XFX HD 5450 Review

jlqrb - 2010-05-20 16:55:19 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: jlqrb   
Reviewed on: June 20, 2010
Price: $59.99

Introduction:

With nVidia's first DX11 graphics cards on shelves now and mainstream offerings forthcoming, the DX11 market is finally starting to see some competition. Still, ATI has quite the headstart and for the time being nVidia is still left battling ATI's entry level cards with only DX10 options. So for now, budget graphics cards like the HD 5450 seem to be the best option for those looking for a graphics upgrade. This isn't because this card is going to be a powerful gaming solution, because it's not. It will, however, be a robust replacement for your outdated discrete graphics card or on-board integrated graphics unit. The reason for this is that the HD 5450 comes with features that not only improve the graphics performance, but also enhance general computing and HD content. This is thanks to signature ATI technologies such as Stream and Avivo. ATI Stream is a program that can accelerate supported applications improving your system's performance by splitting workloads between the CPU and graphics card. Avivo, on the other hand, is a hardware-based Unified Video Decoder that, along with a built-in HDMI port, allows for smooth HD playback. It is for these reasons that the HD 5450 is a very strong option for the average PC user.

Closer Look:

The XFX HD 5450 comes packaged in a small box that is both stylish and informative. With so much info being available throughout the front and back of the packaging, the end-user should have a very good idea of exactly what the XFX HD 5450 offers even before purchasing the product. All of this info is printed on an outer shell that houses a small white cardboard box. This inner box is where the graphics card and accessories are located, with each being separated by a thin cardboard liner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The accessories that come with the HD 5450 consist of installation manuals, drivers disc and low profile brackets to allow the graphics card to be used in a small form factor case. There is also an I.D. card that has stored on it all the info for your graphics card. This will allow you to easily retrieve the information without having to remove the whole unit from your system.

 

Closer Look:

The XFX HD 5450 comes on a black PCB with a low-profile design and a small active cooling solution. The use of active cooling over passive should ensure that the card runs nice and cool even during the most demanding use. Also, since the Cedar core only requires around 20W under full load, I would say this small heatsink is more than enough. With only minimal power needed, the card is capable of being run exclusively from the PCI-E x16 2.1 slot, so no additional power source is needed. Still, XFX does state that the card has a minimum 400 Watt Power Supply Requirement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The XFX comes with three video connection options. From left to right you have a VGA port, HDMI port and a DVI port.  This is a good amount of expansion and most users should find that their needs are met. Also, since this card is a low-profile design, it comes with additional PCI brackets that will allow it to easily fit into a small form factor chassis. When using these brackets there are a few different options on how the card can be installed. One option you have is to completely remove the VGA port from the card or you can choose to place the VGA in an open expansion slot above the GPU.

 

 

The HD 5450 graphics cards uses the Cedar graphics processing core with a clock frequency of 650MHz, 80 steam processors, eight texture units, four ROPs and 1GB of DDR2 memory with a 64-bit memory interface. These specifications put this card well below its older siblings, but these are still very strong for an entry-level graphics card. On top of these you also get ATI's Stream technology, which is used to accelerate supported programs, improving the overall system performance. The memory used on the XFX HD 5450 comes with eight chips that are nicely lined up on both the front and back of the PCB. There is a total of 1GB of DDR2 memory that comes clocked at 500MHz, giving the memory a total bandwidth of 16.0GB/s

 

 

 


 

Closer Look:

XFX has included a drivers disc and an easy to follow installation guide to help you though the software installation process. To get started the first thing you will need to do is insert the disc into the drive and wait a few seconds for it to auto run. After it has started, the first window that you see is a welcome screen that thanks you for purchasing your product from XFX. The next screen performs a quick system check of your hardware. Once this is finished, the disc will either allow you to connect to the XFX website for up-to-date software or finish the installation using the software on the disc. If you chose to get the newer drivers that are available you will first have go though an online registration. After you have completed the online form the drivers will then become available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the initial installation there are a few options that allow you to view the quick installation guide, manual and technology features for the graphics card. Each menu is a PDF file saved on the installation disc that can be accessed anytime the disc is in the drive.

