Palit – GeForce 6200 TurboCache review

budget PCI Express card that shares system memory
Photo of Palit – GeForce 6200 TurboCache
£48

The seemingly unlimited rise in the power and performance of high-end graphics cards has enabled new technologies and features to filter down to entry-level graphics chips, allowing for more capable cards in the lower market segments. In the case of the GeForce 6200 TurboCache, nVidia has combined a new technology, PCI Express, with one that has been floating around for years, shared system memory.

But don’t let the name fool you; the card certainly isn’t turbo-charged and nor does it have integrated caches or lots of fast memory, but what it does offer is a low cost step up from an integrated graphics solution.

In sharing system memory, nVidia has brought down the cost of the card by reducing the number of expensive memory chips used. To do this nVidia uses an MMU (Memory Management Unit) which allows the GPU to write directly to the PC’s memory and fetch back data from it, thanks to the PCI Express interface. A special driver (TCM – TurboCache Manager) controls the allocation of system memory at any given time.

Despite the 6200 name, the 6200TC doesn’t use the NV43 core of its namesake but instead nVidia has produced a new processor, the NV44, for the 6200TC. To keep the transistor count to a minimum, the NV44 has just four pixel pipelines and three vertex shaders.

At the moment the 6200TC comes in three flavours which differ only in the amount of system memory they use and the onboard memory clock speed. The GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16-TC has 16MB of onboard memory, with the ability to access up to 112MB of system memory, and comes with 350MHz core and 700MHz (DDR) memory clocks. The 32-TC version has the same core and memory speeds but has 32MB of memory on board with the ability to access up to 96MB of system memory. Finally the 64-TC has 350MHz core and 550MHz memory clocks, 64MB of onboard memory and can access up to 192MB of the system’s memory.

Palit’s card is based around the 64-TC version and is a compact card, dominated by a large, aluminium, passive heatsink, so just the job if you are looking for a low cost, low noise, DX9-capable card for your home theatre PC. It comes with the usual ports on the back plate, namely VGA out, DVI-I and S-Video out.

Although you will see it marked as a 256MB card, remember that much of this is down to system memory. It will only achieve this amount if you have 512MB or more memory installed in your PC. To see what performance we could squeeze out of the card, it was tested in a system with 1GB of memory.

The performance of the 6200TC comes as no surprise. You won’t be playing any hardcore games at high levels of detail, but then this card isn’t about that. What it does do is give you a DirectX 9 card at a very low price. We tested the card running FarCry at a 1,024 x 768 pixel resolution with all details turned on to maximum and the card gave a creditable 20.6fps.

This is fine as a test but a bit too low to play the game with any degree of satisfaction, but if you want a quicker frame rate then simply play the game at a lower resolution, say 800 x 600 pixels with the detail settings set as low as possible. It may not look quite as nice but at least it shouldn’t be jerking around as you try to blow something or someone up.

Company: Palit

Contact: +49 21 54-49 88 60


Verdict
You may not be playing hardcore 3D games with Palit's 6200 TurboCache but if you are looking for a low cost, silent card for your home theatre PC then you could do a lot worse than this card.