Currently when you look at most hardware websites, you will see reviews and articles on ATI's X800 and NVIDIA's 6800 graphics cards, both top of the line and the latest tech. So you can easily be forgiven for missing ATI's release of a lower end chipset based on the 9600 core, the 9550.
The 9550 is aimed at the same area of the market as NVIDIA's 5500, providing for the budget owners and infrequent gamers amongst the buying public, which make up the majority of sales. have provided us with their , which has a few added features for a card that won't break the bank.
HIS Excalibur 9550 ViVo
||ATI Radeon 9550
||VGA, TV-Out & DVI-I
On paper, the 9550 from HIS appears to be a very good card with its ViVo capabilities and Dual Display support via Hydravision. The core is based on the 9600 and features a Core Clock of 250 and a Memory Clock of 200 (400 DDR) putting it on par with NVIDIA's 5500. Being the next step up from the 9200 series, this version of the 9550 utilizes a 128 bit memory bus, although there is apparently a 64 bit version of the 9550.
The box for the HIS Excalibur 9550, whilst colourful doesn't give you an impression of speed or performance, which considering the nature of the card is perfectly fine. It will certainly get your attention sitting on a shelf though, which is precisely what it should do. The rear of the box gives you a lot of information about the card itself, although the full card image is not the same as the sample we have here, but features the iFan which is displayed in a little exploded view circle to the right of the main picture. Inside everything is packed nicely though I do feel that perhaps some secure padding for the card itself might be beneficial. This is mainly due to the beaten state the box arrived in (thanks Fed Ex! you rock!) but inside everything was safe and sound, which isn't bad for an international delivery.
Included with the HIS 9550 card are 4 CDs which include the Driver CD, VideoStudio 7 SE, 3-D Album and CyberLink's PowerDVD. You also have a Multilanguage Manual which, whilst basic, gives you all the pertinent info you will want in an easy to read manner. Other extras included are an S-VID cable, a ViVo dongle and a DVI-VGA Adapter.
The card itself is small and compact and features the tell tale ATI Red PCB. No need for extra power inputs here, and the capacitors to regulate power are few and far between; it's simply not needed. Ram is laid out in a half circle fashion around the corner, 64MB on top and 64MB on the back. The Ram on this card is Hynix memory, and a quick search on the net shows this particular ram should be good for DDR500. The large chip you can see between the fan and the DVI output is ATI's Rage Theater chip which enables TV Out and Video Capture.
The HIS Excalibur 9550 we have here features HIS Digital's iFan Cooling technology which on the box states "less then 20dB", and whilst I don't have a dB meter I can tell you this card is pretty much silent, although with such low clock speeds that isn't too surprising, and I have to say that the iFan looks like just a fan to me. Regardless it does the job and that's what matters.
The I/O Panel has (from left to right) 1 VGA port, 1 ViVo Port and 1 DVI port, which should give you plenty of options for displays, and with the DVI-VGA Adapter included it should be easy enough to get Hydravision to give you 2 VGA displays.
Overall the HIS Excalibur 9550 ViVo Edition is a well constructed card, and the iFan and Hynix memory might give us a good overclocking card to go with the added ViVo features.
ABIT AN7, Athlon 2500+ @ 3200+ (11x200, provided by ), 2x 256 Corsair PC3200, 1x 512 Corsair PC4000, 80GB WD 8MB Cache, Windows XP SP1, Forceware 3.13’s, ATI Catalyst 4.6, Detonator 61.04.
Test software will be:
Need for Speed: Underground
Call of Duty
Serious Sam SE (OpenGL)
We'll also be covering overclocking and image quality after the gaming benchmarks. was used to measure in-game performance for Need for Speed: Underground. With the other games, we'll be using a combination of standard game configs created by the ingame menu options and to run and record the results.
Just a reminder about Splinter Cell; FSAA is broken so obviously we won't be showing results for that, although we will show results for Anisotropic filtering. All driver settings were set to balanced, except when turning on AA/AF, in which case the settings were set to quality.