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ATI All-In-Wonder HD, A Legend Returns
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Date: Aug 18, 2008
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: Jeff Bouton
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Introduction and Product Specifications


When ATI was acquired by AMD a few years ago, one product that seemed to fall off of the new corporate radar was ATI's All-In-Wonder line of Graphics/TV-Tuner hybrid cards.  This was an area of the market where ATI had exclusivity, yet we haven't seen a new All-In-Wonder offering since May 2006.  Rest assured however, ATI has not abandoned the All-In-Wonder, they've simply been working on the next iteration of the Graphic/TV-Tuner stalwart, with their latest offering coming in the form of the ATI All-In-Wonder HD.

Back on 2004, ATI released its first HDTV Wonder TV card and now, four years later, they've merged HDTV capabilities with a graphics card, which is the culmination of the new All-In-Wonder HD we'll be looking at here today.  In the four years since the HDTV Wonder was released, a lot has changed.  While its HDTV Tuner for the PC was one of the first of its kind, the market may not have been ripe for such a product, with limitations of OTA digital signal, and a bulky antenna, being a major detractor.  Today however, with the change over to DTV broadcasting immanent, this could be a prime time to offer a hybrid class card that can grow with the new transmission medium of Digital broadcasting.

The All-In-Wonder HD continues on the All-In-Wonder path of melding a graphics card with the latest TV-Tuner technologies into a single package.  With this version, the All-In-Wonder HD breaks new ground, being the first All-In-Wonder to bring ClearQAM support to the mix.  Being the first new addition to the popular product line in over two years, naturally we were eager to get working with the All-In-Wonder HD to see what ATI had in store for us this time around.  Read on to follow our journey as we break it down, set up, benchmark and assess the All-In-Wonder HD's overall qualities to see what this latest iteration has to offer. 

 

ATI All-In-Wonder HD

A Multimedia Legend Returns

* ATI All-in-Wonder™ HD - GPU Specifications

  • 378 million transistors on 55nm fabrication process
  • PCI Express 2.0 x16 bus interface
  • 128-bit DDR2 memory interface
  • Ring Bus Memory Controller
  • Fully distributed design with 256-bit internal ring bus for memory reads and writes

* Microsoft® DirectX® 10.1 support
          
* Unified Superscalar Shader Architecture

  • 120 stream processing units
  •  Dynamic load balancing and resource allocation for vertex, geometry, and pixel shaders
  • Common instruction set and texture unit access supported for all types of shaders
  • Dedicated branch execution units and texture address processors
  • 128-bit floating point precision for all operations
  • Command processor for reduced CPU overhead
  • Shader instruction and constant caches
  • Up to 40 texture fetches per clock cycle
  • Up to 128 textures per pixel
  • Fully associative multi-level texture cache design
  • DXTC and 3Dc+ texture compression
  • High resolution texture support (up to 8192 x 8192)
  • Fully associative texture Z/stencil cache designs
  • Double-sided hierarchical Z/stencil buffer
  • Early Z test, Re-Z, Z Range optimization, and Fast Z Clear
  • Lossless Z & stencil compression (up to 128:1)
  • Lossless color compression (up to 8:1)
  • 8 render targets (MRTs) with anti-aliasing support
  • Physics processing support 


* Dynamic Geometry Acceleration

  • High performance vertex cache
  • Programmable tessellation unit
  • Accelerated geometry shader path for geometry amplification
  • Memory read/write cache for improved stream output performance


* Anti-aliasing features

  • Multi-sample anti-aliasing (2, 4, or 8 samples per pixel)
  • Up to 24x Custom Filter Anti-Aliasing (CFAA) for improved quality
  • Adaptive super-sampling and multi-sampling
  • Temporal anti-aliasing
  • Gamma correct
  • All anti-aliasing features compatible with HDR rendering


* Texture filtering features

  • 2x/4x/8x/16x high quality adaptive anisotropic filtering modes (up to 128 taps per pixel)
  • 128-bit floating point HDR texture filtering
  • Bicubic filtering
  • sRGB filtering (gamma/degamma)
  • Percentage Closer Filtering (PCF)
  • Depth & stencil texture (DST) format support
  • Shared exponent HDR (RGBE 9:9:9:5) texture format support

