AMD unleashes Radeon HD 5830

AMD has added yet another number to its swelling line-up of 5000-series GPUs today, as it announced the Radeon HD 5830. Sitting between the Radeon HD 5770 and the 5850, AMD’s product manager Dave Baumann says that it "hits the market sweet spot in terms of price and performance."

The new GPU features 1,120 stream processors, compared with the 800 on the 5770 and the 1,440 on the 5850. Interestingly, however, the new 5830 has a higher clock speed than the 5850, with the core clocking in at 800MHz, compared with the 5850’s 725MHz core clock.

The bank of stream processors will also be accompanied by 16 ROPs (render outputs) and 56 texture units. Comparatively, the 5770 has 42 texture units and 16 ROPs, while the 5850 has 32 ROPs and 72 texture units. Meanwhile, all 5830 cards will feature at least 1GB of 1GHz (4GHz effective) GDDR5 memory, with some cards featuring 2GB of memory. The memory will be addressed via a 256-bit wide memory interface.

As you would expect, the 5830 also supports all the usual 5800-series features, including DirectX 11 and ATI’s new EyeFinity technology, which enables you to span a game across three monitors.

Will there be enough power in the 5830 to play games at decent frame rates using EyeFinity? AMD certainly thinks so, and it claims that it’s achieved an average frame rate of 45fps in Left 4 Dead 2 running on three monitors at 1,920 x 1,080. That’s with 8x AA and 16x AF too, although it’s always best to take manufacturers’ own benchmark figures with a pinch of salt.

However, given the short supply of 40nm chips from TSMC, cynics could justifiably suggest that the 5830 is really just a 5850 with some features disabled, giving ATI an opportunity to use some of the chips that didn’t quite make the 5850 grade. The clue is in the fact that the 5830 has exactly the same number of transistors (2.15 billion) as the 5850, which is over twice as many as you’ll find in the 5770.

The power consumption also suggests this, as the 5830 has a maximum board power of 175W, compared with 151W for the 5850. This makes perfect sense if it is, in fact, based on the same chip, as the 5830 is clocked 75MHz higher than the 5850. Even so, AMD insists that the 5830 isn’t an afterthought. “There is a fairly big gap between the 5770 and the 5850,” says Baumann, “and we always expected a product to fill that in.”

When asked if the 5830 would just tell the same story as the Radeon HD 4830, which disappeared over here shortly after it was released, Baumann said “no we don’t necessarily expect this to evaporate.” He also pointed out that the 4830 “did actually last for a lot longer, but I think you’ll find that the AIBs pushed it to particular regions. It was a fantastic Chinese product for a long time!”

Interestingly, AMD is also encouraging board partners to come up with their own board designs for the 5830, and Baumann claims that there will be a “much more varied range of boards coming to the market” than we’ve seen with previous 5800-series GPUs.

One company that’s already developed its own design for the 5830 is MSI, which has launched its R5830 Twin Frozr II (pictured) today. The card features Hi-C (highly conductive) capacitors for the GPU power supply, and also has two PWM-controlled 8cm fans and four heatpipes on the cooler. MSI says that this cooling system drops the temperature by nearly 20 per cent in comparison with the reference cooler.

MSI says that its card has an RRP of £215 inc VAT, and that it’s expecting stock to arrive in March. However, given that you can pick up a fully-fledged 5850 for £224.30 inc VAT, 5830 cards will have to cost much less than this to make them really worth considering.