But Can You Really Game on Them?

So the short answer to this quesiton is not really. If you want to play casual games or older games, you'll be fine. Generally, you don't even have to run on the absolute worst settings. But you can't get near the quality even the 9500 GT is capable of delivering (let alone the 4670 which can deliver AA in some cases to low resolution gaming).

With our Crysis test, this time around we looked at everything set to medium quality. While the 4350 and 4550 performed alright at low quality settings, they really can't keep up when it comes to this step up. The 4670 really sticks it to all the other options here.

 

With the way the 4670 pegs the 60fps limit, we wanted to demonstrate just what the advantage can be. Running at our standard High Quality / Very High Shaders settings, it's clear that there is a fundamental difference in the type of performance you get from something like the 4670 and the 4550.

Under Enemy Territory we were actually able to run at the highest quality settings with 4xAA and still get playable performance at 800x600. This isn't that bad, but keep in mind this game is based on an older OpenGL Doom 3 engine. Above 800x600 and we would really need to dial back the settings. Disabling AA goes a long way to boosting framerate, but at these low resolutions it is a shame to lose that feature.

Finally, with Oblivion at our Ultra High defaults setting, we aren't really able to get above 800x600 and remain playable. We would really like to see north of 25fps for a playable experience in Oblivion, and we just can't pull that out at 10x7. Again, even with the advantage the 9500 GT cards have, the gap there pales in comparison to the performance increase shown by when moving to the 4670.

So while these really aren't gaming cards, they do reach up and touch the ability to enable high end settings at the lowest resolution in some cases. On modern games, higher powered options are needed for getting decent quality. But either way, these cards are quite a bit faster than current integrated graphics solutions.

The Benefits Over Integrated Graphics Power Consumption
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  • 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

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