GPUs Under $70 - HD 4550, HD 4350, Galaxy 9500 GT, S3 Chrome 440 GTX
A busy segment, Radeon HD 4550 Card
Welcome to the world of budget graphics
The economic downturn doesn't seem to be effecting the graphics card industry's desire to produce new products though it might be responsible for the sheer amount of budget cards we are seeing today. In the last month or so, AMD has released or will release no less than 5 video cards priced under $100 - the first of which was the AMD Radeon HD 4670 we reviewed just last week.
This time around we have a pair of AMD cards, the Radeon HD 4550 and HD 4350, to look as well as a couple of new competitors. While the Galaxy GeForce 9500 GT card isn't exactly a new GPU the price has been lowered such a dramatic amount in the last 30 days that it deserves another look and is the main competitor to the HD 4550. We also have been testing the S3 Chrome 440 GTX - a budget GPU solution from S3 Graphics on the surface seems to rival with the HD 4350.
In this review we'll evaluate all four cards and see how they stack up to each other with a little budget gaming benchmarking.
The AMD Radeon HD 4550 Card
The Radeon HD 4550 is based on the wildly successful RV770 GPU design that was first unveiled as the Radeon HD 4870 back in June. Since then we have seen the GPU doubled up into the HD 4870 X2 card and cut down slightly for the Radeon HD 4670 mid-range card mentioned above.
The core clock rate on the HD 4550 is set at 600 MHz while the memory clock will run at 800 MHz/1600 MHz of either 512MB or 256MB of DDR3 memory. The card's TPD is listed at just 20 watts by AMD - an impressive power envelope for the performance we'll see later in the review. The transistor could is impressively small as well coming it at just about 242 million and it is of course still built on the same 55nm technology that the RV770 was built on.
You might notice that there is no CrossFire connector on the card and while at first this left me a bit disappointed that AMD had left the feature off their low end cards, I was told that they in fact support CrossFire, and Hybrid CrossFire, without a need for over-the-card connectors and instead utilize only the PCI Express bus for communication.