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AMD Radeon HD 6450 Review: Caicos Cometh

A Potentially Good HTPC Prospect, If The Price Is Right

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.

  • mikenygmail
    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!
    Reply
  • aznguy0028
    Toms, when are you going to fix your thumbs up/down rating thing?
    Reply
  • dragonsqrrl
    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.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    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 ;-)
    Reply
  • rolli59
    Nice to see such a big performance leap on the low range cards.
    Reply
  • ScrewySqrl
    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?
    Reply
  • machvelocy
    just curious... will there be "hybrid crossfire" when this card is paired by a llano?
    Reply
  • Jarmo
    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.
    Reply
  • mikenygmail
    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.
    Reply
  • mikenygmail
    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!
    Reply