When AMD was launching the 5700 series last year, I asked AMD whether they were concerned about the pricing gap between the 5700 series and the 5800 series. The MSRP on the 5770 was $159, the MSRP on the 5850 was $259 - there was a $100 price gap, cutting right through the $200 sweet spot. AMD said they weren’t concerned, citing the fact that there were still products like the 4890 to cover that gap.

Things have changed since then. AMD hasn’t been getting quite the yield they were hoping for from TSMC’s 40nm process. Meanwhile a lack of pricing competition from NVIDIA has lead everyone in the chain to do some profit-taking that rarely gets to occur. The 5850 is now a $300 card, and the 5770 hovers between $160 and $170. That pricing gap that was $100 has become $130-$140. AMD has a hole.

Today they’re going to try to plug that hole with the Radeon HD 5830, the third and lowest member of the Cypress/5800 family.

  AMD Radeon HD 5850 AMD Radeon HD 5830 AMD Radeon HD 5770 AMD Radeon HD 4890
Stream Processors 1440 1120 800 800
Texture Units 72 56 40 40
ROPs 32 16 16 16
Core Clock 725MHz 800MHz 850MHz 850MHz
Memory Clock 1GHz (4GHz data rate) GDDR5 1GHz (4GHz data rate) GDDR5 1.2GHz (4.8GHz data rate) GDDR5 975MHz (3.9GHz data rate) GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit 128-bit 256-bit
Frame Buffer 1GB 1GB 1GB 1GB
Transistor Count 2.15B 2.15B 1.04B 959M
TDP 151W 175W 108W 190W
Manufacturing Process TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm TSMC 55nm
Price Point $299 $239 $159 $199

Much like the Radeon HD 4830 before it, the 5830 is a dual-purpose card. On the one hand it’s a card to fill a perceived gap in their product line, and on the other hand it’s an outlet for less-than-perfect Cypress chips. Particularly when yields could be better, AMD wants to take every chip they can and do something with it. The 5850 line sucks up chips that can’t meet the 5870’s clock targets and/or have a 1-2 defective SIMDs, but until now AMD hasn’t had a place to put a Cypress chip with further defects. With the 5830, they now have a place for those chips.

The 5830 will be using a more heavily cut down Cypress. Compared to the 5850 AMD is disabling another 4 SIMDs, giving us a total of 6 disabled SIMDs and 14 remaining active SIMDs. Furthermore the ROPs are also taking a shave, with half of the ROPs (16) being disabled. Since Cypress has 4 ROPs per memory controller, AMD is able to disable 2 of them in each cluster without disabling memory controllers, so the 5830 maintains all 8 memory controllers and a 256-bit bus.

The clockspeeds on the 5830 will be 800MHz for the core clock, and 1GHz (4GHz effective) for the memory clock. AMD tells us that the higher core clock is to help compensate for the ROP loss, while the memory clock is unchanged from the 5850. It’s worth noting that the 5830’s clock speeds have clearly been in flux for some time, as the sample cards AMD shipped out to the press came with a BIOS that ran the card at 800MHz/1.15GHz, with AMD giving us a BIOS update to put the card at the right clocks once it arrived.

Overall the 5830 has the same memory bandwidth as the 5850, while in terms of core performance it has better than 5850 performance along the fixed function pipeline (due to the higher core clock), 85% of the 5850’s performance in shader/computation/texturing activities, and 55% of the 5850’s pixel fillrate and Z/stencil performance due to the disabled ROPs. In a lot of ways this makes the card half of a 5850 and half of a 5770 – the latter has around 75% of the 5830’s shader performance and the same 16 ROPs, albeit ones that are actually clocked higher than the 5830 and giving the 5770 a slightly higher pixel fillrate.

Unfortunately disabling further units on Cypress isn’t enough to make up for the cost of running the chip at 800MHz instead of 725MHz like the 5850. The higher core clock requires a higher operating voltage (we suspect 1.175v), and as such the 5830 ends up having a higher load power than the 5850: 175W under load, versus 151W for the 5850 and 188W for the 5870. Idle power usage benefits from this situation however since idle clocks are fixed at 157/300 across the 5800 series; the extra disabled units bring idle power usage down from 27W on the 5850/5870 to 25W on the 5830.

