For those looking for a video card that has GeForce3 capabilities, but without the huge price tag, there is the Ti200. Come join Darthtanion as he takes a look at the Prolink GeForce3 Ti200 Video Card. Its time to see if these "toned down" cards are worth the time and money.
Introductionwe've been hearing more and more from the Prolink company lately. Their quiet past is being shattered by their onslaught of the MultiMedia arena. Since nVidia has become a household word, Prolink has been busy trying to use every one of them. This works well since the company also has a reputation for offering their ware with a reasonable price tag attached.today's contestant is one of the newer products to hit the streets; namely the PixelView GeForce3 Ti200 video card. This is the Graphics Processor that everyone thought would be called the GeForce3 MX. It runs at a bit slower clock speed than the original GeForce3 cards, but still offers all of the DirectX 8 support of the older models.So how well does the Ti200 perform? How much worse is it than the full-blown GeForce3? Enter and we shall see...
Prolink Ti200 -
SpecificationsWhile not quite as powerful as the original GeForce3 chipset, the Ti200 still manages to offer a lot of features and still leaves a little green in your wallet. So what kind of goodies can you expect?- 256 bit GeForce3 Ti200 chipset- 64MB Hynix 4ns DDR SDRAM- Integrated 350MHz RAMDAC- 175MHz Core frequency- 200MHz memory clock speed (effectively 400MHz - DDR)- Resolutions of up to 2048 x 1536 @ 75Hz- 6.4GB/sec memory bandwidth- AGP 4x capability- TV-Out with resolutions up to 1024 x 768- Support for Composite and S-Video TV output- Full DirectX 8.1 compatibilitySo what do all these numbers and figures mean to those who can't tell the difference between RAMDAC and S-Video? It means that while you're saving some cash on this card, you can still expect some very good performance. The 64MB of DDR memory will be able to easily handle your hardcore gaming tendencies, and the full DirectX 8.1 capabilities will allow you to remain at the cutting edge for some time to come still. Games haven't taken advantage of the per-pixel shading and vertex shading yet, but they will be soon. This card will let you see these awesome effects in all their glory.So now that we have the base numbers down on paper, lets take a look at what you'll get.
Prolink Ti200 -
The PixelView GeForce3 Ti200 card that I received for review is pretty standard as far as features, and doesn't offer any Digital Video Input/Output. This isn't too surprising, though, since the Ti200 cards are built for those wanting to have the capabilities of a GeForce3 card while maintaining a budget. But if you just have to have this feature, then you can get one of the other available models of the Ti200 cards offered by Prolink that has this capability.The card comes in the same gold/yellow color scheme as past cards, so it will stand out in that window just fine for those who are into case modding. After all, if you're going to cut a whole into the side of your case, you want the insides to look cool...don't you?
When I first heard of the lower core and memory speeds of the Ti200 series of cards, I was a little concerned that some companies would do away with active cooling. Not only has Prolink decided to keep the HSF on this card, they have also decided to keep the RAM sinks in place as well. This will help when it comes to both stability and overclocking. Even running at default speeds, the cooler temperatures will allow for a more stable system.And hiding under those RAM sinks you ask? How about 64MB of Hynix 4ns DDR memory? While not quite as robust as the faster 3.8ns variety, it is still very serviceable and will be able to handle just about anything that you can throw at it. The 4ns modules are capable of speeds in the 225MHz range, and possibly higher with the proper cooling in place.The HSF on the GPU is the same smallish model that I've seen on most graphics cards. While not the best, it will serve the needs that it was designed for; keeping the GPU cool. Also notice the design of the HSF in reference to the RAM sinks. Most of the excess air that blows from the HSF will be aimed at the RAM sinks, so you can expect your memory to also remain nice and cool.
As I stated above, the card that I received was limited to a standard 15-pin video connection and a TV-Out connection. There are models available with DVI for those with an LCD monitor, but since I have no real need for it, this one works just fine for my needs. After all, there's really no need to buy features that aren't needed.The 15-pin port is industry standard and will allow you to connect any standard monitor to it, or a hardware DVD card if that is what you have in mind. The S-Video will allow you to connect your PC to your television set for a larger viewing area, but the resolution will be limited. While the card itself will support TV resolutions of 1024 x 768, there are very few TV sets with this capability. A few will allow you to run at 800 x 600, and most will limit you to 640 x 480.Also realize that a standard TV will result in a dot pitch of somewhere in the range of .60 dot pitch. To be perfectly honest with you, this is a horrid picture quality. As a comparison, a standard monitor produces a picture of .21 - .27 dot pitch. As you can see, the picture quality will appear grainy and not real crisp. This is the fault of the television, though and not the video card. HDTV may one day make TV output a cool reality, but today's TV sets just aren't really up to the task of working double duty as a monitor.
