Leadtek GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit Review
By Gabriel Torres on December 5, 2005


Introduction

GeForce 6200 TurboCache is the latest entry-level graphics chip family from NVIDIA for the PCI Express bus, competing directly with Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory and the new Radeon X1300 families from ATI. The big problem with GeForce 6200 series is that manufacturers can use different configurations for clock, memory bus and memory size. Thus you can find on the market GeForce 6200 models with very different technical specs, but all being sold as “GeForce 6200”. This model we reviewed from Leadtek – PX6200TC TDH supporting 128 MB –, for example, uses only 16 MB of video memory and 32-bit memory bus, being by far the simplest (and cheapest) GeForce 6200 model available on the market today. Since it is labeled as GeForce 6200, many people may think that its performance is the same of a “real” GeForce 6200, which is not the case.

In this review we will compare the performance of this crippled GeForce 6200 model from Leadtek with other GeForce 6200 models, competing chips from ATI and also with some mid-range chips (GeForce 6600 and GeForce 6600 GT).

Leadtek WinFast PX6200TC TDH
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Figure 1: GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit (PX6200TC TDH supporting 128 MB) from Leadtek.

TurboCache (“TC”) is a technology that simulates a 128 MB or 256 MB video card by using part of the system’s RAM memory as video memory. So, even though this card from Leadtek is labeled as “128 MB TurboCache” it actually has only 16 MB of video memory. The rest – 112 MB – is stolen from the main RAM memory. HyperMemory technology from ATI uses the same idea. Read our tutorial on TurboCache for more information on this subject.

The whole problem is not only that you can be deceived by the exaggerated “128 MB” or “256 MB”. Each card can use different number of bits on the memory interface. You can find GeForce 6200 TC parts using either 32-bit or 64-bit interfaces. Of course 32-bit parts will achieve half the performance of 64-bit parts when accessing the video memory. Our main concern is that usually manufacturers don’t clearly estate how many bits are being used on the memory bus.

So, there are several different kinds of GeForce 6200 on the market and it is really hard for the regular user to know the differences between them. A GeForce 6200 from manufacturer A can be a completely different product compared to GeForce 6200 from manufacturer B. This is really a hassle, since you may choose a GeForce 6200 because you were satisfied by the performance of the PC of a friend or relative and also order a GeForce 6200, to discover later that you got a totally different board, with totally different performance.

Leadtek, for example, carries seven different GeForce 6200 models:

The naming used is really confusing because you cannot find out what is the memory configuration from the model name. So you have to be very careful when buying a GeForce 6200 to buy the correct model you want.

We ran PowerStrip software to check the clocks used by the reviewed card, and the model we reviewed was running at 350 MHz with its memory being accessed at 700 MHz.

You can see in our tutorial “NVIDIA Chips Comparison Table” the difference between GeForce 6200 TurboCache chip and the other chips from NVIDIA, while on our tutorial “ATI Chips Comparison Table” you can compare it to its competitors from ATI.

Let’s now take a closer look at the GeForce 6200 TurboCache with 16 MB and 32-bit interface (PX6200TC TDH supporting 128 MB) from Leadtek.

The GeForce 6200 WinFast PX6200TC TDH from Leadtek

On Figures 2 and 3 you can check GeForce 6200 TurboCache with 16 MB and 32-bit interface from Leadtek. As you can see, this video card uses a passive heatsink (i.e., without a fan).

Leadtek WinFast PX6200TC TDH
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Figure 2: Leadtek WinFast PX6200TC TDH supporting 128 MB.

Leadtek WinFast PX6200TC TDH
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Figure 3: Leadtek WinFast PX6200TC TDH supporting 128 MB, back view.

We removed the heatsink to take a look at the memory chip, and as you can see in Figure 4, this card uses just one 128-Mbit memory chip.

Leadtek WinFast PX6200TC TDH
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Figure 4: The reviewed card without its heatsink.

This video card uses just one DDR 128-Mbit 2.8 chip from Hynix (HY5DU283222AF28), making its 16 MB video memory (128 Mbits x 1 = 16 MB). This chip can run up to 700 MHz. Since this video card accesses the memory at 700 MHz there is no room for memory overclocking inside the memory’s specifications. But of course you can try overclock it over its specs.

