Rather than doing a full-blown evaluation on reference boards, we are waiting for shipping products from NVIDIA partners to come through before analysing the performance of GeForce 6200 TC in depth. What we have today, however, are a couple of benchmarks that will give you an idea of where the 6200 TC lines up in the grand scheme of things.
First off, Half-Life 2. We used a section of Ravensholm that we recorded to form the basis of a timedemo that we ran the board on. The verdict: the sweet spot for this card is 800x600, whereas the sweetspot for the 6600GT is at 1280x1024 with 2xAA.
System: 3.4GHz Pentium 4, 1GB DDR2, Asus P5GD2.Doom 3
Settings: Quality settings at default.
We used Doom 3 as something of an experiment, to see just how much difference resolutions made to the performance of the TurboCache architecture as compared to detail levels. We can see that the 6200 TC is most comfortable at 640x480 - upping the resolution to 800x600 or 1024x768 causes a severe drop in frame rates because of the huge amount of extra data that is being sent across the memory bus (higher resolution = more pixels = more data). However, the difference between detail settings is relatively minor, and medium detail looks performs pretty good on the 6200 TC. For comparison, the 6600GT performs best at 1280x1024 with high detail.
System: 3.4GHz Pentium 4, 1GB DDR2, Asus P5GD2.The Verdict
Our preliminary tests suggest that the 6200 is a pretty darned good budget card. NVIDIA have worked hard to make sure that this card isn\'t affected too much by the bandwidth limitations of the PCI Express bus and it was able to give performance levels in both games that surprised me. To be able to play Half-Life 2 at 60FPS on a sub-$100 card is pretty good in my opinion.
We will definitely be playing with the 6200 TC a lot more over the coming weeks. We want to see what effect different memory speeds and amounts has on performance, as well as seeing whether saturating the PCI Express bus with other components has a detrimental effect on performance. There\'s no doubt that in typical usage situations, however, the 6200 TC puts in a spectacular bang-per-buck ratio. Nvidia have told us that they expect 16/128MB versions of this card to ship for 79 Euros and the 32/256MB version to cost 89 Euros. That\'s incredible pricing if it comes to fruition, and means that DX9 / SM3.0 gaming with good performance will truly be within everyone\'s reach.
We are yet to see what ATI has to offer with its competing technology, HyperMemory. However, it\'s clear that NVIDIA have the head-start and a strong product to go with it. ATI have told us that they expect their PCI Express memory technology to have a stronger featureset than TurboCache, but we are waiting to see what they deliver.
The Big Picture
This card is important for more than just gamers. Performance is good, but what is interesting about the card is that the small amount of on-board memory makes it cheap, and will mean that it will ship in systems that would not have carried 3D technology before. With Windows Longhorn approaching - and requiring a 3D card - many corporations are looking to future proof their office machines with 3D cards, and this will be a low-cost opportunity for them to do so. This is a whole new market for NVIDIA and ATI to sell into, and it will sure as heck be a lucrative one.
We are eagerly awaiting shipping products from NVIDIA\'s partners, and we\'ll update you in the new year on how they\'re looking. both performance and price-wise.