* OpenGL 2.0 support

* ATI Avivo™ HD Video and Display Platform

  • Dedicated unified video decoder (UVD) for H.264/AVC and VC-1 video formats
  • High definition (HD) playback of both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats2
  • Hardware MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and DivX video decode acceleration
  • Motion compensation and IDCT
  • ATI Avivo Video Post Processor
  • Color space conversion
  • Chroma subsampling format conversion
  • Horizontal and vertical scaling
  • Gamma correction
  • Advanced vector adaptive per-pixel de-interlacing
  • De-blocking and noise reduction filtering
  • Detail enhancement
  • Inverse telecine (2:2 and 3:2 pull-down correction)
  • Two independent display controllers
  • Drive two displays simultaneously with independent resolutions, refresh rates, color controls and video overlays for each displayFull 30-bit display processing
  • Content-adaptive de-flicker filtering for interlaced displays
  • Fast, glitch-free mode switching
  • Hardware cursor
  • Integrated 400 MHz 30-bit RAMDAC
  • Supports analog displays connected by VGA at all resolutions up to 2048x15361
  • HDMI output support
  • Supports all display resolutions up to 1920x1080
  • ntegrated HD audio controller with multi-channel (5.1) AC3 support, enabling a plug-and-play cable-less audio solution
  • Integrated AMD Xilleon™ HDTV encoder
  • + Provides high quality analog TV output (component/S-video/composite)
  • Supports SDTV and HDTV resolutions
  • Underscan and overscan compensation
  • MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, WMV9, VC-1, and H.264/AVC encoding and transcoding
  • Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video in real time

* ATI PowerPlay™

  • Advanced power management technology for optimal performance and power savings
  • Central thermal management – on-chip sensor monitors GPU temperature and triggers thermal actions as required

1 Some custom resolutions require user configuration
2 Playing HDCP content requires additional HDCP ready components, including but not limited to an HDCP ready monitor, Blu-ray or HD DVD disc drive, multimedia application and computer operating system .

ATI Radeon™ HD graphics chips have numerous features integrated into the processor itself (e.g., HDCP, HDMI, etc.). Third parties manufacturing products based on, or incorporating ATI Radeon HD graphics chips, may choose to enable some or all of these features. If a particular feature is important to you, please inquire of the manufacturer if a particular product supports this feature. In addition, some features or technologies may require you to purchase additional components in order to make full use of them (e.g. a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD drive, HDCP-ready monitor, etc.). 


 



At testing time, ATI didn't have a complete retail package for us to evaluate, rather a plain vanilla factory package including the All-In-Wonder HD and some expected accessories.  There will be varying options with the base card being offered and an All-In-Wonder HD Accessory kit, which will include an Audio/Video I/O daughter board to expand on the card's functionality for those looking for additional connectivity options.  This could be a good approach for keeping the product competitively priced and not over producing accessories that users may never use. One item missing from this package was a remote control.  To help moderate costs, ATI has opted not to pursue a remote control solution, insteading leaving it up to the company's marketing the All-In-Wonder HD to add their own as they see fit.

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The ATI All-In-Wonder HD Up Close


The PCIe 2.0 compliant All-In-Wonder HD is built around an ATI Radeon HD 3650 GPU with 512MB of DDR2 memory.  Based on the RV635Pro, the 378 Million transistor, 55nm GPU is clocked to run at 725MHz, while its memory runs at 600MHz (1200MHz DDR).  The card sports a 128-bit memory interface and 120 stream processing units, meaning it falls into the budget category with respect to gaming potential.  Physically, the card is very small and thin, making it an ideal candidate for Home Theater PC (HTPC) applications.  When compared to a Sapphire HD 3650, the PCB of the All-In-Wonder HD is slightly longer while offering a more streamlined cooling solution that was dead quiet through out testing.



Most impressive is the size of the TV tuner itself, with an area that is smaller than the size of two US postage stamps.  This is a far cry from the canned tuners of the past, showing how refined the technology has become over the years.  Backing the tuner is an ATI Theater 650 Pro which handles AVIVO, MPEG encoding, a 3D Comb filter for analog imagery, DTV demodulation, analog stereo decoding and IF demodulation, among other functions.



