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AMD Releases HTPC-Friendly Budget Graphics Cards

Two new budget graphics cards by AMD have been announced Tuesday; the ATI Radeon HD 4550 and the ATI Radeon HD 4350. While these new cards do not provide great gaming performance, they do offer excellent features and are both based on the same technology as the ATI Radeon HD 4800 series, including DirectX 10.1 support.

The most expensive of the two new graphics cards is the ATI Radeon HD 4550 with 512 MB of DDR3 memory. A 256 MB version will also be available. While the ATI Radeon HD 4550 graphics card can actually handle some light gaming, it seems to be a solution much better suited for use in a HTPC instead. The ATI Radeon HD 4550 is priced at around $50, it consumes less than 25-watts of power under full load, it supports full hardware Blu-ray decode acceleration and it is available with a passive cooling solution. The card also comes with 80 stream processing units, dual-link connectivity and an integrated HD audio controller for 7.1-channel surround sound over HDMI/DisplayPort.

The second graphics card announced Tuesday is the new ATI Radeon HD 4350; another budget solution priced at an even lower $39. Much like the ATI Radeon HD 4550, the ATI Radeon HD 4350 features 80 stream processing units, uses just 20-watts of power under full load and supports 7.1-channel audio over HDMI/DisplayPort. Where the two cards differ really is with the memory, as the ATI Radeon HD 4350 features only 256 MB of slower DDR2 memory. Add in board partners will of course introduce their own differences between product offerings as well, such as with the card’s height, type of cooling solution used and the available ports.

ATI Radeon HD 4550ATI Radeon HD 4350ATI Radeon HD 4650
Fabrication Process55 nm55 nm55 nm
Transistors242 million242 million514 million
Stream Processors Units8080320
Memory Clock800 MHz DDR3500 MHz DDR2500 MHz DDR2
Memory512 MB or 256 MB256 MB512 MB
Memory Bus Width64-bit64-bit128-bit
Clock Speed600 MHz600 MHz600 MHz
Power Consumption<20 W<25 W<50 W

For use in a HTPC or as an alternative to integrated graphics, both of these new graphics cards make an excellent choice. Gamers will probably wish to invest in a more powerful graphics card, although the Radeon HD 4550 and Radeon HD 4350 should be able to handle older or casual games just fine. The ATI Radeon HD 4550 and ATI Radeon HD 4350 graphics cards will be available in October.