Based on the G95 core, nVidia's budget 9400 GT graphics card comes with a significantly compromised set of specifications, so as to hit an attractive sub-£40 price tag.
The PNY GeForce 9400 GT's 512MB of memory seems like a reasonable start, but this is of the DDR rather than GDDR variety. While GDDR memory is usually preferred on graphics cards, DDR memory is undoubtedly cheaper, and since speedy performance isn't critical to a sub-£40 graphics card, it can do a serviceable job.
The 550MHz of core clock speed and, in particular, the 400MHz memory clock (800MHz when taking into account DDR) means that the PNY GeForce 9400 GT lags far behind the Radeon HD 4550 on speeds - indeed, the Radeon's 800MHz memory clock is double that of the 9400 GT. Both cards manage the same memory bandwidth though (12.8GBps), due to the fact that the nVidia 9400 GT's 128bit memory interface is twice that of the Radeon 4550's 64bit interface.
The 4550 does move ahead again on stream processors, notching up 80 in comparison with this PNY GeForce 9400 GT's meagre load of 16.
The 9400 GT's gaming performance is unimpressive, but it's never far behind the 4550. In Company of Heroes, the cards were 1.9fps apart at a resolution of 1,280x768, with the lead stretching to 2.5fps at 1,680x1,050. In World of Conflict, the 4550 was never more than 1fps ahead, while in FEAR the GT actually pulled out a lead. Overall, the 4550 is slightly superior, but there's really very little in it.
However, we've also found that ATI cards produce better results in Blu-ray testing, with playback through the Radeon 4550 slightly smoother and providing less of a hit on other PC applications. It's also worth pointing out that ATI's technology supports full 7.1 channel HD audio through HDMI - a feature that the PNY GeForce 9400 GT doesn't offer. If you're looking for a card to build into a media PC, this may sway you towards the ATI Radeon 4550.
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