Not everyone can afford the latest and greatest video cards these days. To help drop the costs of cards, companies are utilizing free system memory and include less onboard memory. NVIDIA’s implementation is called TurboCache and we have a card from Leadtek today that uses it and comes in at a very attractive price.
The Leadtek PX6200 TC TDH
uses the NV44 GPU and comes equipped with 64MB. While you have the full DirectX 9 compatibility along with Shader 3.0 support and PureVideo, there are also some omissions to the NV44 GPU such as color and z-compression as well as OpenEXR 16-bit blending. There are only four pixel pipelines in this card that also helps curb costs. For HTPC folks, the card does support NVIDIA’s PureVideo for great HD video playback. More about PureVideo can be found at NVIDIA’s website.
So what is TurboCache? It’s the process of having the card utilize the onboard memory of the computer. Since these are budget cards, they wouldn’t be in the budget price range if there were 128 or 256MB of memory on board. Since computers are now coming into configurations of 512MB and more, TurboCache can take advantage of the system memory in place of onboard memory. It is confusing on the advertising to say supports 256MB of memory rather than put on the packaging the actual amount of memory that it has though.
As a big HTPC enthusiast, the first thing that came to my mind when I saw this card was it would be a great video card for a quiet HTPC. Besides the price, which I will get into in a little bit, the card features passive cooling as there’s only a heatsink on the card needed to cool it down. Considering cards seem to be migrating to larger and larger cooling solutions, it’s nice to see a card that doesn’t need to sound like a jet engine.
We didn’t have a comparable HyperMemory card from ATI to compare the card with so we’ll keep the benches solo for now. Once we do get a HyperMemory card, we’ll do a follow up comparison. Our test system consisted of:
1 GIG of PC3200 Ram
Windows XP w/ Service Pack 2
120 GIG Maxtor 7200 RPM HD3DMark05
is the only synthetic benchmark we are using today. From their website: It is the first benchmark to require a DirectX9.0 compliant hardware with support for Pixel Shaders 2.0 or higher! By combining high quality 3D tests, CPU tests, feature tests, image quality tools, and much more, 3DMark05 is a premium benchmark for evaluating the latest generation of gaming hardware. Half-Life 2
is Valve’s sequel to one of the great FPS classics. With impressive graphics and great physics, the game’s become an instant hit and the Source engine really shines in delivering a quality gaming experience.Doom 3
is iD Software’s re-invention of the classic game that started the deathmatch craze. The engine really taxes a system and the graphics are phenomenal for a computer game. For the tests, we ran the game with Max settings here.Far Cry
is an impressive first person shooter from Ubi Soft with great outdoor levels and some awesome effects. The vehicles and the ability to explore the entire island makes this one of the best games of the past year. Settings were maxed out and we used the default demo.Halo
is the Microsoft/Bungie/Gearbox first person shooter originally appearing on the Xbox. Featuring great graphics, vehicles, and good gameplay Halo
is ran with max settings as well with Pixel Shader 2.0.
Epic’s great shooter, Unreal Tournament 2004
is our next test. While the engine didn’t change too much from the previous version, it’s still a very nice looking game. Three bot matches were ran with the scores averaged for each resolution. Details were maxed out.
When playing through the game at low to medium detail, the card held up well in all aspects. You’ll get good performance at that level for you light gamers. Since we did the benchmarks on high details, you can see that this card is definitely not used for all the graphics quality hardcore gamers are expecting.
For people thinking of using this card in an HTPC system, I really recommend choosing this one as the price is great, it’s silent with the passive cooling, and it features support for NVIDIA’s PureVideo. Combine this card with the NVIDIA DVD Decoder and Microsoft’s Windows Media Center XP and you’ll get some high quality video output to your TV. The output to the TV was fantastic on my analog model. Letters were sharp and the picture quality was pretty crisp compared to cards from ATI.
Performance wise, you’ll be able to play a good amount of games at low resolution and lowering the details. As a budget card, Leadtek’s PX6200 TC TDH
offers good performance when you think this card can be had for under $80. As an HTPC card, this is one that you should strongly consider to drive your video. The passive cooling alone makes this card one to put into a system like that. Of course you won’t be able to turn on the bells and whistles with AA and AF being turned off for most games today. But anyone looking to not spend too much on a card or don’t game that much, the Leadtek PX6200 TC TDH
looks like a good card for you.