selecting the four graphics tests available and deselecting the other tests available. We used two image quality settings, “performance” and “extreme,” both at their default settings. The results being compared are the “GPU Score” achieved by each video card.
|3DMark Vantage – Entry||1440×900||Difference|
|GeForce GT 440 (512 MB GDDR5)||1004||6%|
|GeForce GT 440 (1 GB DDR3)||946|
|3DMark Vantage – Entry||1680×1050||Difference|
|GeForce GT 440 (512 MB GDDR5)||874||5%|
|GeForce GT 440 (1 GB DDR3)||834|
|3DMark 11 – Performance||1440×900||Difference|
|GeForce GT 440 (512 MB GDDR5)||939||6%|
|GeForce GT 440 (1 GB DDR3)||887|
|3DMark 11 – Performance||1680×1050||Difference|
|GeForce GT 440 (512 MB GDDR5)||736||6%|
|GeForce GT 440 (1 GB DDR3)||692|
This review was done to answer a simple question: which one is better for a GeForce GT 440, more memory or more memory bandwidth (i.e., speed available between the graphics and the memory chips)?
Our results are clear. Except on StarCraft II, where both models achieved the same performance level, the 512 MB GDDR5 model was between 4% and 13% faster than the 1 GB DDR3 model. Since they cost exactly the same thing, you should pick the model with the faster memory, although you will have less video memory available (which is not a problem).