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 - Sunday, April 10, 2011 - link

    I think that DDR3-1866 is unlikely to be currently used in a budget system. It's still a premium speed. Anyway I was referring to the E2-3250, the budget Llano, which will have (though not announced officially) only DDR3-1600 support and a sub-450MHz clock rate. That puts it at under 60% performance of the Radeon 6450 based on clock speed (I think that memory won't further impact performance), which based on the test results should drop its performance under the HD 3000 in many cases.

    The low end A4 chips, which have ~600MHz clocks, 80% of the 6450 (but may be more likely to be affected by memory speed), are more likely to compete well with the HD 3000, but there are still cases in this review where the HD 3000 was over 80% of the 6450 in terms of FPS, so they could lose there.

    Anyway, that's not to bash Llano, just trying to get more of an understanding of it. I think it's better to keep expectations low and be pleasantly surprised later than the other way round.
    Reply
  • Gungel - Friday, April 8, 2011 - link

    Just found this incredible expensive offer on HP's store front:
    HP QM229AA Radeon HD6450 512MB DDR3 $129.00

    Are they nuts?
    Reply
  • aarste - Saturday, April 9, 2011 - link

    Would have been nice to see some 23.976 fps tests Reply
  • Sxotty - Sunday, April 10, 2011 - link

    Why is it a great HTPC card if it is loud? That is one of the worst blemishes for that purpose. The review says it is surprised it is so loud and assumes other models will be quiet. That means that unless you get a passively cooled model you could likely end up with an annoyingly loud card that is completely anathema to the HTPC environment. As such recommending the card for that purpose seems silly without additional disclaimers. Quiet is more important for HTPC than passing all the HQV tests b/c cards always make noise, and only sometimes have to do weird cadences. Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, April 11, 2011 - link

    Keep in mind this is an internal reference design. It won't see the light of day in retail. Retail cards will (for better or worse) have different coolers. Reply
  • Lolimaster - Monday, April 11, 2011 - link

    You wont find an HD3000 intel IGP on the price range of low end dual core Llano. Hey, you wont even find an HD2000 for the same price xD.

    This 160SP Llano should cost around 60-70. More or less what current Athlon II X2 cost.
    Reply
  • ch1n4 - Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - link

    Hi,
    Did you have time to make the HTPC relevant tests with the 6450? Additionally it would be very useful to see the difference in performance between the DDR-3 Version and the DDR-5 Version. It's a shame that only the DD3- Version has got a passive cooler. Therefore it would be very important to know if the Radeon 6450-DDR3 is the Perfect HTPC Card, or only the DDR-5 Version? Or none of them and the Radeon 5570 is still the King of HTPC.
    Reply

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