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  • ThermoMonkey - Wednesday, October 08, 2008 - link

    I like many other readers was interested in this article because of its HTPC title. We all know the article wasn't written for the HTPC audience. Oh wait, at the very end he says "This hardware is currently where it's at for HTPCs. Both the 4550 and 4350 support 8-channel LPCM over HDMI." This only added to my confusion.

    First, what exactly provides this 8-channel LPCM support?
    Isn't that provided by an SPDIF connection from the sound card?
    From what I understand this ATI card gets that SPDIF connection through the PCI BUS, connecting the graphics card to the motherboards sound card.
    Now if anyone knows anything about the nVidia 9500GT card, they would know that it has an SPDIF input to pass audio through the HDMI. Isn't that 8-channel LPCM??? And isn't that 8-channel LPCM totally dependent on the sound card capabilities???

    I know there isn't a graphics card out there that generates and provides audio, they can only pass it through. I would prefer the digital pass through to not be on PCI BUS because maybe I don't like low quality motherboard sound and want to send SPDIF signal from my high quality stand alone sound card to my graphics cards HDMI output.

    Again Correct me If I'm wrong.
    Reply
  • Nil Einne - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    You're wrong, as has already been mentioned BTW. Most/all? ATI cards of the 3xxx line and 4xxx line have a audin chip (usually Realtek I believe) for outputting digital audio over HDMI (only). Nvidia card don't have an audio chip although in some cases it's possible to connect audio from the mobo (or sound card) via an internal SP/DIF connector (basically a two pin cable) and you are then able to output audio over HDMI. However I'm not aware how widespread this is among Nvidia cards nor what the limitations are (it will obviously depend on your mobo/sound card but there will likely be additional limitations). AFAIK, it is not possible to get HDMI audio otherwise. While in theory it you could send it over the PCI-express bus, this isn't done that I'm aware of.

    This is mentioned in a number of places besides here BTW
    Reply
  • Nil Einne - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    BTW, 'low quality motherboard sound' makes no sense. We're talking about a purely digital path here. Reply
  • Nil Einne - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    BTW, 'low quality motherboard sound' makes no sense. We're talking about a purely digital path here. Reply
  • puddnhead - Friday, October 03, 2008 - link

    The headline "perfect HTPC cards" caught my eye and I thought, great, I'm really starting to feel the limitations of the integrated x1250 graphics of my 690g chipset for HD video playback, let me see what picking up one of these cards will do for me."

    Then I read the review and ... huh? You don't even LOOK at HTPC tasks like HD video playback! Just cookie cutter tests of the same old fps on standard games. LOL, who is building a low power, quiet HTPC to play games & only play games. You know what HTPC means right?

    I don't understand the point of this review, it makes a claim in the title and then there is zilch in the actual text to support it. Huh?
    Reply
  • JonnyDough - Friday, October 03, 2008 - link

    "Using a $1450 processor, $240 mobo, $300 RAM and $400 PSU to test a $40 GPU is assanine. That does no service to the HTPC end user."

    Agreed. For gaming, rather than compare it to just modern GPUs, how about comparing it to my old X1650XT. It's HDCP enabled, although it lacks HDMI and sound. I had originally bought it for use in an HTPC although it never got there. How would one of these cards perform with my skt 939 2.0ghz Athlon X2 and 2GB's of ram. THAT is what I would make an HTPC out of. Forget buying a new processor JUST for an HTPC. Why bother when I can get a PS3?
    Reply
  • Donkeyshins - Thursday, October 02, 2008 - link

    When are we going to start seeing these cards - especially the HD4550 Passive - at retailers? So far the Egg doesn't have anything and a casual web search is not giving much either.

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • Syclone - Wednesday, October 01, 2008 - link

    These still don't seem to support lossless codecs that require protected path audio unfortunately (Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD MA). So the highest quality audio from blu-ray will be passed at lower quality. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, October 01, 2008 - link

    I think the author may be in hiding after this article....but here's a hint if the previous 41 comments didn't sink in:

    Make sure your article title is backed up even remotely by the tests in the article itself.

    Claiming something as great for one purpose, but testing it for irrelevant purposes does not a good article make.

