Cheap and functional, but rivals perform better.
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As Nvidia's cheapest current generation graphics card, the GeForce 9400 GT has a specific remit: to perform the basic tasks of a media-centre PC at the lowest price possible. That it manages to come in at $100 is impressive - in the same ballpark as ATI's bargain-basement HD 4350 - but unfortunately, it doesn't quite live up to its rival's performance.We expected little in games and we weren't proved wrong. Just 15fps in Crysis at medium settings is nowhere near playable, and while it's slightly better than the HD 4350, neither will have you playing anything recent at acceptable quality levels.That's not the point of the 9400 GT, though. It has only 16 stream processors - the fewest of all here - and with the same meagre 256MB of memory and 550MHz core clock as the 9500 GT, it's inevitably limited in what it can do.That's just enough grunt to handle media decoding, as we found in our Blu-ray test: our old Athlon ran at around 68% throughout. The downside is that it isn't quite as good as the 9500 GT, and lags further behind both of ATI's media focused cards. The HD 4350, for example, typically costs $25 less, but it decoded our Blu-ray movie with the CPU at less than 40% load for the most part. In a low-power PC this is a big difference.The Nvidia 9400 GT's primary advantages - its small size and passive options - are also all shared by the cheaper ATI HD 4350, so we really can't see a good reason to choose the Nvidia card as this month's budget recommendation.
This Review appeared in the May, 2009 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing
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