Superfast (and superexpensive) 3D graphics cards might get all the attention, but it's the budget graphics cards that sell the most. It turns out that--deep down--we're not all hard-core gamers after all. Budget cards don't usually muster enough performance to excite anyone with more than a passing interest in gaming, but the latest generation of graphics cards, such as the ATI Radeon 9200, is at least powerful enough to play recently released games--albeit at resolutions that would probably make a serious gamer scoff. Although the Radeon 9200 delivers very capable performance for a budget card, its competitor, the Nvidia GeForce FX 5200, is still noticeably faster.
Budget-minded graphics cards aren't trotted out with a lot of fanfare, and the ATI Radeon 9200 is a typical bare-bones example. The card comes with a driver CD, an installation manual, and little else. The card features VGA, composite, and S-Video outputs. Although it supports simultaneous dual displays, the second is destined to be a TV and not a second CRT. Other budget cards, such as the &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Epny%2Ecom%2Fproducts%2Fverto%2FgeForceFx%2F5200agp%2Ecfm" target="_blank">PNY Verto GeForce FX 5200 AGP, support simultaneous CRTs.
The Radeon 9200 uses 128MB of 200MHz DDR SDRAM and is powered by a 250MHz Radeon 9200 GPU. Although its specs and price are modest in stature, the Radeon 9200 is still a full-height card. Because the memory is positioned along the back end of the card, it can't utilize a half-height design, which will keep it from populating some small-form-factor desktops. It is possible that Radeon 9200-based solutions from other manufacturers might come in a half-height format, perhaps populated by only 64MB of memory.
Radeon 9200 GPU-based cards are starting to become available from other vendors, including &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Ftw%2Egiga%2Dbyte%2Ecom%2F" target="_blank">Gigabyte and &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Epower%2Dcolor%2Ecom" target="_blank">Power Color. In the coming weeks, a slightly speedier version, the Radeon 9200 Pro, is due out from ATI and other manufacturers, such as &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ehightech%2Ecom%2Ehk%2Fhtml%2Findex%2Ehtml" target="_blank">Hightech Information Systems. ATI has yet to publicly release the technical specifications of the Radeon 9200 Pro.
In the not-so-distant past, the level of performance you could expect from a value graphics card was minimal at best. The current generation of value cards, on the other hand, delivers 3D graphics performance worth noting. Obviously, these cards donÃ‚'t provide the kind of performance a game enthusiast would demand, yet they donÃ‚'t cost anywhere near as much as high-end cards do, either.