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A Potentially Good HTPC Prospect, If The Price Is Right

AMD Radeon HD 6450 Review: Caicos Cometh
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Let’s consider average game performance:

First, we should be clear: this class of card is not aimed at our gaming audience. These products are for folks who want something better than integrated graphics for any number of reasons like multiple display support, video acceleration, quality enhancements for HTPC use, 3D video playback, and yes, even casual gaming for folks who can’t justify a pricier product.

As a cheap gaming card, the Radeon HD 6450 doesn’t stand up well compared to the Radeon HD 5550. If you’re looking for a sub-$100 gaming upgrade, spend $10 more on the Radeon HD 5570. The Radeon HD 5550 and GeForce GT 430 numbers show you that the Radeon HD 6450 isn’t in the running for any speed trophies. As a low-cost, multi-monitor option for the workspace, the Radeon HD 6450 fares a little better. But is it any better than the cheaper Radeon HD 5450? Not really. And if you’re looking for gaming across multiple monitors, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Once again, this is where a few more dollars will make a big difference.

As an HTPC card, though, that’s where the new Radeon HD 6450 stands out. It’s tiny, uses very little power, is relatively quiet, delivers great image quality, can accelerate Blu-ray 3D over HDMI 1.4a, and can push modest frame rates at 720p, though it's really not suited for that task. The passive, silent, DDR3-based version of the Radeon HD 6450 offers all of those same traits for $50 (maybe even less than that, depending on launch pricing; AMD was unable to supply that number for us) if you’re willing to give up 3D potential. That’d also be a compelling HTPC solution.

Before today, the cheapest card to offer all of those HTPC-oriented features was Nvidia's GeForce GT 430. As I write this, I notice that a couple models are priced as low as $60 on Newegg, within $5 of the Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5’s launch price. So, while the Radeon HD 6450 DDR3 may undercut the competition as a low-cost HTPC option, the Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5 has to contend with the GeForce GT 430. There, the question becomes whether you prefer gaming performance or multi-monitor connectivity. Either way, you’re probably better off spending a few dollars more for the Radeon HD 5570 unless you really want Blu-ray 3D decode acceleration.

Bottom line, if the Radeon HD 6450 DDR3 goes on sale for less than $50, it'd be a budget winner for an HTPC. Starting at $55, the GDDR5-based version of the Radeon HD 6450 is much closer to tough competition from Nvidia's GeForce GT 430 and AMD's own Radeon HD 5570, which makes it impossible to recommend.

Of course, prices are shifting faster than ever, so today’s great deal becomes tomorrow’s poor choice (and vice versa) in the blink of a browser-refresh. For those looking for up-to-date price recommendations, check out our Best Graphics Card For The Money column, which gets updated every month.

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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    aznguy0028 , April 7, 2011 5:35 AM
    Toms, when are you going to fix your thumbs up/down rating thing?
Other Comments
  • 1 Hide
    mikenygmail , April 7, 2011 5:26 AM
    AMD is destroying Nvidia in every possible way, and it's only a matter of time before AMD catches up to and surpassed Intel again!
  • 13 Hide
    aznguy0028 , April 7, 2011 5:35 AM
    Toms, when are you going to fix your thumbs up/down rating thing?
  • 2 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , April 7, 2011 5:46 AM
    mikenygmailAMD is destroying Nvidia in every possible way, and it's only a matter of time before AMD catches up to and surpassed Intel again!

    hmm... that's not exactly the impression I got after actually reading the review. Maybe you should try do the same. So Nvidia is getting destroyed because an ultra low-end discrete graphics card from AMD offers decent HTPC performance in comparison to the GT430? lol... And where did that thing about Intel come from?

    Anyway, I would argue that gaming performance definitely isn't at the top of peoples priority list when purchasing a card in this price range. People tend to purchase $60 cards for low power, cool, and quiet media PC operation. And at least in this category the HD6450 offers solid competition for the GT430.
  • 3 Hide
    cangelini , April 7, 2011 5:56 AM
    aznguy0028Toms, when are you going to fix your thumbs up/down rating thing?


    Still waiting on the French dev team to let me know when it's going to unbreak that feature that previously worked fine ;-)
  • 0 Hide
    rolli59 , April 7, 2011 6:52 AM
    Nice to see such a big performance leap on the low range cards.
  • 1 Hide
    ScrewySqrl , April 7, 2011 7:16 AM
    It would have been interesting to add your i5-2500K on its own to the comparison chart. The HD3000 has been favorably compared to the 5450 in the past, so how would it compare with the new 6450?
  • 0 Hide
    machvelocy , April 7, 2011 7:46 AM
    just curious... will there be "hybrid crossfire" when this card is paired by a llano?
  • 1 Hide
    Jarmo , April 7, 2011 7:47 AM
    So this doesn't require a power connector? Because that's a big thing when suggesting a replacement card for a couple of years old supermarket PC with an unknown but underpowered power supply. Seems this would fit the bill, being low-power, cheap & quiet.
  • -2 Hide
    mikenygmail , April 7, 2011 8:17 AM
    dragonsqrrlhmm... that's not exactly the impression I got after actually reading the review. Maybe you should try do the same. So Nvidia is getting destroyed because an ultra low-end discrete graphics card from AMD offers decent HTPC performance in comparison to the GT430? lol... And where did that thing about Intel come from?Anyway, I would argue that gaming performance definitely isn't at the top of peoples priority list when purchasing a card in this price range. People tend to purchase $60 cards for low power, cool, and quiet media PC operation. And at least in this category the HD6450 offers solid competition for the GT430.


