Sapphire HD 5830 Modern Warfare 2 Edition Review

ccokeman - 2009-09-07 22:18:40 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: February 24, 2010
Price: $250


What! Another 5 series release from ATI and its partners! Why yes kiddies here it is in the form of the anticipated Sapphire HD 5830. This makes it a total of eleven Direct X 11 video cards in the past 5 months, which is a stunning achievement. At this point, why come out with another HD 5XXX series video card? ATI has pretty much every price point covered from the bottom dollar 5400 series on up to the King of the hill HD 5970 with one exception. Between the $180 dollar HD 5770 and $310 HD 5850, ATI does not have a product to compete with the GTX 260 and GTX 275 that currently occupy this price zone. The Sapphire HD 5830 is built using a custom PCB instead of the reference PCB sent from ATI. What this should do is allow ATI's partners some freedom in designing a top performing video card. This could bring up issues with quality, but in this case Sapphire has plenty of experience with making custom PCBs for the silicon. Just take a look at the Vapor-X series as shining examples of this ability.

What you get with the Sapphire HD 5830 are all the features of the HD 5800 series such as the 2.15 Billion transistors, 1GB of GDDR5 memory, Eyefinity support, and more. Where there are differences are in the amount of stream processors at 1120 vs the HD 5870's 1600, with a drop in texture units and ROP's to round it out. To boost up performance the GPU core clock speed has been boosted from the 725MHz used on the HD 5850 up to 800Mhz. This bump allows the HD 5830 to deliver 1.79Tflops of performance. Lets see if this card from Sapphire can fill the price point and outperform the current residents.

Closer Look:

The packaging on this Sapphire HD 5830 is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 themed. The front panel shows a representation of a modern soldier wearing some of the gear necessary in today's chaotic world. The front panel shows off all of the highlighted features of the HD 5830 from Eyefinity support as well as DirectX 11, WIndows 7, HDMI,7.1 HD sound and more. If you couldn't tell by the graphic on the front, Activision's Modern Warfare 2 is included as part of the bundle. The back panel features detailed information on some of the features of the Sapphire HD 5830 as well as a short introduction to Modern Warfare 2. Additional highlights include ROHS Compliance and the fact that most of the packaging is made out of recyclable materials.








The inner package houses all of the hardware. The Sapphire HD 5830 is contained in bubble wrap over an anti static bag and a foam block holds the card in a cardboard tray to keep the card safe during transit. The accessory bundle is kept in a separate box under the video card to reduce the chance of damage to the card from incidental contact.




The bundle of accessories that comes with the Sapphire HD 5830 will give you the ability to hook up this card and get fraggin' in a minimal amount of time. You get the manual (of course), the driver disk, Arcsofts Sim HD software for Arcsofts Total Media player, two 4 pin molex to 6 pin PCIe power adapters, DVI to HDMI adapter,CrossfireX Bridge connector and last but certainly not least, is the highlighted addition to this bundle, a key for a digital download of Activision's Modern Warfare 2. They also included some case bling in the form of a small holographic Sapphire sticker that lets you show people whos hardware you are packing inside your rig.


Lets go dig into the Sapphire HD 5830 to see how it compares to it's competitors in it's price point.

Closer Look:

The Sapphire HD 5830 is a card that fills a strategic point in the product line for ATI. The list of DirectX 11 cards delivered by ATI is pretty steep with 11 cards put out to market in few months. The 5830 is built on TSMC's 40nm process and comes equipped with the same 2.15 billion transistors as the HD 5850 and HD 5870 Cypress core GPU's. Where it falls short of the rest of the 5800 series, is in the amount of shader cores at 1120, texture units down to 56 with the same ROP count as the HD 5770 at 16. The power consumption is listed at 175 watts under load which is 24 watts higher than the HD 5850 is rated! The core clock speeds on this card are 800Mhz on the core and 1000Mhz on the 1GB of GDDR5 memory. The front of the Sapphire HD 5830 looks much like a Vapor-X model with the large center fan. The back shows the Sapphire built PCB. Each manufacturer is designing their own PCB for this series it looks like. The side view of the top of the card gives you a glimpse at the cooling solution used under the cover. When you tilt the card over you get a look at the five, yes five heatpipes used to pull the thermal load from the GPU core.














The connectivity options are standard for the HD 58XX series of cards with two Dual Link DVI ports, a single DisplayPort connection and Native HDMI that supports HDMI 1.3 and 7.1 HD sound. The rear of the card has two PCIe 6 pin power connections and the fan header for the onboard cooling fan. With the display connectivity you can use ATI's Eyefinity technology with a series of three similar monitors to give you a max resolution of 7680x1600. Adding one or more HD 5830 cards together in a CrossfireX setup is a breeze. There are two bridge connection points on this card to provide up to a total of four cards for a nice boost in performance. You do however need a board that supports more than two cards if you want to take advantage of a three or four card CrossfireX graphics solution.



Lets get this thing installed and see if it can hold its own against the boys in green.

