ATI radeon HD 5450


Since releasing the first Radeon HD 5000 series graphics card some four months ago, AMD has continued its assault on Nvidia with an army of new models. Following the Radeon HD 5870 came the 5850, 5770, 5750, 5970 and most recently the 5670, while today yet another new product is set to make its first appearance.

The new Radeon HD 5450, code-named Cedar Pro, will be the most affordable graphics card belonging to the HD 5000 series. This is also the first on AMD’s latest wave of graphics products to do away with GDDR5 memory, replacing it with older GDDR3. Naturally, the Radeon HD 5450 is not designed exclusively for 3D gaming and certain versions will support advanced features such as Eyefinity.

The Radeon HD 5450 is stepping in to replace the Radeon HD 4350 graphics card which currently retails for as little as $35 – $40 (512MB) and $45 – $50 (1GB). AMD expects to ask between $50 – 60 for the new HD 5450, but we believe those prices should settle down a little closer to the levels of the older HD 4350 when old inventory is depleted.

To give you some background information on this budget-minded price point, with the Radeon HD 4350 you basically get what you pay for, meaning this product carries a number of weaknesses. First is that the GPU is limited to a 64-bit wide memory bus, combined with low frequency DDR2 memory and you get a theoretical memory bandwidth of just 8GB/s. To give you can idea of how little bandwidth that is, back in 2001 the Radeon 7500 had 7.4GB/s of bandwidth at its disposal, while the Radeon 9700 Pro which followed in 2002 using the AGP bus achieved a memory bandwidth of 19.8GB/s using original DDR memory. Therefore it’s hard to get excited when we tell you that the new Radeon HD 5450 has a memory bandwidth of just 12.8GB/s.

Opposing the 16 month old Radeon HD 4350 is the GeForce 9400 GT and GeForce 210 graphics cards, the latter almost being a rebadged 9400 GT but manufactured using a 40nm design process.

What is important to note is that the GeForce 210 utilizes a 64-bit memory bus across all models and supports either DDR2 or DDR3 memory. The faster DDR3 cards have the exact memory bandwidth as the new Radeon HD 5450, which should make for an interesting head to head comparison. But before we start comparing performance let’s take a closer look at ATI’s latest budget GPU offering.

ATI Radeon HD 5450 in Detail
The Radeon HD 5450 is the first graphics card in the HD 5000 series that can be cooled passively, making it a solid choice for HTPC systems. The card is said to consume just 19 watts of power under load, which is a fraction of the 61 watts needed to power the Radeon HD 5670 or the 108 watts on the Radeon HD 5770.

A big plus about the Radeon HD 5450 consuming so little power is that it doesn’t require an external power source. The PCI Express bus alone is capable of delivering enough current to this card.

The Radeon HD 5450 also generates very little heat and as we mentioned before, it can be passively cooled. However, the sample we received from AMD used a tiny 40mm fan that cools an equally small 45mm x 45mm heatsink. The passively cooled reference design card features a much larger dual-slot heatsink that measures 85mm long, 55mm wide and 30mm tall.

Compared to the Radeon HD 5670, which measures 17cm, the Radeon HD 5450 is actually the same length. This is also the same as the GeForce GT 240 and should fit in any case that can support a mATX motherboard. The Radeon HD 5450 uses a low-profile design measuring just 5.5cm tall, whereas a typical graphics card is 9.5cm tall.

The core configuration of the Radeon HD 5450 includes 80 SPUs, 8 TAUs (Texture Address Units) and 4 ROPs (Rasterization Operator Units). That’s considerably less than other cards in the series, and just the same as the previous generation Radeon HD 4350 and 4550.

Core clock speed is set at 650 MHz, which should be good for 104 gigaflops of raw computing power, while GDDR3 memory operates at 800MHz. The Radeon HD 5450 can come configured with either 512MB or 1GB of memory — the sample we are reviewing today features 1GB. As with all low-end graphics cards we highly recommend you purchase the lowest memory capacity model possible. This is because they are cheaper and do not sacrifice much if any performance.

There are no bridge connectors on the Radeon HD 5450, but it’s still possible to link two of these graphics cards through internal CrossFireX.

The Radeon HD 5450 keeps Eyefinity support on select models, so if this is the feature you are looking for on a budget card, make sure your selected brand and model can support it. Like its higher-end variants in the 5000 series, you can hook up to three high resolution monitors (up to 2560×1600) to this board.

Test System Specs & 3Dmark Vantage
Core i7 Test System Specs
– Intel Core i7 965 Extreme Edition (Overclocked @ 3.70GHz)
– x3 2GB G.Skill DDR3 PC3-12800 (CAS 9-9-9-24)
– Asus P6T Deluxe (Intel X58)
– OCZ GameXStream (700 watt)
– Seagate 500GB 7200-RPM (Serial ATA300)
– Gigabyte GeForce 8400GS (512MB)
– Gigabyte Radeon HD 4350 (512MB)
– ATI Radeon HD 5450 (1GB)
– Gigabyte Radeon HD 4650 (1GB)
– Inno3D GeForce GT 220 (1GB)
– Gigabyte Radeon HD 4670 (512MB)
– Asus Radeon HD 3850 (512MB)
– ATI Radeon HD 5670 (512MB)
– Inno3D GeForce GT 240 (512MB)
– Asus GeForce 9600 GT (512MB)
– HIS Radeon HD 4770 (512MB)
– Asus GeForce 9800 GT (1GB)
Software
– Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit)
– Nvidia Forceware 195.62
– ATI Catalyst 10.1
– ATI 8.69 RC3 Win7 Vista (Jan14)

First up we ran the cards through 3Dmark Vantage at three different resolutions. At 1440×900, the Radeon HD 5450 was vastly superior than the older Radeon HD 4350. On the other hand, it feel short of even getting closer to the Radeon HD 4650 we tested with ($70 nowadays). With a score of less than 1000pts at 1440×900, we are not expecting much in the coming gaming benchmarks.

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