I always make the effort to make sure every card that comes into my lab gets a review. It's the least I can do for a company that has made the effort to send it. So ATI managed to send off a HD 5450 in time for launch, but we thought that since we had a full retail model on hand as well, we would put that one up first.
What we would tend to do with the second card is do a Crossfire article. If you've read about the first HD 5450 we reviewed from Sapphire earlier today, you'll know that the performance on the HD 5450 in games is hardly flattering and realistically it's just not a model you would Crossfire.
We like to have reference temperatures and power figures on hand, though, and AMD did make the effort to send the card over so we thought why not CF these two budget cards, have a bit of fun and see if we can get something that's playable.
As always, the card didn't come with any package so we'll just get straight into having a look at the reference HD 5450.
The ATI HD 5450 and Sapphire HD 5450 are very similar. Both use passive coolers and both are low profile. What's interesting about the reference ATI one is the fact the cooler is a dual slot one. Considering the market, this is a bit disappointing; it's clear that Sapphire saw this and for that reason opted for a single slot design.
Connectivity is the same as the Sapphire one which is no surprise. From the left we've got a VGA port, DisplayPort and Dual-Link DVI connector. You can run Eyefinity with this model, but you'll have to have one monitor hooked up via VGA which is an analogue connection instead of digital like the other two ports.
Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage
Test System Setup
Processor(s): Intel Core i7 920 @ 3.8GHz (190MHz x 20)
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P (Supplied by Noctua)
Motherboard(s): GIGABYTE EX58-UD5 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)
Memory: 3 X 2GB Kingston Hyper X PC3-16000 2000MHz DDR CL9 (Supplied by Kingston)
Hard Disk(s): Western Digital 640GB SATA 2.0 HDD (Supplied by Western Digital)
Operating System: Windows 7
Drivers: ATI Catalyst Redwood Beta, ATI Catalyst Cedar Beta
While we just wrapped up our performance thoughts of the single HD 5450 review in the final thoughts, because we're testing Crossfire this time we'll quickly give a run down on our thoughts below each graph.
Let's get started!
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here
3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.
3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.
Even with these low end models CrossFire continues to work very well. The gain is almost 100%, but the performance is still extremely low compared to the HD 5670.
Unigine Heaven Benchmark (DX10 & DX11)
Unigine Heaven Benchmark
Version and / or Patch Used: 1
Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com
Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/products/unigine
New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.
Note: If a card doesn't support DirectX 11 the benchmark will be left out. If it does it will be included along with the DirectX 10 results.
Direct X 10
Direct X 11
You again see a very good performance jump with the second HD 5450; it's quite surprising to be honest. Performance compared to the HD 5670 isn't as bad either with it being about 1/2 instead of 1/3.
Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10
Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net
CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.
MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).
CINEBENCH performance for the HD 5450 is down compared to other HD 5000 models. You can also see the second card does nothing for performance here. Mind you, that doesn't come as a surprise as we've never seen CF boost CINEBENCH performance.
Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5
Resident Evil 5
Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com
Product Homepage: http://www.residentevil.com
Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.
Again we see this excellent boost in performance, but unfortunately it's not enough. With no minimum we want to see an average of 60 FPS. Mind you, 1024 and 1280 gaming wouldn't be an issue with this setup.
Benchmarks - Far Cry 2
Far Cry 2
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.03
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com
Buy It Here
The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.
While the CF setup continues to offer some excellent performance gains, gaming at 1680 still isn't an option.
Benchmarks - World in Conflict
World in Conflict
Version and / or Patch Used: 126.96.36.199
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.massive.se
Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com
World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10).
The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game that is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards. We use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.
Not quite the same impressive gains here in the minimum department. We do see a nice jump in the average, though.
Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum
Batman Arkham Asylum
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.rocksteadyltd.com
Product Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com
Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.
Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.
Note: With support for PhysX NVIDIA based cards will be tested with the technology on and off, while ATI cards will be tested with the technology off due to it not being supported on their cards.
We're drawing closer to that 30 FPS minimum under Batman AA, but we're still a fair whack away from it. Again, though, the gains are impressive.
Benchmarks - BattleForge
Version and / or Patch Used: Auto Patched at Load
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.ea.com
Product Homepage: http://www.battleforge.com
The Gods have disappeared and the old sun has died, letting a vile twilight engulf the world of Nyn. In exchange for all treasures the mortals possessed, the evil giants agreed to forge a new sun and hurl it into the sky.
But the deal was betrayed, the treasure stolen and now the mortals flee the wrath of the giants. Under the light of a new sun the mortals stumble into a world changed and twisted by an age of twilight. The long journey home has become a conquest of survival.
Note: Supporting DirectX 11, we have separated the graphs for NVIDIA and ATI cards. While the numbers between the two brands can be compared, you have to make note that ATI based HD 5000 series cards are running DirectX 11.
DirectX 11 (ATI HD 5000 Series Only)
BattleForge is an extremely intensive game and you can see we're way off even with the HD 5670. We see a good gain again, but performance is still way below where it needs to be at this resolution.
With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).
There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.
The reference cooler seems to run a little warmer than the single slot Sapphire design.
Power Consumption Tests
Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).
There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.
The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.
So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.
A bit more power usage with a CF setup, but nothing that is going to have you worrying.
We didn't expect any miracles when it came to testing the HD 5450 in Crossfire. Adding a second card wasn't going to make 1680 x 1050 playable for the simple reason we were so far away from the numbers we needed to see with one card.
What's interesting is just how far along CrossFire has come. In almost every benchmark we saw gains of around 90% with a second card added. Only a few generations ago performance was all over the place with a second card being a hindrance sometimes. You can see that even with these low end cards, Crossfire gains are extremely consistent these days.
What we've also seen here is that the Sapphire cooling option while not looking all that impressive, manages to do a slightly better job than the dual slot reference one.
We're not sure who would ever buy a CF HD 5450 setup, nor do we know why anyone would. It's nice to see just how the technology is performing, though, and great to add some more results to the stable. It will be interesting to compare these numbers to the HD 5500 series due out next week.
The HD 5450 is no doubt a great model for the right user. While that user might not be me, and it might not be you, it could be the next person or the one after that. ATI have done an almost perfect job when it comes to covering the market top to bottom. There's really only a few holes left and they're going to be filled soon with the HD 5500 series and the HD 5830.
By the time NVIDIA release a top end model, ATI would've cemented themselves top to bottom with HD 5000 series models for every budget. The best thing about them as well is that we're seeing new cards, not last generation cards with a new name.
ATI are doing a lot of things right these days, let's just hope they keep it up.
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