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Our testing methods
In celebration of the Radeon HD 6450's suitability for small-form-factor builds, we based our test platform on Zotac's H67-ITX WiFi motherboard, which has a Mini-ITX form factor yet accommodates Sandy Bridge quad-core chips.

The processor under that heatsink is a Core i5-2500K, admittedly an onerous (and power-hungry) choice for the kind of build the Radeon HD 6450 might end up inhabiting. Using the i5-2500K presented an advantage, however, in that it let us compare AMD's new entry-level card with the best Intel has to offer: the HD Graphics 3000. You can think of the IGP results on the next few pages as sort of a high-water mark for what Intel integrated graphics can achieve. It all goes downhill from there, as they say.

We'll also be comparing the Radeon HD 6450 to Nvidia's GeForce GT 430, which can be had for $59.99 before rebates in the configuration we tested, as well as a pair of higher-end offerings, the GeForce GTS 450 and the Radeon HD 5770.

You might notice we only ran three games and four individual tests. We usually conduct more thorough testing with new graphics cards, but let's face it: this is a $55, bargain-basement graphics card, and we have better uses for the precious lab time that further testing would have required.

We settled on a 1440x900 resolution for testing. That resolution is commonly found on cheap 19" displays, which are just the kind you'd expect to pair up with a $55 GPU (or integrated graphics). 1366x768 is gaining ground as a desktop resolution, but Newegg still stocks fewer of displays with that resolution than 1440x900 ones.

Finally, we did our best to deliver clean benchmark numbers, as always. Tests were run at least three times, and we've reported the median result. Our test system was configured as follows:

Processor Intel Core i5-2500K
Motherboard Zotac H67-ITX WiFi
North bridge Intel H67 Express
South bridge
Memory size 4GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Kingston HyperX KHX2133C9AD3X2K2/4GX
DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz
Memory timings 9-9-9-24 1T
Chipset drivers INF update 9.2.0.1025
Rapid Storage Technology 10.1.0.1008
Graphics Media Accelerator Driver 15.21.12.64.2321
Audio Integrated ALC892
with Realtek R2.54 drivers
Graphics AMD Radeon HD 6450 512MB (GDDR5)
with Catalyst 8.84.2_RC2 drivers
Gigabyte Radeon HD 5770 Super OC 1GB
with Catalyst 8.84.2_RC2 drivers
Asus GeForce GT 430 1GB (DDR3)
with GeForce 270.51 beta drivers
Zotac GeForce GTS 450 1GB AMP! Edition
with GeForce 270.51 beta drivers
Hard drive Samsung SpinPoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB SATA
Power supply Corsair HX750W 750W
OS Windows 7 Ultimate x64 Edition
Service Pack 1

Thanks to Intel, Kingston, Samsung, Zotac, and Corsair for helping to outfit our test rigs with some of the finest hardware available. AMD, Nvidia, and the makers of the various products supplied the graphics cards for testing, as well.

Image quality options were left at the control panel defaults for the Intel IGP and Nvidia cards. With the Radeons, we left optional AMD optimizations for tessellation and surface format conversions disabled. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

We used the following test applications:

The tests and methods we employ are generally publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.