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ATI Radeon HD 5830 – AMD Completes its HD 5000 Line-up

Date: February 25, 2010
Author(s): Rob Williams

In what might be a record, AMD managed to release both the first and final normal model from its HD 5000-series in a mere five months. The final card is of course the HD 5830, which falls comfortably between the HD 5770 and HD 5850, and has the $240 price tag to prove it. So regardless of your given budget today, AMD has a card for you.



Introduction

Be sure to make a mark on the calendar for February 25, 2010. Why? Because it marks the day that AMD finally rounds out its entire HD 5000-series of cards. There are sure to be follow-ups in the future, such as bumped-clocked parts and maybe special offerings on the side, but as it stands, AMD currently has a card for all budgets, so in theory, its HD 5000 line-up is complete.

The card to plug the final hole is the Radeon HD 5830, a model that settles in between the ~$170 HD 5770 and ~$310 HD 5830. With its $240 suggested price, the HD 5830 falls $70 above and below these respective cards, so you can say that AMD really knows how to “play its cards right”. Doh, did I really start off with such a poor joke?

As corny as some of my jokes are, the statement is true. AMD currently offers a card for all budgets, with nine different models that span $50 to $650. Such a feat isn’t usually so impressive, but it is in this case since AMD managed to get all of these models out the door before NVIDIA could follow-up with its first model of the same generation of cards.

Though NVIDIA is set to launch its first Fermi-based cards late next month, AMD has truly pulled off quite the accomplishment here. As mentioned in our news section a couple of weeks ago, thanks to various changes within AMD’s graphics division, the company has managed to hit almost all of its deadlines on time, and without much of a problem afterward. There were supply issues late last fall, but those have since been sorted out, so you could really say that the company is happily rolling along right now.

Sapphire's Radeon HD 5830 1GB

One thing I should mention about the HD 5830 launch, though, is that I’m not quite sure what to expect from stock over the course of the next couple of weeks. There might not be a problem, but there seems to be a lot of mystery surrounding the press samples used for this launch, so I’m a little skeptical on the entire thing. Supposedly, one of the more popular vendors received only two cards to sample, and this is a company that normally has a dozen or more.

Normally, something like that wouldn’t phase me, but the sample we received direct from AMD even has a couple of strange issues. For one, it’s not a reference card, but rather a pre-release card. It’s for that reason that I’m not going to include photos of it here, because it doesn’t at all reflect the cards that will be available for sale (believe it or not, the HD 5830 we have is 2″ longer than the reference HD 5850, but retail cards won’t be).

Above, I mentioned that the suggested retail price for the HD 5830 is $240, and at that price, its best competitor with NVIDIA is the GTX 275, which retails for about the same. The problem there, is that the GTX 275 looks to be on its way out, and the only version I could find in stock was a pre-overclocked model that was selling for well over $300. So given the lack of general availability of the GTX 275, our next best competition is the GTX 260, which currently sells for an average of $215.

This is one of the rarer occasions when a card launch doesn’t have a direct competitor, so we’ll just have to use our heads to figure out how the slightly more expensive HD 5830 compares to NVIDIA’s last-gen GTX 260. To get on with the show, let’s take a quick moment to review AMD’s line-up once again:

Model
Core MHz
Mem MHz
Memory
Bus Width
Processors
Radeon HD 5970
725
1000
2048MB
256-bit
1600 x 2
Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6
850
1200
1024MB
256-bit
1600
Radeon HD 5870
850
1200
1024MB
256-bit
1600
Radeon HD 5850
725
1000
1024MB
256-bit
1440
Radeon HD 5830
800
1000
1024MB
256-bit
1120
Radeon HD 5770
850
1200
1024MB
128-bit
800
Radeon HD 5750
700
1150
512MB – 1GB
128-bit
720
Radeon HD 5670
775
1000
512MB – 1GB
128-bit
400
Radeon HD 5570
650
900
512MB – 1GB
128-bit
400
Radeon HD 5450
650
800
512MB – 1GB
64-bit
80

You might notice an addition to the list here that we didn’t talk about before. That card is the “Eyefinity 6 Edition”, which is nothing more than a standard HD 5870 card with six Mini DisplayPort connectors. There’s really not much to say about this one, except that it’s not going to be a good choice for those who are not going to be taking the Eyefinity multi-monitor route, simply because all of the ports are DisplayPort, which many monitors still lack. But for those who do want a multi-monitor setup, AMD’s partners will be including five adapters in the box to help you get the job done. These will include 2 Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort, 2 Passive Mini DisplayPort to DVI and one Passive Mini DisplayPort to HDMI. Whew.

