One of more interesting niche markets is the one named “how to fix the computer crippled with integrated graphics?”, and the solutions that are being sold in that area. We saw interesting products coming from Albatron, Sparkle, MSI and others, but it is a rare occasion to see a card in sub-$50 range that offers DX10 support.
The company released a series of PCIe x1 cards for those unlucky owners of motherboards without PCI Express x16 slot. Sparkle released no less than eight models based on GeForce 8400GS graphics chip. Sadly, memory controller is limited to 64-bit, but this was Nvidia’s doing. Memory is either 256 or 512 MB of DDR2 memory.
The cards will occupy either full or half-height slot, and are either passively or actively cooled. GPU is clocked at 567 MHz with shader processors working at 900 MHz. Video memory works at 450 MHz in DDR mode or 900 MTransfers/sec.
Of course, don’t expect these cards to break speed records. Their sole role is to offer good performance with Windows Vista Aero interface and games such as Sims 2, World of Warcraft, Spore and so on – games that would not work at all if you were running them on integrated “crapics” solution such as Intel’s G33, G35 or G45. Also, board brings Pure Video HD engine, supporting 720p and 1080p decoding.
My personal take is that this would be a good solution if you’re building a HTPC, and the selected motherboard does not feature PCIe x16 slot.