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Review: AMD's ATI Radeon HD 4550 - budget bonanza?

by Tarinder Sandhu on 30 September 2008, 08:51

Tags: ATI Radeon HD 4550 , AMD (NYSE:AMD), ATi Technologies (NYSE:AMD), PC

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Multimedia mana

Multimedia mana

AMD knows that HD 4550, no matter how well-tuned, isn't going to run Crysis at 1,920x1,200 (what will - ed?) so the overall feature-set needs to be strong.

Depending upon board partner, the HD 4550 outputs will be chosen from dual-link DVI, TV-out, HDMI (passthrough), and DisplayPort - kind of matching what the rest of the 4-series currently enables. There's also provision for 7.1-channel LPCM sound passthrough via the integrated controller.

AMD's UVD 2.0 block - a specific, optimised portion of silicon - is used to offload the decode of high-definition codecs (H.264, VC1, MPEG-2) from the host CPU and to provide features such as enhanced DVD upscaling and dual-stream decoding, too.

What about speeds, competition, bandwidth, and whatnot?

Clocking in at 600MHz for the core and 80 SPs, and an effective 1,600MHz for the DDR3 memory, simple maths informs us that there's some 96GFLOPs compute power (600*80*2) and 12.8GB/s of potential bandwidth (1,600*8).

This compares favourably with NVIDIA's equivalently-priced GeForce 9400 GT, which, at stock clocks, pushes out around 50GFLOPs. NVIDIA's card uses a double-wide 128-bit memory bus, but 9400 GT variants tend to clock in with DDR2 memory running at an effective 800MHz memory, leading to the same overall bandwidth of 12.8GB/s.

Of course, there's more to performance than raw numbers. We'll focus on them in our gaming section.

AMD is positioning the Radeon HD 4550 (£30-£35) as the next GPU up from the bargain basement HD 3450 (£20-£25), with the HD 4650 (£45) and HD 4670 (£55) making up the rest of the low-end.

HD 4350?

Complementing the launch, AMD will be rolling out the Radeon HD 4350, which is identical to the HD 4550 save for DDR2 memory running at an effective 1GHz and, most likely, a 256MB frame-buffer. Likely e-tail cost is reckoned to be around £25-£29.

Bottom line

A substantially pared-down version of the classing-leading AMD HD 4-series architecture, the Radeon HD 4550 targets the occasional on a budget, promising reasonable frame-rates at 1,280x1.024 and, more importantly, decent multimedia features to boot.

Let's see what it looks like now.