ASUS ATI Radeon EAH4550 Video Card Review


With High definition becoming more and more popular, it was only a matter of time until people started setting up their computers to be able to deal with high def monitors and TVs. Now with the help of hi-def video cards, watching videos on your computer can be as crisp and clean as if you were watching them on a high-end hi-def TV. For our very first in-house review of a video card, we have the privilege of reviewing the ATI Radeon EAH4550, a card for this purpose in mind. Let’s take a closer look at our first video card:

Product Provided By: ASUS

Closer Look:

The package that the Radeon EAH4550 DDR3 512M comes in is like most video cards from ASUS. If you are new to ASUS then I will go over the details of the box. The front displays some of the features, a picture of the card itself, and also displays the ASUS female Asian warrior mascot.

The back of the box paints a clearer picture of the specs and features of the Radeon EAH4550 DDR3 512MB, It mentions some of the unique features that ASUS puts into their cards, it talks about the system requirements that you will need for this card, and something that I just noticed while typing this up was the chart that shows the maximum refresh rates for all of the different resolutions that this card can handle.

Something that I was disappointed about was that there really wasn’t much that was included with the Radeon EAH4550 DDR3 512MB. Included was an instruction manual and a couple of driver disks to install the ASUS features I mentioned earlier. One thing that did stand out as being a bonus is that for people looking to upgrade their video cards but have narrow towers this card includes a low profile bracket. It might make the card take up two PCI slots but some wider cards, and wider brackets just don’t fit in some towers so this makes this card stand out a little in this area.

The card its self is quite small but still quite powerful. As mentioned earlier it has a bracket so it can be made to fit different styles of PC towers. Something that I found to be nice was that it doesn’t need any external power. Because of its small size I found it to be extremely helpful when running the cables. With my bottom mounted PSU I used to find that some of the cables would barely reach around my video card, but with the Radeon EAH4550 DDR3 512MB I found that all of my cables could just float freely without any hassle.

 
 

 

Now let’s take a look at the included disks:

Closer Look – Bonus Software

To start let’s look at the installation manual, while this is not where most would go first, most would try and find drivers first, I am going to start here and your going like it.

This disk is very simple and doesn’t have much on it, it has a ton of different languages for the Installation Guild and Software References.

 

On the VGA Driver disk there is an abundance of items that you can get. Included on this disk are the graphics drivers, although I would strongly suggest going to http://www.ati.com and getting as current and up to date drivers you can, also on this disk are some cool little utilities. Included are:

 
ASUS Gamer OSD – ASUS GamerOSD allows you to share real-time gaming experience while playing full-screen games. You can remotely monitor a live broadcast using the Internet Explorer browser. With the GamerOSD, you can also adjust GPU clock and image quality without exiting games. It also enables support to Direct3D™ and OPENGL™ modes.
 

 

 
ASUS VideoSecurity – ASUS VideoSecurity is a powerful security utility that detects any change in a specified surveillance region. Using video capture devices, video snapshots are captured automatically when there is a deviation in the user-defined surveillance region. An optional warning message is also sent to the user via e-mail or phone.
 
ASUS SmartDoctor – The ASUS SmartDoctor utility monitors the VGA card condition and significantly cools down the VGA Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). This utility also allows you to adjust the graphics card clock settings. The ASUS SmartDoctor utility works only for graphics card models with a built-in hardware monitor IC. If the hardware monitor IC is not present, only the SmartDoctor overclocking function will be installed. Before using SmartDoctor feature you need to install the GamerOSD first.

 

 

When you locate and download the drivers from http://www.ati.com I also suggest getting the ATI Catalyst Control Center. With this you can choose from a large list of fine tuning options to suit your needs. I will now go into more detail in the fallowing video:

Now let’s move on the specs and features:

Specifications:

Graphics EngineATI Radeon HD 4550
Bus StandardPCI Express 2.0
Video MemoryDDR3 512MB
Effective Memory Size512 MB
Engine Clock600 MHz
Memory Clock1600 MHz ( 800 MHz DDR3 )
Memory Interface64-bit
CRT Max2048 x 1536
DVI Max Resolution2560 x 1600
D-Sub OutputYes x 1
DVI OutputYes x 1 (DVI-I)
HDMI OutputYes x 1
HDCP SupportYes
Software BundledASUS Utilities & Driver
Low Profile Bracket BundledYes ( 2 slots )

Features:

 

Amazing Gaming Performance Boost with ASUS EAH4550!

