ATI IS LAUNCHING three new GPUs today, the 3650, 3450 and 3470. If you remember their new naming scheme, you will realize that these are the low and mid range parts.
If you are expecting a huge upgrade in power and features, you are going to be slightly disappointed, most of it is refinements, a little better here, a few more boxes to check there. That isn't to say that they are not good cards, the bang for the buck is great, especially if you are looking at them for video applications. That said, the DX10 -> DX10.1 transition is not going to set many hearts aflame.
The first card, the 3650 is more of a range of products, you will see a lot of variants here. All are 55nm chips, have UVD and are fully PCIe 2.0 compliant. More importantly, they all support Hybrid Crossfire, something that may make the geek in you yawn, but the power savings modes will add a lot to a home theater box. They also have HDMI and DisplayPort natively, a huge boon to AV fanatics.
In terms of raw numbers, the 3650 will run at a core clock of 725MHz and have 256M of 800MHz GDDR3, or for value models, 500MHz DDR2 in 256/512/1024M configs. There is only the one core SKU planned, with partners getting the green light to do weird things including overclocking and playing with memory types.
These parts will replace the older 2600Pros on the shelves and for per formance, the 3650 will win by about 20%, more or less depending on application. They suck less than 75W meaning there are no PCIe power requirements, it can draw all it needs from the mobo. All this starting at $80 and moving up to $99.
The lower end 34xx is still divided up in to the low end 3450 and higher end 3470. They are similar but the 800MHz 3470 is 200MHz faster than the 3450. It also has 950MHz DDR3 vs the 500MHz DDR2 of the 3450.
Neither require a PCIe power connector, and since both are PCIe2, will consume less than the 75W a single slot provides. The main difference is that the 70 is actively cooled but the 50 can be passive. Add in that it is low profile, and you have one heck of a HD media server video card on your hands, especially at the price ranges they are talking about, $49-55 for the 50, $59-65 for the 70.
The one down side is that the 50 can do 1080p with a fair bit of ease, but the 70 can upscale that smoothly to 1440p. These cards are going to be unbeatable for video work. The major down side is that the Linux drivers do not support the AVIVO video engine, so you can avoid the malware of Vista, but you can't do so with video acceleration.
All three cards cost under $100 and come packed with features. They will play most games reasonably well, and have no equal in video processing. Everything is a little better, a little faster, and has some more features. What more could you ask for in budget cards? µ
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