We are always reading about the hardcore video cards that set us back $500. You know, those purchases that you don’t tell the wife about because you don’t want her to feel that she can go out and spend $500 on curtains and picture frames. Just kidding ladies, we tell you about everything. I was recently building a PC for a friend who does not game at all, he uses his PC for watching movies and that is about it. Due to his small budget for a new PC, after his old one died, we decided to go with onboard video on our new motherboard. With there not being a huge selection of decent options, I decided to go with the Asus A8N-VM CSM after reading a few good things about it. Mounted with an nVidia 6150 graphics chip I hoped this would be the ideal board for him. It has been a few years since I dealt with onboard video and wondered how far it has come. The last time I had onboard video I was replacing it with a Voodoo 2000 PCI card. So I decided to load up a few of my games on his system for a few quick benches before I sent it off to him, with his permission of course. This is how things turned out.
Full Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 Shader Model 3.0 Support
The standard for today’s PCs and next-generation consoles enables stunning and complex effects for cinematic realism. NVIDIA GPUs offer the most complete implementation of the Shader Model 3.0 feature set—including vertex texture fetch (VTF)—to ensure top-notch compatibility and performance for all DirectX 9 applications.
NVIDIA® PureVideo™ Technology
NVIDIA® PureVideo™ technology is the combination of a high-definition video processing core and software that delivers unprecedented picture clarity, smooth video, accurate color, and precise image scaling for video content. It delivers home-theater quality high-definition video. Features varies by product.
High-Definition MPEG-2 and WMV Hardware Acceleration
Smoothly playback all MPEG-2 and WMV video—including WMV-HD—with minimal CPU usage so the PC is free to do other work. Feature requires supported video software. Features may vary by product.
Smoothes video and DVD playback on progressive displays to deliver a crisp, clear picture that rivals high-end home theater systems. Feature requires supported video software. Features may vary by product..
Allows for upscaling of a low-resolution video to HDTV resolutions (up to 1080), while maintaining a clear, clean image. Also allows for downscaling videos, including high-definition, without experiencing any annoying flicker, while preserving image detail.
Video Color Correction
Corrects differences in color characteristics of RGB monitors and TV monitors and ensures videos are not too dark, overly bright, or washed out regardless of the video format or display.
CineFX 3.0 Engine
Powers the next generation of cinematic realism. Full support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 Shader Model 3.0 enables stunning and complex special effects. Next-generation shader architecture delivers faster and smoother gameplay.
UltraShadow II Technology
Enhances the performance of bleeding-edge games, featuring complex scenes with multiple light sources and objects. 2nd-generation technology delivers more than 4x the shadow processing power over the previous generation.
Intellisample 3.0 Technology
The industry’s fastest antialiasing delivers ultra-realistic visuals, with no jagged edges, at lightning-fast speeds. Visual quality is taken to new heights through a new rotated grid sampling pattern.
NVIDIA® ForceWare® Unified Driver Architecture (UDA)
Delivers a proven record of compatibility, reliability, and stability with the widest range of games and applications. ForceWare ensures the best out-of-box experience for every user and delivers continuous performance and feature updates over the life of your NVIDIA product.
nView Multi-Display Technology
The NVIDIA® nView® hardware and software technology combination delivers maximum flexibility for multi-display options, and provides unprecedented end-user control of the desktop experience. NVIDIA GPUs are enabled to support multi-displays, but graphics cards vary. Please verify multi-display support in the graphics card before purchasing.
OpenGL® 1.5 Optimizations and Support
Ensures top-notch compatibility and performance for all OpenGL applications.
300 MHz RAMDAC
Blazing-fast RAMDAC supports display with high, ergonomic refresh rates up to and including 1920×1440@75Hz.
Single-Link DVI Support
Able to drive flat-panel displays up to and including 1600×1200.
To test the performance of the nVidia 6150, I chose to run the standard game tests that I usually run; including Battlefield 2, Call of Duty 2, and Half-Life 2: Lost Coast. Each game was run at 1024×768 with low or medium settings.
To add to the game tests I also ran 3DMark06 to give an additional idea how this card performs.
Asus A8N-VM CSM AMD Athlon64 3000+ Venice
Corsair TwinX PT 2x512MB
Seagate 120GB 7200.7
Driver: Forceware 84.21
Half-Life 2: Lost Coast
In Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, frame rates were recorded from the time you go through the gate at the bottom until you get into the room at the top. The settings were set at no AA , Trilinear filtering, everything else was on medium or low, HDR is not supported on this GPU so it was left at Full(if available).
FPS, higher is better.
Even with the settings at medium and low, the game was still barely playable, meaning you could play it but it would not be enjoyable. You will be required to lower the resolution to 800×600 in order to make the game more playable.
Call of Duty 2
In Call of Duty 2, I used the second part of the Winter War level called Domination. This level has some indoor and outdoor parts to the level, so it gives you a good feeling of how the game will play. Settings were; 2xAA, Trilinear filtering. Everything else was set to low.
FPS, higher is better.
I noticed a strange thing in COD2, the frame rates actually dropped when switching from 2xAA to no AA. Again resolution must be dropped to get a playable frame rate with all details turned off.
Battlefield is a beast on even the best PC’s. To test Battlefield 2, I ran the Daqing Oilfields level to get a good idea how the game would play while on foot as well as in different vehicles. Settings were on Low at 1024×768.
FPS, higher is better.
Battlefield 2 seems to amaze me at how easily it is run, when this game came out it was a tank to run and now it runs on anything. I was able to get over 30FPS at the test resolution with detail on Low. The game was quite playable but during an intense online match I may want things a bit more responsive and have to lower the resolution in order to prevent an unnecessary death.
The standard 3DMark06 tests were run to get the following scores.
Since the 6150 GPU doesn’t support HDR, 3DMark06 was unable to run the SM3.0/HDR tests therefore giving a very low score.
Overall, I was pretty impressed with the performance of the onboard video processor. I was expecting the games to not even start, let alone run playable. Sure settings needed to be lowered but let us not forget that this little guy came attached to a $90 CDN motherboard. Due to the fact that it is an onboard solution and that I am building it for a friend, I decided not to try overclocking the core speed of the processor. I feel that even a 25MHz increase above the stock 475Mhz would yield a very small increase in performance. For the price it gives a pretty good bang. However it would have been nice to see HDR support.
The BIOS gives you options for adjusting the amount of system memory that is used by the card. It will allow you to use up to 128MB. I ran the games with 64MB and 128MB and actually noticed a slight drop in a few of them due to the smaller amount of memory that the system can use. I suggest anyone using onboard video set it to 64MB.
Considering the system resources that most new games require, I was impressed that the 6150 GPU was capable of running all of the games that I tried. Anyone looking for a workstation that doesn’t require a dedicated video card or even the student that is mostly going to be typing papers with an occasional game will be well suited by a motherboard with nVidia’s 6150 GPU onboard. If you aren’t going to be playing games or anything else graphic intensive then the few hundred dollars that could have been spent on a video card can certainly be spent on something else. Overall, the 6150 gave impressive results for what it is designed to do.
– Comes with the motherboard
– Doesn’t use an expansion slot
– Runs current games
– Uses system memory