Sapphire HD 4550 512MB Reviewajmatson - January 13, 2009
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Well after some time testing the HD 4550, I found its strengths and weaknesses. First, this card is excellent for video use, whether it be for a workstation PC, a casual use PC, or even a home theater PC. Since it is a low profile card with the bracket included for smaller cases, you will not have any problems getting this card to fit. Being actively cooled will keep the operating temperatures down when inside a small case such as a cramped HTPC case. The Sapphire HD 4550 however should not be taken lightly because of its size. While it was last in all of the video benchmarks, some of the tests were actually playable at the settings tested at. Lighten up on the settings between low and medium and you should be able to pull off reasonable frame rates for some casual gaming. Don't expect to crush any records though. With only 80 stream processors and a 64-bit memory BUS, you are limited on how fast you can perform in games in benchmarks. Trying to overclock this card was like hitting a brick wall, literally. I could not get past the limits of the Catalyst Control Center, no matter what overclocking tool I used. It would just lock up and I had to reboot.
The key to this card is the media playback capabilities. Having ATI AVIVO technology you can now watch those high definition videos with no more lagging or hiccups that you once saw back in the days when the CPU did the majority of video processing. This allows you to have a small, low profile card that you can place in your computer that will allow you to play high definition video with no problems in quality. With a price tag of around $60.00, the Sapphire HD 4550 will allow you to add this card to your system to handle the video instead of using the motherboard's integrated video and freeing up that memory that would otherwise be used by the onboard GPU. If you are looking for an inexpensive card for a workstation or HTPC and gaming is not your top priority, the Sapphire HD 4550 should be on the top of a short list.
- ATI AVIVO and UVD 2
- CrossFireX capable
- Actively cooled
- Low profile design
- Inadequate gaming performance
- Slow 64-bit memory BUS
- Poor overclocking headroom