The Benefits Over Integrated Graphics

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.

First up is Crysis. For integrated graphics, we needed to test everything at the absolute lowest setting, and even that was painful. It is too bad we couldn't test 640x480, as that might have given some of this hardware a chance at playability. But with the tests we did run, none of our integrated solutions were really playable at 1024x768, and only the AMD 780G did anything useful at 800x600. By contrast, the 4350 and the 4550 both we very playable at this very low quality setting. Pushing up to 1280x1024 wasn't really as effective, but the 4550 did still hang on to playable framerates at that resolution.

As for Oblivion, we see nearly the same behavior as with Crysis. There is a huge performance gap between integrated graphics and even the lowest end of add-in cards we are testing today. And these settings with Oblivion are insanely ugly. We would never recommend playing with very low settings ever. It's a horrendous experience.

As usual, Intel's integrated graphics are the biggest joke of the bunch. But that's not any sort of feather in AMD or NVIDIA's cap here: Intel's G35 is just really horrible hardware for 3D.

So, with the benefit over integrated graphics well established, how do these parts compare to the slightly higher price bracket right next door? Let's take a look at how they compare to NVIDIA's 9500 GT DDR2 and AMD's 4670.

The Test But Can You Really Game on Them?
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  • 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

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