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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  • 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

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