The Perfect HTPC Card? Probably

While AMD primarily targets cards like the 6450 at the budget upgrade market when it comes to retail, our preferred focus is on technical situations where such a card makes sense rather than economic situations. So with the 6450, 5450, GT 430, and other cards, usefulness in an HTPC environment is of great interest to us.

iGPUs have made some strides in the last six months in completely capturing the HTPC space, but usually they come up short in some form or another. This usually manifests itself as limited post-processing options due to a lack of shaders, and in the case of Sandy Bridge, the lack of a 23.976fps mode. iGPUs are still making strides and it’s possible we’ll see something capable of practical perfection as early as this summer with Llano, but for now you need a dGPU to achieve best results.

The last time we took a look at the HTPC market for a dGPU was with NVIDIA’s GT 430 in October. At that time it was the first low-end GPU with HDMI 1.4a and Blu-ray 3D capabilities, giving it an edge over AMD’s lineup at the cost of not supporting cadence detection for some more unusual patterns. The best AMD card for HTPC use at that time was the 5570, as the 5450 lacked the memory bandwidth and shader capacity necessary to make use of AMD’s full suite of post-processing features.

Due to how little time we’ve had with the 6450 we haven’t been able to run it through our full suite of HTPC tests, but so far it’s looking very good. Between the doubling of memory bandwidth and doubling of shaders, the 6450 is now able to run all of AMD’s post-processing features at full speed—that is they all work with Enforce Smooth Video Playback enabled and without dropping any frames in the process. AMD reports an HD HQV 2.0 score of 188, while we recorded 189 on the 5570 last year (keep in mind scoring is inherently subjective to some degree). We need to do further testing, but with our limited time it looks like the 6450 is as equally capable as the 5570 when it comes to post-processing, which is to say it’s at the top of the charts.


AMD Radeon HD 6450, Cheese Slices Test


AMD Radeon HD 5570, Cheese Slices Test

The post-processing capabilities along with the ability to decode and transmit 3D content are what have us so excited about the 6450 as an HTPC card. Although 3D content hasn’t made much progress in the last six months, for HTPC purposes at a bare minimum we’re looking at a 5570 replacement with a bit over half the power consumption and modern display outputs. That alone is quite enticing.


CCC Default Image Quality Settings

Meet The Radeon HD 6450 The Test
POST A COMMENT

47 Comments

View All Comments

  • 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

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now