eVGA e-GeForce 6200 TC
The budget 32MB eVGA e-GeForce 6200 TC graphics card is surprisingly full-featured for its $70 price, but its use of Nvidia's TurboCache technology sacrifices 3D performance in the bargain. Gamers looking for a cheap way to run today's (or even yesterday's) games will need to keep shopping and spend more dough. For mainstream users looking to give their PC with integrated graphics a bit of a performance boost, however, or those who want to add a second monitor, the e-GeForce 6200 TC is worth a look.
This eVGA card is based on Nvidia's budget GeForce 6200 graphics chip. In previous generations, low-end Nvidia chips lacked some of the rendering features of their high-end cousins. Not so with eVGA's e-GeForce 6200 TC. This PCI Express (PCIe) card has all the graphics bells and whistles you'll find on high-end GeForce 6600- and 6800-based cards, including support for DirectX 9.0 with Pixel Shader 3.0.
What the eVGA e-GeForce 6200 TC lacks, however, is 3D performance. It obviously can't hold its own against more expensive GeForce cards, and we found its frame rates lacking even among budget-class cards. Nvidia's GeForce 6200 chip has only 4 pixel-rendering pipelines (vs. 8, 12, or 16 on higher-end cards), which means it takes longer to render complicated 3D scenes. Having fewer pipes puts a lid on the e-GeForce 6200 TC's performance, but we suspect the real performance hit comes from the card's use of Nvidia's TurboCache technology.
With TurboCache, eVGA can offer the e-GeForce 6200 TC at a cheaper price by including just 32MB of RAM on the card (eVGA also offers 16MB and 64MB versions). To your computer, the card looks like a 128MB graphics card, but that's only because it bites off a chunk of your PC's main system memory for video processing and transfers the data at a relatively high speed over the PCIe bus. The 32MB of memory on the card itself works as a cache for graphics data. Despite the turbo in its name, TurboCache won't have you racing through games. You'll spend more for a budget card with 128MB of actual video memory, but you should also see better results. The eVGA e-GeForce 6200 TC was a slow performer on CNET Labs' tests.
How slow? Unplayably slow for most modern 3D games. In our testing, trying to run games at 1,024x768 resolution with 4X antialiasing and 8X anisotropic filtering turned on resulted in slide-show-like frame rates: from a high of 10.4 frames per second (fps) in Half-Life 2 to an abysmal 3.0fps in Doom 3.