The Card and The Test

The Radeon HD 4830 reference board we tested is based on a revised design put together for this part, but AMD built this chip to be able to fit into existing 4850 board designs as well. The maximum power envelope is the same, but actual power usage will be lower. AMD has informed us that initial boards based on the 4830 will be using 4850 boards, but that down the line we should start seeing boards based on the more compact 4830 reference design.

As for how the GPU stacks up against some of the other offerings from AMD, here's a handy chart:

  ATI Radeon HD 4870 ATI Radeon HD 4850 ATI Radeon HD 4830 ATI Radeon HD 4670
Stream Processors 800 800 640 320
Texture Units 40 40 32 32
ROPs 16 16 16 8
Core Clock 750MHz 625MHz 575MHz 750MHz
Memory Clock 900MHz (3600MHz data rate) GDDR5 993MHz (1986MHz data rate) GDDR3 900MHz (1800MHz data rate) GDDR3 1000MHz (2000MHz data rate) GDDR3
Memory Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 128-bit
Frame Buffer 512MB/1GB 512MB 512MB 512MB
Transistor Count 956M 956M 956M 514M
Manufacturing Process TSMC 55nm TSMC 55nm TSMC 55nm TSMC 55nm

Based on the information we know about the GPU, the 4830 is clearly just an RV770 with two SIMDs disabled. While AMD does have safeguards built into their GPUs to help improve yield, nothing is perfect. There will be ICs that come off the line that simply can't function properly at the desired speed or with all the hardware enabled to make it onto a higher end card. Chip makers will save these parts and bin them for possible use in lower end products later. We also sometimes see higher end binned chips released as special editions overclocked models, so it does work both ways.

The price of the 4830 means that it will see higher volume sales than either the 4850 or the 4870. That's just how it works: more people buy cheaper parts. The interesting twist here is that the RV770 is being used in 3 different parts ranging from $130 to $300 with very little time lapse between the initial release and the current situation.

While we still would really love to see a top to bottom launch on day one of a new architecture some time, this is very impressive in it's own right. The delay between the launch of the 4870 and the 4830 is likely due to the fact that AMD needed to maintain enough supply to meet demand for it's two higher end parts while steadily building up a supply of chips for use in the 4830. As demand will be higher, stockpiling chips that can't run at 4830 specification for a few months will certainly help meet the needs of the market.

Now that we know what we're testing, let's take a look at our test platform.

Test Setup
CPU Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 @ 3.20GHz
Motherboard EVGA nForce 790i SLI
Video Cards ATI Radeon HD 4870
ATI Radeon HD 4850
ATI Radeon HD 4830
ATI Radeon HD 4670
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 core 216
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260
NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX+
NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT
Video Drivers Catalyst 8.11 Beta
ForceWare 178.24
Hard Drive Seagate 7200.9 120GB 8MB 7200RPM
RAM 4 x 1GB Corsair DDR3-1333 7-7-7-20
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit SP1
PSU PC Power & Cooling Turbo Cool 1200W
All About Price and Rebates Age of Conan Performance
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  • 3DoubleD - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    How would the performance difference look if you overclocked the 4830 to 4850 speeds? It is only a 50 Mhz bump, I'm sure almost all of the 4830s should manage that. If you subtract ~10% performance from the 4850 there isn't a big difference, it seems the extra stream processors/texture units aren't in high demand. Of course when discussing overclocking, you could always overclock the 4850 and I'd imagine the performance gap would remain about equal. The prices are so close to, it is really hard to say. I see a 4850 for $145 after mail in rebate. Reply
  • jasonnovak - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    Newegg has a lot of 4850's for $135-$140 after rebate, so I suspect the 4830 will be at least $100 or less to be competitive very soon, comparable to the 9800gt. Right now they're at $120, you'd be better off spending the extra $15 to get a 4850, and when you take into account the 4830's all have $8 shipping and some 4850's have free shipping it's a no brainer. Reply
  • Davelo - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    Why does the author put so much importance on rebates in this article? I don't like them and don't usually base my buying decision on them. It's seems to me just a way to nullify a customer's warranty. Reply
  • erikstarcher - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    How does a rebate nullify a customer's warranty? Reply
  • Davelo - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    "How does a rebate nullify a customer's warranty?"

    Let'say your video card dies after a month or has massive compatibility issues. You contact the vendor asking to return the product and get your money back. They tell you that you cannot because you not only destroyed the box by cutting out the UPC but you got a rebate payment (not yet in pocket) so they cannot return your money. Maybe you also sent in the receipt because of rebate requirements. No receipt, no return.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    That doesn't nullify your *warranty*; it only prevents you from returning the product for a refund. Big difference. Other than that, you are correct: rebates are a way to make a customer stick with a purchase. They are also a marketing tool to gain sales, and it's amazing how many people forget to actually send in the rebate, thus paying the higher price and buying a product they might not have purchased in the first place. I find them pretty irritating, but that's about as far as I'd go. Reply
  • Davelo - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    Yep. I was thinking of the RMA process. It says on Newegg's faq an item missing a upc cannot receive an RMA. So once you send in for a rebate your return privileges disappear. So what it the rebate requires you to send in within one month but the return policy is two months? Reply
  • aj28 - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    Then you're either out of luck or you don't get your rebate check. But again, that's an RMA policy, not a warranty... Most manufacturers aren't going to care about the UPC or original box and base their operations off of your product number, serial number, and date of purchase. A receipt may or may not be required, which is why it's always good to print your order (they recommend it for a reason) and make a copy of the packing slip if a rebate requires it.

    I may not like mail-in rebates, but they're a good way to get great deals, assuming you go about redeeming them smartly...
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    I find them fantastic. They are a great way to piece meal build a system over the holiday season and save quite a bit of money.

    Rebates *only* work as a sales tactic because:

    1. People in general are marketing stupid and look at the $99.00* without realizing that's after an $X rebate. The company with the bigger rebate tends to win out due to #2.

    2. Many people fail to get the rebate. Causes include laziness, forgetfullness, failure to fill out a form properly, failure to send in the rebate timely, to the rebate companies' issues of "lost mail", improper submission (ie you are told a copy will suffice while they reject all but the real thing).
    Reply
  • bgm8800 - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    ...because I can still hear comments asking: why haven't you tested this card with an older (1 - 2 years) system to determine if it would be a worthy option for an upgrade? Reply

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