         

ASUS Exclusive Innovations

ASUS Features

DDR3 512M memory on board

HDMI Support (Native)

ASUS Splendid:
Watch movies on PC is as good as on Top-of-the-line consumer television

ASUS Gamer OSD:
Real-time overclocking, benchmarking and video capturing in any PC game!

ASUS SmartDoctor:
Your intelligent hardware protection and overclocking tool.

ASUS Video Security Online:
Keep an eye on your home at all times no matter where you are

Graphics GPU Features

® HD4550 GPU

PCI Express 2.0 support

ATI Software CrossFire Support :

Not part of the official testing but just from upgrading to this card, I saw amazing results in games such as oblivion. Before with my old Radeon 2400 HD I would have to turn the graphics to low and turn off every little feature, like water reflections, to get the game to run smooth. Now with the aid of the Radeon EAH4550 I can turn every thing to max, 4x anti aliasing, and turn on every little feature it has and it still runs far better than it did before. Yes I understand that it’s a huge improvement over my old card, but what I am trying to say is that while the EAH4550 isn’t going to run crysis at full power, this card can still be used as an extremely cheap upgrade for some people.

Unified Video Decoder (UVD) for Blu-ray™ and HD DVD

Built for Microsoft® Windows Vista™

Full support for Microsoft DirectX10.1 and Shader Model 4.1 enables stunning and complex special effects

OpenGL®2.0 support

Full HD Support: get smooth, high quality HD video playback at full HD 1080p from most pc or free up the CPU


I/O Specifications

DVI-I
VGA
HDCP Compliant
HDMI (Native)


HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface)

HDMI means High Definition Multimedia Interface, it carries both HD video and 5.1 surround audio for a clean, high definition connection. And it can transfer both audio and video in only one HDMI cable without messy cables problem. This option means a greater choice and simplification of installation for consumers when connecting to PC monitors or home theaters for maximum enjoyment of full HD 1080p content.

Without HDMI: Messy Cables

With HDMI: Clean & Tidy

Now let’s do some testing:

Testing Setup:

  • Processor: Intel Core2 Quad Q9450
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-X48-DQ6
  • Memory: OCZ SLI Ready 2 x 2GB
  • Video Card: Nvidia 260 GTX
  • Power Supply: Mushkin 800w Modular Power Supply
  • Coolmax USA 950w Modular Power Supply
  • Hard Drive: Seagate 750GB SATA
  • Optical Drive: LG DVD-RW
  • OS: Windows Vista Ultimate

Testing:

For testing we will be doing some benchmarks using a verity of methods. During these tests I have to emphasize that this is not, I repeat NOT an up to date gaming card. To compare it to another card we had a hard time choosing, in the end we decided we would have to put it up against something rather than just throw numbers at you. During the test it might seem unfair to the Radeon EAH4550, but the only cards that we have to compare it to are a Radeon 2400 HD and an EAH4830, so from that you might be able to understand why we decided to put it up against the EAH4830. Now that I have overclocked it from its stock 600 MHz GPU Clock to 700 MHz and its 800 MHz Memory Clock to 1000 MHz lets see how it does.

For these tests I will be using Munk’s computer. I will be running a few different yet standard tests that most people use as benchmarks. For starters I will be running 3D Marks ’06 on three different screen resolutions; 1024×768, 1280×1024, and 1680×1024. I will be testing with SM2, CPU, SM3, and no Anti Aliasing on.