For those interested in performance results for the Eyefinity 6 when used with six monitors, you will have to wait a couple of weeks, as the embargo is later than what it is for the HD 5830. Techgage will not be taking a look at that card, as we lack six equal-sized monitors, but we’ll be happy to link to quality sites that do take a good look at what’s sure to be a very drool-worthy setup.

But so as to not deviate too much from the model at hand, let’s get right back to the HD 5830. In the table above, we can see that the card falls nicely in between the two other models mentioned earlier, the HD 5770 and HD 5850. It has a slightly higher core clock than the latter, but finds itself a bit scaled back due to it having less stream processors (1440 > 1120). With this information alone, it’s fairly easy to assume the performance we’re soon going to see.

Gigabyte's Radeon HD 5830 1GB XFX's Radeon HD 5830 1GB HIS' Radeon HD 5830 1GB

At the top of the page, I posted a picture of Sapphire’s version of the HD 5830, which doesn’t quite follow reference design, but still contains a shroud that mostly covers the entire card. Above are a few other takes on the same card, from Gigabyte, XFX and HIS. None of these coolers are unique to their respective companies, but all are unique when compared to one another. At first glance, it looks as though Gigabyte’s cooling solution may be the most effective, but it’s hard to tell without actually having each card here to test.

But, I digress. Before we hit up our results, the next page will cover both our test system specs and our methodologies. If you’ve never looked through those before, I recommend it. After that, we’ll dive right into our look at Modern Warfare 2 performance.

Test System & Methodology

At Techgage, we strive to make sure our results are as accurate as possible. Our testing is rigorous and time-consuming, but we feel the effort is worth it. In an attempt to leave no question unanswered, this page contains not only our testbed specifications, but also a fully-detailed look at how we conduct our testing. For an exhaustive look at our methodologies, even down to the Windows Vista installation, please refer to this article.

Test Machine

The below table lists our testing machine’s hardware, which remains unchanged throughout all GPU testing, minus the graphics card. Each card used for comparison is also listed here, along with the driver version used. Each one of the URLs in this table can be clicked to view the respective review of that product, or if a review doesn’t exist, it will bring you to the product on the manufacturer’s website.

Component
Model
Processor
Intel Core i7-975 Extreme Edition – Quad-Core, 3.33GHz, 1.33v
Motherboard
Gigabyte GA-EX58-EXTREME – X58-based, F7 BIOS (05/11/09)
Memory
Corsair DOMINATOR – DDR3-1333 7-7-7-24-1T, 1.60
ATI Graphics Radeon HD 5870 1GB (Sapphire) – Catalyst 9.10
Radeon HD 5850 1GB (Sapphire Toxic) – Catalyst 10.2
Radeon HD 5850 1GB (ASUS) – Catalyst 9.10
Radeon HD 5830 1GB (Reference) – Beta Catalyst (02/10/10)
Radeon HD 5770 1GB (Reference) – Beta Catalyst (10/06/09)
Radeon HD 5750 1GB (Sapphire) – Catalyst 9.11
Radeon HD 5670 512MB (Reference) – Beta Catalyst (12/16/09)
Radeon HD 5570 1GB (Sapphire) – Beta Catalyst (12/11/09)
NVIDIA Graphics GeForce GTX 295 1792MB (Reference) – GeForce 186.18
GeForce GTX 285 1GB (EVGA) – GeForce 186.18
GeForce GTX 275 896MB (Reference) – GeForce 186.18
GeForce GTX 260 896MB (XFX) – GeForce 186.18
GeForce GTS 250 1GB (EVGA) – GeForce 186.18
GeForce GT 240 512MB (ASUS) – GeForce 196.21
Audio
On-Board Audio
Storage
Seagate Barracuda 500GB 7200.11
Power Supply
Corsair HX1000W
Chassis
SilverStone TJ10 Full-Tower
Display
Gateway XHD3000 30″
Cooling
Thermalright TRUE Black 120
Et cetera
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit

When preparing our testbeds for any type of performance testing, we follow these guidelines:

To aide with the goal of keeping accurate and repeatable results, we alter certain services in Windows Vista from starting up at boot. This is due to the fact that these services have the tendency to start up in the background without notice, potentially causing slightly inaccurate results. Disabling “Windows Search” turns off the OS’ indexing which can at times utilize the hard drive and memory more than we’d like.

For more robust information on how we tweak Windows, please refer once again to this article.

Game Titles

At this time, we currently benchmark all of our games using three popular resolutions: 1680×1050, 1920×1080 and also 2560×1600. 1680×1050 was chosen as it’s one of the most popular resolutions for gamers sporting ~20″ displays. 1920×1080 might stand out, since we’ve always used 1920×1200 in the past, but we didn’t make this change without some serious thought. After taking a look at the current landscape for desktop monitors around ~24″, we noticed that 1920×1200 is definitely on the way out, as more and more models are coming out as native 1080p. It’s for this reason that we chose it. Finally, for high-end gamers, we also benchmark using 2560×1600, a resolution that’s just about 2x 1080p.

For graphics cards that include less than 1GB of GDDR, we omit Grand Theft Auto IV from our testing, as our chosen detail settings require at least 800MB of available graphics memory. Also, if the card we’re benchmarking doesn’t offer the performance to handle 2560×1600 across most of our titles reliably, only 1680×1050 and 1920×1080 will be utilized.

Because we value results generated by real-world testing, we don’t utilize timedemos whatsoever. The possible exception might be Futuremark’s 3DMark Vantage. Though it’s not a game, it essentially acts as a robust timedemo. We choose to use it as it’s a standard where GPU reviews are concerned, and we don’t want to rid our readers of results they expect to see.

All of our results are captured with the help of Beepa’s FRAPS 2.98, while stress-testing and temperature-monitoring is handled by OCCT 3.1.0 and GPU-Z, respectively.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood

Crysis Warhead

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

Grand Theft Auto IV

Race Driver: GRID

World in Conflict: Soviet Assault

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

When the original Call of Duty game launched in 2003, Infinity Ward was an unknown. Naturally… it was the company’s first title. But since then, the series and company alike have become household names. Not only has the series delivered consistently incredible gameplay, it’s pushed the graphics envelope with each successive release, and where Modern Warfare is concerned, it’s also had a rich storyline.

The first two titles might have been built on the already-outdated Quake III engine, but since then, the games have been built with improved graphical features, capable of pushing the highest-end PCs out there. Modern Warfare 2 is the first such exception, as it’s more of a console port than a true PC title. Therefore, the game doesn’t push PC hardware as much as we’d like to see, but despite that, it still looks great, and lacks little in the graphics department. You can read our review of the game here.

Manual Run-through: The level chosen is the 10th mission in the game, “The Gulag”. Our teams fly in helicopters up to an old prison with the intention of getting closer to finding the game’s villain, Vladimir Makarov. Our saved game file begins us at the point when the level name comes on the screen, right before we reach the prison, and it ends after one minute of landing, following the normal progression of the level. The entire run takes around two-and-a-half minutes.

The results seen so far are a bit interesting, because the HD 5830 doesn’t quite shine as I hoped it would. It surpasses the performance of the GTX 260, but just barely. For the $25 premium the HD 5830, I expected a bit more. But, it might be safe to assume that AMD isn’t at all charging a premium for performance, but rather all of the other features that the HD 5000 series brings to the table (and those are good, to be fair).