    Maybe you should try not making baseless assumptions. Nvidia's graphics cards are overpriced and weaker than AMD's at just about every possible price point. The GTX 550 Ti is a failure, and as you pointed out yourself, even this new AMD HTPC offering offers solid competition for the GT430.

    It was totally ridiculous for tomshardware to post the "Best Graphics Card for the Money" article the day before the AMD 6990 article, (to exclude AMD's new flag ship card) and then even more ridiculous to title the article "AMD Radeon HD 6990 4 GB Review: Antilles Makes (Too Much) Noise." This site obviously favors Nvidia and is paid well to do so, I'm just leveling the playing field a bit.

    Also, don't use "lol" and limit your "..." usage, it makes you look bad.
  • -2 Hide
    mikenygmail , April 7, 2011 8:20 AM
    Minor correction of my first post: AMD is destroying Nvidia in every possible way, and it's only a matter of time before AMD catches up to and surpasses Intel again!
  • -1 Hide
    bobdozer , April 7, 2011 10:26 AM
    By the way don, you can pick up a 5570 for $65 ($50 with rebate!) Why didn't you include that in the review?
  • 1 Hide
    ta152h , April 7, 2011 10:51 AM
    I'm a little surprised, and disappointed, that you guys didn't review the silent card.

    In this market, as others have pointed out, 3D gaming isn't paramount, but lower power and sound volume is. For that reason, I think information on the DDR3 version might be more interesting to most people.

    Having to use a fan for something so underpowered probably isn't very attractive for many people
  • 2 Hide
    kkiddu , April 7, 2011 10:56 AM
    @bobdozer But they had a AMD equivalent as well. Comparing a card with a poorer and a faster card helps people to get a perspective as to what they get in this budget, what will they get if they somehow manage to extend it, and what is the competition offering.

    @mikenygmail

    Last time I checked, AMD was two generations behind Intel in performance. That's a lot to catch up, and we haven't seen any Bulldozer benchmarks yet.

    As for Nvidia being pwned, its performance at the higher end is comparable to AMD. 460 onwards, performance at similar price points is nearly equal.

    And if you had checked the noise comparison videos between 6990 and 590 posted on this site itself, Antilles did make too much noise.

    Give the guys a break.
  • 0 Hide
    kkiddu , April 7, 2011 10:59 AM
    PS : Before you accuse me of being a fanboy, I'd like to point that I don't any graphics card at all (Ok, you can laugh on that). I'm using an absolutely joke-of-a-video-card VIA onboard GPU from 2004. And when I do get an upgrade, it will be based on what offers the most bang for buck and not if it's from the green team or from the red team.
  • -1 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , April 7, 2011 11:08 AM
    so, if you really want a low end gpu, get a 5570 right? anything less is pointless. Anyone wanting 3D blueray accelleration has the cash to blow on a 3dtv setup would buy a decent vid card.
  • 2 Hide
    bobdozer , April 7, 2011 11:35 AM
    The point of this is using a geforce card in an AMD review, claiming that its much better because it is within $5 of the cost. However if you add another $5 you can get a 5570 which blows away the Nvidia card.

    Why stop at the 430? It should never have been in this review but you have to make sure Nvidia is at the top right?
  • 0 Hide
    silverblue , April 7, 2011 12:03 PM
    kkiddu60 onwards, performance at similar price points is nearly equal.


    Yes, but it'll be costing NVIDIA more at the same time.
  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , April 7, 2011 12:42 PM
    bobdozerBy the way don, you can pick up a 5570 for $65 ($50 with rebate!) Why didn't you include that in the review?


    Um... I did. Check the last page, bro... "Starting at $55, the GDDR5-based version of the Radeon HD 6450 is much closer to tough competition from Nvidia's GeForce GT 430 and AMD's own Radeon HD 5570, which makes it impossible to recommend."
  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , April 7, 2011 12:44 PM
    TA152HI'm a little surprised, and disappointed, that you guys didn't review the silent card.


    We review what AMD decides to supply us with for the launch. They chose to submit only the GDDR5 model, unfortunately.
  • 0 Hide
    belardo , April 7, 2011 1:43 PM
    greghomeBring the HD6670 to retail


    The 6600 and 6700s (not the 6790 thou) are already out in retail. They just called the 5670, 5750 and 5770...
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