Being on a budget doesn't necessarily equate to cheap. With modern components and the art of Overclocking, we can often get a good deal more performance out of our toys when we tweak them a bit. Using the CoolBits registry hack, I was able to easily overclock this card to give it a little better performance.
If you'll recall my thoughts on overclockability, you'll remember that I only go as high as the board allows without any graphical artifacts. This means that when I give you overclocking results, this is the highest that I was able to attain without any sort of visual glitches of any sort.
That said, this FX5200 board from Prolink was able to run at a 310MHz core speed and a 585MHz memory speed. This is up from the default 275/500MHz speed from the factory. This shows an almost 13% gain on the core and an even 17% increase to memory speeds.
We've talked about this graphics board being in the budget category, but we haven't yet talked about the actual price. Doing a little research I was able to find this same FX5200 board for as low as US$79! Unless you are looking for a no-name OEM board, you would be hard pressed to find one of the 128MB Ti4200 boards for less than US$120, so we are talking about a decent amount of savings.
Performance wise, we did notice that the numbers are a bit lacking, but then this board wasn't designed for those looking for the highest possible frame rates. It was built and created for those who are looking for a reasonably decent performing 3D graphics board at a more affordable price.
One item of note, however, is 2D quality. When comparing quality of text between the nVidia line and the ATI line, the nVidia boards always seem to be a bit lacking. Not that the quality is terrible, but you won't get the same level of crispness to the text.
Bottom line...If you are looking for 3D graphics that offers DirectX 9 compatibility, workable frame rates and a low price, then the Prolink GeForceFX 5200 is worth your consideration. While it won't give you blistering frame rates, it will be more than capable of meeting the needs of a gamer on a budget.
Exceptionally low price
Good 3D color
DirectX 9 compatibility
Decent software package
2D quality a bit lacking
Frame rates still far behind from Ti series
Rating - 8.5/10
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