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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  • crimson117 - Tuesday, December 30, 2008 - link

    It's all relative... both are Powercolor brand...

    Best price AGP 3850: $118.24 shipped after $10 MIR.
    Best price PCIe 3850: $68.24 shipped after $10 MIR.

    So no it's not $200, but in this low-price example AGP is still a $50 price premium over PCIe.

    If current performance is acceptable, and preserving your current system is worth the price premium, then stick with AGP and delay your move to PCIe. But if you'd like to put that cash towards performance instead of legacy preservation, and don't mind spending extra time reinstalling everything, then take the plunge and upgrade your mobo and all your legacy components.

    I built a ~$800 computer for a friend in July 2006 right when the C2D came out. Because we went with the newest technology at the time (PCIe, DDR2, socket 775), he's been able to use it for 2.5 years now. He also just easily upgraded the GPU from a 7300LE to a 9800 GT for about $100 (unlike in 2006, he now likes to play PC games), and is considering moving to faster and more DDR2 ram to take advantage of the current low prices. He could also grab a new C2D if he wanted to. He's left with tons of easy upgrade options, none of which require a reinstall, even 2.5 years after it was first built, and chances are it'll last him another year or two if he wants.

    For your situation, however, considering that the Core i7 uses a new socket and a new ram type (DDR3), and there'll be no PCIe 3.0 graphics cards until at least 2010, it's a great time to bite the bullet and upgrade all your components at once, even if it means an OS reinstall today. IMHO it's okay to skip one major product cycle, but you're tying your hands too much if you try to preserve legacy components when they're two, three generations old.

    (of course, this depends on your other parts - perhaps you have all the latest stuff like DDR2 and socket 775, but just kept AGP for some reason - in that case upgrading everything is slightly less compelling).
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    i haven't heard anything about AGP availability ... i sort of doubt it, but anything is possible. it would definitely be up to a vendor to add a bridge to the board, as this isn't likely to be something AMD will push themselves. Reply
  • chrone - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    nice review Derek :) Reply
  • leexgx - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    the card you got may be an card with only 540 sp (5 out of the 8 working) please run GPU-z on it and check that thay are all working or all of the results will not be correct as the powercore one that 2 other web sites have tested have come into this problem from cards from ATI test cards but not from OEM makers

    http://www.bit-tech.net/news/2008/10/23/amd-introd...">http://www.bit-tech.net/news/2008/10/23...roduces-...
    Reply
  • Spoelie - Friday, October 24, 2008 - link

    http://www.techpowerup.com/articles/other/155">http://www.techpowerup.com/articles/other/155 is linked in there with a better explanation.

    Apparently there's a bios fix.

    Any word on what version AT used?
    Reply
  • leexgx - Friday, October 24, 2008 - link

    note has been added

    as there is likey to be an 4810 or something like that can you just add the results to the charts (like all the other sites have) of the fixed bios or an retail card that does not have this problem

    not sure what about the comments tho on each page as the card is going to operate an bit faster and is going to move the card up the chart an bit
    Reply

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