Prolink Ti200 -
The Software Package
You get three CD disks with the package. They include not only drivers for the card, but also some other programs that will allow you to have a little fun as well. let's see what we have here...- Driver Disk
The driver disk will has a nice autorun file that brings up a very simple interface for you to install the drivers for your new toy. The disk features the nVidia 21.81 Det4 drivers, and also installs the registry hack that allows you to overclock your card from the advanced properties screen. No second-hand programs are required to set the speeds to the desired level.Also included on the disk is the ability to browse through a full manual, install DirectX, and browse the disk. A simple click and you're on your way to the desired task.- WinDVD
WinDVD is a software utility that allows you to play DVD movies without the expense of an added hardware decoder card. I already have a hardware decoder card, so didn't install this program on my system.- Ulead VideoStudio SE
For those with a bit of an artistic side to their personalities, there is the Ulead VideoStudio program. Video Studio is designed for making movies on your computer. It allows you to connect a video camera to your system and directly input that signal to the program. From there, you have a simple step-by-step interface that allows you to either make movies, or send out video greeting cards via email. Granted, these are only a couple of examples that are available with this program, but it gives you an idea as to what you can accomplish with it. Also included with the program disk is a manual that shows you exactly how to create your own media.
Prolink Ti200 -
TestingAll right... let's find out what this little gem can do now, shall we? We know what we can expect to find in the box, we know what features that it supports, all that's left is to see some hard numbers to compare against. But first, let's take a look at what kind of system it will be running on.Test SystemAbit KT7A-RAIDAMD Thunderbird 1000 @ 1333MHz256MB Crucial PC-133 CAS2 SDRAMIBM 60GXP 40GB Hard DriveSound Blaster:LiveHitachi CM814 21" MonitorWindows 98SEVIA 4-in-1 drivers v4.34nVidia Detonator v12.90DirectX 8.0aI used the nVidia 12.90 Det3 drivers because the test system has a problem with the 21.xx series drivers. I've been playing with some setups, and it looks like it may be a conflict between the drivers and the KT133A chipset of my motherboard. So to remain fair for the testing, all tests on all cards were performed using the 12.90'sBenchmarking Utilities/Programs3dMark2000 - Default settings- All tests run3dMark2001 - Default settings- All tests runQuake III Arena - v1.11 with Demo001Quake III Arena testing was done with these settings:- GL Extensions: On- Full Screen: On- Lighting: Lightmap- Geometric Detail: Slider bar set to MAX- Texture Quality: 32 bit- Texture Filter: Tri-Linear- All "Eye Candy" enabled- 3dMark2000
So far so good. Granted, 3dMark2000 is an older benchmarking utility, but it can still show us where the card is strong or weak. From what we can see, there aren't too many weaknesses to be seen. So let's take the testing up a level and see what happens...- 3dMark2001
The GeForce3 core is beginning to show now. Under the much more graphically intense testing of 3dMark2001, we're seeing that it still whoops the older GeForce2 chipset to pieces. The nearly 2100 point rise in score is strictly due to the newer GPU architecture. And since it is based on the GeForce3 core, it can still run all of the tests included in this utility. Granted, a test suite isn't a reason to spend money on a new video card, but just the fact that it runs all tests lets us know that it is capable of meeting the future demands of game makers.- Quake III Arena
I still see some close test scores at the lower resolutions to the older GeForce2 chipset, but how many of us really play at that screen size? I know that a MINIMUM resolution for my fragfests is 1024 x 768, and I normally go a bit higher.
Prolink Ti200 -
OverclockingWith 4ns memory installed to this board, its pretty much a given that overclocking will be in order. So of course I just had to give it a try to see what I could do with the stock HSF attached and a standard setup. My results showed that this card would run very smoothly with a core frequency of 195MHz and memory speed set to 225MHz (effectively 450MHz - DDR). This is very close to the settings of the original GeForce3 for the core, but still a little off the mark with the memory. Perhaps with some better cooling in place we could get more, but I was just sticking to the retail setup for these tests.Even so, the ability to overclock is here, so take advantage of it. After all, would a company include a utility that allows adjustments to the clock speeds if they didn't intend for folks to use it?ConclusionOK... Now that we have seen the performance of this card against others that are its competition, I can say that this is a pretty good investment. While it doesn't put out the sheer numbers of the original GeForce3 card, it does manage to give you ALL of the functionality of the GeForce3 chipset. It also manages to do this at a price that is roughly US$150 cheaper than the newer Ti500 cards, and about US$80-100 less than even the original GeForce3 cards. Now are we seeing the reasoning for the wise investment?Bottom line... If you have a bottomless wallet, then look at the big boy Ti500 series of video card. If, on the other hand, you have to live on a budget like the rest of us folks, then take a hard look at this board. It offers full GeForce3 capabilities, 64MB of DDR memory, and a price tag that won't leave you a months salary in debt.- ProsGeForce3 FeaturesInexpensiveSolid performance- ConsSlower 4ns memoryRating - 9/10
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