The All-In-Wonder HD comes with a single DVI-I connector and one HDMI output while a DVI-I to VGA adapter is included to connect to analog equipment.  The card sports a single coaxial connector that feeds both Analog/Digital TV and FM radio signal into a single connection.  The hybrid card supports analog (NTSC), digital/HDTV (ATSC) and ClearQAM unencrypted signals.  Essentially, this model can pick up signal from coaxial cable or over the air (OTA), making it an extremely flexible digital solution.  For OTA signal reception, ATI offers a telescoping antenna that is much nicer than the antenna offered when the HDTV Wonder was first released back in 2004.  We should note that while the card supports WindowsXP Media Center Edition, Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate, these do not support DTV directly at this time.  For the full DTV experience, ATI offers their ATI Catalyst Media Center to take advantage of this feature, which we'll spotlight in the next segment of this article.



With Personal Video Recording (PVR) as a focal point with the All-In-Wonder line, naturally all its signal inputs are supported with time shifting, with pausing, rewinding and recording being achieved with relative ease.  This works with both the TV and FM tuners.  The card also sports a dedicated Unified Video Decoder that helps direct HD decoding processing from the CPU to the GPU. The All-In-Wonder HD supports Blu-ray and can upscale as high as 2560x1600.  The Audio/Video daughter card expands the All-In-Wonder HD's capabilities, offering Composite video, S-Video connections as well as component outputs and stereo audio inputs for maximum connectivity potential. 

With so much technology packed into a small design, there are a few areas where we found the All-In-Wonder HD to be lacking.  First, the card doesn't support Crossfire, which is unfortunate since the card is already at the lower rung of the 3D performance ladder.  However, this is not too surprising, considering this card's primary target application. Second, the TV tuner is a single tuner, so if you are recording one program, you cannot channel surf for something else to watch.  To us, this is a key feature that takes away from a rather impressive design.  We're fairly certain that most consumers would be willing to forgo the FM tuner in favor of a second TV tuner.

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Setup, Configuration and ATI Catalyst Media Center


Physically installing the All-In-Wonder HD is as simple a process as installing any other add on card.  Once inserted into a PCIe slot, connect the monitor and antenna source and the system is ready to be booted to continue the configuration within Windows.

   
The first step is relatively quick, installing the latest Catalyst driver package for proper hardware detection and setup.  Once complete, the next stage is to install the ATI Catalyst Media Center from the installation CD.  The robust software package helps bring all of the All-In-Wonders HD's capabilities to focus in a single, clean and easy to follow interface.

   
On first run, the ATI Catalyst Media Center prompts the user through some pre-configuration steps, setting up proper screen ratio (Standard 4:3 or Widescreen 16:9), speaker configuration (Headphone, SPDIF, 2, 4 or 6 Speakers), and signal input be it Analog or Digital (ATSC).  Once the signal type has been chosen, an appropriate source (Cable/Antenna) must be selected before channel scanning can commence.  Next, we set our region and initiated the lengthy process of auto channel scanning and programming.  This was relatively fast when using the antenna, however, when connected to cable, the process took roughly 15 minutes to complete.  After the channels have been scanned, the system offers to download Electronic Programming information for the latest channel lineup details for your area.  Once complete, the All-In-Wonder is ready to use within the ATI Catalyst Media Center.  (Note that further configuration will be needed when setting up the All-In-Wonder HD to operate with the Windows Media Center interface for analog viewing. Since DTV with be the standard in the coming months, we've opted to focus solely on the Catalyst Media Center, as it will be required to view DTV content.)

