A quick look at XFX's Radeon HD 5830


— 2:34 PM on March 11, 2010

In our Radeon HD 5830 preview, we tested a sample card from AMD that wasn't really representative of the final retail products.  One of the cards we talked about in the review was XFX's version of the 5830.  XFX's card looked to be one of the most promising offerings of the lot, so we asked them to send us one for a closer look.  I had hoped to do a quick-turnaround review on this card by comparing it to our existing test data, but the arrival of a six-display Eyefinity rig in Damage Labs caused a major disruption.  I had to disassemble my GPU test bench, essentially, to make room.

As a result, I'm not sure exactly when I'll be able to give this 5830 card a full and proper review, but I thought you all might want to have a brief look at it.

Yep, still a good-looking card.  One thing you may notice right away, though, is that it's not exactly as compact as the sample shot of it we received from AMD, which looked like so:

Um, yeah.  The real thing is a 10"-long card that is, crucially, just under an inch shorter than a Radeon HD 5870 with its Batmobile cooler.  That's just fine, even good compared to some 5830s, which are based on the 5870 reference design.  But it's not quite the feat of miniaturization that first PR picture suggested.

 

The complement of ports and power connectors is pretty standard, with a single DisplayPort, one HDMI, and two DVI ports in back and a pair of six-pin power connectors on the board's opposite edge.

I said in the original review that the custom coolers chosen by each vendor will be particularly important for 5830 cards, since there is no reference cooling solution from AMD.  Looking only at the shroud, you might think XFX's effort was a little weak. However, if you peek under the shroud...

Things take a happy turn in a Zalman-inspired (if not Zalman-supplied) direction.  I've not yet tested its effectiveness in any formal way, but the cooler seems to radiate quite a bit of heat with a minimum of fan noise.  Another nice touch: the thing doesn't spin up to Dyson-death-vortex levels at POST time, like many video coolers do these days. 

The inclusion of a Steam coupon for Aliens vs. Predator also sets the XFX card apart from the pack.  I believe this is the only 5830 with that game bundled; most others have gone with Modern Warfare 2 or no games at all.  The inclusion of a newer, DX11 game might help offset the Radeon HD 5830's relatively weak value proposition, at least.

The caveat here is that Newegg is currently selling the XFX 5830 for $259.99, which is 20 bucks more than XFX first told us to expect.  That's frustrating, and the current upsurge in graphics card prices isn't likely to abate until the supply problems with 40-nm GPUs have been fully overcome. Until then, Radeon HD 5830 cards will probably continue to be priced higher than we'd like.  If you're determined to buy a graphics card in this price range, the 5830 may soon be the only game in town—and certainly the only option with a DirectX 11 feature set.  In that context, XFX's take on the 5830 may be your best option.  Here's hoping we'll see this same card selling for $199 before long.

   
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