    I really would like to hear the reasoning behind how this card was tested.
    Reply
  • steveyballme - Wednesday, October 01, 2008 - link

    This thing runs Vista fine! Upgrade now people!



    http://fakesteveballmer.blogspot.com">http://fakesteveballmer.blogspot.com
    Reply
  • TA152H - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    I'm a little surprised there were no tests with the AMD IGP and these cards. Individually, they don't perform so well, but did Anandtech forget that AMD allowed their IGPs to work with discrete cards now, so you can get benefit of both. Assuming even a 30% boost, the 4550 would change pretty considerably in terms of what it can and can't do.

    Also, some people with older systems might be inclined to pop one of these in to run Vista on their older system. If these come in AGP, I'll surely buy a few, they are absolutely excellent cards for an incredibly low price. Sites like this can whine about what it isn't, but what is it will sell extremely well. The price is right, it will run Vista adequately, offloads work from the processor for playback, and is silent (the 4550 anyway). It's going to sell really well, especially for people with AMD IGPs that want them to work together. Again, it's a pity Anandtech didn't have the sense to try this out and see if it was worthwhile.
    Reply
  • Devo2007 - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    I see there are three connectors on the 4550 card. One of them is obviously HDMI, the other one is DVI, but what's the third? Could it be a DisplayPort connector or something like that? Reply
  • Wineohe - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    I'm of the camp that I would never go this route if I was serious about building an HTPC system. I would frankly not play games anyway on an HTPC system and even with the 4550 game play is marginal. As mentioned by another post the power consumption is terrible. The G45 still seems like the best HTPC solution. If it were more powerful in terms of 3D it would probably be more inefficient also. I guess if you were really stuck with your system board (budget) or you wanted 8 channels (you have an AMD board) then it is a solution. Reply
  • Nil Einne - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Um, the G45 is an UTTER POS even for most HTPC purposes. Post processing options are virtually non existant, it doesn't support PIP IIRC, it doesn't have decent audio over HDMI support either and the drivers have numerous problems (e.g. with 1080p altho perhaps this is fixed). If you want integrated, go the AMD ATI 3200/3300 (780/790) or perhaps the 9300 for Intel Reply
  • Nil Einne - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Apologies, was wrong about the audio output. The G45 audio output is fine (actually Intel has had 8 channel LPCM for a long while). But my comments on post processign and particularly driver issues and 1080p support were right, e.g. http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=3430&am...">http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=3430&am...

    The worst thing is, Nvidia and ATI/AMD are continually improving their drivers in terms important for HTPCs whereas Intel doesn't seem to much
    Reply
  • VaultDweller - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    OK, so I admit I've always been a bit confused when people start talking about HDMI audio support on video cards.

    How does the video card actually get the audio from the sound card to output it? From the picture it looks like the 4550 has an HDMI input and output... but doesn't that mean the sound card needs to have HDMI output to pass it to the video card? And aren't there almost no sound cards with HDMI output?
    Reply
  • deruberhanyok - Wednesday, October 15, 2008 - link

    No, the video card has an audio controller built-in, and you get the HDMI video and audio if you use the built-in HDMI port (or, for Radeon cards that do not have an HDMI port built-in, you get the video and audio if you use the included DVI->HDMI adapter).

    A sound card is not required. This works for regular audio as well (from games or your operating system).
    Reply
  • ThermoMonkey - Sunday, October 19, 2008 - link

    Sorry to say but that's not true at all. The Video card takes the audio signal from a sound card and combines the sound with the video output to pass through the HDMI. Look for your self http://ati.amd.com/products/Radeonhd4500/index.htm...">http://ati.amd.com/products/Radeonhd4500/index.htm...

    "HDMI - Enjoy the latest audio technologies using HDMI with 7.1 digital surround sound support delivering 8-channel audio. Also, xvYCC support allows the user to enjoy a wider range of colors when connected to a capable HDTV."

    It says surround sound support (not integrated) which only means that it connects to an on board (mobo) sound card via PCI bus to provide 7.1 channel audio.

    Many competing graphics cards have a SPDIF connection to pass the audio through HDMI but that is only 2 channel. That's what separates this card from the rest.
    Reply
  • woolooloo - Thursday, October 30, 2008 - link

    Sorry, but actually it is you who are wrong. Listed in the specs table for the 4350 (and I'm sure the 4550 is the same):

    Integrated HD audio controller with up to 2 channel 48 KHz stereo or multi-channel (7.1) AC3 enabling a plug-and-play cable-less audio solution
    Reply
  • VaultDweller - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    An additional question... Is there actually any reason that I should care about this with a 5.1 speaker/receiver set (linkage: http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet...">http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/sto...0551&.... Reply
  • ThePooBurner - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    If yo are going to test something as a gaming alternative for those who want a bit of a boost in their gaming, try actually setting the games to settings people might use. Also, testing with just 2 games, both of which either were or are system breakers seems a bit... dumb.