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Min FPS
Avg. FPS
ATI HD 5770 1GB CrossFireX
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
40
81.311
ATI HD 5870 1GB (Sapphire)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
46
79.838
ATI HD 5850 1GB (ASUS)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
37
68.563
NVIDIA GTX 285 1GB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
41
66.527
NVIDIA GTX 275 896MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
37
61.937
ATI HD 5830 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
30
53.569
NVIDIA GTX 260 896MB (XFX)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
33
53.314
ATI HD 5770 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 0xAA
36
60.337
NVIDIA GTS 250 1GB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 0xAA
30
53.253
ATI HD 5750 1GB (Sapphire)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 0xAA
28
50.727
ATI HD 5670 512MB (Reference)
1920×1080 – Max Detail, 4xAA
24
43.96
NVIDIA GT 240 512MB (ASUS)
1920×1080 – Max Detail, 0xAA
30
53.139
ATI HD 5570 1GB (Sapphire)
1920×1080 – Max Detail, 0xAA
27
45.841

As has been the theme with all of our current-generation mainstream cards, the HD 5830 handles the game fine at 2560×1600 with max details, so that’s where our best playable remains.

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood

When the original Call of Juarez was released, it brought forth something unique… a western-styled first-person shooter. That’s simply not something we see too often, so for fans of the genre, its release was a real treat. Although it didn’t really offer the best gameplay we’ve seen from a recent FPS title, its storyline and unique style made it well-worth testing.

After we retired the original title from our suite, we anxiously awaited for the sequel, Bound in Blood, in hopes that the series could be re-introduced into our testing once again. Thankfully, it could, thanks in part to its fantastic graphics, which are based around the Chrome Engine 4, and improved gameplay of the original. It was also well-received by game reviewers, which is always a good sign.

Manual Run-through: The level chosen here is Chapter I, and our starting point is about 15 minutes into the mission, where we stand atop a hill that overlooks a large river. We make our way across the hill and ultimately through a large trench, and we stop our benchmarking run shortly after we blow up a gas-filled barrel.

Things weren’t looking too impressive with Modern Warfare 2, but the HD 5830 redeems itself with Bound in Blood as it manages to not just surpass the GTX 275, but actually match the GTX 285.

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Min FPS
Avg. FPS
ATI HD 5770 1GB CrossFireX
2560×1600 – Max Detail
59
87.583
ATI HD 5870 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail
58
81.945
NVIDIA GTX 295 1792MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail
37
80.339
ATI HD 5850 1GB (ASUS)
2560×1600 – Max Detail
51
69.165
ATI HD 5830 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail
35
54.675
NVIDIA GTX 285 1GB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Max Detail
45
54.428
NVIDIA GTX 275 896MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail
41
51.393
ATI HD 5770 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail
28
45.028
NVIDIA GTX 260 896MB (XFX)
2560×1600 – Max Detail
35
44.023
ATI HD 5750 1GB (Sapphire)
2560×1600 – Max Detail
27
38.686
NVIDIA GTX 250 1GB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Max Detail
25
33.751
ATI HD 5670 512MB (Reference)
1920×1080 – Max Detail
38
47.23
NVIDIA GT 240 512MB (ASUS)
1920×1080 – Max Detail
29
39.446
ATI HD 5570 1GB (Sapphire)
1920×1080 – Max Detail
24
32.931

If it can match the performance of the GTX 285 in this particular title, how could our maxed-out settings not be our best playable?

Crysis Warhead

Like Call of Duty, Crysis is another series that doesn’t need much of an introduction. Thanks to the fact that almost any comments section for a PC performance-related article asks, “Can it run Crysis?”, even those who don’t play computer games no doubt know what Crysis is. When Crytek first released Far Cry, it delivered an incredible game engine with huge capabilities, and Crysis simply took things to the next level.

Although the sequel, Warhead, has been available for just about a year, it still manages to push the highest-end systems to their breaking-point. It wasn’t until this past January that we finally found a graphics solution to handle the game at 2560×1600 at its Enthusiast level, but even that was without AA! Something tells me Crysis will be de facto for GPU benchmarking for the next while.

