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AMD makes an announcement after all

Two new budget 3D cards from AMD

AMD's new Radeon HD 3400 and 3600 graphics cards represent the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the 3870 X2 whose benchmark results and technical details we're not allowed to discuss until later. Where the 3870 X2 is...something else, the 3400 and the 3600 sit firmly on the budget side of the aisle.

You'll find the Radeon HD 3400 in half-height cards like this one, making it suited for smaller desktops. AMD

The 3400 will feature card variants ranging from $50 to $65 or so, and the 3600's will go from $80 to $100. Neither version will deliver top-line 3D performance, but they will each give you a step up in speed over an integrated chip. These cards are also the ones that ATI has in mind for its Hybrid Crossfire set up, wherein you pair a budget Radeon 3D card with an ATI-based motherboard and its built-in 3D chip for an extra performance boost, budget CrossFire-style. ATI's chipsets have not seen wide adoption in mainstream desktops yet, so Hybrid Crossfire will likely benefit the budget DIY crowd and those willing to take a chance on a lesser known PC vendor. Nvidia, of course, has its own competing technology, in the form of Hybrid SLI, which it announced at this year's CES.

The more substantial Radeon HD 3600 will give you slightly better 3D performance than the 3400, although it's still a budget card. AMD

Other specifics of the new cards include support for DirectX 10.1, PCI-Express 2.0 and the burgeoning DisplayPort video interface. DX 10.1 and PCI Express 2.0 are essentially marketing check boxes describing features that won't make too much difference at the budget level. For DisplayPort, AMD provides this support as an optional feature for its board partners (Asus, GigaByte, etc.) and large-quantity desktop vendors (Dell, HP) to implement as they see fit. Don't expect to see a lot of DisplayPort outputs on these cards on retail shelves, but as the standard becomes more prevalent on the monitors themselves, DisplayPort will become more and more common.