At the end of the day, you’re simply not going to get a top game-playing experience out of this card, or any other that costs less than $100. The large budget AAA games we often test will require you to run them at medium detail levels, often with reduced resolution, to achieve playable framerates.
But that in itself is quite a step up from integrated graphics, which often don’t play these games at all due to poor drivers or lack of proper DirectX-feature support. When they do, you have to play at even more severely limited resolutions with even lower settings, to the point where the games look like a bunch of muddy blocks and abstract shapes. Older games and low-resource games (like many casual and educational children’s games) sometimes stutter and run poorly with integrated graphics, and would run just great on a card like this one.
If you find yourself with a newer low-budget PC or a PC you bought a year ago not realizing that it had integrated graphics until you tried to play World of Warcraft, you’re probably looking for a cheap graphics card that won’t require a new power supply and will deliver much better game compatibility and performance.
Sapphire’s Radeon HD 3650 is a perfectly reasonable choice. It doesn’t deliver the kind of performance we’d love to see in these budget cards—none of them do—and it won’t give you no-compromise gaming no matter how good the rest of your system is. But it will provide some welcome relief from the horrible experience of integrated graphics, and that’s worth the $80 asking price.