Leadtek WinFast PX6200TC TDH
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Figure 4: 2.8 ns DDR memory chip used by Leadtek WinFast PX6200TC TDH supporting 128 MB video card.

It is really interesting to notice how the video memory is running at 700 MHz on this card, compared to 500 MHz or 550 MHz used on other GeForce 6200 models. We think that was done to offset a little the performance impact caused by the use of only 16 MB of video memory.

Main Specifications

* Researched on Pricewatch.com on the day we published this review.

How We Tested

During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between our benchmarking sessions the only variable was the motherboard being tested.

Hardware Configuration

Software Configuration

Used Software

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.

3DMark2001 SE

3DMark2001 SE measures video card performance simulating DirectX 8.1 games. It is very effective software for evaluating the performance from previous-generation games, programmed using DirectX 8. In this software we ran two tests, both at 1024x768x32. Since we were evaluating low-end video cards, we decided to not run our tests in higher resolutions, since rarely a user that buys a video card from this level will push resolutions above 1024x768 in 3D games.

We ran this software first without antialising and with no frame buffer, and then we put the antialising at 4 samples and the frame buffer at triple-buffering. This improves the video quality but lowers the performance. We were willing to see how much performance we lost by putting the VGA to run at the maximum possible image quality. It is important to note that ATI chips can run at 6x antialising. Since NVIDIA chips cannot run at this configuration, we had to use 4x antialising to use a configuration that is valid to all video cards included in our benchmark, allowing direct comparison between them. Also, some very low-end video chips (Volari 8300 and Intel i915G) don’t have antialising feature, so we were not able to benchmark them using this configuration.

You may be asking yourself why we added an old program in a review of a latest generation video card. To us, it is as important to know the performance of a video card with the latest games as it is to know its performance in an older game. That’s why we kept this software in our methodology.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

At the default 3DMark2001 SE configuration, Leadtek GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit was 17.72% faster than i915G (Intel D915GEV) and 26.93% faster than Volari 8300 128 MB (XGI).

Leadtek GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit was beaten by Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 117.89% faster, GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), which was 88.37% faster, GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), which was 82.90% faster, GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), which was 75.62% faster, GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), which was 29.70% faster, Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit (PowerColor), which was 4.32% faster and Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 4.25% faster.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Enabling video quality enhancements, Leadtek GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit was beaten by Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 1.590.51% faster, GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), which was 1.083.29% faster, GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), which was 981.59% faster, GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), which was 685.84% faster, Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit (PowerColor), which was 479.04% faster, Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 476.49% faster and GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), which was 271.95% faster.

3DMark03

3DMark03 measures performance by simulating games written to DirectX 9, which are contemporary games. In this software we ran two tests, both at 1024x768x32. Since we were evaluating low-end video cards, we decided to not run our tests in higher resolutions, since rarely a user that buys a video card from this level will push resolutions above 1024x768 in 3D games.

We ran this software first without antialising and with no anisotropic filtering, and then we put the antialising at 4 samples and anisotropic filtering at 4 samples. This improves the video quality but lowers the performance. We were willing to see how much performance we lost by putting the VGA to run at the maximum possible image quality. It is important to note that ATI chips can run at 6x antialising. Since NVIDIA chips cannot run at this configuration, we had to use 4x antialising to use a configuration that is valid to all video cards included in our benchmark, allowing direct comparison between them. Also, some very low-end video chips (Volari 8300 and Intel i915G) don’t have antialising feature, so we were not able to benchmark them using this configuration.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

At the default 3DMark03 configuration, Leadtek GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit was 10.26% faster than Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), 10.26% faster than Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit (PowerColor), and 41.66% faster than i915G (Intel D915GEV).