    I would prefer the cards be tested with actual settings to see what they can ACTUALLY do and give a better indication of performance. It's been my experience that turning on some of the eyecandy and turning up the resolution for a slightly reduced framerate is preferred over looking at something ugly for hours. Also, why test the 780G instead of the 790G? or why not both?

    Here is are test setups i would suggest that would be more reasonable and representative of what people would actually do with these cards.

    1) 1024x768 Med Quality (as in the second down from the highest setting), no AA, Triliner/8x filtering.
    2) 1024x768 High Quality, no AA, Triliner/8x filtering
    3&4) Same as above but with 1280x1024(or 960).

    These tests are much more inline with the testing that happens on their big brothers and allows for a much more quantitive comparison of what you are getting. Automatically testing everything at junk levels is worthless to people. It gives us no basis for comparison. We need apples to apple and orange to orange testing if we want to see what exactly the fruit we are looking at is. Also as a point of comparison it should include the 4850 or the 3850. Those are both very well performing cards that will give a good idea of how much more you would get for more money. But as this review currently stands it is of little to no worth to anyone.
    Reply
  • superflex - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    Using a $1450 processor, $240 mobo, $300 RAM and $400 PSU to test a $40 GPU is assanine. That does no service to the HTPC end user. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    It is their standard graphics test bed, you can't very well make comparisons if you are changing non-tested hardware around.

    They probably shouldn't have bothered posting anything on these though until they were done with the HTPC portions, judging by all the complaints in the comments.
    Reply
  • deruberhanyok - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    Yeah, it would be completely irrational to have a second standard test system for mid-range parts and a third for these lower end ones. I mean, what do you think this is, a tech website? Reply
  • PAPutzback - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    Something along the lines of it being tested in hybrid mode if it is capable with an HTPC type setup. IE, low watt fanless PSU, and low watt processor.

    The new game should not be benchmarks scores but more about what is the leat wattage I can make a PC and still have all the function of a Media HTPC. No gaming.

    I was really disappointed seeing as Anand has a theater blog on the site and this would of been a perfect setup to test along with his theater.
    Reply
  • whosthere - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    Derek,
    You guys published an article on G45 a few days back, then why didn't you show any G45 numbers in this article and still showing the antiquated G35 numbers?


    Reply
  • fic2 - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    Looking forward to the article on how well a 4870 runs on an Atom based computer.

    Got to go google for articles on how well a Landrover does on an F1 track.

    What a waste of an article. Best thing that can be said is that trees died for it.
    Reply
  • archer75 - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    The ATI cards have problems with some receivers and TV's. It has to do with the EDID and is documented over at avsforums.com
    This affects some Onkyo, Denon and Yamaha receivers.
    Reply
  • madspartus - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    Honestly why did you pair a $40 graphics card with a qx processor at 3.2 ghz...it just doesnt make any sense.

    Then showing power consumption differences on that system using a qx processor and 1200W power supply where the power used by the video card is little more than a unmentionable blip.

    next time would you try testing it in a system we might actually use this hardware in, like HTPC which you said yourself.

    maybe compare the power consumption to an IGP solution...and use a ~300W power supply etc.

    All those graphs were of no value to someone who wants to evaluate this thing for HTPC.
    Reply
  • duploxxx - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    I agree, keep the review in reality and put this in a 780-790 mobo with x2 6000 or 6500 and an intel p45 with e5xxx - e7xxx series.

    that would give a realistic platform
    Reply
  • Varkyl - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    I would also like to know what kind of temperatures these cards are running at. If they are anything like their big brother 4850 they run very hot. So before I even think about buying one of these I would like to know that it isn't adding an incredible amount of heat to my HTPC. Reply
  • Basilisk - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    "The Radeon HD 4350 is an even cheaper alternative to adding 8-channel LPCM output and ...". Please enlighten me how 8-channel is possible on a card w/o HDMI. Are they using Magic? Or is there a way to extract it w/o HDMI? Or is the card they showed in the photo an example of a 4350 that's too-cheap to offer 8-channel? Or....