Manual Run-through: Whenever we have a new game in-hand for benchmarking, we make every attempt to explore each level of the game to find out which is the most brutal towards our hardware. Ironically, after spending hours exploring this game’s levels, we found the first level in the game, “Ambush”, to be the hardest on the GPU, so we stuck with it for our testing. Our run starts from the beginning of the level and stops shortly after we reach the first bridge.

We’ve about tied things back up here, with the HD 5830 just barely surpassing the performance of the GTX 260.

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Min FPS
Avg. FPS
NVIDIA GTX 295 1792MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Gamer, 0xAA
19
40.381
ATI HD 5870 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Gamer, 0xAA
20
32.955
ATI HD 5850 1GB (ASUS)
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
28
52.105
NVIDIA GTX 285 1GB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
27
50.073
NVIDIA GTX 275 896MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
24
47.758
ATI HD 5830 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
23
41.621
NVIDIA GTX 260 896MB (XFX)
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
21
40.501
ATI HD 5770 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
20
35.256
NVIDIA GTX 250 1GB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
18
34.475
ATI HD 5750 1GB (Sapphire)
1920×1080 – Mainstream, 0xAA
21
47.545
ATI HD 5670 512MB (Reference)
1920×1080 – Mainstream, 0xAA
20
35.103
NVIDIA GT 240 512MB (ASUS)
1920×1080 – Mainstream Detail, 0xAA
19
33.623
ATI HD 5570 1GB (Sapphire)
1920×1080 – Mainstream Detail, 0xAA
17
29.732

Like pretty much every other card we have, for Crysis Warhead to be completely playable, we must down our graphical settings to Mainstream. Fortunately, the game still looks great on that setting, and crisp at the same time with such a high resolution.

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

Five out of the seven current games we use for testing are either sequels, or titles in an established series. F.E.A.R. 2 is one of the former, following up on the very popular First Encounter Assault Recon, released in fall of 2005. This horror-based first-person shooter brought to the table fantastic graphics, ultra-smooth gameplay, the ability to blow massive chunks out of anything, and also a very fun multi-player mode.

Three-and-a-half years later, we saw the introduction of the game’s sequel, Project Origin. As we had hoped, this title improved on the original where gameplay and graphics were concerned, and it was a no-brainer to want to begin including it in our testing. The game is gorgeous, and there’s much destruction to be had (who doesn’t love blowing expensive vases to pieces?). The game is also rather heavily scripted, which aides in producing repeatable results in our benchmarking.

Manual Run-through: The level used for our testing here is the first in the game, about ten minutes in. The scene begins with a travel up an elevator, with a robust city landscape behind us. Our run-through begins with a quick look at this cityscape, and then we proceed through the level until the point when we reach the far door as seen in the above screenshot.

Similar to Call of Juarez, F.E.A.R. 2 favors ATI cards, and it’s evident here when seeing that the HD 5830 keeps right up to the GTX 275, despite getting beat in most other tests.

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Min FPS
Avg. FPS
NVIDIA GTX 295 1792MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA, 16xAF
45
95.767
ATI HD 5870 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA, 16xAF
65
91.34
ATI HD 5770 1GB CrossFireX
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA, 16xAF
57
87.194
ATI HD 5850 1GB (ASUS)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA, 16xAF
51
73.647
NVIDIA GTX 285 1GB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA, 16xAF
39
62.014
NVIDIA GTX 275 896MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA, 16xAF
37
57.266
ATI HD 5830 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA, 16xAF
40
57.093
NVIDIA GTX 260 896MB (XFX)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA, 16xAF
29
48.110
ATI HD 5770 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA, 16xAF
31
47.411
ATI HD 5750 1GB (Sapphire)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 0xAA, 16xAF
27
39.563
NVIDIA GTX 250 1GB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA, 16xAF
24
36.331
ATI HD 5670 512MB (Reference)
1920×1080 – Max Detail, 4xAA, 16xAF
31
46.87
NVIDIA GT 240 512MB (ASUS)
1920×1080 – Max Detail, 0xAA, 4xAF
30
45.039
ATI HD 5570 1GB (Sapphire)
1920×1080 – Max Detail, 0xAA, 4xAF
22
40.430

With an 57 FPS average at the game’s top settings, our best playable was all too easy to choose here.

