The past two months have been pretty exciting for me in the video card department. In late August, I reviewed the ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2, ATI's top of the line card. Since then, I've looked at two factory overclocked Radeon HD 4850s, a factory overclocked Radeon HD 4870, a Radeon HD 4670, and last a factory overclocked HD 4650. That covers the entire Radeon line excepting three cards, the brand new midrange card, the HD 4830, and a couple of very low budget cards, the 4550 and 4350, the latter isn't released yet.
The HD 4670 and HD 4650 are sub-$100 cards, called "mainstream" cards in the video card industry. A full 2/3 of all video cards bought yearly are in this class. In the past, these video cards limited the user to lower end games, they generally wouldn't play higher performance games like Crysis at all. These two cards will play those games, though of course at lower settings.
There is a class of PC cases called MicroATX Slim. These are very small, slim cases some as narrow as 3.5". Keep in mind that the normal video card is about 4" wide, and an expansion bracket is 5". Many of these cases require a special sized PC bracket called LP or Low Profile, which is big enough for one DVI or Sub-15 port and an S-video port. Usually the LP bracket has to be purchased separately, they cost about 8 bucks.
It stands to reason that there is a very limited number of video cards that will fit in the MicroATX Slim case. Our friends at Sapphire have added an additional selection, with the new Radeon HD 4550. This card has a very small footprint, and comes with both a standard expansion bracket and a low profile bracket, sports 512 megs of DDR3 memory, and has active cooling to boot. All for a price too low to believe. Read on to find out about this cute little video card!
Core Clock: 600 MHz & 80 Stream Processors
Memory Clock: 900MHz, 1800 Mbps.
PCI Express 2.0 x16 bus interface
512MB /64bit DDR3 memory interface
Single Slot Active Cooler
HDMI compliant via dongle
7.1 Audio Channel Support
Microsoft DirectX 10.1 support
Shader Model 4.1 support
I/O Output: VGA+DL-DVI-I+HDTV
- ATI Radeon HD 4550 - 512MB of DDR3 memory
- DirectX 10.1
- 80 stream processing units
- 12x custom filter anti-aliasing (CFAA) and high performance anisotropic filtering
- PCI Express 2.0 support
- Dual mode ATI CrossFireX technology multi-GPU support for highly scalable performance
- ATI Avivo HD video and display technology
- Unified Video Decoder 2 (UVD 2) for Blu-ray and HD Video
- DVD Upscaling & Built-in HDMI with 7.1 surround sound support & Integrated DisplayPort with audio Dynamic power management with ATI PowerPlay technology
- Consumes less than 25 watts under full load
The Sapphire Radeon HD 4550 comes in a box about the size of a game. The box is very attractive, covered with graphics, specs, features, and awards awarded Sapphire by several websites and publications.
The card itself is in a cardboard compartment and in a static-free sleeve.