 

 

The actual installation of the drivers is done though the ATI Catalyst install manager. This is an easy to use tool that quickly guides you though the installation process from start to finish. This install manager can either be set to automatically install all drivers that are included or you can chose to do the more advanced manual install. If manual is chosen, you will be presented with a list of drivers, with each having a selectable box on the left side. The most important drivers cannot be changed, however there are some drivers and additional software that you can opt not to install on your system. Once the selection has been made, the installation process starts and and finishes on its own. After all drivers are installed the system will need to cycle though a restart before all changes will take effect.

 

 

 

Specifications:

Bus Type
PCI-E 2.1
Performance
Standard
GPU Clock MHz
650MHz
Stream Processors
80
Memory Interface Bus (bit)
64
Memory Type
DDR2, DDR3
Memory Size
512 – 1024 MB
Memory Clock (MHz)
800 – 1600 MHz
Microsoft® DirectX® Support
11
Shader Model Support
5.0
Open GL Optimization and Support
3.2
Maximum Power Requirement (watt)
400 Watt
Cooling Heatsink
Y
Cooling Fansink
Y
ROHS
Y
Profile
Low
ATI Radeon CrossFireX™ Technology
Y
ATI Radeon PowerPlay™
Y
ATI Radeon Stream Technology
Y
Dimensions (Imperial)
6.60x2.73x0.75
Dimensions (Metric)
16.8 X 6.93 X 1.9
Max Resolution Analog
2048 x 1536, 2048x1536
Max Resolution Digital
2560 x 1600, 2560x1600
ATI Eyefinity Technology
Y
DisplayPort
1

 

Features:

 

All information courtesy of XFX @ http://xfxforce.com/en-us/products/graphiccards/HD%205000series/5450.aspx#1

Testing:

Testing of the XFX HD 5450 will consist of running the card through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors. Comparisons will be made to cards of equal and greater capabilities to show where it falls on the performance ladder. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles to give you an idea on how the cards perform relative to each other. The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustment will be made to the respective control panels during the testing with the exception of the 3DMark Vantage testing where PhysX will be disabled in the nVidia control panel. I will test the card at stock speeds, then overclocked in order to see how much additional performance is available and to determine if it can run with the current fastest single GPU cards on the market.  The drivers used in this test will be the 10.5 Catalyst drivers for ATI and 197.45 Forceware drivers from nVidia. Tests will be conducted at both stock and overclocked settings to gauge performance when an increase in clock speed is applied.

 

 

Comparison Boards:

 

Overclocking:

To overclock the XFX HD 5450, AMD GPU Clock Tool was used. This program will allow you to push an ATI graphics card past any software based limitations. So with the ability to freely raise the frequencies, I started by increasing both the core and memory clocks by 40MHz until the point of a system crash or visible on-screen errors. After the cards breaking point was reached I scaled the clocks back to a setting that would successfully run MSI's Kombuster utility for up to fifteen minutes. In the end I was very pleased with the results. The core was able to be pushed all the way up to 812MHz and the DDR2 memory was capable of speeds up to 644MHz.

 

 

 

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

Each card has been tested for its maximum stable clock speeds using MSI's Kombuster utility. So far my testing has shown that higher clock speeds may be stable in games where GPU usage does not reach 100%, but will crash within a few minutes using this utility. The reported clock speeds are those that proved stable over a fifteen minute test at 1920x1200 8x AA.

 

 

  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Metro 2033
  3. Crysis Warhead
  4. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
  5. Darkest of Days
  6. Bioshock 2
  7. Just Cause 2
  8. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.0
  9. Batman: Arkham Asylum
  10. Resident Evil 5
  11. 3DMark 06 Professional
  12. 3DMark Vantage
  1. Temperature
  2. Wattage

Testing:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built especially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real time effects and damage. This next generation First Person Shooter comes to us from Ubisoft surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this version of the game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The HD 5550 and HD 5570 are used to show the comparison to other entry-level graphics cards, but both of these cards are out of the HD 5450's league. With that being the case, it's the results of the nVidia 210 in relation to the XFX HD 5450 scores that I am going to be looking at. In our first gaming benchmark the HD 5450 came out a few frames ahead of the 210 and continued this across all resolutions. Also, after the cards clock speeds were increased the HD 5450 had larger gains than the 210.