    Quite possibly I missed the obvious, but I didn't find any 4350's on the ATI site to double check this. Or, perhaps this review had a bit too much sales blurb and too little testing? I agree with others who feel that if you're going to hype 8-channel and HTPC, you ought to be performing quantitative/qualitative tests.
    Reply
  • Veerappan - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    As Natfly mentioned, they use an adapter to transform one of the DVI ports into HDMI (with some of the DVI pins carrying audio data).

    It's probably the same adapter that came in the box of my 4850.
    Reply
  • Basilisk - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    Oh! Then... it's not a DVI-D dual-port card, despite the use of that connector?! Or, they diddle a non-data pin (like +5v for monitor stand-by) to permit both DVI-D/dp and audio? 'Spose that's too much out of an inexpensive card... Thanks for the info! Reply
  • Zoomer - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    If they are DVI-D, the DVI-A pins are avaliable for use.

    If not, there are always unused pins, extra ground pins, etc.
    Reply
  • Natfly - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    They send the audio over dvi, an adapter from ati will turn the dvi input to hdmi output w/ video + audio. I assume the retail packaging would ship with the adapter.

    ie
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...
    Reply
  • toyota - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    as usual you have some wrong numbers in the charts. the 4650/4670 have 32 texture units not 16. whats strange is that you actually corrected it in the 4670 review only to make the mistake again in these charts. Reply
  • vlado08 - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    I also expect comparison of video quality between nVIDIA Ati and Intel
    More explanation about video processing what does this specs mean are they possible to turn off:

    Color space conversion
    Chroma subsampling format conversion
    Advanced vector adaptive per-pixel de-interlacing
    De-blocking and noise reduction filtering
    Detail enhancement
    Inverse telecine (2:2 and 3:2 pull-down correction)
    Bad edit correction
    Automatic dynamic contrast adjustment
    Full 30-bit display processing
    Programmable piecewise linear gamma correction, color correction, and color space conversion
    Spatial/temporal dithering provides 30-bit color quality on 24-bit and 18-bit displays

    Is it possible to select the video output range 16-235 vs 0-255 manually?
    I expect that there will be more in dept article for HTPC and mabe there you will explain what should we pay attention to.
    Reply
  • vlado08 - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    Just to add

    Give us a screen shot comparison of the driver setting pages of the Ati nVIDIA Intel.
    I want to know what settings are possible with Clear Video vs Avivo HD vs Purevideo HD.

    Also about how do we select colors rec BT 601 vs rec BT 709
    Reply
  • pfroo40 - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    I would have appreciated it if they had included a video quality comparison for this new crop of HTPC cards. I made the mistake of buying a cheap 3450 for bluray, which does accelerates fine but has low image quality. It'd be useful for my next purchase if I had more to base a comparison on. Otherwise, so far it looks like the passively cooled 4550 would be a solid upgrade. Reply
  • Dribble - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    I agree - it's not a good HTPC solution if it doesn't give you the same playback quality as a high end card. You didn't test that so you can't really make a judgement, and hence have no basis for saying it is. Reply
  • haplo602 - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    So you are testing 2 cards aimed mainly on HTPC market but all you do is GAME benchmarks ?

    What about a video playback test compared to the best IGP solutions ? I mean CPU offload graphs and such ?
    Reply
  • deruberhanyok - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    I agree. The article calls them "Great HTPC Solutions" but how does the article apply to an HTPC? You run a few games with a ridiculously high end processor and motherboard but spend a page talking about 8 channel PCM output and that's how you call it a great HTPC solution?

    How about testing with a low speed processor and micro ATX motherboard more likely to be found in an HTPC? How about using those quieter, cooler components to run a CPU usage test so we can see how well the video decode works? Why not test on a 780G motherboard and show us if hybrid crossfire works with the current drivers?

    Why not compare the card's video decode capabilities against the current line of IGPs? If you have a motherboard with an IGP that can competently accelerate high definition video then the question becomes "is it worth the $40-$50 for one of these over your current card-less solution?"

    If someone is interested in one of these cards for an HTPC, how well it runs Crysis when paired with a quad core Core 2 Extreme is not a remotely important question.

    What kind of rationale made this article make any kind of sense?
    Reply
  • deruberhanyok - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    And now that I look at it again I wonder how you compared these cards to onboard video such as the 780G.