   
ATI Catalyst Media Center is broken down into six sections; TV, DVD, Videos, Radio, Extras and Settings.  When accessing the TV section, six options appear for further control; Video Input, Recorded TV, Schedule, Channel List, EPG (Electronic Programming Guide) and Settings, while a signal strength gauge loads at the top of the screen.  The Video Input area is for adjusting the input signal source, whether it be Analog TV (Cable/Antenna), DTV (Cable/Antenna), Composite or S-Video.  Recorded TV lists all recorded programming as well as browsing the computer for other video materials.  There is the option to sort the list by Name or Date as well as Burn to Disc.  There is no option to browse a network location for videos.  However, if you have a mapped drive, the software will recognize it and display its contents.  Once a location has been selected, further options appear including a Capture Device source and quality settings.  When selecting Burn to Disc and Author and Burn, a number of useful options appear including Name Disc, Select Menu for preloaded menus, Menu Music for setting music to the menu and Settings which sets the Format (DVD, SVCD and VCD), Video Quality (DVD Smart Fit, HQ, SP, LP), Video Format (National Standards), Audio Format (Linear PCM or Dolby Digital), Working Folder and Select Burner.

   
Under the Schedule menu, the ATI Catalyst Media Center allows for the scheduled recording of both TV and Radio content.  When scheduling programming, the channel, frequency, date and time can all be set.  For schedules already in place, the listing can be sorted by either Date or Frequency.  The Channel List displays a listing of all scanned channels for easy selection while the EPG offers detailed programming information per channel.  Lastly, the Setting menu offers direct access to all setting options, including Signal Settings, Recording Settings, Guide Settings as well as initiating a channel scan if desired.

One final note, the Extras menu is where AMD-ATI provides additional video editing software to compliment the All-In-Wonder HD, including Media Deluxe Pro, Cyberlink Live and Magic Director.
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HH Test Setup & FutureMark 3DMark Vantage


HotHardware Test Bed
Wonderful
Hardware:
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6800
(2.93GHz - Dual-Core)

MSI P35 Platinum Combo
(Intel P35 Express Chipset)

2x1GB Kingston HyperX DDR3
CL 6-6-6-15 - DDR-1300

ATI All-In-Wonder HD
512MB DDR2

Sapphire Radeon HD 3650  

512MB GDDR3

GeForce 8600 GTS
256MB GDDR3
WD740 "Raptor" HD
10,000 RPM SATA

Software:
Windows Vista Ultimate SP1
Catalyst 8.6
NVIDIA Forceware 175.19
DirectX Redist (November 2007)

Benchmarks Used:
3DMark Vantage
Crysis
Half-Life 2: Episode Two
Unreal Tournament 3
HQV

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
Synthetic DirectX Gaming


3DMark Vantage

The latest version of Futuremark's synthetic 3D gaming benchmark, 3DMark Vantage, is specifically bound to Windows Vista-based systems because it uses some advanced visual technologies that are only available with DirectX 10, which y isn't available on previous versions of Windows.  3DMark Vantage isn't simply a port of 3DMark06 to DirectX 10 though.  With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, in addition to support for the latest PC hardware.  We tested the graphics cards with 3DMark Vantage's default options, which uses a resolution of 1280 x 1024, with no anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering using the "Entry" preset as suggested by the software.

As we noted in our configuration text above, 3DMark Vantage was run with the "Entry" preset.  While we originally ran 3DMark Vantage in its default "Performance" mode, at the conclusion of the benchmark, 3DMark Vantage reported that the results were not a true representation of the card's performance and suggested that the "Entry" setting be used instead.  Essentially, 3DMark Vantage's default test was too taxing for the All-In-Wonder HD.  To be consistent, we ran all tests with the "Entry" option, as suggested by the software.







With respect the GeForce 8600GTS, the performance margins were broad compared to the All-In-Wonder HD, with the NVIDIA card holding a fair lead in all three segments.  With respect to the Sapphire HD 3650, the margins narrowed, but the All-In-Wonder HD trailed the Sapphire card as well.  Keep in mind, however, that the Sapphire card is clocked with an 800MHz GPU and 1800MHz of GDDR3, helping the Sapphire card to hold the lead over the All-In-Wonder HD with it's 725MHz GPU and 1200MHz of DDR2.  What we can glean from these results is that from a 3D gaming standpoint, the All-In-Wonder HD appears to fall-in where we would expect a graphics card of this caliber.  However, we'll have to run more gaming benchmarks before drawing final conclusions.

