AMD Releases Sub-$100 Graphics Cards

Sunnyvale (CA) - Discrete graphics are advancing deeper into the mainstream segment with AMD's new Radeon HD 3000 series, offering DirectX 10.1 and DisplayPort functionality as well as the ability to handle 1080p high definition video for prices starting at about $50.

The new HD 3400 and HD 3600 extend ATI's recently announced high 55 nm 3800 cards to the lower end and deliver, according to AMD, "unmatched value" to the consumer. That claim is mainly based on the integration of DisplayPort support into the GPU, support for DirectX 10.1 and the promise that the performance of these cards is sufficient to playback high-definition videos in 1920x1080p resolution.

AMD will offer four new reference cards initially, two 3400 series and two 3600 series models. The 3450 runs at a 600 MHz core and a 500 MHz DDR2 memory clock. The 3470 has an 800 MHz core and a 950 MHz GDDR3 memory clock. The pricier 3650 will come in two versions with 725 MHz core and 500 MHz DDR2 or 800 MHz GDDR3 memory clock. All cards will be equipped with 256 MB memory by default, but the higher-end 3650 will also be manufactured in 512 MB and 1024 MB versions. The power consumption is rated at below 75 watts.

While there isn't anything particularly exciting in this announcement for the enthusiasts, consumers looking to playback HD DVD or Blu-ray may be interested in the cards, which will sell for between $80 and $100 (3600) and $50 and $65 (3400).

In fact, the cheaper 3400 series may be the more interesting choice in this portfolio, as this series will support AMD's hybrid graphics technology - which allows a system to take advantage of the combined performance of an integrated graphics chipset or shut the discrete card down to save power and cut down the noise level by turning off a fan (the 3450 version which only come with passive cooling).

Reviews of the new cards are virtually non-existent on the Internet and hardware sites have been careful to make any predictions on how well these new cards perform. Anandtech, for example, said that it did not receive hardware to test, but stated that the hardware "isn't revolutionary".