    Do you have a 780G board that can run that quad core Core 2 Extreme processor so we could see an actual comparison? Maybe you ran them with a Phenom X4 sitting at around 3.5GHz so the numbers would be reasonably close to those put up by the Core 2 Extreme.
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    I actually went back through the review assuming I had double-clicked or something and bypassed the practical comparisons that actually MATTER with these cards. I'm shocked there is nothing. I routinuely stick up for the articles here, but this one is really poor. Reply
  • Strid - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    Yeah, I agree. That is pretty important for the point the author is trying to prove. Also, the cards seem pretty power hungry? It's difficult to tell from the charts, but they're pretty close to the 4670 and 9500GT? I would have liked to see power ratings for only the 4550/4350. Sure they blow the hat off IGPs, no question, but at what power cost? Reply
  • Manabu - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    Acording to AMD, they use less than 20W at full load. The 4670 should use less than 60W. Also note that the PSU ineficiency afects the charts. Reply
  • Calin - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    This was the system power - measured from the wall. Unfortunately, the power used by video card is difficult to measure (if at all possible without a big budget). Some guesses on the power use would be fine, though, and some temperature readings too Reply
  • BigLan - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    Can either of these run in hybrid crossfire on a 780g or 790gx motherboard, or does only the 3450 work?

    These cards sound really nice for converting an older box into a htpc, though I'm not sure if lpcm audioo out is such a big deal at this price point - you're going to need a relatively expensive receiver to take advantage of it, so the $30 difference between a 4550 and 4650 isn't going to really matter, though the passive cooler might.
    Reply
  • hiphile - Wednesday, November 25, 2009 - link

    I'm testing two of the MSI 1GB DDR3 R4550 cards, running on Windows 7 Ultimate x64 and they are are running in Crossfire mode, no additional power is required other than plugging it into the PCI-E slots. The performance is decent, but I think I would opt for the 4850 cards. Reply
  • Calin - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    The 4550 will also has reduced power requirements over the 4650 - and this will help with the noise level too. Reply
  • xeutonmojukai - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    so let's get this straight:

    AMD has the best two-GPU-one-card solution on the market.
    They have the best HTPC cards on the market.
    They have the best single slot card on the market.
    They have the best entry-level card for quality gaming.
    They have the best integrated graphics...

    Not only that, but their prices seem to remain very low...

    I just hope all this inevitable revenue goes towards an excellent CPU line next generation.
    Reply
  • whatthehey - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    Given the above is pretty much what Anandtech has said during the past couple of months, I love how all the idiots out there still try to say this site is biased against AMD and is in the pocket of NVIDIA and Intel. I've been a reader for a LONG time, and let me tell you I've seen them praise any company with a superior product. Sorry folkds, but the AMD CPUs right now simply can't stand up to Intel. NVIDIA is also better in several areas, but at least it's a generally close match.

    In summary: A great big F U to all those Inquirer readers.
    Reply
  • tuteja1986 - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    Will it come in APG ? Reply
  • erikejw - Wednesday, October 01, 2008 - link

    "For our comparison to integrated graphics, we looked at two games: Crysis and Oblivion. These games tend to cover the spectrum fairly well from DX9 to DX10, and they tell the same story: integrated graphics suck."

    So you really beleive that casual gamers will go out and buy the 2 most demanding games released(when new). That is quite hilarious.

    A casual gamer might want to play a game someone bought them for christmas like a 3d golf game or a race game or a strategy game or even a good fps shooter, not that common for casual gamers though.

    Why not compare those games instead of picking out crysis, hell, even last generation 500$ card have problems with that game.

    How about making a comparison of "normal" games and see what resolution you can play them. Who cares if you get 4 or 7 fps in Crysis with 2 different IGP solutions. I wan't to know if I can play a game at all and in what resolution.

    Of course IGP solutions is worthless for hardcore gamers, noone will claim anything else.However a good reviewer will have the ability to look beyond his own needs.

    IGP are supposed to be slower than discrete cards, that doesn't make them worthless.



    Reply
  • erikejw - Wednesday, October 01, 2008 - link

    I was mostly wrong here.
    I didn't even care to read the end before I wrote my response.

    I read the other review for a few days ago that the Shrimp did and this is directed towards that article and I thought you would do the same.

    You used a weird choice of games but you did put in settings that made the games playable and you compared resolutions that would make the game playable, hats off for that.
    Reply

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