While the card is yet to appear on our local shores, local pricing in the states puts the card at around the $60 mark. How's that compare against the 9500 GT which for the most part performs at twice the speed? Not great, since an extra 50% is going to literally yield you double the performance. And considering our thoughts on the 9500 GT, it doesn't look good for the HD 4550.
This is where it becomes hazy, though; is there anyone out there who's really going to buy a HD 4550 for gaming? Well, we hope not, because the chances are you're going to be severely disappointed, which means that the card isn't exactly aimed for that particular market.
The performance isn't the only give away, though; the inclusion of the low profile bracket caters for a cliental that doesn't game and the inclusion of the HDMI adapter means it's an option for HT enthusiasts who want something that offers hardware decoding.
The thing is, most products are great. But when you look at them from the right perspective, it's easy to say that the HD 4550 is an absolutely hopeless card from a gaming standpoint. For only 50% more you could get a card that offers 100% more gaming performance. The 9500 GT, however, won't offer you 100% more home theater watching performance; it actually won't offer any more, making it an extra $30 US wasted.
If you're looking for a new graphics card to put in your new HTPC, the HD 4550 from Sapphire is great. If you're looking for a new low profile graphics card to put in your new HTPC, then the card is the best we've seen from the current generation of cards from NVIDIA and AMD.
Performance isn't purely rated on just how many frames per second a graphics card can push out in a game, it's based on how well it performs in the areas it's targeted toward. It's targeted at HTPC users and the mean package, low profile nature and cheap price make it an absolute excellent performer.
If you're looking for a graphics card that is cheap and is going to suit your HTPC, this is one that's going to be hard to pass up on. If you want to do a bit of gaming, can increase the budget and have a full height card we would recommend spending the extra money on the HD 4670 which makes not only a great HTPC card, but also a nice little mid-range gaming one.