Grand Theft Auto: IV

If you look up the definition for “controversy”, Grand Theft Auto should be listed. If it’s not, then that should be a crime, because throughout GTA’s many titles, there’s been more of that than you can shake your fist at. At the series’ beginning, the games were rather simple, and didn’t stir up too much passion in certain opposers. But once GTA III and its successors came along, its developers enjoyed all the controversy that came their way, and why not? It helped spur incredible sales numbers.

Grand Theft Auto IV is yet another continuation in the series, though it follows no storyline from the previous titles. Liberty City, loosely based off of New York City, is absolutely huge, with much to explore. This is so much so the case, that you could literally spend hours just wandering around, ignoring the game’s missions, if you wanted to. It also happens to be incredibly stressful on today’s computer hardware, similar to Crysis.

Manual Run-through: After the first minor mission in the game, you reach an apartment. Our benchmarking run starts from within this room. From here, we run out the door, down the stairs and into an awaiting car. We then follow a specific path through the city, driving for about three minutes total.

We’re back to where we started, with the HD 5830 settling in between the GTX 260 and GTX 275.

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Min FPS
Avg. FPS
NVIDIA GTX 295 1792MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – H/H/VH/H/VH Detail
27
52.590
ATI HD 5770 1GB CrossFireX
2560×1600 – H/H/VH/H/VH Detail
30
51.813
ATI HD 5870 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – H/H/VH/H/VH Detail
29
45.767
NVIDIA GTX 285 1GB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – High Detail
32
45.573
NVIDIA GTX 275 896MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – High Detail
30
44.703
NVIDIA GTX 260 896MB (XFX)
2560×1600 – High Detail
24
38.492
ATI HD 5850 1GB (ASUS)
1920×1080 – High Detail
39
58.886
ATI HD 5830 1GB (Reference)
1920×1080 – High Detail
31
51.213
ATI HD 5770 1GB (Reference)
1920×1080 – High Detail
33
47.719
NVIDIA GTX 250 1GB (EVGA)
1920×1080 – High Detail
21
34.257
ATI HD 5750 1GB (Sapphire)
1920×1080 – High Detail
27
39.904

I am not sure what it is, but like the HD 5850, this card doesn’t seem to handle this game at 2560×1600 too well. At first, it seemed to handle it fine, but the more I played, the more it tended to lag far randomly. As a result of that, our 1080p setting is what’s recommend for being best playable. I’m not sure exactly what the issue is, be it hardware or driver, but it’s existed for a while on just a couple HD 5000 cards.

Race Driver: GRID

If you primarily play games on a console, your choices for quality racing games are plenty. On the PC, that’s not so much the case. While there are a good number, there aren’t enough for a given type of racing game, from sim, to arcade. So when Race Driver: GRID first saw its release, many gamers were excited, and for good reason. It’s not a sim in the truest sense of the word, but it’s certainly not arcade, either. It’s somewhere in between.

The game happens to be great fun, though, and similar to console games like Project Gotham Racing, you need a lot of skill to succeed at the game’s default difficulty level. And like most great racing games, GRID happens to look absolutely stellar, and each of the game’s locations look very similar to their real-world counterparts. All in all, no racing fan should ignore this one.

Manual Run-through: For our testing here, we choose the city where both Snoop Dogg and Sublime hit their fame, the LBC, also known as Long Beach City. We choose this level because it’s not overly difficult, and also because it’s simply nice to look at. Our run consists of an entire 2-lap race, with the cars behind us for almost the entire race.

GRID is another game that tends to favor ATI cards to some small degree, and that works to the HD 5830’s favor as it manages to outpace the GTX 275 at our top resolution of 2560×1600.

