Generally speaking, there shouldn't be any text quality difference between nVidia and ATI. In fact, there are no text comparison tests.
The cards you selected should be fine and they are considered mainstream value gaming cards with good video quality output for Blu-Ray. If gaming and video playback are not in any way shape or form of interest to you then you can drop down to a low profile HD 4350 or HD 4550.
You are right... I may not need that much speed. The 4650 may be overkill
for my needs. I do not game or watch blueray. I surf, open-office, make music
CDRs, and play MAME. MAME is so light on graphics needs that it's not a
consideration for video needs.. Basically I just want a super snappy XP and
Windows 7 desktop experience.
If I want to be assured that the graphics performance is equal or better than
the GMA 4500HD, which ATI card will I need? Will the ATI 4350 perform at the
same level or better than the GMA 4500HD?
I see an ASUS 4350 that is fanless on Newegg and having a completely silient
video card is very appealing to me.. Asus doesn't seem to make a fanless 4550
so that's why I'm asking how low can I go and still beat the GMA 4500HD in speed.
Really anything under $75 is fine with me but fanless and low-profile really narrow
down my possible choices...