Closer Look:

Before you can start fragging, you have to install the drivers so that you don't sit there utterly disappointed by the graphics performance of this shiny new card. Thankfully, Sapphire has included a disc to get you started although the manufacturer website is a great alternative. I will browse through the disc to see what is included.

After you insert the disc and allow the autorun to start the process, you end up with the Sapphire GUI on the desktop. There are three options to choose from, ATI Easy install, Online Manual, and Adobe Reader. Of course, the ATI Easy install is for installing the drivers and proprietary software to gain the most functionality from your new purchase. You have a choice of operating systems to choose from so just choose the appropriate OS and you get to start the ATI driver install wizard. The Online Manual is a link to download the manual while Adobe Reader links to Adobe's website to so you can download the latest version of Adobe Reader.















When you choose to install the drivers from the disc, just move forward through the process and check the options best suited for your needs. You have two options; you can choose either the Express install that manages the whole process for you or the Custom Install that allows you to choose what software you will install from a list. Agree to the EULA, let the wizard finish, and do the customary reboot to finish the installation.





One of the big knocks on the 5-series cards is the fact that there were really no games available at launch to showcase the DX 11 technology. Fast forward 3+ months and you have a few games to play. Dirt 2 was just released at the beginning of December and Battle Forge has been out and patched for DX 11. Dirt 2 has been a significant part of the bundle in many 5-series cards to get the end user a game that uses the DX 11 features such as tessellation. With Battle Forge you can play online for free or if you like the game you can sign up and buy the game. Unigines Heaven Benchmark is the first DX 11 benchmark out and shows off the features of DX 11 as well as the capabilities of the 5 series video cards from Sapphire! In the future you have game developers such as EA Dice , Trinigy, Kylin and Turbine working on DX 11 releases so the future looks bright. DirectCompute 11 is being used currently in Stalker Call of Pripyat and Dirt 2 to accelerate high definition ambient occlusion.



Modern Warfare 2 is labeled as the best selling First Person action game of all time. It is the follow up to Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare and is another game that follows in the footsteps of the original Call of Duty. This game is included with this HD 5830 from Sapphire. A game that probably will get more use than the many Dirt 2 coupons sent out with the HD 5XXX series of cards. Since my kid is the better player I had him play through a few matches to get some of the shots below!




Lets get it installed and see how it performs!


Closer Look:

The ATI Catalyst Control Center got a new look with the introduction of the 9.7 drivers so it's about time to take an in-depth look at the options and the interface to see how well the GUI is set up and how easy it is to navigate through. Since the basic view is well, basic, I will look through the Advanced panel. The first page to open with ATI Catalyst Control Center is the Welcome page, which has quick hyperlinks to check for driver updates, get in contact with customer care, to give feedback, visit the AMD website, or to join the [email protected] cause. The next page is the Information Center, which is split into two tabs, one for Graphics Software information and the other for Graphics Hardware information. These two tabs can be very handy for troubleshooting any problems that crop up while using the Sapphire HD 5-series video cards.













The Graphics Hardware tab of the Information Center contains information about the Sapphire HD 5850 Toxic, including BIOS version and date, chipset, memory, vendor code, and so on. Most people shouldn’t need the Graphics Hardware and Software information, but it's definitely handy when a problem may occur. The next page is the Desktops & Displays page – this page is for the basic settings of the monitor(s) and desktop. Users can figure out which monitor is which and rotate the outputted image. Clicking the properties or moving along brings us to the Desktop Properties page.



The Desktop Properties page has much more control over the desktop with settings such as desktop area, color quality, refresh rate, and again, rotation. The next tab in the Desktop Properties page adjusts the color, contrast, brightness, and gamma output. This can be handy on monitors that need some help putting out the appropriate colors – back when I used a CRT a long time ago it helped keep the colors closer to true when the monitor would get aged and get a gray or yellowish tint.



The Display Options page is very short and is used just for one option – Display Detection Option. The options are automatic or manual detection of displays. The 3D page has several tabs that allow users the ability to define a custom scheme for their games. There are previews for the effects or users can power through all of the settings on the 'All' tab at the end.



The Avivo Video page has five tabs dedicated to performance and quality adjustments for video output. A preview is included of a woman with flowers and fruit. Again, just as with the 3D page, there is an 'All' tab that can adjust all of the settings for the Avivo Video at once.



The last page on the graphics menu is the ATI Overdrive. To use this feature users must first click the "lock" to unlock the program after then agreeing to some terms. The software is capable of automatically overclocking the video card through Auto-Tune, but I prefer using the manual settings. Users can test their settings using the Test Custom Clocks button. Fan speed control is relatively new to ATI Overdrive and allows users to define what speed the fan or blower runs at. Underneath and to the right of this are gauges and readouts of some of the more important data for this card – temperature, usage activity, fan speed, GPU clock speed, and memory clock speed. The test feature brings up a full screen image that is pretty basic – greenish reddish with an AMD logo in the bottom left.



