About 6 months or so, circumstances forced me to upgrade my PC. Budegtary constraints meant I had to get a “value” or “budget” system. I got one with an integrated graphics chip, the ATI HD3200, which is probably one of the better boards at the time.
6 months later, ie now, I have saved up enough to finally upgrade the graphics card. I still had budgetary constraints, and I looked around for the best I could buy for about S$100 (US$66). After poring through pricelists online via The Hardwarezone, I finally narrowed my choice down to the ATI Radeon 3850 and the ATI Radeon 4650 line. I wanted to consider a nvidia 9600GT, being a nvidia user for a long time. However, prices for a nvidia 9600 was not within my budget.
After a little more deliberation, and of course looking at reviews, I finally decided on the ATI Radeon 4650, being the best card I could afford at this time. Reviews looked good on this card – supposedly able to do 30FPS or more on games I play, even at 1280×1024.
Once I got home with the card, and a quick installation later, I ran up various games to give it a test. I ran Armed Assault, and increased resolution to 1280×1024, pumping graphic details up to “high” settings. While I didn’t run FRAPS to measure the framerates, I could “feel” that it’s a whole lot smoother. Even the character animations of the soldiers felt smoother.
Next I ran Assassin’s Creed, the Framerate Killer on my previous PC. On average I could only do about 7 to 12 FPS on my previous PC, and slightly better about 10 to 15 on my current one with the embedded ATI HD3200. I’ll let the video clip below speak for itself.
Framerates now average about 30 FPS, spiking to 42 and bottoming out around 19 or so. Pretty dang good for a card that costs S$109 eh? This time around, I put Assassin’s Creed into max graphic settings, keeping only the resolution at 1024×768. Everything else was maxed out.
Yes I am pretty pleased, and amazed, at how a cheap card can change the gaming experience. Yes I would like the highest end card if I can afford it of course. However, since I couldn’t, the ATI Radeon 4650 is the next best thing I can get.