Power Consumption and Conclusions
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The power consumption of the new Radeon HD 4830 512MB card is about on par with what we expected: slightly less than idle power usage than NVIDIA latest GPUs though the power consumption under a full gaming load is about the same with either company.


I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of AMD’s new ATI Radeon HD 4830 graphics card.  As I have been saying for weeks now, and I often think I am on repeat, the amount of gaming power you are getting for graphics cards under $200 continues to impress me.  Prices continue to sink and you can honestly play just about ANY game, including the recently release Far Cry 2, with cards at this level.

The HD 4830 512MB is obviously a strong contender in this area and puts the GeForce 9800 GT on notice becoming the best card you can get for less than $130.  In our gaming tests I saw the HD 4830 clearly outpace the GeForce 9800 GT in both Call of Duty 4 and Crysis, two games that are usually quite favorable to NVIDIA’s GPUs and drivers.  Bioshock also performed well on the HD 4830 but the tests at 2048×1536 indicate to me that the cards are about equal in this title. 

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I should note that there are some highly overclocked models of the 9800 GT that would likely put NVIDIA in a more competitive position in this comparison; we simply DO NOT have time to test all the possible configurations.  If you can find a highly overclocked model of the 9800 GT at a better than normal price, it too will likely produce gaming results that are just as impressive.

Features and Extras

One area we haven’t focused on for some time with our GPUs (but we are going to be addressing with future budget graphics cards articles) is how they fit in the HTPC scheme.  AMD’s cards have really carved the way for this in the past couple of years as they were the first to introduce features like HDMI output and audio codec support across their entire line of GPUs.  The HD 4830 of course supports the DVI-to-HDMI adapters that are likely included with every retail package and it also has the integrated audio processor on-board for seamless streaming 7.1 ACM audio out the HDMI connection for a single cable HTPC output.

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As with all current HD 4800-series cards, the HD 4830 supports both ATI’s UVD engine and the UVD 2 engine for supporting dual stream outputs from Blu-ray discs supporting just that.  AMD’s cards decode all steps of HD video including VC-1 and H.264 formats for incredibly efficient playback that doesn’t over utilize your CPU. 

Pricing and Availability

Getting completely accurate pricing on cards that are available online today is hard enough – with all the rebates, overnight price changes and more, keeping tabs on it all can be a full time job on its own.  Luckily we have already found a handful of HD 4830 cards for sale tonight so the job is a little bit easier (nailing down prices on unreleased parts is nearly impossible). 

At Newegg there were three HD 4830 512MB cards for sale as of this writing and the lowest priced model was from Powercolor and is going for $114 after a mail-in rebate.  A quick look at our pricing engine shows the lowest priced GeForce 9800 GT cards are going for $119.  So, in effect, this puts both cards on equal ground and again my assertion that the Radeon HD 4830 is the better of the two stands firm.

Final Thoughts

AMD’s latest entry into the graphics card market is a great addition to the mid-range market offering up tremendous gaming performance for less than $130 and putting NVIDIA’s G92-based GeForce 9800 GT in a tight spot for the first time since its introduction.  Both card offerings will most likely provide a good gaming experience, and I do have to mention the CUDA and PhysX support of the NVIDIA GPUs, but in the end I still side with raw performance and think the HD 4830 512MB card will be the better option. 

Okay guys, that’s enough on the low end.  How about some new, impressive high end parts?

Be sure to use our pricing engine to find the best prices on NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards and anything else you might need:

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