updated 07:40 am EDT, Tue September 30, 2008
AMD Radeon HD 4550 4350
AMD early Tuesday took its Radeon HD 4000-series chipsets into ultra budget territory with two video cards that promise better performance than their prices would suggest. The Radeon HD 4550 and Radeon HD 4350 have just 80 stream (effects) processors versus as much as 800 for the Radeon 4800 series but are still capable of full DirectX 10.1 and current OpenGL 2.x effects, rendering them some of the least expensive cards capable of their more advanced visuals. The new chipsets are also some of the only ones of their type to have 7.1-channel audio pass-through over HDMI and the option of DisplayPort.
Power consumption and noise are also treated as staple features of the new hardware and turn them into low-cost options for home theater PCs looking for full Blu-ray hardware decoding. Either consumes less than 20 watts even under strain and optionally use passive cooling that renders them completely silent.
Both the 4550 and 4350 should be available in October and will primarily come from third-party card makers such as ASUS, GigaByte and Sapphire. AMD plans to undercut much of NVIDIA's present-day lineup and will sell the 4350 for as little as $39 for a 256MB version. The 4550 costs only slightly more at $55 and doubles the onboard video memory to 512MB.