facebook rss twitter

Review: First look: low-end Radeon graphics cards

by Scott Bicheno on 23 January 2008, 17:31


Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qalds

Add to My Vault: x


ATI logo

Just over a couple of months' ago ATI's DX10 GPU line-up was looking threadbare, to say the least. The low-end (sub-£100) was taken care of by the Radeon HD 2000-series of GPUs, sure, but then jumped right up to the Radeon HD 2900 XT, costing £250 at the time.

The Radeon HD 3850/3870 GPUs patched up the sub-£150 market by introducing a number of new features which were allied decent, if not stellar, 3D performance.

ATI is of the opinion that its entire line-up should now reflect the improvements brought by HD 3850/3870. To that end, it's releasing three distinct low-to-mid-range SKUs to replace the Radeon HD 2000-series.

Please welcome the Radeon 3450, Radeon 3470, and Radeon 3650. Read on to see just how they beat out the current range.



The underlying architecture is similar to the upper echelons of the Radeon HD 2000-series, which we took a look at here. So just as the Radeon HD 3800-series incrementally improved upon the Radeon 2900 XT that was launched eight months previously, the Radeon HD 3650 does the same when compared against the HD 2600 in its various guises.

Taking it from the top, as per the models higher up in the 3K range, the HD 3650 doesn't ship with Pro or XT suffixes. Rather, the two models in the range are both referred to as Radeon HD 3650, and the user will need to determine whether the main differentiating factors - memory speed (GDDR3 or DDR 2) and size (256MiB or 512MiB) - are present on the card of their choice. It's these factors, and these factors alone, that define the actual Radeon HD 3650 sold by add-in board partners.


First observations

No real surprises with the introduction of three distinctly new SKUs that bolster the Radeon HD 3000-series line-up. ATI's updates to its low-end GPUs take in much of what was new in the HD 3850/3870 range and add better display options to boot. With the introduction of these new SKUs, then, there's no compelling reason to look at HD 2400/2600 cards now, other than, perhaps, a sharp drop in price. The HD 3450/70/3650 are cheaper to produce, offer similar 3D performance, yet are more future-proof than the current range. We await to see NVIDIA's refresh for its range of sub-£50 (retail) GPUs with bated breath.

 Sapphire HD 3450 box

No benchmarks?

ATI, the graphics arm of AMD, in its infinite wisdom, decided that the NDA (non-disclosure agreement) lift would expire at 5am this morning. It left product sampling for the new Radeon HD 3000-series GPUs to its range of partners. Nothing wrong with that, right?

The problem with having an optimistic NDA expiration date, trumping similar announcements from your competitor, has meant that partners have been unable to sample the majority of the Press in time. Indeed, we only received our Sapphire Radeon HD 3450 512MiB yesterday and still await the first Radeon HD 3650. Further complicating the issue was ATI's decision to move the NDA date for a high-end SKU (can you guess what it is?) from today until, well, later. We were informed of the move only yesterday, too, thereby tying up testing assets further.

HEXUS is in the process of obtaining samples of Radeon HD 3470 and Radeon HD 3650 GPUs. Once obtained, we shall compare the performance, both 2D and 3D, against the incumbent Radeon HD 2400/2600-series of GPUs and, of course, NVIDIA's low-to-mid-range GeForce 8-series parts.


The new GPUs from ATI bring the expected range of 3000-series benefits on to what are, essentially, Radeon HD 2400/2600 GPUs. Given that they will ship at or below the current pricing for the equivalent 2000-series parts, we see no reason why anyone looking for a low-to-mid-range ATI discrete graphics card would look towards the incumbent models.

Whether they actually offer significant value for money and just how well they stack up against the competition from NVIDIA can only be answered once exhaustive testing has been undertaken. Until then, it's only fair to reserve judgment on the overall attractiveness presented by the new SKUs.


HEXUS related reading

HEXUS.net - HEXUS.reviews :: ATI Radeon HD 3870: the new midrange DX10 king?
HEXUS.net - HEXUS.reviews :: ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT and Radeon HD 2400 XT - saviours or sinners?
HEXUS.net - HEXUS.reviews :: ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT

The full version of this review can be viewed by clicking here.

HEXUS Forums :: 0 Comments

Login with Forum Account

Don't have an account? Register today!
Log in to be the first to comment!