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Conclusion: A Potentially Good HTPC Prospect If The price Is Right

AMD Radeon HD 6450 Review: Caicos Cometh
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Let’s consider average game performance:

First, we should be clear: this class of card is not targeted at gamers. These products are for folks who want something better than integrated graphics for any number of reasons: multiple display support, video acceleration and enhancements for HTPC use, 3D video playback, and yes, even casual gaming for folks who can’t or won’t invest more into their graphics card.

As a cheap gaming card, the Radeon HD 6450 doesn’t stand up well compared to the Radeon HD 5550. If you’re looking for a sub-£70 gaming upgrade you’d do well to consider stepping up £15 to the Radeon HD 5570, but the Radeon HD 5550 and GeForce GT 430 results show you that the new Radeon HD 6450 isn’t in the running.

As a low cost multi-monitor option for the workspace, the Radeon HD 6450 has better prospects, but is it any better than the cheaper Radeon HD 5450? Probably not. And if you’re looking for Eyefinity gaming, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Once again, this is where a few more dollars will make a big difference.

As an HTPC card though, that’s where the new Radeon HD 6450 stands out. It’s tiny, uses very little power, is relatively quiet, has great image quality, can accelerate Blu-ray 3D over HDMI 1.4a, and can even game at 720p even if it’s not ideally suited for that task. The passive, silent DDR3 version of the Radeon HD 5450 brings all of those traits to the table for around £35 (final pricing not confirmed) if you’re willing to give up a little gaming prowess. That’s a very compelling HTPC solution.

Before now, the cheapest card to offer all of these features was the GeForce GT 430. As I write this I notice that a couple models have dropped as low as £52 on Dabs.co.uk. So while the Radeon HD 6450 DDR3 may undercut the competition as a great low-cost HTPC option, the Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5 has the GeForce GT 430 to contend with. At that point the question becomes whether gaming or Eyefinity is your preference, and either way you’re probably better off spending a few dollars more for the Radeon HD 5570 unless you really want Blu-ray 3D decode acceleration. I suppose if 3D Vision appeals to you the GeForce GT 430 might look good, but once again, if you’re investing in a 3D Vision monitor you should be budgeting more for your graphics hardware.

The bottom line: if the Radeon HD 6450 DDR3 launch price is £35 or less, it offers a complete feature set backed with decent performance for a low buy-in and would be a real budget winner. The more expensive GDDR5 flavour of the Radeon HD 6450 is much closer to some tough competition including the GeForce GT 430 and Radeon HD 5570, and therefore can’t take a glowing recommendation at this time.

Of course prices seem to shift faster than ever lately, so today’s great deal can become tomorrow’s poor choice (and vice versa). For those looking for up-to-date price recommendations, check out our monthly Best Graphics Card For The Money article.

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