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ATI Radeon HD 5450 512MB DDR3 and Sapphire HD 5450 512MB DDR3 DP

Directly opposite to the first pair of graphics cards in this review, the last pair represents the most inexpensive solutions based on the simplest GPU in the Radeon HD 5000 series, the Cedar (RV810). The two cards mentioned in the headline to this section are a little different. The former, like some other cards in this review, is a copy of the reference design whereas Sapphire’s card comes into retail in this pretty packaging:

The box is surprisingly large for a junior Radeon HD 5000 series model. It is as cute as the box of the Sapphire HD 5570 1GB DDR3 DP but differs with its color scheme. Besides the mentioned disc with ArcSoft SimHD, the kit includes a user manual, a disc with drivers, a Sapphire sticker, and two low-profile mounting brackets one of which is designed for a D-Sub connector. No DVI-I à HDMI adapter here although the card has a DisplayPort instead of an HDMI.

The AMD and Sapphire cards have the same PCB design but differ with the color of the PCBs and the cooler’s heatsinks.

 

 

Both are very compact and will easily fit into any system case although the tall heatsink of the reference card may provoke some installation-related problems. Besides, each cooler is passive, so the system case has to be properly ventilated. Without normal ventilation, even the economical Cedar (RV810) may overheat.

With the coolers removed, we can see some differences between the two cards:

 

Besides the different configuration of the I/O interfaces, we can note that some smaller elements installed on the AMD card are missing on the Sapphire but the latter’s GPU is protected with a plastic frame.

 

 

The power circuits of both cards are very simple and based on uP6101 controllers.

 

The GPUs installed on the AMD and Sapphire cards differ greatly in age: 34th and 50th weeks of 2009, respectively. It means that AMD has had working samples of the Cedar (RV810) for a long time already.

  

As we’ve said already, this is the weakest GPU in the Radeon HD 5000 series incorporating only 80 ALUs, i.e. 16 unified shader processors. Considering the superscalar architecture of the ATI Radeon HD, the RV810 is comparable to Nvidia’s GeForce 210, which has 16 scalar execution modules, in terms of computing resources. The Cedar (RV810) also has 8 TMUs and 4 RBEs. The GPUs of both cards are clocked at 650 MHz while the memory frequencies differ: 900 (1800) MHz on the AMD card and 800 (1600) MHz on the Sapphire HD 5450 DP. With 64-bit access, the peak memory bandwidth is 14.4 and 12.8 GBps, respectively. Both numbers are ridiculously low for today and we are already quite sure that the Radeon HD 5450 won’t be any good in modern games.

 

Each card is equipped with four gDDR3 memory chips from Samsung (K4W1G1646E, 1 Gb) that should not be confused with GDDR3. Sapphire decided to save a little and installed HC12-suffixed chips rated for a frequency of 800 (1600) MHz whereas AMD’s card comes with HC11 chips rated for 900 (1800) MHz. As you know from the previous paragraph, the memory chips are clocked at their respective rated frequencies on both cards. Each card’s total amount of memory is 512 megabytes.

Each is equipped with one DVI-I and one D-Sub connector. The latter is connected via a flexible cable and can be removed and unplugged if you install the card into a half-height system case. The Sapphire HD 5450 DP kit includes a D-Sub mounting bracket which you can install into a neighboring slot if you need this interface. The third connector of AMD’s reference card is HDMI while the Sapphire Radeon HD 5450 DP has a DisplayPort there. Perhaps some users will appreciate this configuration, but we guess the very positioning of the Radeon HD 5450 makes HDMI a far more demanded option. The lack of native HDMI on board the Sapphire card won’t be an insurmountable problem, however. You can use a DVI-I à HDMI adapter (not included into the kit). Like all ATI Radeon HD 5000 series products, the Cedar (RV810) based cards fully support HDMI 1.3a but, as opposed to the more advanced models, cannot decode 3D video formats.

The reference Radeon HD 5450 and the Sapphire HD 5450 DP both use passive coolers.

 

On the Sapphire card, it is a simple black U-shaped heatsink with low fins that partially bends over to the reverse side of the PCB and thus fully fits into the single-slot form-factor. AMD’s card has a rather tall heatsink that makes the card occupy two slots. Both versions are acceptable but the tall heatsink may be compatible with fewer system cases. And we want to remind you once again that any passive cooling system requires that the system case be properly ventilated. Otherwise, the graphics card may overheat. Take care of that if you’ve chosen one of such cards because of its noiselessness.

Summing it up, the Radeon HD 5450 specs make it clear that it is not meant for modern games. The best it can do in terms of gaming is a Quake III Arena match or Sims 3.

Now that’s the end of the descriptive part of the review. Let’s move on to technicalities. First, let’s check out the electric, thermal and acoustic characteristics of the products we have described.

 
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