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


View All Comments

  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, February 25, 2010 - link

    Jarred already said most of what I wanted to say: it's not a good value.

    At any rate, you certainly have a good point about NVIDIA being uncompetitive about $200 right now. AMD isn't facing significant competition from NVIDIA right now at those prices, and they're taking advantage of a very rare opportunity to set their own prices and do some profit taking. I can completely understand that.

    With that said, none of this is a great outcome for consumers. And that's who we choose to represent. AMD can do profit taking, but it doesn't mean we have to like it.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 25, 2010 - link

    I like how people accuse Ryan of being negative against AMD but forget the NVIDIA side of things. Simply put, we're negative against products that aren't a good value. We highly recommend the 5850 and 5870, for example (at least when they're closer to MSRP). The 5770/5750 are decent/good as well, compared with 4870/4850. The 5670 is reasonable for the price (though not a great deal compared to the 4850). The problem comes when we start getting into the lower end cards.

    5450 and 5570 are good for HTPC usage and questionable for gaming. The 5570 is priced such that you could get better gaming performance for less money if you sacrifice DX11. And while we're on a subject of negativity, you'll notice Ryan has ripped NVIDIA to shreds on the GT 240 ("The Card that Doesn't Matter"), the G210 wasn't at all roses, and the GT 220: "the performance of the GT 220 is abysmal. Or rather, the pricing is."

    The way I see it, Ryan is calling it like it is. You want an HTPC card and don't care about gaming? 5570 looks quite good, and 5450 is marginal but cheap. You want to play games, and there are a lot of great options, so why should we recommend mediocre choices? Who cares if the 5830 is a better card than certain competing NVIDIA products if it's not a better card than AMD's own 5850 and 5770?
  • kc77 - Thursday, February 25, 2010 - link

    So far it's not coming off that you are recommending anything from AMD/ATI. Look in the closing fourth paragraph this is what was said about the 5850....

    "But the 5850 is priced for profit taking, it’s a fast card but it’s not a great deal."

    That doesn't sound like your recommending the 5850. That could be typo I don't know. But when I saw that I didn't know what to think. How can a card that has no direct rival other than a 295 which is priced higher, not be considered a good value?

    If you noticed I didn't post about those others. Not the 5450, 5570, 240, 210, or 220. There were small things I noticed here and there specifically about reporting the temps of the cards, but nothing earth shattering. However, I noticed a much larger change in tone specifically with the driver article. Since I'm looking to upgrade I was looking for a strictly technical piece on the stability, feature set, and possibly Linux compatibility for the drivers. Instead amongst technical snippets here and there were paragraphs of editorial flourishes which made getting the real deal more complicated than necessary.

    I'm not "accusing" Ryan of anything. I typically read multiple tech sites and so far the last couple you've done just seem in my opinion to be overly negative or more obtuse as they sometimes negate the larger picture. The only reason I've posted at all is to make sure that when Nvidia does release their cards I can fully believe that the viewpoint of the author is honest and true. It matters quite possibly to the tune of $399 or more to me.

  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 25, 2010 - link

    You're taking quotes from this article, which reflects the current street prices. Let's go back to the http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3650...">original 5850 review:

    "The 5870 is still the card to get when price (and size) is no object, but the 5850 is there to fill the gap if you won’t miss some of the performance.... For this fall, we're able to say something we haven't been able to say for quite some time: AMD has the high-end market locked up tight."

    If you add $40 to the price of the 5850, then of course the value proposition is less attractive. This is what happens when NVIDIA can't compete: the 5850 was scheduled to cost less than the GTX 285, and it still does. The GTX 285 is a horrible value right now, all things considered, and since it's priced at $335+ AMD's partners can get away with charging $300+ for the 5850. Given the choice right now, sure, I'd still recommend the 5850 -- just like we did http://www.anandtech.com/guides/showdoc.aspx?i=373...">in our recent buyers' guide (albeit with reservations given the budget goal of the guide).

    At $260 the HD 5850 was a slam dunk; at ~$300 it's merely good. As Ryan points out, our allegiance is to the consumer, and there's no way to take a $40 price hike as being beneficial. The economy sucks, gaming is a luxury, and the 5850 went up 15% in pricing.
  • kc77 - Thursday, February 25, 2010 - link

    I think everyone can understand things change overtime. Your stance however is sitting on both sides of the coin. On one hand your saying "it's not a good deal" but on the other hand your saying it is (if you read previous articles).

    The fact remains that a true competitor to the 5850, 5870, and even to some extent 5830 (though the case is rather slim) don't exist from a technological stand point (heat, performance, features, DX cert). There's just no other way to say it. Compared to what "top of the line" video cards used to cost, it's hard for the 5850 in particular to not be seen as a value. If they were gouging, and we all know what that looks like ($600+ video cards), no harm, no foul on it being less of a value. However, when there's hardly a card that competes with it, AND it doesn't cost 4, 5, or 6 hundred bucks, it's a reasonably good value. No it's not the same type of value that the 4xxx series brought, but then again they didn't arrive before Nvidia, and performance-wise they weren't nearly as dominating.

    Overall I think your response has clarified your stance and you've actually vocalised the point I was trying to make. The problem is that your response to me isn't reflected in the article at all, which gives the impression I was talking about earlier.

    Imagine if the conclusion of the article included your recent response.
  • silverblue - Thursday, February 25, 2010 - link

    I could say that your criticism is a little negative :) however, we're all free to express our own opinions, and you do make an interesting point.

    By the way, not only have I tried to post this twice, but I did click the Report link by mistake. Sorry! :(
  • silverblue - Thursday, February 25, 2010 - link

    I could say that your criticism is a little negative as well :) In the end, however, everyone's entitled to their own opinion, and you have raised an interesting point.

    By the way, I did misclick the Report link when I was going to reply... sorry about that! :(
  • Lurker911 - Thursday, February 25, 2010 - link

    Nice review! I feel the same about this card. Theres something strange about your 4870 results. How can 13% higher core and 8% higher memory clocks on the 4890 result in such huge gaps between the two? In far cry2 your 4890 results are nearly 16% faster. Where in most other reviews the difference is avg 10%. Reply
  • Assimilator87 - Thursday, February 25, 2010 - link

    Hey Lurker, the performance increase comes from the fact that the 4870's a 512MB card and the 4890's a 1GB card and Far Cry 2 loves extra memory. Reply
  • Lurker911 - Thursday, February 25, 2010 - link

    That would be the case with techpowerup's review. But anandtech uses a 1gb 4870. The battleforge results here are even more bizarre with 4890 over 20% faster than a 4870 1gb. Reply

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