|ATI Radeon HD5450 HTPC Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Thursday, 04 February 2010|
Page 16 of 16
ATI Radeon HD5450 Conclusion
Looking at the performance of the ATI Radeon HD5450, you have to give up the idea that this is going to be any kind of solution for a gaming rig. In modern FPS games, it was well below any reasonable person's expectation for visual quality. Even at the reduced resolutions and quality levels that we introduced in our review of the HD5670 and GT240, the HD5450 just barely got into double digits for frames-per-second. This card is not really practical as a multi-purpose solution. We'll have to wait a bit for the HD55xx to see if it's possible to successfully bridge the two requirements of gaming and video playback. The strength of the HD5450 lies in Home Theater PC usage only, where it performs superbly. ATI is currently leading the game in image quality for HD video, and this small, low power, silent and cool board supports all the latest software enhancements that make those improved visuals possible.
The appearance of the passively cooled HD5450 is visually stunning. There are some really ugly passive cards out there, along with a few decent looking ones, but nothing comes close to the design statement that this one makes. AIB partners will have pretty much total flexibility to implement their own cooling systems, and I don't expect any one of them to top this. Batmobile indeed; this one is fine art, of the industrial design variety.
The build quality of the Radeon HD5450 was quite good, for an engineering sample. The parts were all high quality, the soldering and component placement were to a high standard, and the heat sink was manufactured and assembled perfectly.
The features of the HD5450 have been carried over in full measure from the very first HD58xx series: DirectX 11, Full ATI Eyefinity Support, ATI Stream Technology Support, DirectCompute 11 and OpenCL Support, HDMI 1.3a with Dolby True HD and DTS Master Audio. Nothing was left out on this card, despite it being produced for a clearly different role than the original barn burner gaming cards. Even though this card will not thrive in a multi-functional role, it still provides a solid HTPC experience and is a considerable upgrade for many systems still relying on IGP.
As of March 2010 there are several models available at different prices for the Radeon HD 5450, depending on DRAM configuration and cooling solution. PowerColor offers the AX5450 for $40, while the Sapphire 100291L lists for $43 and XFX HD5450 sells for $50. This is a small price premium from the lowest priced cards available from our favorite e-tailer, but launch pricing is always a bit high, for obvious reasons. We saw in our gaming tests that it takes an extra $50-70 to get decent results with challenging titles, but the extra performance also buys you higher power requirements, more noise and more heat.
The ATI Radeon HD5450 earns a Silver Tachometer Award, because there are some buyers that absolutely demand a passively cooled, completely silent video card, and they also need that card to support the latest technology and features for HD video playback. Until now, those two requirements were mutually exclusive; now there is a product; the one and only product, which completely meets their needs. The fact that it's impossible to build a dual-use card with 40nm technology that does all that and can play FPS games convincingly is a shame. Fortunately, we'll only have to wait a year or so, to see what 28nm GPUs can do.
+ Modern feature set
- High-end gaming titles are almost impossible to play
Final Score: 8.95 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award
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