The release of a new graphics card every month from ATI is almost drawing to a close. Apart from the HD 5450 we have today, we'll see the HD 5570 early next week and between the middle and the end of this month we should see the HD 5830.
It's not like we're going to get much of a break, though, as roll into March and it's time for NVIDIA to hammer us for the next three months with 400 series cards. Once that comes to an end we'll probably start to see refreshes of the top end ATI cards and towards the end of this year we should see another generation of NV cards.
Damn, I have to admit, after reading that I've just scared the absolute crap out of myself, and when my editor looks at this he's probably not going to be all that happy either. [Ed. Note: Another reason to push for a payrise].
The feelings of the staff at TweakTown don't ultimately matter, though, for today we're looking at the HD 5450 from Sapphire. It's low end and it's probably going to suck in games. Still, that's not really its market. We'll talk about that all later on, though. For now, let's have a look at the package.
The big stand out point in regards to the bundle would have to be the fact that Sapphire has chosen to include a couple of low profile brackets that you might want to make use of depending on the type of chassis the card will live in.
Having a look at the card, there's not a whole lot to see, nor get excited about. Since the HD 5600 series doesn't carry with it any extra power connector, it comes as no surprise that this model also doesn't. Sapphire has opted for a passive cooler on the low profile design. In case you missed the package, Sapphire has included a couple of low profile brackets in the bundle.
Looking head on, we've got three connectors, a DisplayPort, Dual Link DVI connector and a blue one. A quick look in the manual told me that this blue one is a VGA port. Not sure who's using that one these days, but figure it's the same crowd who are still using VCRs as well.
Having a look at the GPU-Z screen shot, you can see that there's very little to get excited about; GDDR3 memory, 80 Unified Shaders, 8 ROPs and a 64-bit memory bus just about rounds it out.
The core clock of the card is 650MHz while the 512MB of memory comes in at 1600MHz DDR. Although the GPU-Z screenshot is giving us two memory speeds, the 800MHz number is correct.
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
The HD 5600 series is what I would consider entry level for most people when it comes to gaming. The HD 5670 is a nice little card for 1680 x 1050 at medium detail or lower resolutions with a bit more of a bump in detail.
The HD 5450 isn't just a step down from the HD 5600 series, it's two. While the HD 5500 series might be able to offer us something that can resemble some form of gaming experience, we're sure that the HD 5450 isn't.
With that said, we'll be running it through our typical game line up, in our typical detail settings. Even if we get low FPS, we have a fair idea what detail level you would need to bring it up to a playable level.
The model has been compared to the HD 5670 which is the next closest one to this in the AMD stables. We won't be talking about the graph results today, since across the board the results are consistent. Instead we'll wrap our thoughts up on our final page.
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
Benchmarks - World in Conflict
World in Conflict
Version and / or Patch Used: 22.214.171.124
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
Gaming performance isn't something you should be expecting out of this model and while AMD have some game benchmarks in their reviewers guide, only a few show above 60 FPS at 1024 x 768. These include Sims 3 at Low Quality, Batman AA and Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.
Everything else that AMD have included in the guide scores below a 60 FPS average which isn't what we want to see. It's not that the gaming performance on the model is bad, it's fine for what the model is. This model is aimed at the office PC; in that environment it's going to be great. Its low power, low profile and low cost make it attractive for that type of use. It's everything that a company wants in a graphics card.
You could also say the card is low performance, but it's not really. Yes, it's low performance compared to cards which are significantly higher in price, but it's exactly what you would expect from a card that sits in the $49 - $59 bracket.
If we look at the model from an office PC point of view, it's hard to fault. You've got a single card that's cheap and offers Eyefinity. In saying that, there are flaws with this card. If you're going to run three monitors, one is going to have to be hooked up via an analogue connection. If you've ever looked at two monitors next to each other with one running DVI and the other VGA, it's not hard to pick the difference. The VGA connected one won't look as sharp and will just have this blur over it when you look at text.
In an office environment this could be an issue depending what you're doing on that monitor. If you're looking at images on it and stuff like that, it's not a problem. If all your screens are going to be quite text heavy, that analogue connection is going to be a pain. In saying all this, we understand that due to the low profile nature of the card, it's not possible to have two DVI ports on the card, so that is a trade off.
The good news is that ATI said an Eyefinity 1GB model will be coming out. Now we're not 100% sure what that means at the moment, but hopefully it holds all DisplayPorts or in some way lets us have three digital connections even if it's at the cost of a full height card.
I would personally never use this card; I probably wouldn't even put it in someone's system for the simple fact that I would up talk them to at least a HD 5670. I can't let my personal feelings get in the way of an item I review, though. From an unbiased and constructive point of view, this is a fantastic model for an office that wants to run three monitors off a single card. Throw in the low profile nature of it and the passive cooler and it really is a very good model.
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