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Min FPS
Avg. FPS
ATI HD 5870 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
87
106.43
ATI HD 5770 1GB CrossFireX
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
81
104.32
NVIDIA GTX 295 1792MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
84
103.958
ATI HD 5850 1GB (ASUS)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
68
84.732
NVIDIA GTX 285 1GB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
54
66.042
ATI HD 5830 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
53
65.584
NVIDIA GTX 275 896MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
52
63.617
ATI HD 5770 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
45
56.980
NVIDIA GTX 260 896MB (XFX)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
45
54.809
ATI HD 5750 1GB (Sapphire)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
39
47.05
NVIDIA GTX 250 1GB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
35
43.663
ATI HD 5670 512MB (Reference)
1920×1080 – Max Detail, 4xAA
36
47.36
ATI HD 5570 1GB (Sapphire)
1920×1080 – Max Detail, 0xAA
33
41.143
NVIDIA GT 240 512MB (ASUS)
1920×1080 – Max Detail, 0xAA
33
51.071

Once again, GRID is one of those games that runs well on almost anything, and especially on a card like the HD 5830. Therefore, 2560×1600 at maxed settings was no issue at all, so it naturally becomes our best playable setting.

World in Conflict: Soviet Assault

I admit that I’m not a huge fan of RTS titles, but World in Conflict intrigued me from the get go. After all, so many war-based games continue to follow the same story-lines we already know, and WiC was different. It counteracts the fall of the political and economic situation in the Soviet Union in the late 80’s, and instead provides a storyline that follows it as if the USSR had succeeded by proceeding with war in order to remain in power.

Many RTS games, with their advanced AI, tend to favor the CPU in order to deliver smooth gameplay, but WiC favors both the CPU and GPU, and the graphics prove it. Throughout the game’s missions, you’ll see gorgeous vistas and explore areas from deserts and snow-packed lands, to fields and cities. Overall, it’s a real visual treat for the eyes – especially since you’re able to zoom to the ground and see the action up-close.

Manual Run-through: The level we use for testing is the 7th campaign of the game, called Insurgents. Our saved game plants us towards the beginning of the mission with two squads of five, and two snipers. The run consists of bringing our men to action, and hovering the camera around throughout the duration. The entire run lasts between three and four minutes.

For some reason, the HD 5830 didn’t quite handle WiC as well as I pictured it would, and that can be seen above with it falling just behind the GTX 260. Again, there’s barely a difference, but it’s there.

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Min FPS
Avg. FPS
NVIDIA GTX 295 1792MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 8xAA, 16xAF
40
55.819
ATI HD 5770 1GB CrossFireX
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA, 16xAF
38
49.335
ATI HD 5870 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA, 16xAF
35
47.195
ATI HD 5850 1GB (ASUS)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA, 16xAF
29
40.581
NVIDIA GTX 285 1GB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 0xAA, 16xAF
34
49.514
NVIDIA GTX 275 896MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 0xAA, 16xAF
36
46.186
ATI HD 5830 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 0xAA, 16xAF
31
42.543
NVIDIA GTX 260 896MB (XFX)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 0xAA, 16xAF
23
39.365
ATI HD 5770 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 0xAA, 16xAF
28
37.389
NVIDIA GTX 250 1GB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 0xAA, 4xAF
24
32.453
ATI HD 5750 1GB (Sapphire)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 0xAA, 4xAF
23
31.769
NVIDIA GT 240 512MB (ASUS)
1920×1080 – Max Detail, 0xAA, 4xAF
22
33.788
ATI HD 5670 512MB (Reference)
1920×1080 – Max Detail, 0xAA, 16xAF
21
31.872
ATI HD 5570 1GB (Sapphire)
1920×1080 – Medium Detail, 0xAA, 4xAF
51
79.790

I admit that with top settings, World in Conflict isn’t as smooth as butter (something common with most RTS titles that have a lot going on at once), but it’s not until you get past 60 FPS that the game becomes really smooth. But, while it might not be buttery-smooth at ~40 and a bit above, we’re going with the settings above (2560×1600) as being our best playable, sans anti-aliasing, as we have no doubt anyone on this configuration would be more than content with that choice.

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Although we generally shun automated gaming benchmarks, we do like to run at least one to see how our GPUs scale when used in a ‘timedemo’-type scenario. Futuremark’s 3DMark Vantage is without question the best such test on the market, and it’s a joy to use, and watch. The folks at Futuremark are experts in what they do, and they really know how to push that hardware of yours to its limit.

