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ATI Radeon HD 5450: DX11 On The Cheap
Date: Feb 04, 2010
Author: Marco Chiappetta
Introduction and Related Info

Over the course of the past four months or so, AMD has been on a tear, releasing a slew of new DirectX 11-class GPUs at price points ranging from approximately $600 all the way on down to about $100. All the while, AMD was also up front about the release schedule for many upcoming, future products. If you remember back to some of our previous Radeon HD 5000 series coverage, we showed you a picture of this slide, that outlined AMD's plans to launch the GPUs codenamed Redwood and Cedar sometime in Q1 2010. Redwood became the Radeon HD 5670 and today we can finally spill the beans on the first iteration of Cedar.

Now, 135 days after the arrival of the Radeon HD 5870, AMD is at the ready with the antithesis of that card, the Radeon HD 5450. Whereas the Radeon HD 5870 is AMD's fastest and most powerful single GPU, the Radeon HD 5450 is the low-power, entry-level variant of the Radeon HD 5000 series GPU architecture. As you'd probably expect, the Radeon HD 5450 supports DX11 (of course), along with ATI Eyefinity technology, AVIVO, PowerPlay and all of the other features inherent to the HD 5000 series. Take a peek at the specs below to familiarize yourself with the card and then we'll move on to the fun stuff.

The Half-Height, Passively Cooled, ATI Radeon HD 5450

ATI Radeon HD 5450
Specifications and Features

A lot of groundwork had to be laid over the preceding months and even years before AMD could produce the entire Radeon HD 5000 series of products. Although the GPU at the heart of the Radeon HD 5450 is based on the same architecture as the other members of the DX-11 class Radeon HD 5000 series, the chip does leverage technologies already implemented in previously released GPU generations, so it's not all new.  As such, we'd recommend perusing some recent HotHardware articles to brush up on a few of the technologies and features employed by the new Radeon HD 5450...

The articles listed above cover many of the features available with the Radeon HD 5450, like the UVD 2 video engine, Catalyst Control Center, PowerPlay, GDDR5 memory, and more. There are also, however, many brand new things that were introduced with the Radeon HD 5800 series that we detailed in our Radeon HD 5870 coverage, so that article at the very least is a must-read companion to this one - well, if you're up for some extra bedtime reading anyway.

ATI Radeon HD 5450

If you have already read our coverage of the Radeon HD 5800 series launch, then the block diagram below should look somewhat familiar to you. As we've already mentioned, the new Radeon HD 5450 offers virtually all of the same features of 5800 series; the differences being that the 5450 series is equipped with fewer SIMD engines, and hence fewer stream processors, fewer texture units, and ROPs and it has a narrower external memory interface.

Radeon HD 5450 GPU Block Diagram

Specifically, the Radeon HD 5450 series GPU offers 1 SIMD engine with 80 total Stream Processing Units, 8 Texture Units, and 4 ROPs with a 128-bit GDDR3/2 memory interface. The actual GPU is manufactured using TSMC's 40nm process and is comprised of approximately 292 million transistors.


ATI Radeon HD 5450

The Radeon HD 5450 we'll be featuring in this article is the 512MB, passively cooled version, pictured above. It is a half-height card that features a relatively large heatsink that cools the GPU and RAM mounted on the front. Please note that the heatsink does encroach on an adjacent slot, so this card should be considered dual-slot.  Typical idle board power is only 6.4w with peak power of around 19.1w, so there is no need for supplemental power connectors here--the 75w offered by a PCIe slot will do. The reference specifications call for a 650MHz GPU clock, with 800MHz memory, for an effective data rate of 1.6Gbps. At those clocks, the Radeon HD 5450 offers a peak texture fillrate of 5.2GTexel/s, 2.6GPixels/s, with 12.8GB/s of memory bandwidth and up to 104 GLOPS of compute performance. We should point out, however, AMD has authorized board partners to offer overclocked boards with memory clocked as high as 900MHz--and this reference card featured a 900MHz memory clock.

The outputs on the Radeon HD 5450 consist of a dual-link DVI output, a DisplayPort output, and a standard VGA output. Any combination of these ports can be used simultaneously.  The card also fully supports 'ATI Eyefinity multi-display technology, with up to three displays.

The backside of the Radeon HD 5450 is exposed, but other than the myriad of surface mounted jellybean components, there isn't much to see. The GPU heatsink retention bracket is visible right about in the center the PCB, but where the card's CrossFire edge connectors are supposed to be there are none. It is up to board partners though, whether or not to outfit their cards with CF connectors, but we doubt that will happen given the card's 3D performance. Please note, that CrossFire is still supported with two of the cards pictured here; transactions will be sent over the PCIe interface, however, instead of the CrossFire bridge.

Test Setup and Vantage

HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEM: We tested the graphics cards in this article on an Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 motherboard powered by a Core i7 965 quad-core processor and 6GB of OCZ DDR3 RAM. The first thing we did when configuring the test system was enter the system BIOS and set all values to their "optimized" or "high performance" default settings. Then we manually configured the memory timings and disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows 7 Ultimate x64 was installed. When the installation was complete we fully updated the OS and installed the latest hotfixes, along with the necessary drivers and applications.

HotHardware's Test Systems
Core i7 Powered

Hardware Used:
Core i7 965 (3.2GHz)

Gigabyte EX58-UD5
(X58 Express)

Radeon HD 5450
Radeon HD 5670
Radeon HD 5770
Radeon HD 5750
GeForce GT 240
GeForce GTX 260 Core 216

6GB OCZ DDR3-1333
Western Digital Raptor 150GB
Integrated Audio
Integrated Network

Relevant Software:
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
ATI Catalyst v10.10b
NVIDIA GeForce Drivers v195.50

Benchmarks Used:

3DMark Vantage v1.0.1
Left 4 Dead*
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars v1.5*

* - Custom benchmark

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 here with 3DMark Vantage's Extreme preset option, which uses a resolution of 1920x1200 with 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering.

