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Sapphire Radeon HD 3450

Fresh from Canada - ATI's Radeon HD 3450 and HD 3650
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ATI HD-3650 HD-3450

This graphics chip is less suited to gaming scenarios. Although it supports DirectX 10.1, it doesn’t pack enough performance for elaborate visual effects or high resolutions. In order to achieve reasonable frame rates, you’ll have to play at low quality settings in low resolutions, deactivate shadows and disable anti-aliasing. Your best course of action is to do without DirectX 10 completely and go with a combination of Windows XP and DX9. In our overall performance ranking, the HD 3450 performs about 8 percent better than its predecessor, the HD 2400 Pro. Mostly, this is a result of the higher GPU and memory speeds.

Now for a more detailed performance analysis in the individual games we use for testing. BlackSite Are 51 uses the Unreal Tournament 3 graphics engine and DirectX 10. If you can adjust texture and shadow details (as in Bioshock), 800 x 600 and 1024 x 768 should be playable resolutions. BlackSite’s graphics menu does not offer a wide range of options, though, making the game unplayably slow. Call of Duty 4 should run smoothly at medium or low detail settings with FSAA disabled. Forget about Crysis, though. The HD 3450 is only able to push 15.6 fps in low quality and without FSAA in the 1280 resolution. Reducing the resolution to 800 x 600 is your only option to increase frame rate.

You can get Half Life 2 Episode 2, MS light Simulator X and Prey to run more smoothly by putting strict limits on the graphics quality. While World in Conflict looks amazing with DirectX 10 effects, the frame rate the HD 3450 is able to push really spoils the fun. Reducing the visual details automatically switches the game to DirectX 9 mode. Lower graphics quality settings should improve frame rate. Probably, switching from Vista to Windows XP will add another little boost.

The DVI-HDMI adapter that would be handy for use in an HTPC is sadly absent from Sapphire’s retail package. Unless you’ll be watching your movies either via DVI or standard VGA, you’ll want to order that adapter along with your card if you want to use HDMI to transmit both audio and video signals directly to your TV. Also missing from Sapphire’s bundle is any kind of video applications or HD playback software. A component breakout cable is included, though. While this bundle is a little sparse, the advantage is that it helps keep the card’s price down. €33 is not too much of an investment for a video PC.

If you’re looking to shave off every last bit of power consumption possible, you may want to choose the older 2000-series model. Compared to the HD 3450, our system drew between 4 and 6 Watts less when equipped with the 2400 Pro. Here we see that the more refined 55 nm production process of the newer part is counterbalanced by the higher clock speeds, negating any power saving effects. Theoretically, you could always underclock the graphics card to save a few watts. Sadly, this is not an option, as the clock speed range offered by the graphics driver does not extend low enough.

In 2D mode, the graphics processor (GPU) runs at 300 MHz, while the video memory it set to 500 MHz. These are also the lowest settings offered by the Catalyst driver. In 3D mode, the GPU’s clock speed rises to 600 MHz. Using the passive heatsink, our review sample reached a temperature of 51°C in 2D mode and 70°C in 3D applications. Since our card uses DDR2 memory, it could theoretically expand its video memory by borrowing from the system’s RAM. However, since it was equipped with 512 MB already, this was not necessary.

ATI HD-3650 HD-3450ATI HD-3650 HD-3450

ATI HD-3650 HD-3450ATI HD-3650 HD-3450

ATI HD-3650 HD-3450

ATI HD-3650 HD-3450ATI HD-3650 HD-3450

Display all 6 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    wild9 , 20 February 2008 06:16
    Quote:
    Ever since the 2x00 series, ATI’s graphics chips have supported HD video encoding


    Shouldn't that be decoding? :) 
  • 0 Hide
    mactronix , 20 February 2008 15:54

    Its all well and good comparing like for like but we never seem to get any info that would be relevant to the people who may consider upgrading to these models ie people with 1950 pro's or 7950's .
    mactronix
  • 0 Hide
    Solitaire , 21 February 2008 18:58
    ^ Yeah. Not to mention people running DX9 and with no intention of being Vista-nated.
  • 0 Hide
    mactronix , 21 February 2008 21:59
    @ Solitaire
    "Vista-nated" I like that im gonna start using that :) 
  • 0 Hide
    socarrasandres , 26 December 2009 04:26
    Newbie on computer hardware and was trying to get information on best combination of Processor/Videocard/Ram for FSX, will try to configure a new system and dont want to walk waht has been walked already. Trying to get the best FMS on aprox $1,500 - $2,000 budget.
    Any recommendations?
    Thanks
  • 0 Hide
    finder , 5 January 2014 20:14
    hard to believe that PCI port can provide 150W
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