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Thread: Radeon HD4350 vs GeForce 7650GS

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    Radeon HD4350 vs GeForce 7650GS

    I bought a Medion PC a couple of years ago that came with a seemingly rare GeForce 7650GS. It has performed adequately in the role of HTPC, but the video was never as smooth as I thought it should be and I was hankering after offloading the increasing amount of HD video processing I was expecting it to do to a GPU. I thought that two years of progress should mean I could get a current low-spec card that would comfortably outperform the GeForce.

    After a bit of hunting I settled on a Sapphire HD4350 as being a close match to what I needed. I had looked at the HD4550, but figured that the increased grunt should not really be required and was not justified by the extra heat/power draw.

    On powering up the PC with it last night however, I was struck by three things:

    1 - The picture quality does not seem as good as older card. Hard to quantify as I spent most of my time looking at the desktop from about 1-2m away - not normal viewing distance for my plasma - but it definitely gave the impression of being a little less sharp. The default colour setting looks a bit washed out as well.

    2 - Although I know it is a bit of nonsense, I thought I'd check what difference the new GPU made to the Windows Experience score. To my surprise it dropped the Windows and gaming graphics scores from 4.7 & 4.8 down to 3.8 & 4.1! Surely this doesn't reflect two years of progress in low-end GPUs?

    3 - Watching a 720p MKV file for the first time, the thing locked up solid within 2 minutes. OK I thought, maybe it's one of those things so I rebooted and tried again - same thing. I felt the heatsink on the card and it was pretty toasty. I've had various performance and stability issues over the last two years (thanks, Vista!), but never has the PC crashed like this during media playback.

    So, maybe belatedly, I figure I should find out if I've maybe made a mistake with this card.

    * Shouldn't the HD4350 walk all over the 7650GS?

    * Obviously lockups should not happen, but is there anything obvious that I should maybe check or set to prevent them happening?

    * Does anyone have recommendations for resolution and picture quality settings that may help? The driver has a load of options for colour format and various other things that I'm not sure I have the patience (or eyesight) to properly test.

    * If the HD4350 is not suited, what should I be looking for instead? Any card needs to be silent, have low power draw and include an HDMI port with audio. I should note that this PC has never played anything other than Solitaire, so gaming performance is utterly unimportant - it exists solely for media duties.

    PC runs Vista Home Premium and has a C2D 6400, 2GB RAM and is connected only to a Panasonic PX70 plasma via HDMI. I am using the latest Catalyst driver, downloaded yesterday, and uninstalled the nVidia drivers before installing the Radeon card and driver.

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    Re: Radeon HD4350 vs GeForce 7650GS

    2) The 4350 is right at the bottom of the ladder of ATI cards. The 7650GS was a good few rungs up the NVIDIA one (it was just a touch lower than mid-range), so will still have more grunt that the current bottom end cards.

    3) What's the temperature of the GPU? If it's a passive card, then you'll need decent air-flow through the case (somewhat ironically given you tend to buy passive cards for their silence, but that hot air has to move somewhere). Remember that a cool heatsink means nothing. They're supposed to be hot or they're not doing much of a job (or are stupidly overspecced for their use).

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    Re: Radeon HD4350 vs GeForce 7650GS

    My 7650GS is a passively cooled card as well, and must be fabricated on an older process, so if as you say it may be more powerful than the HD4350, surely it would be kicking out at least as much heat? Absolute GPU performance is not what I'm after anyway; silence and UVD video processing are though.

    The BTX case seems reasonably well designed for heat management and the whole things runs very quietly and seems not to have had any heat-related issues prior to now.

    I should point out that I was a committed overlocking nut for much of the 90s/early 2000s so understand what is needed to make a PC run cool and solid, but old age and things like a family leave little time for such nonsense now. Hence the purchase of this Medion, the first PC I've ever bought as opposed to building myself, which was chosen on the grounds that it was really an item of consumer electronics and is treated as such.

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    Re: Radeon HD4350 vs GeForce 7650GS

    I have played 720p video on lesser hardware than your PC without any issues so it could be a driver issue!!

    I would try un-installing the drivers first!! Then use Driver Cleaner and Driver Sweeper to remove any fragments of the older Nvidia and ATI drivers you had before. Then I would re-install the ATI drivers.

    I would also check the card temperatures using GPU-Z too. It maybe prudent to even re-apply some thermal compound.

    The fact of the matter is that many Hexus members use media PCs with 780G motherboards having integrated HD3200 graphics. They use them to watch HD video without any problems. You HD4350 has twice the number of shaders and a later UVD engine than the HD3200 so it should actually work better.

    It could also be that you have a faulty card!!

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    Re: Radeon HD4350 vs GeForce 7650GS

    Hi Juux, i think that your reasoning is fine and i agree that a 4350 ought to be easily good enough for 720p .mkv playing (truth be told, onboard intel graphics with a semi-modern CPU is also good enough for that).
    CAT is right i think, either that or it could be something electrical (wanting too much power somehow? Although given the graphics card swap, i cant see how exactly. Is the graphics card seated properly in the slot?)

    Edit: PS Nice TV I have a similar 37".
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    Re: Radeon HD4350 vs GeForce 7650GS

    OK, things are moving on. Seems the combination of desktop resolution (which I hadn't thought to check since removing the nVidia card) and output format was not to the Radeon or TV's liking, hence the fuzzy picture. One desktop resize later and things are a lot better, however I'm having to run the desktop at a much lower resolution (1216x688 or something chronic like that) than with the old card to get a decent picture. This causes minor issues with some dialog boxes, but I can live with it.