Wow, not much to see here. The Radeon HD 5450 obviously was not designed with high-resolution gaming in mind, as is evident by the ultra low score it posted in 3DMark Vantage when run with the Extreme preset option.

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
OpenGL Gaming Performance

Enemy Territory:
Quake Wars

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is Based on a radically enhanced version of id's Doom 3 engine and viewed by many as Battlefield 2 meets the Strogg, and then some.  In fact, we'd venture to say that id took EA's team-based warfare genre up a notch or two.  ET: Quake Wars also marks the introduction of John Carmack's "Megatexture" technology that employs large environment and terrain textures that cover vast areas of maps without the need to repeat and tile many smaller textures.  The beauty of megatexture technology is that each unit only takes up a maximum of 8MB of frame buffer memory.  Add to that HDR-like bloom lighting and leading edge shadowing effects and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars looks great, plays well and works high end graphics cards vigorously.  The game was tested with all of its in-game options set to their maximum values with soft particles enabled in addition to 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering.

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars ran perfectly find on the Radeon HD 5450, but playable framerates were not possible at resolutions of 1680x1050 or 1920x1200 with high-quality settings.

Left 4 Dead

Left 4 Dead
DirectX Gaming Performance

Left 4 Dead

Left 4 Dead is a co-operative, survival horror, first-person shooter that was developed by Turtle Rock Studios, which was purchased by Valve part-way into development. Like Half Life 2, the game uses the Source engine, however, the visual in L4D are far superior to anything seen in the Half Life universe to date. The game pits four Survivors of an apocalyptic pandemic against hordes of aggressive zombies. We tested the game at resolutions of 1,920 x 1,200 and 2,560 x 1,600 with 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering enabled and all in game graphical options set to their maximum values.

Our Left 4 Dead benchmark results look much like those from ET:QW on the previous page. Although the game works on the Radeon HD 5450, playable framerates will only be possible at lower resolutions with relativley low in-game quality settings.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.
DirectX Gaming Performance

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. is an aerial warfare video game that takes place during the time of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter.  Players have the opportunity to take the throttle of over 50 famous aircrafts in both solo and 4-player co-op missions, and take them over real world locations and cities in photo-realistic environments created with the best commercial satellite data provided by GeoEye.  We used the built-in performance test at two resolutions with all quality settings set to their highest values, using the DX10 code path for the GeForce cards, and DX10.1 path for the Radeons.

The Radeon HD 5450 only managed single-digit framerates in the Tom Clancy: H.A.W.X. Once again, it would require lower resolutions and in-game image quality settings to achieve playable frame rated with the 5450 in this game.

Video Playback and Power Consumption

Looking back at the gaming performance of the Radeon HD 5450, it's obvious this card wasn't designed to please hardcore gamers. However, it's half-height form factor and passive cooling are sure to appeal the HTPC crowd. With that in mind we also tested the 5450 in a number of scenarios, playing back DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, MOV files, and ripped M2TS files.


The Radeon HD 5450 was flawless during playback of all video types and CPU utilization was extremely low (as you can see in the screen-cap above). In addition, we should note that Adode now supports GPU acceleration of Flash video and the 5450 also performed well playing back HD vids from Hulu, Youtube and the like.

Total System Power Consumption
Tested at the Outlet

Before bringing this article to a close, we'd like to cover a few final data points--namely power consumption and noise. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored how much power our test system was consuming using a power meter. Our goal was to give you all an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idling and while under a heavy workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here, not just the power being drawn by the graphics cards alone.

As you can see, the new Radeon HD 5450 is quite power friendly. The card put up the lowest power consumption scores at both idle and while under load.

Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The Radeon HD 5450's gaming performance was quite low, relatively speaking of course. The card sports a DX11-class GPU, but its paltry compliment of stream processors, ROPs, and texture units, in conjunction with its low memory bandwidth result in sub-par framerates, even at relatively mainstream resolutions like 1680x1050. At lower resolutions, with low in-game image quality settings, the Radeon HD 5450 should be capable of producing playable framerates is some aging games, but not in modern titles. The Radeon HD 5450's video playback performance and power consumption, however, are top notch--which makes the card well suited to Home Theater PC applications.


Although the Radeon HD 5450 is likely to appeal to only a select group of you--namely quite-PC or HTPC aficionados--AMD should be commended for this card's release. In a matter of only 4 months, the company was able to not only retake a leadership position in terms of 3D performance, but release an entire top-to-bottom line-up of DirectX 11 capable GPUs. That is no small feat and AMD deserves some credit. As of today, users in the market for cutting edge graphics with DX11, Eyefinity, and UVD 2 support, have options ranging from $50 all the way up to over $600. That's quite a broad spectrum of products to release in approximately only 4 months.

AMD ATI Radeon HD 5450

The Radeon HD 5450, in various configurations, should be available immediately from major on-line e-tailers with prices ranging from about $49 to $59. The Radeon HD 5450 obviously isn't for everyone. But if you've got the need for a silent, low-power, affordable graphics card, that will also fit into a half-height form factor, and gaming isn't a priority, the Radeon HD 5450 should fit the bill nicely.

  • Low-Profile
  • Low-Power
  • Low-Price
  • Passive / Silent Cooling
  • Eyefinity Support
  • UVD 2 Support
  • Relatively Low Gaming Performance

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