Leadtek GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit was beaten by GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), which was 305.84% faster, Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 183.26% faster, GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), which was 150.12% faster, GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), which was 92.52% faster, GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), which was 23.38% faster and Volari 8300 128 MB (XGI), which was 8.79% faster.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Enabling video quality enhancements, Leadtek GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit was beaten by GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), which was 865.22% faster, Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 576.81% faster, GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), which was 435.20% faster, GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), which was 271.84% faster, GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), which was 79.09% faster, Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 75.98% faster and Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit (PowerColor), which was 75.57% faster.

3DMark05

3DMark05 measures performance by simulating DirectX 9.0c games, i.e., using the new Shader 3.0 model. This programming model is used by Far Cry game and other games to be launched in the future. This new programming model is used by GeForce 6 and 7 series from NVIDIA and Radeon X1000 series from ATI.

In this software we ran two tests, both at 1024x768x32. Since we were evaluating low-end video cards, we decided to not run our tests in higher resolutions, since rarely a user that buys a video card from this level will push resolutions above 1024x768 in 3D games.

We ran this software first without antialising and with no anisotropic filtering, and then we put the antialising at 4 samples and anisotropic filtering at 4 samples. This improves the video quality but lowers the performance. We were willing to see how much performance we lost by putting the VGA to run at the maximum possible image quality. It is important to note that ATI chips can run at 6x antialising. Since NVIDIA chips cannot run at this configuration, we had to use 4x antialising to use a configuration that is valid to all video cards included in our benchmark, allowing direct comparison between them. Also, some very low-end video chips (Volari 8300 and Intel i915G) don’t have antialising feature, so we were not able to benchmark them using this configuration.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

At the default 3DMark05 configuration, Leadtek GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit was 181.50% faster than i915G (Intel D915GEV).

Leadtek GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit was beaten by GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), which was 267.97% faster, Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 188.09% faster, GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), which was 116.12% faster, GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), which was 58.32% faster, GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), which was 36.65% faster, Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 14.37% faster, Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit (PowerColor), which was 13.96% faster and Volari 8300 128 MB (XGI), which was 3.70% faster.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Enabling video quality enhancements, Leadtek GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit was beaten by GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), which was 377.16% faster, Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 341.25% faster, GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), which was 190.79% faster, GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), which was 114.00% faster, GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), which was 45.86% faster, Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit (PowerColor), which was 33.70% faster and Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 32.97% faster.

Doom 3

Doom 3 is one of the heaviest games available today. As we’ve done on other programs, we ran this game only at 1024x768. Since we were evaluating low-end video cards, we decided to not run our tests in higher resolutions, since rarely a user that buys a video card from this level will push resolutions above 1024x768 in 3D games.

This game allows several image quality levels and we’ve done our benchmarking on two levels: low and high. We run demo1 four times and wrote the obtained number of frames per second. The first result we discarded at once, since it is far inferior than the other results. This happens because at the first time we run the demo the game must load all textures to video memory, fact that doesn’t happen from the second time we run the demo on. From the three results left, we consider as our official result the middle result, i.e., we discard the highest and the lowest values. Curiously almost all times the values obtained at the second round on were the same.

A very important detail that we must mention is that Doom 3 has an internal FPS lock: it is only capable of generating 60 frames per second, even if your board is able to produce more frames per second than that. This is done in order to make the game to have the same “playability” sensation independently from the video card installed on the PC. This lock, however, is disabled in the game benchmarking mode.

For further details on how to measure 3D performance with Doom 3, read our tutorial on this subject.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Running this game in its low video quality mode, Leadtek GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit was 5.71% faster than Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit (PowerColor), 5.71% faster than Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), and 64.44% faster than Volari 8300 128 MB (XGI).

Leadtek GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit was beaten by GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), which was 395.95% faster, GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), which was 277.70% faster, Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 205.41% faster, GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), which was 191.89% faster and GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), which was 34.46% faster.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Enabling video quality enhancements, Leadtek GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit was 5.22% faster than Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit (PowerColor), 5.22% faster than Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), and 85.53% faster than Volari 8300 128 MB (XGI).

Far Cry

Far Cry is a game based on the new Shader 3.0 (DirectX 9.0c) model, which is used by GeForce 6 and 7 series from NVIDIA and Radeon X1000 series from ATI.
 