    I've also had no more lockups and have chucked a load of 720p & 1080p stuff at it tonight - fingers crossed. I downloaded a utility to monitor the GPU load & temp and it never seems to go above 68°C, which seems fine. Happy it seems to be solid now, but I don't like issues that seem to "resolve themself" like that.

    However, monitoring the GPU load got me wondering about UVD. My understanding was that this will take on processing of the supported codecs, namely MPEG2, H.264 etc., and while I can see the load hovering around 20% when watching recorded TV (MPEG2), it sits at a big fat 0% when I play d/l'ed HD stuff (VLC reports AVC1 codec, which I'm led to believe is part of MPEG4/H.264) and my CPU load is still 70-90%. Not really what I wanted.

    Is there some magic setting I need to be looking at, either in Catalyst or ffdshow etc.? Or is this, as a bit of Googling suggests, my punishment for being a bit of a scurvy seadog?

    Edit: No sooner had I posted this than the bloody thing locked up again. Grrrrr.
    Last edited by Juux; 06-03-2009 at 01:09 AM. Reason: Spoke too soon

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    Re: Radeon HD4350 vs GeForce 7650GS

    I would uninstall the drivers and control center entirely ,use software to remove any remaining fragments of the drivers and install the latest drivers again . It could be that the drivers have not installed properly. I would also make sure that any fragments of the Nvidia drivers are also removed.

    Uninstalling a driver does not always remove all traces of it.

    I used to have Catalyst Control Centre crashing all the time when I tried to use it but using Driver Cleaner Pro and Driver Sweeper after uninstalling the drivers( and the control center) solved the problem. You can also use this software to remove any remaining Nvidia driver fragments.

    UVD2 should offer full acceleration of AVC and VLC1 BTW:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unified_Video_Decoder

    Also what about the cable you are using?? Is it an HDMI 1.3 one??
    The output from the HD4350 is HDMI 1.3 so it maybe worth getting a 1.3 certified cable. You can get one for under £10 which will do the job nicely.

    Also if you are using a DVI to HDMI adaptor use the one which came with the card as people have had issues using non-ATI ones.

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    Re: Radeon HD4350 vs GeForce 7650GS

    drivers +1

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    Re: Radeon HD4350 vs GeForce 7650GS

    Cheers, will give those driver cleaners a try.

    I managed to get a better quality/resolution tradeoff with the card outputting an HDTV resolution of 720p60, which seem logical enough, but then logical doesn't seem to figure much in video card control utilities! Most versions of the nVidia driver for instance seemed to give a horrible overscanned output at most HDTV resolutions, forcing me to use a scaled desktop resolution.

    The HDMI cable is not 1.3, but then TV is only 1.2a and as the 10m cable is embedded in a wall, there is slightly less than no chance at all of me swapping it out ;) For many years I worked with a leading high-end A/V manufacturer and was heavily involved in solving DVI/HDMI/HDCP compatibility issues - at the resolutions/refresh rates/colour spaces in question there is nothing that my cable will not handle, so a 1.3-spec cable is an irrelevance.

    The card has a native HDMI output, no adapter required.

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    Re: Radeon HD4350 vs GeForce 7650GS

    Remember also that for certain sorts of codecs being decoded by the graphics cards you not only need the right drivers but also the matching software (ie usually only the very latest versions of power DVD or similar). Sorry that i cant be more exact as i've never bothered with that myself.

    From my point of view, if a video plays fine then it plays fine, irrespective of what component is doing the processing. That said, it would be better for the GPU to do the work if it's advertised as doing so.
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    Re: Radeon HD4350 vs GeForce 7650GS

    Quote Originally Posted by MSIC View Post
    Remember also that for certain sorts of codecs being decoded by the graphics cards you not only need the right drivers but also the matching software (ie usually only the very latest versions of power DVD or similar). Sorry that i cant be more exact as i've never bothered with that myself.
    Yup, the codec also needs to support hardware accelerated decoding. PowerDVD is the obvious one (you don't need to use the program, just the codec that is installed with it), though I'm sure there are others (WinDVD probably being one). I've no idea which version of PowerDVD which started allowing hardware accelerated decoding of HD footage though.

    For pure software decoding of HD you can't get any better than CoreAVC. It's fantastic.

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    Re: Radeon HD4350 vs GeForce 7650GS

    I should have mentioned that 99% of the media playback on this machine is via Media Center. Although I have other players/tools installed for occasional mucking about, the box sits in the corner of the living room, boots automatically into Media Center is controlled almost completely via remote - it is really treated solely as a media source and not as a PC.

    It has to be this way for my wife, whose patience with Mr Gates' "digital home utopia" has already been tested with Vista's flakiness in the early days, and by the random stuff that still impacts on the user experience (intermittent svchost taking up 80% CPU and thrashing the hdd for no apparent reason etc.). My son too is increasingly happy to mash buttons to get Fireman Sam on again! Running applications via the Windows GUI is not an option for them, so Media Center it has to be.

    That said, I've been able to get almost everything playing in Media Center satisfactorily (except FLAC files - what a PITA), albeit on the CPU up until now.

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    Re: Radeon HD4350 vs GeForce 7650GS

    I believe Windows Media Player (and therefore probably Windows Media Centre) does not support hardware acceleration for *a lot* of content types. I'm afraid I can't give you cool links and references for that though, it's just something I remember reading in a view reviews! Perhaps that'll be dealt with in a future update...

    Certainly you shouldn't be having difficulty with a 4350 for video decoding, given that is pretty much exactly what it was engineered for! I'm also surprised that you can't get the graphics card and monitor playing together nicely in the monitor's native resolution: that should normally be a given.

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