The ATI Radeon HD 5450 graphics card brings full DirectX 11 support, ATI Eyefinity multi-display technology and ATI Stream technology support for less than $60. That sounds great, but in reality the Radeon HD 5450 graphics card wasn’t that great in gaming. In the DirectX 11 benchmark Heaven we found the Radeon HD 5450 could run the application, but it wasn’t pretty to watch. This is not a graphics card that we would recommend to gamers as it just doesn’t have the computing power needed for today’s enthusiast games. If you wanted to play games like Spore or Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys adventure games then the Radeon HD 5450 will easily handle titles like this at lower screen resolutions.
What the ATI Radeon HD 5450 is good for is a home theater PC (HTPC) or a media PC. The single slot low-profile capable card that we looked at today requires no cooling fan or additional power supply power cables. Since the card is passively-cooled it is silent and the fact that it can do HDMI 1.3a with Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio it is the ideal graphics card for a HTPC. For less than $60 the Radeon HD 5450 video card costs less than HDMI sound cards like the $139 ASUS Xonar HDAV 1.3 Slim HDMI Audio Card that was once needed for DTS-HD Master Audio bitstreaming. Now, with a graphics card like the ATI Radeon HD 5450 you get pretty much all the same functionality plus additional GPU features. In some situations you can remove an older generation graphics card like we showed with the Radeon HD 4770 and reduce total system power consumption by roughly 25% and both idle and load. From a HTPC perspective, the Radeon HD 5450 is going to be hard to beat.
ATI has another great graphics cards on their hands with the Radeon HD 5450 and it should do very well in the HTPC and media PC markets from what we can tell. If you are looking into an ATI Radeon HD 5450 keep in mind that they will be available in single-slot passive and active cooled models. They will also be available with up to 1GB of DDR3 or DDR2 memory. On a graphics card with just 104 GFLOPS of compute performance we doubt you’d be memory limited at 512MB, so we would stick with the DDR3 512MB version of the card for the best performance.
Legit Bottom Line: The ATI Radeon HD 5450 might be the best HTPC graphics card ever made. The version we tested today was a low profile model that was passive, energy efficient, and can do DTS-HD Master Audio bitstreaming for under $60!