Sapphire HD 5450 is a low-profile passive graphics card which makes it ideal for HTPC. One of the main things HTPC owners usually look for is HD playback capabilities as well as high-definition audio codecs. Radeon HD 5450 meets all these requirements as it’s equipped with UVD 2.0 (Universal Video Decoder), which enables for dual-stream decoding. By turning on UVD 2.0 in apps like WinDVD and PowerDVD, you’ll enable hardware acceleration of H.264 and VC-1 HD video formats used on Blu-ray and HD DVD. If audio is what you’re worried about, it’s time to stop as HD 5450 offers 7.1 channel lossless audio at 24bit/192KHz.
Unfortunately for the red team, despite the fact that HD 5450 comes with all the bells and whistles, most HTPC users prefer Nvidia’s cards for as many of them told us themselves reliability reasons. Below you see the pictures we captured on playing a high-bitrate 1080p video file that’s often used for stress-testing HTPCs and other video setups.
Hardware support for DXVA in MPC-HC (Media Player Classic - HomeCinema) on Radeon HD 5450 didn’t always run, which wasn’t the case with the Geforce card. Modern graphics card offer the possibility to decode partially or completely a video stream using DirectX Video Acceleration (DXVA), in order to reduce CPU usage dramatically. MPC-HC includes an embedded video decoder that uses this technology, to decode H.264 and VC-1 with hardly any CPU time required.
Playing Planet_Earth_From_Pole_to_Pole_1080p_sample.mkv with Radeon HD 5450 resulted in our CPU usage hanging around 30% whereas playing with Geforce GT 220 used only 1.5% maximum. The second videofile, Avatar – Trailer.mp4 ran on both cards without problems and resulted in CPU usage of about 1% in both cases.
Planet_Earth.mkv with HD 5450.
Note that Sapphire HD 5450 is a passively cooled card and while our Obsidian 800D case features a nice airflow, the card was somewhat stuck in a dead zone. Still, that didn't hinder the card's results and as you can see, the card has no problems with temperatures.