As we’ve done on other programs, we ran this game only at 1024x768. Since we were evaluating low-end video cards, we decided to not run our tests in higher resolutions, since rarely a user that buys a video card from this level will push resolutions above 1024x768 in 3D games.

This game allows several image quality levels and we’ve done our benchmarking on two levels: low and very high. To measure the performance we used the demo created by German magazine PC Games Hardware (PCGH), available at http://www.3dcenter.org/downloads/farcry-pcgh-vga.php. We ran this demo four times and made an arithmetical average with the obtained results. This average is the result presented in our graphs.

This game has a very important detail in its image quality configuration. Antialising, instead of being configured by numbers (1x. 2x. 4x or 6x), is configured as low, medium or high. The problem is that on NVIDIA chips both medium and high mean 4x, while on ATI chips medium means 2x and high means 6x, making the comparison between ATI and NVIDIA chips completely unfair. Because of that we configured antialising at 4x and anisotropic filtering at 8x manually at the video driver control panel. Some very low-end video chips (Volari 8300 and Intel i915G) don’t have antialising feature, so we were not able to benchmark them using this configuration.

For further details on how to measure 3D performance with Far Cry, read our tutorial on this subject.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Running this game in its low video quality mode, Leadtek GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit was 21.53% faster than Volari 8300 128 MB (XGI).

Leadtek GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit was beaten by Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 176.82% faster, GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), which was 163.98% faster, GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), which was 156.37% faster, GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), which was 103.00% faster, GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), which was 30.01% faster, Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit (PowerColor), which was 21.79% faster and Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 20.92% faster.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Enabling video quality enhancements, Leadtek GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit was beaten by GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), which was 1.382.01% faster, Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 944.51% faster, GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), which was 702.44% faster, GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), which was 482.01% faster, Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit (PowerColor), which was 203.05% faster, Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 202.13% faster and GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), which was 182.32% faster.

Conclusions

WinFast PX6200TC TDH supporting 128 MB from Leadtek is clearly targeted to users that want the cheapest video card available on the market but don’t want to buy a machine with on-board video. The idea seems good, since the performance of the reviewed card was in fact better than on-board video produced by Intel 915G chipset, and could also provide some image quality settings like antialising, which Intel’s chipset doesn’t provide (even though in our opinion users looking for this class of video cards don’t care about image quality settings).

You have to keep in mind, however, that its performance is really low, especially compared to other video cards on the same class, like other GeForce 6200 models and Radeon X300.

The whole problem of this card, in our opinion, is the misinformation. A regular user can buy it thinking that it would achieve the same performance level of a real GeForce 6200 or even of a GeForce 6200 TurboCache with more on-board video memory, which is not true.

Our constructive critic of today goes to NVIDIA: why allow card manufacturers to use so many different memory configurations? If even for techies it is really complicated to decipher what kind of memory bus (128-bit, 64-bit or 32-bit), memory clock and memory capacity a given GeForce 6200 model is using, imagine for the regular user, which doesn’t even know what those terms are all about!

It is good to keep in mind that the problem is not with Leadtek – we gave recently an award to their “real” GeForce 6200 product, which provides a great cost/benefit ratio – but with the very low video memory capacity (only 16 MB) and very narrow video memory bus (32-bit). Even the higher clock rate (700 MHz against 550 MHz on models with more on-board memory) was not able to compensate these very low end specs.

As for the price, funny enough we couldn’t see this model being sold at Shopping.com. At Pricewatch.com the cheapest place selling it was Newegg.com, at USD 55. Well, for one dolar more you can buy a GeForce 6200 TurboCache with 64 MB and 64-bit interface, like the one we reviewed from XFX, which provides a far greater performance than the reviewed model.

To be very honest, forget about this card. It is not worthwhile buying one. If you are really on budget and have only up to USD 60 to spend on a video card, our recommendation is a GeForce 6200 TurboCache with 64 MB and 64-bit interface. If you can spend twenty dollars more, our pick goes to the “real” GeForce 6200 with 128 MB and 128-bit interface.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Leadtek-GeForce-6200-TurboCache-16-MB-32-bit-Review/258


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