GeForce FX 5200 variants
Before we discuss the details of the MSI card, weíll first provide a quick refresher on the GeForce FX 5200 family.
Like GeForce FX 5600, the GeForce FX 5200 is a four pixel pipeline architecture (double that of GeForce4 MX), with one texture unit per pixel pipeline. This 4x1 approach is also used by ATI in the RADEON 9000 series, GeForce FX 5200ís primary competitor. In order to reduce the transistor count of GeForce FX 5200 however, the Intellisample anti-aliasing engine present in GeForce FX 5600 has been removed from GeForce FX 5200.
As a result, the GeForce FX 5200 loses the color and z-compression engines, ultimately hurting anti-aliasing performance. Overall, the GeForce FX 5200 is composed of 45 million transistors, 14 million transistors greater than GeForce4 MX, but nearly half the number of transistors as GeForce FX 5600. This low transistor count helps to keep production costs in check while at the same time keeping heat at bay. Low-end GeForce FX 5200 cards donít require active cooling; another component that can increase the cost of producing a graphics card.
Three flavors of GeForce FX 5200 to choose from
Three GeForce FX 5200 variants are available for graphics card manufacturers to choose from. At the top of the heap is the GeForce FX 5200 Ultra. This card boasts a 325MHz core clock (for a fill-rate of 1.3Gigatexels/sec) with 128MB of 325MHz (650MHz effective) DDR memory. At $149, the GeForce FX 5200 Ultra matches the $129-$149 price tag the RADEON 9200 PRO will officially list for when it begins shipping.
In the middle of the GeForce FX 5200 lineup is the 250MHz core clock GeForce FX 5200. This chip is then paired with 200MHz (400MHz effective) DDR memory of the TSOP variety and is available in 64MB and 128MB configurations. This is essentially the variant NVIDIA announced as the $99 GeForce FX 5200 at their launch event during GDC.
The final piece of the GeForce FX 5200 puzzle is a bit confusing, as itís also labeled GeForce FX 5200. Physically it uses the same 250MHz chip as the $99 GeForce FX 5200, the primary difference lies in its 64-bit memory interface. Needless to say, this is not the card youíre going to want to be running if youíre any type of gamer, as the 64-bit interface will limit you to very low screen resolutions. Weíve also seen these cards ship with 166MHz (332MHz effective) memory.
Fortunately, these FX5200 cards appear to be limited to the 64MB memory configuration, so if you see a 64MB GeForce FX 5200 card thatís priced too good to be true, chances are itís one of these cards. This is the $79 DX9 card NVIDIA trumpeted at GDC back in March.