Given the 175W load power, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that AMD and its partners are doing some recycling on board designs. The launch 5830s will be using the 5870’s board due to the similar power usage of the two cards. This is something that AMD says may change in the future if vendors want to do their own boards.

However while the 5870’s board is being used here, the 5870’s shrouded cooler is out. In fact any kind of reference design is out as AMD isn’t doing one. Instead this is going to be an AIB launch, so each vendor is going to be doing a custom design which at this point would entail a 5870 board with a custom cooler. Since the review samples that went out were 5870 cards with the appropriate functional units disabled on the GPU we don’t have any first-hand cards to show you, but AMD did send along a collection of photos from their vendors, showing how each vendor is equipping their 5830. The lack of a reference design for the 5830 also means that you can expect some significant variation in what the thermal and noise characteristics of the shipping cards are, as some of these coolers are significantly different.

Our sample 5830: A 5870 housing a 5830 GPU

Update: It looks like AMD's partners have been able to come through and make this a hard launch. PowerColor and Sapphire cards have started showing up at Newegg. So we're very happy to report that this didn't turn out to be a paper launch after all. Do note however that the bulk of the cards are still not expected until next week.

With that out of the way, it’s time for the bad news: this is more or less a paper launch. The chips are done (AMD has practically been stockpiling them since August) but AMD has decided to jump the gun on this announcement so that they can announce the 5830 before CeBit next week, where they believe the launch would get lost among the myriads of other products that will be launched at that time.

At this point the production of the final boards is running a week later than the launch itself, which AMD is attributing to the fact that their partner’s factories were shut down earlier this month for the Chinese New Year. Two of AMD’s partners are hoping to have cards to e-tailers on time for this launch, but as of half a day before the launch no one is sure whether they’ll make it. Realistically you’re looking at the middle of next week before the cards are widely available. 

We’re not amused by any of this, and we’ve told AMD as such. Paper launches were supposed to be something long-gone, and while this isn’t nearly as bad as what we’ve seen in previous years where products were paper launched solely to discourage consumers from buying a competitors product (there isn’t an NVIDIA product to counter at this point), this is still a paper launch, and there’s nothing good about a paper launch. This is a very bad habit to get in to.

And while we’re on the subject of supplies, we asked AMD what the continuing supply of the 5830 would be given that it’s a product of die harvesting, and the supply of its precursor the 4830 thinned out after some time. AMD tells us that they expect to be able to produce the 5830 in similar quantities as the 5850, which should give you an idea in relative terms of how many Cypress chips are coming back with 1-2 defective SIMDs or are missing clock targets, versus the number of chips coming back with 3-6 defective SIMDs or a defective ROP.

Finally there’s the second piece of bad news: the price. AMD is estimating $240 at launch for these cards, and we’ve seen that the price on the 5000 series can be quite variable. In terms of performance the 5830 is closer to what would be a Radeon HD 4880 with DX11, so you’re looking at a card that is going to underperform the 4890 and still cost at least $40 more. Of course at this point you can’t buy a 4890 (or a GTX 275) so AMD isn’t facing close competition at this performance level, but based on the historical pricing of the 4890 we strongly believe that $200 is the sweet spot for the 5830 right now.

Also Announced: Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition


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  • Voo - Thursday, February 25, 2010 - link

    No, no I never said that the 5850 aren't good cards or a good value (though I still think that the 48xx cards offered more when they were released - but it's impossible to put cold hard numbers on that, so really no point in arguing about subjective feelings). As a matter of fact I think that the 5850 is probably the best card to get at the moment.

    But the same is just not true for the 5830 - even if you ignore the 4890 argument, the 5830 is priced closer to the 5850 but performs more like a 5770. I mean you get at most ~20% more performance than the 5770 but you can get one for much less than 200$.
  • kc77 - Thursday, February 25, 2010 - link

