PC Hardware Buyer's Guide - Silent Graphics Card (Part 2) : SapphireRadeon HD 6450 FleX, Asus GeForce GT 620 DirectCU Silent, HIS Radeon HD 5450 Silence

6/15/2013 8:58:47 AM

SapphireRadeon HD 6450 FleX

It might be starting to show its age a little, but the Sapphire Radeon HD 6450 FleX is still a decent card that offers a substantial boost up from most integrated GPUs. As well as being a silent, passive-cooling only card, the HD 6450 FleX is also low profile. While it does need two slots to accommodate the heatsink, it's actually incredibly compact - if your system is pushed for space, internally, you shouldn't have any trouble getting this to fit inside.

It's worth noting that the point of Sapphire's FleX cards isn't necessarily gaming, but multi-monitor systems. This model supports three monitors on DVI (two on DVI ports and one on a DVI-HDMI converter). If you want to add multiple screens to a system, this card - even though it's starting to age - is more than capable of accommodating them, whether in an office or multimedia situation. In this case, the lack of active cooling makes sense: it means there's less of a distraction while you working, and less drone noise competing with the movie or TV show you want to watch.

SapphireRadeon HD 6450 FleX

SapphireRadeon HD 6450 FleX

Although it isn't a gaming beast, it does at least support DirectX 11, which makes it feel like part of the modern generation of cards even if it's a few iterations behind the best. Don't expect to run games in high resolutions, or detail, but you can expect better than your integrated GPU in most cases. The notable exception is if you've got a high-end Ivy Bridge CPU, because the card is only a shade better than the Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPUs - but then if you've got a processor with that, you'd probably want a better graphics card than this anyway.

The only area that really lets it down is the price. At around $70, it comes in a tenner more expensive than active-cooled versions of the HD 6450, which is a high percentage when you're operating at prices this low. However, it's a solid performer with some unique features, so it's definitely got a niche - and that gives it a good reason to be considered.


·         Price: $70

·         Architecture: Caicos (40nm)

·         Memory:1GB DDR3

Asus GeForce GT 620 DirectCU Silent

Like the GeForce GT 610, the GT 620 isn't a 6-series Kepler card, but a rebranded 5-series in disguise. In this case, it's a GT 530 with a slightly better TDP and more CUDA cores. Not, on the surface, a huge amount to get excited about. However, sandwiched (price-wise, at least) between the multi-monitor focused Sapphire Radeon HD 6450 FleX and the form-over-function HIS Radeon HD 5450 Silence, the GT630 Silent actually takes on a decent level of appeal.

It's substantially better than an Intel HD Graphics 4000 chip, which is something no cheaper card can claim, and which even some more expensive cards can't boast. That, in turn, means it'll represent an upgrade to the graphics capabilities of any system you put it in, provided that system doesn't already have a graphics card and isn't an AMD A10 APU, which have an integrated graphics chip that's slightly better. It may not necessarily a huge upgrade, but it will definitely be one. That's something worth paying attention to.

Asus GeForce GT 620 DirectCU Silent

Asus GeForce GT 620 DirectCU Silent

Output ports include one VGA, one DVI and one HDMI. The 2GB of memory is prodigious, but not necessarily much of a performance improvement at this level - the card is restricted by its memory bus anyway, rather than the amount of RAM in it.

There are certainly better silent cards around, but the GT 620 does fit comfortably into the mid-range. It's powerful enough to improve any system, better than some more expensive cards, and to get one that's definitively better you have to spend nearly double the amount.

All of that makes this a smart buy for anyone who doesn't want to spent much more than $$78.8 on a graphics upgrade. It's still far from a competitive gaming card, but an improvement is an improvement. If you're on a fairly tight budget, this is the one to aim for.


·         Price: $79

·         Architecture: Fermi (40nm)

·         Memory: 2GB DDR3

HIS Radeon HD 5450 Silence

Despite being released after the arrival of the Radeon HD 6000 series, the HIS Radeon HD 5450 Silence was never designed to be a high-end card. Rather, the emphasis was always on silent running. With that in mind, we can forgive its aging architecture, and instead praise its innovations - and unlike some cards in this guide, this one does have some.

Specifically, we're impressed by the selection of brackets offered with the card. You get a dual-slot bracket with DVI, Display Port and VGA, a singles lot bracket with the same, and a half-height brackets with just DVI and Display Port. Although there's no dedicated HDMI port, the box does include a DVI to HDMI adaptor. Some versions also use a PCI-Ex1 connector.

HIS Radeon HD 5450 Silence

So while its performance isn't great (the HD 5450 is about as good as Intel HD Graphics 3000), the extras it offers do give you a reason to buy one as long as performance isn't a huge concern. Cheaper cards will perform better, but they don't have the support and adaptability of the HIS HD 5450 Silence, and adaptability is sure to matter if you're building an unconventional system. Buy the version with PCI-E x1 support and it'll fits in thin and compact systems, such as the Dell Optiplex 745.

By circumventing the games market - the normal preoccupation of graphics cards manufacturers - HIS has somehow managed to come up with a card that sells itself despite a lack of raw power. There are plenty of systems out there that would get a upgrade if this card was put into them, and it's even substantially cheaper than buying a sandy bridge chip and motherboard, which would get you to the same level.

This is clearly the sort of card that knows its audience, so while we're wary of recommending it outright due to its high price/ low power combination, it's pretty clear that if you're the sort of person looking for a card like this, nothing we say can (or should) stop you. If you're not one of those people - and you'd know if you were - then you can otherwise safely ignore it in favor of something cheaper and more powerful.


·         Price: $90

·         Architecture: Cedar Pro (40nm)

·         Memory: 1GB DDR3


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