What about NVIDIA's entry level video cards? For the casual gamer, or PC user who
does not require high performance for gaming but would like a budget-priced
video card capable of rendering 3D graphics with the latest technologies, NVIDIA has served up the GeForce 6200 series. We will be taking a look at Albatron's PCI-Express GeForce TC6200Q 64/256MB.
In this review I will be looking at the Albatron GeForce TC6200Q with TurboCache
(TC) and actually comparing it to the engineering sample reference design card
that I have been using for the past couple of months.
NVIDIA provided a GeForce
TC6200 engineering sample for evaluation and I have put the card through such
game titles as Doom 3, Call of Duty, Half-Life 2, Halo, Unreal
Tournament 2004, Far Cry, and Chronicles of Riddick just to name a few.
So, yes, I have made my verdict on the TC6200 and although it is not targeted at the avid gamer, it does supply a potential market need at an affordable price.
A number of good previews and reviews have been done on the TC6200 so the
development process will be omitted in this review. Instead, the two cards will
be evaluated using the same system setup with components as listed in the System
Specification section of this review.
The Albatron GeForce TC6200Q differs little from the engineering sample we are
using in this review except for the 64MB of local on-board ram which provides
rendering for up to 256MB of system memory. The Albatron GeForce TC6200Q has a
GPU core clock of 350 MHz, a 64-bit memory bus, and 64MB of local DDR ram rated at 3.6ns and clocked
at 250 MHz (500 MHz effective). With both cards using the NVIDIA GeForce 6200TC
GPU, the Albatron GeForce TC6200Q, even with 64MB of local ram, may be pressed to
outperform the engineering sample which sports a single 16MB chip but much
faster memory timings of 350 MHz (700 MHz effective).
Still, the capability of
64MB local memory rendering up to 256MB of system memory, through TurboCache
technology, versus the use of 128MB system memory by the engineering sample,
potentially could give the edge to the Albatron TC6200Q in some games.
As previously stated, the NVIDIA GeForce TC6200 in this review is an engineering
sample supplied by NVIDIA. The card is approximately 7x4 inches with a 4x3 inch
simple anodized black aluminum heatsink providing passive cooling. In addition,
the card possesses no additional power connections found on the higher end
cards. The Albatron GeForce TC6200Q maintains the same basic dimensions with
colors of the heatsink and circuit board being only the visual difference other than the
additional local on-board memory chips.
NVIDIA GeForce TC6200Q
Looking at the photo (above) you can see the black anodized heatsink and
obvious missing ram chips which we are accustom to seeing on the circuit board. You can
see a lone chip, barely visible, located at the top right corner of the heatsink
in the above photo.
All told, NVIDIA was able to reduce the NV44 to approximately 75 million
transistors compared to 146 million estimated transistors as found on the
The 2.86ns ram chip on the left (above) is designated GC2A by Samsung and
rated at 350MHz, 700MHz effective. The 3.6ns memory chip on the right is found
on the Albatron GeForce TC6200Q, designated by Samsung as TC40, and rated at
250MHz (500MHz effective). There are four of these chips on the TC6200Q, two
mounted on the front and two on the back of the card for a total of 64MB of
local on-board memory.
Albatron GeForce TC6200Q
The Albatron GeForce TC6200Q (above) sports a bright blue pcb, gold-colored
anodized aluminum heatsink, and two visible memory chips located just to the
right of the heatsink (two additional memory chips are installed on the back of
If presented at a $70 price-point the card is appealing. This gives the card a
good price to performance ratio if you consider the card contains GeForce 6
Series architecture, introduces technology for using system memory for rendering
graphics, and with modified core architecture. The card also has the PCI-Express
bus that is capable of managing 4GB/sec. up and down-stream.
On the downside the
NV44 has only 4 pixel pipelines and 3 vertex processors and the transistor count
is half that of the NV43 at 75 million. Although I wrote downside, that is from a
gamer's perspective and to be correctly stated it should be identified as
Albatron GeForce TC6200Q
From the back on the Albatron GeForce TC6200Q you can see the sparse, but
neatly configured circuitry layout and two push-pins securing the heatsink.
Also, note the two remaining memory chips previously mentioned.