For those wanting an inexpensive card that does the job when playing back HD content or a HTPC (Home Theater PC) that wants a quiet card that doesnít draw a lot of power, the HD 4550 card will fit the bill nicely at a price of $50. ATIís reference card has HDMI and Display Port output meaning that it is better suited for the HTPC crowd than the EVGA card and can play back 8-channel Audio over HDMI which is a huge advantage for the Home Theater crowd. ATIís lineup from top to bottom is very solid with new chips on the cards. The HD 4550 will have a SEP of $45-55 making it compete against the 9500GT video cards from NVIDIA partners that have lowered in price to better compete in price and performance.
The EVGA 9500GT is a perfect example of the 9500GT cards on the market from various NVIDIA partners. This card is retailing online for a MSRP of $64.99 but there is a $15 rebate currently, making the effective price $49.99. At this price point the performance outstrips the ATI card but doesnít quite have the lower power draw of the other card nor does it have DirectX 10.1 features. A checkmark feature at this price point and performance metric, to be sure, but no NVIDIA cards supports it. The video card market is constantly changing with prices going up and down based upon demand and competition and price performance of the respective cards. A better buy if youíre looking for strictly gaming is the HD 4670 or 9800GT which outperforms the 9500GT and the HD 4550 by wide margins, but for that card you would have to spend almost $30 more at the current time. NVIDIAís and EVGAís card is faster in sheer performance, but at this performance level itís a tossup for which card is really better as they both have their good points.