    I agree with this. Trust me I'm not going to buy a 5830 anytime soon if ever. I was just alarmed at the comment about the 5850, which was what caused me to post. Reply
  • anactoraaron - Friday, February 26, 2010 - link

    one last thing to say about this. I think anyone that is being forced to pay 15% over MSRP is being ripped off (much like Ryan and Jarred were saying) in regards to the 5850 (as I bought a 5770 3 weeks after release for $150 after MIR and love it at 1080p!). I agree with you even saying what I just did- that if you had ~$300 to spend the 5850 is still the best choice. But since when have the "early adopters" been the ones to get the best deal? Imagine Intel RAISING the price of the X25-M 15% a 1-6 months after release (when everyone caught on to the technology, or finally saved up to make the jump) and then saw the price increase. I think SSD's in general would never have caught on if the X25-M stayed at it's original MSRP 6 months after release. Technology is supposed to lose value as it ages, not the other way around.
    Current price of the 5850 - as it is almost half a year old now - should be at MSRP or 5% below (or more after a rebate). If that was the case, the 5830 would be $50-$70 lower than it is now. And maybe, just maybe, it would be worth buying. ~$20 more over a 5770 to get ~20% more? It would make me regret buying the 5770...
  • kc77 - Saturday, February 27, 2010 - link

    Your using SSD's as a bases for your argument??? Intel's prices were sky high until competition came from other manufacturers. Even today prices on SSD's fluctuate widely. Prices on SSD have been largely stagnant especially on Intel's line.

    " think SSD's in general would never have caught on if the X25-M stayed at it's original MSRP 6 months after release."

    Huh? It easily did. Prices didn't fall at all and in many cases the prices went up. You don't have to believe me check out a couple of articles here regarding the prices of SSD's. You'll find in every conclusion the talk of high prices often above MSRP's in Intel's line.

    Prices didn't fall until Crucial, Kingston, etc started releasing competitive products which drove down the price of SSD's. Hence competition, the same thing that is lacking in the current generation of video cards.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 25, 2010 - link

    You include the GTX 200 series (which everyone thought was way too expensive at launch) with the 5800 series, but you don't list the 4800 cards. I think the problem is that ATI's 4800 series made us expect more of $300 cards.

    Granted, if 40nm yields are as poor as some say (or perhaps not that bad, but just not as good as expected), that can end up with prices going up.

    Even with all this talk, I still don't think the 5830 is a great value. It doesn't differentiate itself enough from the 4890 and 5850 in my book. Either spend less for the 4890 and get higher performance, or spend more and get the 5850. I know Ryan says the HD 4890 is hard to find, but you can http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtool...">still find it in stock for under $200. (http://www.google.com/products?num=100&hl=en&a...">Google is your friend!)

    Really, the big question is what sort of other hardware you're running. 30" LCDs aren't all that common, so 2560x1600 isn't a realistic selling point for the 5830 -- and don't even get me started on Eyefinity! (This coming from one of the few people that could actually set up a 3x30" gaming arena... if I had the space. LOL) 5770 goes for as little as http://www.ncixus.com/products/index.php?sku=48575">$140 ($130 with MIR), and it will handle just about any game at reasonable settings. 1080p with 2xAA or *GASP!* 0xAA? No problemo! That's $100 saved for a card that will still perform admirably, and if you're not sold on DX11 just yet (I'm not) you can spend $20 more for a card that goes toe to toe with the 5830.

    As far as updating the article text, this is Ryan's article so I'm not going to stomp on his toes. The $250 price point is very crowded right now, and last-gen cards at sub-$200 are still available and perform as well... just with a higher power draw and no DX11.
  • kc77 - Thursday, February 25, 2010 - link

    I don't think the 5830 is a great value either. The thing that set off alarms was when I saw the blurb about the 5850. I was with u for the most part (it's not like I'm going to buy the card) until that section, and was just speechless.

    The reason why I didn't include the 4800 series cards is because they are last generation, not just in name, but technically as well. There are technical differences between the generations, DX11 being the most obvious. The 4890, which released at $250 has had 1-1/2 years of price reductions spurred by competition to reach the price point it can be found at today.

    I would love to have included Fermi in order to do a 1 vs 1 price/performance comparison, but it's not out yet. I'm comparing the latest from both camps. That's is what is providing the backdrop for determining value. We could always include the previous generation but there are obvious reasons why looking at benchmarks alone doesn't tell the whole story. We can only say Dx11 has no impact for so long until it becomes comical.

    If I was buying a card today there's no way in hell I would intentionally buy a Dx10 card for anything more than $100 because I typically game at 1920x1080, which means I don't shop in the budget class. That just doesn't make any sense for me. Regardless of the saturation of DX11 titles, this isn't PhysX or Cuda. We are talking about a Microsoft API that's going to drive game development for the next 2 years at least. What developer isn't going to use it? It's not like we are waiting for developers to create extra debris to fly across the screen.