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Gaming with Half Life 2:EP2, UT3 & Crysis


Half Life 2: Episode 2
DirectX Gaming Performance


Half Life 2:
Episode 2

Thanks to the dedication of hardcore PC gamers and a huge mod-community, the original Half-Life became one of the most successful first person shooters of all time.  And thanks to an updated game engine, gorgeous visual, and intelligent weapon and level design, Half Life 2 became just as popular.  Episode 2 offers a number of visual enhancements including better looking transparent texture anti-aliasing. These tests were run at resolutions of 1280x1024 and 1600x1200 with 4X anti-aliasing and 8X anisotropic filtering enabled concurrently.  Color correction and HDR rendering were enabled in the game engine as well.  We used a custom recorded timedemo file to benchmark all cards in this test.


The beauty of the Half-Life series is that it both looks and runs good, even on entry level hardware.  While the frame rates were low and certainly the lowest of the three cards tested, the game appeared smooth and quite playable on the All-In-Wonder HD,  with excellent imagery.

Unreal Tournament 3
DirectX Gaming Performance


Unreal Tournament 3

If you're a long-time PC gamer, the Unreal Tournament franchise should need no introduction.  UT's fast paced action and over the top weapons have been popular for as long as Epic has been making the games.  For these tests, we used the latest addition to the franchise, Unreal Tournament 3.  The game doesn't have a built-in benchmarking tool, however, so we enlisted the help of FRAPS here.  These tests were run at resolutions of 1280x1024 and 1600x1200 with no anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering enabled, but with the UT3's in game graphical options set to their medium values, with color correction enabled.



Once again the All-In-Wonder HD trailed the Sapphire HD 3650 and GeForce 8600 GTS, with the Sapphire model taking the top position.  When factoring in the clock differences, the All-In-Wonder HD actually competed well and at a respectable level.

Crysis v1.2
DirectX 10 Gaming Performance


Crysis

If you're at all into enthusiast computing, the highly anticipated single player, FPS smash-hit Crysis, should require no introduction. Crytek's game engine visuals are easily the most impressive real-time 3D renderings we've seen on the computer screen to date.  The engine employs some of the latest techniques in 3D rendering like Parallax Occlusion Mapping, Subsurface Scattering, Motion Blur and Depth-of-Field effects, as well as some of the most impressive use of Shader technology we've seen yet.  In short, for those of you that want to skip the technical jib-jab, Crysis is HOT.  We ran the SP demo with all of the game's visual options set to 'Medium' to put a balanced load on the graphics cards being tested.



With all settings on medium quality, Crysis looked a bit more like the original Far Cry, lacking the realism the updated gaming engine has proven that it can deliver.  Nonetheless, for cards of this class to run such a taxing test, image quality had to be reduced.  In the end, the All-In-Wonder HD fell just short of the GeForce 8600 GTS, trailing roughly 3FPS at both resolutions.  Those margins jumped to an average of 5FPS when compared to the Sapphire HD 3650 with its overclocked GPU and memory.

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HQV Video Quality and Power Consumption


Video Playback Performance     
HQV

HQV is comprised of a sampling of SD video clips and test patterns that have been specifically designed to evaluate a variety of interlaced video signal processing tasks, including decoding, de-interlacing, motion correction, noise reduction, film cadence detection, and detail enhancement. As each clip is played, the viewer is required to "score" the image based on a predetermined set of criteria. The numbers listed below are the sum of the scores for each section. We played the HQV DVD using the latest version of Cyberlink's PowerDVD 8 Deluxe, with hardware acceleration for AMD AVIVO HD and NVIDIA PureVideo HD extensions enabled.



Since the Sapphire HD 3650 is based on the same technology as the All-In-Wonder HD, we left this card out of the HQV testing, choosing to focus on a direct comparison with the GeForce 8600 GTS for reference.  We found the overall performance of the All-In-Wonder HD to be on the same level as the GeForce 8600 GTS.  All lines were sharp, details were excellent and noise reduction was significant.  The only area where the two card didn't earn top scores were with the Jaggies 2 test.

Total System Power Consumption
Tested at the Outlet
In our final test, we monitored the power consumption of our test bed when equipped with all three cards, logging idle power draw as well as peak power draw when the graphics card was under full load.



