Value and Conclusion
|7.9||S3 Graphics has done a lot of things right when making their Chrome 440 GTX. The card has DirectX 10.1, PCI-Express 2.0, native HDMI with integrated audio, small form factor and low heat output. Despite all those good things I foresee that the card will have a hard time competing in the market.|
If you are just looking for a media PC card without any gaming you'd rather grab a HD 3450 which has the AMD UVD, costs considerably less and is available as passive version. If you are into very casual gaming, NVIDIA's 9400 GT offers more performance at a similar price point. If you are looking for a card that can handle more serious gaming, spend $20 more and you'll have a GeForce 9600 GT which costs below $90 these days. Another potential issue is that the drivers from AMD and NVIDIA are more widespread which means issues are detected earlier and fixed faster. Don't get me wrong, I didn't experience any driver problems with the Chrome 440 GTX, but improvements for new titles will certainly not appear as fast as in the competition's drivers - the latest driver from S3 is from July and is not WHQL certified.
Another problem which will upset many media PC users is that only WinDVD supports the Chromotion video decode acceleration on the Chrome 400 Series - PowerDVD will not work with it. S3 is working on PowerDVD support which should be available soon™. Even though S3 Graphics will not shatter the entry-level segment with their Chrome 440 GTX it is still the closest competitor and there is not much missing to a winning combination. With a clock speed upgrade or a price drop this could quickly happen. All the people at S3 that I had the pleasure to talk to are very hard working, highly motivated and were extremely helpful with all questions I had. So given that amount of talent I am sure we will see new products in the future based on the very promising Chrome 440 GTX.