My mother's computer is Compaq Presario SR5410F with 1.8 GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E2160, 1 GB of RAM and Vista Premium, but with onboard video. The onboard video was decent for general use, but for better performance, video quality and playback on the Panasonic Viera TH-42PX80U 42-inch 720p HDTV Plasma TV something better was needed.
Games were not something that the new card was intended to be used with. Netflix streaming was the primary objective, along with HDMI output. The computer is connected to the DELL 1905FP LCD monitor.
I bought the MSI R4350-MD512H Radeon HD 4350 PCIe video card form NewEgg something close to $30, shipping, taxes and rebate factored in.
About the MSI R4350-MD512H Radeon HD 4350 Graphics Card
The MSI R4350-MD512H Radeon HD 4350 Graphics Card supports PCI-Express 2x, has a DVI, VGA and HDMI outs. It can output 1080p signal over HDMI with 7.1 sound, which is perfect for the intended purpose of watching movies through Netflix streaming and display on the TV. One 3-meter HDMI cable carries the video signal and the sound.
The card has no fan (it has a massive heat sink) and came with software and a smaller bracket for mounting in an HTC. The card has a PCIe form-factor (so it will work with PCI express of newer computers), has 512 MB of memory.
I did not have to do anything to disable the onboard video. I have opened the computer case, inserted the card, closed the case, connected the VGA cable and was able use the card in its lowest resolution in Vista. Be advised that the heat sink is tall and might render the next slot (PCIe or otherwise) unusable.
The software from the included disk failed at the end of the installation on Vista. Still, the driver got installed and so did the ATI Catalyst utility. The Live Update (for the card's BIOS and drivers) didn't work after repeated reinstalls, but the supplied drivers were OK.
After tweaking in Catalyst control center, I was able to have the TV (connected through HDMI) show the same as the primary monitor and I even got the sound in the TV, provided the TV was switched on before the computer.
Immediately apparent was the better contrast and sharpness on the DELL 1905FP LCD monitor, event though I am using the same VGA (D-SUB) cable. Razor-sharp fonts and edges of windows, etc.
The card is probably a very good 3D device, but I wouldn't know since I do not play games. But it works flawlessly with the flat panel monitor at 1280x1024 with 32-bit color. The DVI out is currently unused, but the HDMI out is connected to the TV. The TV is 720p Panasonic plasma and watching the Netflix streaming on it is awesome. The sharpness, contrast and textures are great. The video playback is smooth and fast with excellent colors.
Pros: Low price, razor-sharp images, 1080p HDMI out with 7.1 sound, DVI and VGA, no fan
Cons: Included software not easy to use, a little buggy
It might be an overkill for my purpose, but the MSI R4350-MD512H Radeon HD 4350 PCIe video card produces excellent image quality and is very fast. With 1080p HDMI out with 7.1 digital audio, DVI and VGA outs, it is versatile, capable and cheap. I highly recommend it.