The HIS HD 5450 graphics card comes with some brave claims. It has complete DirectX 11 support, we're told. Plus the 'world's most advanced' graphics. And all for a price of just £50.
Well, to save any disappointment, let's be very clear about what this dirt-cheap graphics card won't be able to do for you. It won't make a good job of DirectX 11, for a start. The HIS HD 5450 does support it, but the frame rates will be so low on anything that even attempts to harness the power of the latest version of Microsoft's programming interface that the game will be almost impossible to play.
Of course, this will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the graphics card market. Every new product family has a bottom of the range card that's clearly not intended for games freaks. And a quick glance at the specifications will lay the HIS HD 5450's limitations bare.
There's little wrong with the HIS HD 5450's clock speeds - a 650MHz core clock and also a 650MHz memory clock (which in effect amounts to 1300MHz with the double rate of DDR) are figures that wouldn't look out of place on many a higher end product. However, the memory itself is basic DDR3 RAM - not even the graphics-geared GDDR3 - and the 64-bit memory interface is so pared down as to prohibit advanced gaming capabilities.
Having said that, provided you're content to keep the HIS HD 5450 at 1280x800 and below, you can coax some performance from it. It fared as well in our games tests as the nVidia GT 220. Titles like Crysis Warhead were far too much, and even at just-HD 1280x768, the ATI struggled along at only 12 frames per second (rather than 11 in the case of the GT 220; and as many as 24 for the GT 240). This figure almost halved at higher resolutions.
Far Cry 2 was more impressive, with the HIS HD 5450 scoring at just over 30 fps at 1280x768. In contrast, the GT 220 couldn't even make 30fps, while the 240 notched up a far healthier 48 fps. In other words, the 5450 is capable of playing games at lower resolutions, but if you're looking for decent game coverage then you'd be mad not to pay a little extra and get the GT 240.
So what might the HIS HD 5450 be good for? Well, its half-height design makes it very small and extremely light on power - typically consuming just 19 watts. This incredibly efficient design allows HIS to skimp on the potentially noisy cooling system. Indeed, we doubt you'll find a new graphics card generating less noise than this one.
It's also very good as a cut-price video and audio card. We coaxed some very smooth HD video output from the HIS HD 5450's Avivo technology, with very few defects indeed. And on audio, its support for advanced formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio is pretty much flawless. With strong high definition across the board, this is an excellent choice for HTPC users.
NEXT: our expert verdict >>