The company first started out as MadOnion and released a GPU-benchmarking tool called XLR8R, which was soon replaced with 3DMark 99. Since that time, we’ve seen seven different versions of the software, including two major updates (3DMark 99 Max, 3DMark 2001 SE). With each new release, the graphics get better, the capabilities get better and the sudden hit of ambition to get down and dirty with overclocking comes at you fast.

Similar to a real game, 3DMark Vantage offers many configuration options, although many (including us) prefer to stick to the profiles which include Performance, High and Extreme. Depending on which one you choose, the graphic options are tweaked accordingly, as well as the resolution. As you’d expect, the better the profile, the more intensive the test.

Performance is the stock mode that most use when benchmarking, but it only uses a resolution of 1280×1024, which isn’t representative of today’s gamers. Extreme is more appropriate, as it runs at 1920×1200 and does well to push any single or multi-GPU configuration currently on the market – and will do so for some time to come.

3DMark Vantage is a highly scalable benchmark, taking full advantage of all available shaders and literal GPU cores, along with copious amounts of memory. Given that, our results above fairly accurately scale each card with its real-world performance.

Final Thoughts

Since AMD launched its first HD 5000 model, the HD 5870, we’ve taken a look at every single-GPU model from the series. The HD 5830, though, is the first one where I’ve had a hard time forming a conclusion, because overall, it’s kind of a strange beast. Though it does fit nicely into AMD’s line-up, it still feels like a card that’s just being tossed in for the fun of it.

The fact that we received a card that essentially looks like an HD 5870, yet is much slower, is the first tip-off. As mentioned on the opening page, retail cards will not be as long as the sample we received, but the fact that we did receive a sample like that really proves that the card is simply an HD 5870, just clocked down, and with stream processors shaved off (or it can be assumed that these are HD 5870 chips that didn’t quite make the cut, so were re-purposed).

I don’t mean to downplay the card, though, because regardless of how it was formed, it does fill the much-needed gap in the current Radeon line-up. Before this card, we had a massive stretch between $170 and $310, and the HD 5830 falls smack dab in the middle. Plus, its performance scales just as we’d expect, given its placement, so there’s not too much to dislike.

Sapphire's Radeon HD 5830 1GB

The hard sell will be the fact that in most cases throughout our tests, the GTX 260 managed to keep up to the HD 5830. With the latter selling for around $240, and NVIDIA’s card selling for $215, it’s difficult to explain to an end-user that the HD 5830 is worth the premium, despite being no faster. Most people who are reading this already have opinions on this I’m sure, but what exactly is it that sets ATI’s card apart?

The biggest one is the fact that NVIDIA’s GTX 260 is already outdated in terms of current architecture. It was released about a year-and-a-half ago, and lacks a major feature that all HD 5000-series cards have… DirectX 11. NVIDIA will try to downplay the importance of DirectX 11 as it stands today, but you can be certain that as soon as its Fermi-based cards are available, its tune will be changed fast.

The fact is, DirectX 11 looks to have a far faster upswing than DirectX 10 (which was a turtle’s-pace, honestly), so to purchase a non-DX11 card today could be considered a bit strange, especially if you plan on buying one that’s going to last you for a while. That’s where AMD’s current line-up shines, because it not only has things like DirectX 11, but it also has Eyefinity, the feature-rich multi-monitor technology, and also far-improved temperatures and power consumption compared to NVIDIA’s collection.

My personal opinion is that I wouldn’t recommend going with a non-DX11 card today, because if you care about games, you don’t want to be left in the dark when some really stellar titles hit the PC in the future. ATI’s card might not blow away the GTX 260, but it has other perks that make up for it, which make the premium it demands worth it. If I had to choose between the two, I would currently pick ATI in a heartbeat, but it comes down to a matter of opinion. If you don’t at all care about power consumption, temperatures, DirectX 11, or Eyefinity, then other options definitely exist.

While I still feel like the HD 5830 feels kind of like a product that was just shoved in somewhere, it’s really great to see AMD’s line-up finally completed. Now all we have left to do is wait for Fermi to hit, so that things can really be shaken up!

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