    Overall I think we are in agreement when it comes to the 5830. I just had a knee-jerk reaction to the 5850 comment as being a bridge too far. It's not like Nvidia just started flirting with $600 price points on new introductions even when the overall value has been less than stellar, which is why I don't view the 5830 as abominable. It's definitely not for me, but it does fill a gap performance-wise within the latest generation of cards for someone who (not me) doesn't have an extra 20 to 30 bucks to spend.
  • Quidam - Sunday, February 28, 2010 - link

    This has been an interesting read.

    I'll agree that the 5850 really is a great value card (even at it's current price-point) all other things considered.

    However, I'll also agree with Ryan that the 5830 is a disappointing product and honestly, at it's current pricing, you'd be mad to buy it.

    To summarise, what we get here seems to be a card that is bigger than the 5850 (5870 pcb) uses potentially more power and performs more closely to a 5770 than a 5850. If anything all it does is make the products below and above it look even better.

    I'm not the kind of consumer who looks only at raw power, I like to look at the whole package: physical size; power requirements; heat; noise and of course price.

    To me, the 5830 does not fill the price/performance gap, what it does is give AMD the opportunity to sell otherwise wasted gpu's. Considering the attributes of this card, a competitive price was the one thing that could have made it attractive. As it stands, I'd be bummed if Anandtech did anything else but call this as bad buy.

    What I would like to see is a 5790 -ie an upscaled Juniper. If they could keep the power requirements at a single PCI-E six pin plug and open up the memory bandwidth, that could be one awesome card. Of course such a card would not be the result of defective gpu's from the next model up, so I imagine this is totally fantasy on my part. ie. they would already have made such a card if they could.
  • kc77 - Sunday, February 28, 2010 - link

    I can see where this is card isn't a great value within ATI's lineup and that's the key part "within ATI's lineup". However, do me a favor and hop over to newegg and look at Nvidia's lineup, more precisely the price.

    What ATI is pricing this against is the video card market as whole. More importantly the 260 which the 5830 easily beats. 260's go for 200 - 220. That's a DX10 part mind you without any of the benefits of the 5830.

    Some sites do a price/performance comparison and if a chart was done here you would see the 5830 fits directly above the 260. Other cards within ATI's lineup would likely beat it, however when compared to what nvidia is offering it's priced right. Is it fair? Not really but no company cannibalizes it's own product line when it's already offering a solution that's substantially lower than what the competitor would price it at.

    As far as this being a card salvaged from lesser cores, that's pretty normal in the chip business there's nothing weird about it. The 260-216 was originally what the 260 was supposed to be. However, no one says that nvidia sold defective 260's. If the card works reliably and does what it's supposed to nuff said.

    If your looking for ATI to do the same thing as the 4 series which was offer high performing parts at mid range prices that's just not going to happen when the cards don't have a competitor.
  • Quidam67 - Monday, March 1, 2010 - link

    I never said there was anything weired about using defective chips for a lower-end card. What I said was I'd prefer to see Juniper given more than a 128bit memory bus (and maybe some more ROPS) and call it a 5790. Problem is it would probably perform better than the 5830 so that's never going to happen lol.

    It's artificial for you to point out (again) that the 5830 compares well to nVidia's cards. We already know that -nVidia has not even made it to the party this generation and as far as I'm concerned they are out of the race (this cycle). In a free market, the 5830 competes with other AMD cards as well, and on that basis it fails.

    Things could be worse for AMD, as it's a clear case of which card of theirs should we buy. Not the 5830!
  • kc77 - Monday, March 1, 2010 - link

    If Juniper had a 256-bit bus than it wouldn't be a Juniper. It would be 5830.

    Only if DX11 and Eyefinity, and audio over HDMI mean absolutely nothing, which they do. This is the first time where I've seen anyone make a case that a new Dx spec was irrelevant even though games are available as I type this that take advantage of it.

    Second, what do you think the availability is of the 4890? It's in the same boat as Nvidia it's being phased out. So what exactly in the previous generation are you going to purchase that has the same performance? Your almost comparing it to a phantom card that no longer exists.

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