Meet The Radeon HD 6450

Both Turks and Caicos (6450) are cut from the same cloth as Barts, meaning they inherit many of the optimizations we first saw in Barts. A few of the changes in Barts were Barts-exclusive or meaningful only when compared to Cypress, such as the Redwood memory controller, but elsewhere Caicos is picking up these improvements, giving the 6450 a leg up over the 5450.

Coming from the 5450, we’re going to see four big changes for the 6450:

  1. Better performance due to higher clockspeeds and more functional units
  2. Improved tessellation engine
  3. New display controllers
  4. UVD3

Better performance is fairly straightforward, which we’ll see in our benchmarks. Meanwhile the improved tessellation engine probably won’t make a big difference, as 5450 and 6450 are both too slow to play most games with DX11/tessellation enabled. So the notable and useful changes for the 6450 are going to be in the display controller and UVD3.

With the new display controller comes a new set of output options for the 6450. The 6450 has gained both DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4a compliance. The former is going to make it very easy to drive three digital displays from a 6450—cards almost universally come with a VGA port as the 3rd display otherwise. The latter is going to make it possible to drive 120Hz TVs at 120Hz for 3D content, primarily for Blu-ray 3D given the limited rendering capabilities of the 6450.

Of course to display Blu-ray 3D you need to be able to decode the frame-packed streams, and this is where UVD3 comes in. With UVD3 the 6450 gains the ability to decode MVC (frame-packed H.264) streams, along with full MPEG-2 decoding and MPEG-4 ASP (DivX/XviD) decoding. MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 are primarily for the benefit of mobile and Brazos platforms for energy efficiency and performance reasons, but the 6450 can tap into it all the same.

Moving on to the product itself, the card AMD shipped to us for review is very similar to our 5570 sample from last year, featuring a 6.61” low-profile card with a single-slot active cooler. At 27W TDP, power consumption is higher than the 5450, but a passively cooled low-profile 6450 should still be quite practical.

Our sample card is equipped with four 4Gbps Samsung GDDR5 modules running in 16-bit mode, adding up to the 64-bit bus we see on the 6450. Display connectivity is the same as in past AMD low-profile reference cards, featuring a DL-DVI port and a full size DisplayPort on the card, while a VGA port is at the top of the bracket attached to the card via a ribbon cable. The 6450 can drive up to three displays, including three displays through DP1.2 and an MST hub. For HTPC purposes we’d expect to see some cards replace the DisplayPort with an HDMI port.

AMD is primarily marketing this as an upgrade for Intel Sandy Bridge users, extolling the fact that they have DX11 capabilities and better drivers/compatibility than Intel. DX11 likely won’t make a difference for the games the 6450 can play, but we’ve seen first-hand that Intel still misses out on compatibility now and then. Perhaps AMD’s bigger advantage is that in the desktop space virtually all Sandy Bridge systems using the iGPU are using the HD 2000 GPU with 6 EUs instead of the HD 3000 GPU with 12 EUs; so the 6450 is placed against a sub-5450 GPU rather than a 5450-level GPU. In the mobile space however HD 3000 is the most common configuration, which makes things closer for the mobility versions of the 6450.

Introducing Caicos The Perfect HTPC Card? Probably
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  • Andrew Rockefeller - Thursday, April 7, 2011 - link

    I'm a bit psyched at the prospect of a passive 6XXX series card. Rumour has it that Llano will be hybrid crossfire capable with such a card. It is a piece in the puzzle for my ultimate 'completely passive' yet still decently powered HTPC build.. hopefully coming to my loungeroom sometime Q3. Reply
  • EmmetBrown - Thursday, April 7, 2011 - link

    For the image quality. JPG introduces more distortion. Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, April 7, 2011 - link

    More video ports. I have 3 monitors (2x20, 1x30); and since that's not an eyefinity supported setup I stuck a 5450 in next to my 5870 to run the 3rd screen. It wasn't any more expensive than a DP-DVI adapter and came without the compatibility/reliability nightmare the adapter came with. Reply
  • casteve - Thursday, April 7, 2011 - link

    A lower power way to get multi monitor support. Catalyst doesn't downclock the memory if you have more than 1 monitor plugged into a video card. On a 5770, that's 30W extra when idling or doing any 2D (non-gaming) function. Plug a 2nd monitor into a 6450 and lower power consumption by ~20W.

    Ryan - will there be an addendum to cover the HTPC tests? Can you add power use during some typical apps (playing 1080P content, etc)?
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, April 7, 2011 - link

    Yes, there will be an addendum. Ganesh (our HTPC/media streamer guru) will be looking at a 6450 in an HTPC setup. I can't promise what tests he'll run though, so you would have to talk to him. Reply
  • bobbozzo - Tuesday, April 12, 2011 - link

    In the HTPC review, I would like to see a comparison of using the hardware features for deinterlacing, deblocking, etc., compared to software such as ffmpeg.

    thanks!
    Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, April 7, 2011 - link

    " AMD’s previous low-end product, the 80SP Radeon HD 5450, is effectively matched by Intel’s HD 3000"

    Huh? To get the HD3000 you have to spend some $200 on a cpu, not to mention a new motherboard in 100% of situations. With a $50 6450 you can buy a $50 Athlon II and have better graphics for less than half the total price. Any intel solution in this price range is going to be stripped down vs the HD3000. Celeron B810 for example. That chip is $90 but its gpu has been gutted. A $35 5450 and a $50 X2-245 together would ker-stomp the celeron B810, for less money too.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, April 7, 2011 - link

    Take the statement as forward looking rather than focused on GPU upgrades to existing systems. If you have an Athlon II and you wanted decent graphics, chances are you're already running at least a 5570, which as we point out is significantly faster than the 6450. If on the other hand you buy a new system later this year and it comes with a Sandy Bridge CPU, would you really want to pay an extra $50 to "upgrade" to the HD 5450? No, you wouldn't. You would want a card that is faster and offers more, and this is where the 6450 comes in. On the AMD side, you also have Llano coming out, which will be quite a bit faster on the GPU side than the HD 5450. Again, why would AMD continue to have their low-end discrete GPU lag behind modern IGPs? Reply
  • DjPete2008 - Thursday, April 7, 2011 - link

    When you get a chance to do more testing, I would love to know if it is would be a worthwhile upgrade from a Radeon HD 5450, especially in terms of power consumption. I currently have a passively cooled 5450 in my HP Proliant Microserver, running as a NAS / HTPC. (P.S. - It would be awesome to see a review on the Microserver as well).

    Would the 6450 be able to fit in the required power envelope of my system (the x16 PCI Express slot is apparently rated at a maximum of 25W, according to the marking on the motherboard)? The motherboard might well be able to go a bit higher than 25W, but I'd rather let someone else find that out :)
    Reply
  • Taft12 - Thursday, April 7, 2011 - link

    What? All your questions are answered in this article. The TDP rating of the 6450 is 40% more at idle and load than the 5450. The TDP is 27W. Reply

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