Our results show that the All-In-Wonder HD used 4 watts more than the overclocked Sapphire HD 3650 when idle and 5 watts more under full GPU load.  The GeForce 8600 GTS was the most power hungry of the three, idling 1w higher and posting 20w more than the All-In-Wonder HD's loaded results.

Another test we performed was to see the impact of the various tuners on power.  Below we logged the peak wattage when the All-In-Wonder HD was cycled through its video and radio content.

Mode    

 Power Consumption

Analog TV

 168W

DTV

 177W

DTV HD

 182W

Radio

 161w


What we essentially see is an increase in power consumption as image quality demands increase.  Overall, this shows the relatively low power demands of the All-In-Wonder HD, as it effects overall system power draw measured at the outlet.

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Image Quality Examples


In our final leg of this article, we've compiled a collection of screenshots to help demonstrate the image quality exhibited by the All-In-Wonder HD when viewing both Analog and Digital content.  Keep in mind, these are merely an example and all have compression applied to conserve file size.  Nonetheless, the examples are still representative of the image quality we encountered during our testing.

Analog Cable

Digital Cable

Digital Cable HD

When it comes to subject matter and image quality, we found that food was excellent for comparison since there is a fair amount of texture involved.  Note the bowl of red liquid being whisked in the analog image group.  The liquid is not well defined and the image suffers from excessive motion blur.  When we graduate to the digital signal over cable, the image detail improves dramatically.  The detail of the crowd at the baseball game and the corn in the skillet are all much more vivid when compared to the analog signal.  The true delights were revealed when we started sampling the HD content.  This is where the All-In-Wonder HD showed what it is capable of, with exceptional detail in all areas while producing smooth playback at all times.  We should also note that we did sample the HD content with over-the-air signal and due to limited signal availability in our area, comparisons were not possible.  We did manage to land two channels in our scans, but the stream was choppy due to poor signal strength.

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Performance Analysis and Conclusion


Performance Analysis:  Comparing the gaming performance of the All-In-Wonder HD to other graphics cards in its class, the All-In-Wonder HD fell within the scope of an entry level graphics card.  3DMark Vantage was not able to complete without adjusting the default test from "Performance" to "Entry" and all game tests did have their image quality set to medium in order to return useful results.  We were impressed with how well Half-Life 2 looked and performed, yet Crysis had to be scaled back quite a bit to be considered playable.

From a video quality standpoint, the All-In-Wonder HD returned solid scores with HQV testing while displaying excellent quality from analog through HD content.  We also found the power consumption added by the tuner increased nominally when cycling through the various signals.  The All-In-Wonder HD does an excellent job presenting digital video content in a quality manner without creating excessive power consumption in order to do so.

With DTV broadcasting becoming mandatory in the United States in February 2009, the time is perfect to start a marketing push for HDTV tuner cards that can take full advantage of the next defacto TV standard.  With its release of the All-In-Wonder HD, ATI/AMD is poised to bring a unique product to market that will be able to evolve with the new standard come next year.  Surely, those looking for a high-end gaming solution will not be satisfied with the power of the Radeon HD 3650 that sits at the heart of the All-In-Wonder HD, but for HTPC enthusiasts looking for a system that can deliver a quality HD experience with comprehensive, broad support for various display options, the All-In-Wonder HD does not disappoint.  Where the card lacks in gaming potential, it more than makes up for it in its video quality.  Additionally, those running multiple monitors could consider using the All-In-Wonder HD as a secondary solution, maintaining an additional, more potent graphics option for gaming. 

Is the All-In-Wonder HD a perfect fit for everyone?  Not by any means, but with the popularity of multiple graphics slots on today's motherboards, the All-In-Wonder HD could be a consideration for those who otherwise might not give it a second look.  And for the Home Theater PC crowd, this new Awiss Army Knife of a card from AMD, is a full featured product packed in a very efficient form factor.  The All-In-Wonder HD is planned to be marketed through VisionTek and Diamond Multimedia with an MSRP of $199 USD.  No pricing is available on the All-In-Wonder HD Accessory Kit at this time.




_Excellent Multimedia Features
_Great HDTV Performance
_ATI Catalyst Media Center
_Affordable
_Low Power Consumption
_Modest Gaming Potential
_Not CrossFire Capable
_Single TV Tuner

 



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