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AMD ATI Radeon HD 5830 review

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Summary

Our Score:

8

Ever since they launched back in October of last year, ATI's 5xx0 series of cards (codename Evergreen) have been dominating the graphics market. Their combination of class-leading performance, features, and power consumption along with support for DirectX 11 has meant they were the clear choice for anyone looking to buy a new card in the last six months. Now there's a new addition to the roster, the mid-range HD 5830.

Based on the same RV870 chip (Codenamed Cypress) that sits at the heart of the HD 5870 and HD 5850, the HD 5830 uses those chips that haven't quite met the strict manufacturing demands of these high-end cards. By shutting down malfunctioning portions of the chip, you still get a working card but with reduced performance. This is the same approach as used on the HD 5850 cards, though more of the chip is disused is this new card.

Diagram of the RV780 chip. Lightened sections represent those parts that have been shutdown for the HD 5830.

In particular, the HD 5870 has 1,600 stream processors and 80 texturing units (collectively split up into 20 SIMD blocks) accompanied by 32 ROPs. For the HD 5850, as well as having lower clock speeds, one of the SIMD blocks is disabled resulting in 1,440 stream processors, 72 texture units, and 32 ROPs. As for the HD 5830, it has six of the SIMD blocks disabled and half the number of ROPs, though it does retain the 256-bit memory interface as the other cards. In contrast, the HD 5770 uses a completely different chip and has 800 stream processor, 40 texture units, 16 ROPs, and a 128-bit memory interface. The upshot is we expect the HD 5830 to have performance that sits somewhere between the HD 5770 and HD 5850.

Conversely, the card we received for review looks nothing like one that should sit somewhere between the HD 5850 and HD 5770. Instead it's a reference (i.e. made by ATI itself) HD 5870 board with a 5830 chip stuck on it and as such it's long (284mm/11.2in) and heavy (975g).

However, fear not because board partners have been given carte blanche to design their own boards and cooling solutions so are producing much shorter and lighter variants for final retail – though some are still using the same long board so watch out for those. As such, while this card's cooler proved impressive in our sound level tests, it isn't necessarily going to be a reflection of what you get from a shop bought card.

Xiphias

March 24, 2010, 6:39 pm

Why is value so high? it's a £200 card with performance mid-way between the £125 5770 and the £220 5850, leaning towards the cheaper one slightly. At £160-170 it'd be a good buy, at the current prices you may as well spend the extra 10% and get the 25% faster 5850.

Malderon

March 24, 2010, 7:00 pm

I'd note that quite a few retailers do 5850s for £200 when they get them in. I got a Powercolour 5850 for £195 just last week. Obviously the majority are more but it is possible, so worth looking around as its a good step up from the 5830

Caleb9ce

March 24, 2010, 7:04 pm

The 5830 has absolutely the worst price/performance ratio of the 5K series. Can't believe that TR has given it those scores. Almost all reviewing websites unanimously agree that the 5830 is too expensive at its current price point and should be priced at £155-£165 at the very max. Add to the fact that the 5850 makes this one look completely reduntant (got my 5830 from ebuyer for £199)! Some one needs to re-evaluate the value scores (seems like TR gets this aspect wrong most of the time)

Kaiser202

March 24, 2010, 8:29 pm

Nobody needs a graphics card anyway, what with all developers intentionally f**king up the PC market and going to develop for the noobPhone. I am a hardcore PC gamer, and the last game that came out for PC worth talking about (non-multiplatform) was Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance way back when.

Guest

March 24, 2010, 9:08 pm

@Kaiser202, absolutely. That and the galactically stupid DRM systems now being deployed (e.g. Ubisofts permanent Internet connection requirements), I gave up on PC gaming a while ago - even though my PC is more than capable of running pretty any game. Got fed up with all the crap they install on your PC. It was enough to drive you to piracy! ;-)

paul

March 29, 2010, 12:30 pm

Yep pay a little bit more and get the 5850,some of tr scoring over the past months has been very strange especially value

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