Maximum PC Staff Jun 08, 2010

XFX Radeon HD 5830 Review

At A Glance


Good performance; XFX warranty; interesting cooler design.

Lost in Space

Priced too high for the performance; needs more space than a 5850.

A polished, if pricey, take on AMD's oddball GPU

You have to give AMD credit for trying to make lemonade out of lemons.

The Radeon HD 5830 is the odd duck of AMD’s 5000-series GPUs. The card itself is as long as the high-end HD 5870, and consumes more power at idle than the Radeon HD 5850. But that’s what you’d expect of a card built on a “salvaged” chip.

Salvaged chips are produced by taking chips that fail to pass muster as the highest-end part and selling them as lower-end parts. This can be seen in the Radeon HD 5830, which has 1,120 stream processors active, as opposed to 1,440 for the HD 5850 or 1,600 for the 5870.

It's just like a Radeon HD 5870 but with a ton of transistors turned off.

Unlike AMD’s lower-end HD 5770, which uses the Juniper GPU, with 1.05 billion transistors and 800 stream processors, the 5830 sports the same 2.15-billion-transistor GPU as the 5870/5850, with more functional units disabled.

The potential performance bottleneck of the 5830 isn’t fewer computational units. The HD 5830 has only 56 texture units and 16 ROPs, as compared to the 72 texture units and 32 ROPs of the Radeon HD 5850. This ultimately is what may limit throughput.

To sum up: The Radeon HD 5830 is very much a cut-down Radeon HD 5870 on a large board with higher idle power than the slightly more expensive HD 5850—and with performance that’s likely to be much lower.

XFX’s take on the HD 5830 adds some flair to this unlikely and still overpriced graphics card. The cooler on the GPU and memory is shorter than in AMD’s reference design. So while the actual board is as long as an HD 5870 (10.6 inches), the shorter cooler does make for a less bulky product. XFX delivers its HD 5830 at stock clock speeds: 800MHz core and 1,000MHz memory clocks.

Given these limitations, how does XFX’s HD 5830 perform? We dropped the card into our graphics test system to find out, comparing it to the Radeon HD 5850 and HD 5770. All our tests were run at 1920x1200 with 4xAA.

The card performed pretty much as you’d expect—somewhat faster than the HD 5770, but noticeably slower than the HD 5850. It’s also $100 more than a 5770, and just about $50 less than the Radeon HD 5850. The performance was closer to an HD 5770 across the board. More notably, the HD 5830 consumed about 15W more at idle than the HD 5850.

Ultimately, it looks like the HD 5830 is a pared-to-the-bone salvage HD 5870 that AMD decided to offer at a gap-filling price point. The performance is about right for the specs—certainly better than an HD 5770—but the price really needs to come down at least $20–$30 before we’d recommend it. And don’t forget: You’ll actually need a larger case than you would with a HD 5850.


XFX Radeon HD 5830

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