AMD Phenom-II X3 720 @ 3.8Ghz
Biostar TForce 8200
2x1Gb OCZ Titanium
Although the bulky stock cooler shrouds often overhang the PCIe slot release lever, chipset cooler and other board components, I found the GTS 250 card no more difficult to install than any other double slot card. The shorter 9" length is perfect for a mid-tower case, where higher-end cards will overhang the motherboard and may interfere with hard drive mounting.
I had already been using the latest Forceware 185.85 WHQL driver release on my GTX 260 card, so I only had to allow it to detect the new card and then reboot in order for the change to take effect. XFX did not include any other utilities or software on their driver CD other than some additional older driver releases and soft copies of the installation guides.
Following some quick checks to verify everything was working, I loaded up RivaTuner to see if the stock clocks could be massaged at all. Unfortunately the 2.24 version available doesn't support the latest Forceware driver, and so the stock clocks were used during all testing.
UPDATE: I was able to get it to recognize an older driver, Forceware 182.50 WHQL, and found clocks of 800/1990/1150 to provide the best compromise of stability and performance. No testing was performed at this overclock.
I also fired up NiBiTor 5.0 to take a peek at the card's BIOS settings, however it would not recognize the ID string and failed to work.
UPDATE: I have since acquired NiBiTor 5.1 which adds support for the GTS 250. Using the newer 5.1 version allows us to take a look at the card's BIOS. Although we could modify the stock clocks via the BIOS, there are no other options available for voltage. The card already specifies the highest 1.2v option in 3D performance mode.
Given the lack of support found with the Leadtek 9800 GTX+ back in January, the inability to do much else initially with this new GTS 250 didn't surprise me. Testing is therefore limited to the stock clocks of 738Mhz/1100Mhz core and memory. Regarding power usage and temperature, the GTS 250 should perform on par with other 9800 GTX+ cards. Temps varied widely, as in one case they registered 60° C at idle, and in another as low as 40° C, depending on the amount of airflow present. I did take notice that this new cooler design uses a solid, one-piece skived aluminum plate rather than the usual separate copper core contact plate and heatpipe arrangement found on other high-end nVidia card coolers. No doubt this decreases costs but at the expense of higher temps, although those did not seem to be a problem at any time during testing, with a maximum of 80° C reached.
Let's see how the GTS 250 stacks up in benchmarks.