Testing:

Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro 2033 is based on the novel of the same name, written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, where you'll spend most of your time traversing the metro system, with occasional trips to the surface. Despite the dark atmosphere and bleak future for mankind, the visuals are anything but bleak. Powered by the 4A Engine, with support for DirectX 11, NVIDIA Physx and NVIDIA 3D Vision, the tunnels are extremely varied - in your travels, you'll come across human outposts, bandit settlements, and even half-eaten corpses. Ensuring you feel all the tension, there is no map and no health meter. Get lost without enough gas mask filters and adrenaline shots, and you may soon wind up as one of those half-eaten corpses - chewed up by some horrifying manner of irradiated beast that hides in the shadows, just waiting for some hapless soul to wander by.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

With the HD 5450 already struggling the increased visual effects of DX11 were just too much to handle. nVidia results are not included as the 210 does not support DX11.

Testing:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

For being the cheapest card in the ATI arsenal the HD 5450 did a good job at the lowest settings.

Testing:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the latest iteration of the venerable first-person shooter series, Call of Duty. Despite its long, successful pedigree, the game is not without substantial criticism and controversy, especially on the PC. Aside from the extremely short campaign and lack of innovation, the PC version's reception was also marred by its lack of support for user-run dedicated servers, which means no user-created maps, no mods, and no customized game modes. You're also limited to 18-player matches instead of the 64-player matches that were possible in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Despite all this, the game has been well received and the in-house IW 4.0 engine renders the maps in gorgeous detail, making it a perfect candidate for OCC benchmarking. You start off the single player missions playing as Private Allen and jump right into a serious firefight. This is the point where testing will begin. Testing will be done using actual game play with FPS measured by Fraps.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The HD 5450 once again does a decent job and maintains its lead over the 210.

Testing:

What would testing be if you did not show both sides of the fence? In this test, PhysX was set to low, while leaving the remaining settings intact. You have seen time and again where the ATI cards suffer when PhysX is enabled. Mirror's Edge and Cryostasis are two prime examples. Darkest of Days is no different. What happens in this test shows that, although the game can be played by cards from the red team, the video effects and quality are diminished.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

In Darkest of Days the HD 5450 is again a few FPS ahead of the 210. Also, once overclocked the HD 5450 nearly reached the very playable frame rate of 30FPS.

Testing:

BioShock 2 is the sequel to a game that won more than 50 game of the year awards and sold more than 2.5 million units worldwide. Though a first-person shooter at its core, BioShock 2 blends that with RPG elements and drops you into an environment like no other - the underwater dystopian city of Rapture. Set approximately ten years after the events of the original, BioShock 2 allows the player to be one of the most iconic video game characters of recent years, a Big Daddy. Powered by the Unreal Engine 2.5 and featuring Havok Physics, BioShock 2 also adds multiplayer to the mix, filling in the one hole prevalent in the first game. There are seven different multiplayer game modes that take place in 1959, before the events of the original BioShock.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

 

I know the settings are reduced to the lowest level possible, but to see 35 FPS from a $60 graphics card is impressive.

Testing:

Just Cause 2 is a third-person shooter that takes place on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. In this sequel to 2006's Just Cause, you return as Agent Rico Rodriguez to overthrow an evil dictator and confront your former boss. When you don't feel like following the main storyline, you're free to roam the island, pulling off crazy stunts and causing massive destruction in your wake, all beautifully rendered by the Avalanche Engine 2.0. In the end, that's what the game basically boils down to; crazy stunts and blowing things up. In fact, blowing things up and wreaking havoc is actually necessary to unlock new missions and items.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Just Cause 2 is not going to be playable with the HD 5450, but it's still getting better frames than the 210..

Testing:

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.1 is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on the Unigine engine. What sets the Heaven Benchmark apart is the addition of hardware tessellation, available in three modes; Moderate, Normal and Extreme. Although tessellation requires a video card with DirectX 11 support and Windows Vista/7, the Heaven Benchmark also supports DirectX 9, DirectX 10 and OpenGL. Visually, it features beautiful floating islands that contain a tiny village and extremely detailed architecture.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Rather weak scores in this benchmark, but this is to be expected.

