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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  • ET - Thursday, April 7, 2011 - link

    If you're worried about crossing the 25W line you can always slightly underclock it. That said, unless you intend to use it for gaming, folding or another such heavy task, it shouldn't come close to 25W, and from your description above it sounds like you're not planning such things. Reply
  • DjPete2008 - Friday, April 8, 2011 - link

    According to this - http://www.rage3d.com/reviews/video/amd_hd6450_lau... - the idle power draw is actually less than the 5450.

    So it would probably be compatible with my system, and as ET said, I could also underclock it. Now to wait and see what retail products get released.
    Reply
  • Wave_Fusion - Thursday, April 7, 2011 - link

    Since the Turks architecture is what my 6770M is based on, I'm looking forward to see how the desktop versions do. It might not be as impressive in the desktop world, but as mobility cards go its not far from the top. Reply
  • evolucion8 - Thursday, April 7, 2011 - link

    It is a good review, but I think that it might be more productive doing video quality analysis instead of gaming performance as no one will buy such low end card for gaming anyways. Or at least two or three gaming performance charts and the rest with video quality and performance analysis, good product overall, but in terms of gaming performance, I think that the GT 430 is a better option. Reply
  • Mishera - Friday, April 8, 2011 - link

    I second that.

    I've been thinking about building a htpc using Amd's e-350, and was wondering if something like this would be useful from a feature/video quality perspective, or if the apu would be adequate on it's own.
    Reply
  • ET - Friday, April 8, 2011 - link

    I always find gaming potential interesting, but I think that 1680x1050 maximum quality with 4x AA isn't. I don't really need putting this in the perspective of all the other cards just to show it's not good for that. I want to know what it does work for. 720p would be a good testing point for an HTPC. 1280x1024 and 1024x768 aren't really in use these days.

    It might be a good idea for Anandtech to develop a low end gaming benchmark, with game and setting selections which are more useful to indicate the suitability of such low end hardware for some gaming. I know Jarred is working on a low end gaming article, but I'd love this to be put into standard reviews of such hardware.
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Friday, April 8, 2011 - link

    The majority of non-gamers (those that would probably buy this card not for HTPC), are on 17-19" monitors (ie those that come with the Dell/HP) computer and so I would argue that the 1280X1024 is likely the MOST important resolution to test.

    Still I agree with the above poster that the game tests are more of a formality and the focus should be on the video quality and performance analysis (specifically power draw doing common HTPC tasks not a load benchmark with crysis).
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Friday, April 8, 2011 - link

    Unless that Dell/HP is pre-2005, it is probably not not 1280x1024. The various widescreen resolutions with between 768 and 900 pixels of vertical resolution have been more common for quite a while at those screen sizes. Reply
  • ET - Thursday, April 7, 2011 - link

    Low end Llano chips will have 160 cores, but slower and with slower memory. That'd put it around HD 3000 or even under (and sometimes higher), but still over HD 2000. Reply
  • silverblue - Friday, April 8, 2011 - link

    Tough call. Llano will have access to a dual channel memory bus of up to DDR3-1866 which theoretically should provide more bandwidth than the 6450, although it will have to share this with the rest of the system. Even so, this should still be plenty enough to beat HD 3000 regardless of what Llano model is in use, assuming the fastest memory is used.

    I believe Llano's true strength will be 720p with AA; even with 400 shader cores it's not going to be a monster and certainly won't be suited for 1080 gaming. Hell, I wouldn't even put my 4830 through that. One thing we really don't know right now is how many texture units and ROPs Llano actually possesses.
    Reply

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