 3D Marks ‘06

Video Card

Radeon EAH 4550

Radeon EAH 4830

1024×768

5533 3D Marks

11429 3D Marks

1280×1024

4522 3D Marks

10241 3D Marks

1680×1024

3879 3D Marks

9194 3D Marks

Next I will be using a variety of games and recording the average frame rate while playing them. They are all action games and will all take place under heavy combat. The games I will be using are:

  • Crysis Warhead. I will have direct X 10 enabled, and will use three screen resolutions; 1024×746, 1280×1024, and 1680×1050.
  • Far Cry 2. I will have Direct X 10 enabled, all graphics settings will be set to high, and will use three screen resolutions; 1024×746, 1280×1024, and 1680×1050.
  • Fallout 3 (I love this game, this was a hard one to do :P). I will have 4x Antialiasing, 8x Anisotropic Filtering, and all setting at high. I will use three screen resolutions; 1024×746, 1280×1024, and 1600×1050.
  • Left 4 Dead. I will be using 4x Anti Aliasing, 4x Anisotropic Filtering, and all settings at high. I will use three screen resolutions; 1024×746, 1280×1024, and 1600×1050.

Video Card

Radeon EAH 4550

Redeon EAH 4830

Crysis Warhead

 

 

1024×746

13

36

1280×1024

9

29

1680×1050

7

24

 

 

 

Far Cry 2

 

 

1024×746

26

59

1280×1024

19

52

1680×1050

15

44

 

 

 

Fallout 3

 

 

1024×746

37

66

1280×1024

26

65

1600×1050

19

63

 

 

 

Left 4 Dead

 

 

1024×746

43

75

1280×1024

32

74

1600×1050

25

63

From this we can see that this is not an up to date gaming card. In some cases it performed better than I thought it would, but in most cases it delivered what was expected. But let’s not focus on that because that’s like comparing a paring knife to a potato peeler, they have to different purposes and excel in places where the other doesn’t.

Because my computer is connected to my TV for the time being I decided to see how it looked at a few different resolutions. I usually have my resolution set to 1024×746, but I decided just for the hell of it that I wanted to see how my videos looked when I maxed out the resolution on my TV to 1920×1080, and my videos looked better when the resolution was turned up. Also with the help of the Catalyst Control Center and the Avivo Video tab, I was able to fine tune my display settings and clean up some minor defects in the image that I had noticed in the past. Another great thing about this card is that because it has a HDMI output you can also have the high def audio that comes with it.

For some, like me, this card will be an upgrade from their previous car (Like my Radeon 2400 HD) for those looking to upgrade to a top of the line gaming card, this might not be for you. However for those looking for something for a low cost home theater computer, and want a reasonably priced HDMI compatible video card for said computer then this might be something that you should take a look at. Even those that are looking for a cheep gaming card, I do have to say that depending on what you are playing, this might be a step in the right direction.

Now let’s get to my final thoughts:

Conclusion:

So what’s my verdict? Well its hard say. For someone like me this is a great buy. Not only does the Radeon EAH4550 have a great price, but it comes prepared for all of your hi definition needs in mind. With great Hi def video and audio output this is exactly what any home theater PC user needs, and with the bonus software provided it makes video capturing, screen shots, security tracking, and overclocking a breeze. With the ability to handle Direct X 10.1 it also helps some gamers out there. For the hard core gamers though, this most likely isn’t the card you are looking for. Like I said earlier however for some like me this is a good, cheap upgrade.

So now it comes down to this, would I recommend this? Well like I have been saying throughout this review that depends on your computer needs. For those that like to play older games, or maybe slightly newer and need Direct X 10.1, or those that just use their computer to watch videos then yes, this is a video card that I would recommend for you. For having such a low cost I was quite shocked at how well it performed, and being able to be used in different styles of cases, such as thinner cases. As mentioned with the included software there is an abundance of great utilities that some might over look. So in conclusion if you want to upgrade your video card for a low cost, then by all means you should pick up a Radeon EAH4550 DDR3 512M by ASUS.

Pros:

  • Direct X 10.1 Compatible
  • Low Cost
  • Can Fit Different Styles of Cases
  • Comes With Many ASUS Tweaks and Utilities
  • Doesn’t Need Additional Power for Fan

Cons:

  • Non That Can Be Applied

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