Power Consumption and Closing Thoughts
AMD Radeon HD 5830 Graphics Card Review - 5870 Eyefinity Edition too! - Graphics Cards  1

Looking at our power consumption results you can see that the HD 5830 does in fact use quite a bit more power than the Radeon HD 5770 and is nearly matching the consumption seen in the HD 5850.  This will likely tell us that the HD 5770 is a much more efficient GPU in terms of performance/watt than the HD 5830 which seems to be one of the first offerings from AMD in this generation in this particular statistic. 

Performance

The performance of the new Radeon HD 5830 puts it in an interesting spot in the market.  As we predicted when looking at the specifications provided by AMD, it falls between the HD 5770 (Juniper) cards and the HD 5870 (Cypress) cards already available on the market.  In practice, in most of our tests with the exception of the synthetic 3DMark Vantage, the HD 5830 performed more like the slower HD 5770 than the  faster HD 5850 which was a bit of a letdown.  In no cases did the HD 5770 run any faster than the HD 5830 though, even at our lower resolution testing, so this new card still has a permanent spot in the AMD product line up.

I also found it interesting than the GeForce GTX 260+ was a more than capable competitor to the HD 5830 in most cases as well.  The GTX 260+ is OLD – it was released in October of 2008! – yet it still find a notable place to plop down and compete with AMD in terms of price and raw gaming performance.  In many cases the GTX 260+ was the faster card when compared to the HD 5830 and was even edging into the territory of the HD 5850 once or twice.  This means one of two things is happening internally at AMD: either they are confident that the additional features of their 5000-series will make the user choose it over the aging NVIDIA offering or they are simply unwilling to make the price cuts necessary to truly kick NVIDIA in the ass. 

Features

And when it comes to features, the AMD Radeon HD 5830 does in fact have a big edge over the GeForce GTX 260+.  The first notable difference is that the HD 5830 supports DirectX 11 and thus will be able to run the latest upcoming PC games with all the bells and whistles associated with DX11 while the GTX 260+ will not.  That means that things like geometry tessellation will be available to users of these ATI graphics cards.

AMD Radeon HD 5830 Graphics Card Review - 5870 Eyefinity Edition too! - Graphics Cards  2
The reference HD 5830 you’ll never see.  Partner cards will look very different, but perform about the same

We also can’t forget Eyefinity, the multi-monitor gaming technology that continues to gain ground in the developer and enthusiast community.  I have it and love it though I realize not everyone has the space or ability to setup three monitors for a gaming PC.  If you haven’t seen our evaluation of Eyefinity, you should definitely check it out

Finally, let’s not forget the integrated audio controller that can support full 7.1 channel uncompressed audio and through the DVI or HDMI ports (via included adapters) and support for three monitors on a single graphics cards even if you choose to not use them for gaming.  There are lot of reasons why the AMD Radeon HD 5000-series offers the better feature set and NVIDIA knows this – but their next architecture isn’t due out until March 26th.

OF COURSE – don’t forget the upcoming release of the Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity Edition that we touched on at the onset of this piece – we are really looking forward to adding that to our testing suite and requiring* a move to a 6-display configuration.

Pricing and Availability

Here is where things get interesting again.  Let’s look at current prices as of this writing:
  • Radeon HD 5830 (estimate) – $239
  • Radeon HD 5850 – $309
  • Radeon HD 5770 – $165
  • GeForce GTX 260+ – $205 (only two in stock at Newegg…)
When I look at those prices what stands out for me?  First, none of these cards appear to the run-away winner really.  The $70 price jump between the HD 5830 and the HD 5850 is pretty steep since it is an increase of about 30% of the price of the HD 5830.  However, is the HD 5830 really $70 better than the HD 5770?  I don’t think so either.  Here’s the stinger: is the $205 GeForce GTX 260+ a better option than the $239 HD 5830?  If we are looking ONLY at current generation gaming performance, then I have to say yes, it is.  But when we look at the added features like DX11 support and Eyefinity, can the HD 5830 be the better option for some or most people?  Again, I yes it can. 

It’s a tough call really at this exact instance.  I will be curious to see as February ends and March begins how the lineup of GeForce GTX 200 cards fares.  Will they all just disappear or will they be restocked?  This might be your last chance to get in on the GT200 GPUs or they might go another friggin’ year on the shelves.  With NVIDIA, it’s really hard to tell these days.

Final Thoughts

The Radeon HD 5830 fills the gap between the HD 5770 and the HD 5850 pretty well though not without some lingering performance questions and debate surrounding it.  For AMD it means another notch in their DX11 belt while we continue to wait for NVIDIA to do … well anything at this point regarding next-generation technology.  For users looking for a sub-$250 graphics card option going into spring the HD 5830 makes a great choice but as is usually the case, make sure you completely understand what options are out there before hitting that buy now button.


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