ATI Radeon HD 5830 review

It's all about the thin red line

ATI Radeon HD 5830
We think ATI is trying to fill a gap in the market that doesn't exist

TechRadar Verdict

If you're after this sort of performance, save yourself £70 and buy a HD 5770


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    We'll have lots of different designs


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    Which no-one will want to buy

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    Performance too close to HD 5770

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    Far too expensive

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The way the graphics war is going at the moment, it's like AMD is starting its very own game of Battlefield while adding more and more irrelevant spawn points. Its already got heavily armed squads holding onto the three main spawn points; the low, mid and high-end of the graphics sector and Nvidia hasn't even logged in yet.

AMD isn't resting on its laurels though, it's bringing out more troops to take the pointless spawn points of every other conceivable price bracket. This HD 5830 then is supposed to be bolstering the front line, covering the gap between the HD 5770 and the HD 5850.

While it may not be a gap we were particularly bothered about, or even aware of, AMD has seen fit to plug it with another slab of confusing silicon. Luckily, things have been made very easy for us all with the HD 5830 as it's a card that you shouldn't be bothered about.

No matter how much money you've got or the native resolution of your monitor, this is one card that hasn't even got a round hole to fit its square peg into.

How much?

The big problem is that price spawn point. Two hundred pounds is a lot of cash to spend on a graphics board so you'd want something special for your money, and not some half-baked, half-way house of a card.

Seeing this imaginary gap in the market AMD has created something that's only slightly better than a HD 5770, and far worse than a HD 5850 and yet sits directly in the middle price-wise.

The HD 5830 sports the same basic 40nm Cypress chip as the HD 5870 and HD 5850s, but with the memory bus and ROPs count slashed in half. That makes it a rather hobbled affair only just holding up against the Juniper-based HD 5770.

card internal

Indeed, it was only the somewhat strange World in Conflict benchmark that showed any clear space between the HD 5830 and HD 5770, leaving nothing to choose between them in the theoretically more exhausting Far Cry 2 and DiRT 2 tests.

With the HD 5850s so thin on the ground, the cynic in me is screaming inside my wee skull. This card isn't being created by AMD despite the reference board we have here (using as it does the same cooler and PCB as the HD 5870) what it's doing is giving the chips to the graphics companies for them to design their own PCB around this hobbled GPU. It feels like AMD is throwing a bone to its manufacturing partners, so they can create their own individual spins rather than relying on slightly different coolers on standard reference boards.

Unfortunately, as I've said, this GPU isn't one that you should be that bothered about. Unless one of AMD's partners finds a way to unlock that 256-bit memory interface and open up the ROP count that is.

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