Testing:

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a new game that brings together two bitter foes, The Joker and Batman. The Joker Has taken over Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. Your task is to rein the Joker back in and restore order. This game makes use of PhysX technology to create a rich environment for you to ply your trade.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The HD 5450 achives good FPS in the lower resolutions.

Testing:

Resident Evil 5 is the sequel to one of the best selling video games of all time. You play the game as Chris Redfield a survivor of the events at Raccoon City who now works for the BSAA. Sent to Africa to find the gen6sis of the latest Bio Organic agents you meet up with another BSAA operative and work together to solve the problem. The game offers incredible 3D effects and a co-op gaming style.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The HD 5450 shows promise in the lower resolutions, but as the resolution was increased the performance couldn't keep up.

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest has begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Not the strongest results, but the XFX HD 5450 maintains its dominance over the 210..

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, the 3DMark Vantage benchmark is for use with Vista based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. 'Entry' is 1024x768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The results in 3DMark Vantage were very good at the entry level run, but the performance breaks apart at all other preset levels.

Testing:

Temperature testing will be accomplished by loading the video card to 100% using MSI Kombuster, which is paired with MSI's Afterburner overclocking utility for temperature monitoring. I will be using the stability test set to a resolution of 1920 x 1200 using 8xAA. I will use a fifteen minute time frame to run the test ensuring that the maximum thermal threshold is reached. The fan speed will be left in the control of the driver package and video cards BIOS for the first test, with the fan moved to 100% to see the best possible cooling scenario. The idle test will be a twenty minute cool down with the fan speeds left on automatic.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower = Better

 

The small active cooling solution used by XFX appears to be more than enough to keep the Cedar core nice and cool.

Testing:

Power consumption of the system will be measured in both idle states and load states and will take into account the peak voltage of the system with each video card installed. I will use MSI Kombuster to load the GPU for a fifteen minute test and use the peak load of the system as my result for the maximum load. The idle results will be measured after fifteen minutes of inactivity on the system.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower = Better

 

The power consumption of the HD 5450 is very minimal and even after the overclocked settings were applied the whole system consumed only 162W under full load.

Conclusion:

Almost every household has at least one personal computer these days and let's face it, very few of these systems are used for gaming. They are instead being used for editing photos, watching home movies, streaming HD content or surfing the net. For tasks such as these a graphics card that can play modern games would just be a waste of money and electricity. Still, there are plenty computers in use that are not setup to properly perform these average tasks. This is due to many people running an outdated graphics card or weak integrated graphics unit. So what the HD 5450 does is give these people an upgrade option other than replacing their entire system. As soon as the HD 5450 card is installed, the end-user will have the support of new features and technologies such as ATI Stream. This technology is used to allow the graphics card to do more of the work alongside the CPU and in turn improves the overall performance. With this being the case, even older PCs that run slowly can see a significant boost after this card has been added.

Even with all that the XFX HD 5450 offers for the mainstream user, it is perhaps the HTPC crowd that will benefit the most. Not only does the card have a low-profile design, a low power requirement and brackets that will allow it to easily fit into any SFF case, but it also has technologies for improving HD playback. This is thanks to Avivo and Accelerated Video Transcoding, both of which enhance HD content though the graphics card, reducing the strain on the system. Just a few years back anyone looking to run a High Def signal on their PC had to invest in a state of the art PC. Luckily, this is no longer the case, and now thanks to products such as the HD 5450 we can all experience crystal clear HD content.

The only real issue I have with the HD 5450 is that other than a few key technologies, this graphics card is very similar to the HD 4550. So with each card sharing similar performance, it would be hard to justify an upgrade from the HD 4000-series to this card. Also, since AMD's current integrated graphics units support Stream and Avivo, again it would not make much sense to upgrade. However, if you are not using either of these solutions the HD 5450 is a great option that will accelerate your PC to meet the processing demands of today's technologies.

 

 

Pros:

 

Cons: