At $105, it sits between the HD 3450, which is $45 cheaper and can comfortably handle all of your media-centre needs, and the faster HD 3850, which is capable of running the latest games far more smoothly and costs $70 more. Our review sample was also a full-width card and had significantly more cooling than the HD 3450, so it won’t sit well in a quiet little case, either.
It’s a single-slot, 55nm part with 378 million transistors crammed onto it, just over half the number on the HD 3850. With a core clock at 725MHz and 120 stream processors, as well as 512MB of 800MHz GDDR3 memory, it performed reasonably at Medium settings, but struggled with anything higher.
In Crysis, it averaged a not-quite-playable 22fps at 1280 x 1024 at Medium settings, so lowering a couple of the more intensive options will just about have you playing smoothly. Low settings posed no problems, but we recommend you aim for Medium if you want to enjoy the game’s beauty.
Call of Duty 4 was more productive, with a playable average of 33fps in our Medium 1280 x 1024 test; this suggests you’ll get some joy from slightly older or less demanding games.
But the HD 3650 has a big selling problem: the $195 512MB HD 3850 more than doubles these frame rates, and even the $175 256MB version is significantly faster. For keen gamers, we don’t think the jump from $105 to $175 is too unreasonable if it’s going to make such a notable difference to the gaming experience.
Conversely, if that boost in gaming performance doesn’t matter, you may as well save some money and go for one of the media-centre cards.
Either way, the HD 3650 sits in a void this month and as a result we can’t recommend it.
Disappointing gaming ability and a higher price than media-centre cards rule this one out of contention