The latest additional menu is the HydraVision menu. The first page is the HydraGrid page, which allows users to define a grid-like component to lock applications to a certain chunk of desktop real estate. Options such as showing the grids when moving a window and showing an icon in the tray are settable at the bottom while adjusting the grid is near the top. The grid can be previewed as the default layout is seen with white bars representing the grids. Users can customize the grid layout to whatever they desire and the keyboard shortcuts are listed out in the image while the red bar means it is the selected grid component to be adjusted.



The next page is the Desktop Manager, which does exactly what the name implies – it manages the desktop. The desktop manager can keep track of application position and size, and allow spanning across multiple displays. The last page is the Multi Desktop. This name is also suggestive to its use – this program allows users to have multiple desktops ranging from two up to nine. Users can rotate between desktops with the scroll wheel, preserve display settings, and enable another tray icon. This can be useful for those who have a ton of desktop icons as a means to separate them out – one could for instance even make a desktop for each category of their own choosing even – gaming, work, school, and whatever else.



After looking at this card, I have to imagine it will be positioned between the HD 5770 and HD 5850.




All information courtesy of Sapphire Technology @


Testing of the Sapphire HD 5830 will consist of running the card through the suite of games and synthetic benchmarks, to test the performance against many popular competitors to gauge its performance. The games used are some of today's popular titles to give you an idea on how the cards perform relative to each other. The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustment will be made to the respective control panels during the testing with the exception of the 3DMark Vantage testing where PhysX will be disabled in the NVIDIA control panel. I will test the card at stock speeds and then overclocked to see how much additional performance is available and determine if it can run with or faster than the current fastest single GPU cards on the market. Of course, all settings are left at defaults in the control panels of each respective manufacturer except where noted. I will be using the latest drivers from each manufacturer at the time of this review.


Comparison Video Cards:



Overclocked settings:

The first thing you want to do if you plan on trying for clock speeds in excess of the limits in the Catalyst control Center is download AMD GPU Clock tool and MSI AfterBurner to make sure you get all the functionality you can. The reason for the two utility approach is that when you set the clock speeds in AMD GPU Clock Tool and apply the setting, you default the fan speed to auto. If you go back into the CCC to change the fan speed you lose the clock speeds you set in the GPU Clock Tool. Goofy, but it's what happens. Enter MSI Afterburner - this application was written by the same person responsible for Riva Tuner over at Guru3d and is an easy to use interface that is already able to work with the latest cards from ATI and their partners like Sapphire. Once you have the applications installed, it was a simple matter to push for higher clock speeds on this specialty version of the HD 5830 from Sapphire. First things first. Before I pushed the clock speeds up I adjusted the fan speed to 100% to make sure that cooling would not be the deciding factor on how high the clock speeds would go. The limits in the Catalyst Control Center are 875MHz on the GPU core and 1200MHz on the GDDR5 memory, this was the first benchmark run just to see if the card was stable. Test 1, Passed! Check! Now with AMD GPU Clock tool I pushed the clock speeds up in 25 MHz increments until I reached a point where I had some semblance of stability and ran some testing at 1040Mhz. Sadly this was not to be the level I stayed at on the core. At 1030MHz I could pass 3DMark 06 at 1280x1024 but was not stable enough to run through the whole suite so I dropped the clocks until I was stable at 1010MHz. After this stability point was reached, I started with the memory and was able to take it to 1270MHz with stability. Thats a 27% improvement over the as delivered 1000MHz. This card delivers some righteous overclocking to give you a nice boost in FPS. This ought to help those of you who will take advantage of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare included in the bundle.


  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Crysis Warhead
  3. Darkest of Days
  4. Call of Duty World at War
  5. Warhammer 40,000 DOW II
  6. Batman: Arkham Asylum
  7. Resident Evil 5
  8. Left 4 Dead
  9. 3DMark 06 Professional
  10. 3DMark Vantage


Far Cry 2:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built especially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real time effects and damage. This next generation First Person Shooter comes to us from Ubisoft surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this version of the game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.












Sapphire's HD 5830 delivers performance above the GTX 275 in the lower resolutions and stays ahead of the GTX 260 all the way to 2560x1600. It out performs the 5770 as expected but can't quite pull close to the HD 5850. The interesting comparison here is between the HD 4890 and the HD 5830.


Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.














Performance of the HD 5830 is similar to that of the GTX 275 at the lower resolutions and moves slightly ahead at the higher end. Comparisons to the HD 4890 show very similar performance again.


What would testing be if you did not show both sides of the fence? In this test, PhysX was set to low, while leaving the remaining settings intact. You have seen time and again where the ATI cards suffer when PhysX is enabled. Mirror's Edge and Cryostasis are two prime examples. Darkest of Days is no different. What happens in this test shows that, although the game can be played by cards from the red team, the video effects and quality are diminished.

Game Settings:











Higher is Better


The HD 5830 owns the price point in this game, delivering higher performance in all four resolutions than the GTX 260 and GTX 275. At 2560x1600 the performance is equal to that of the HD 4890.


Activision's Call of Duty: World at War goes right back to the bread and butter of the franchise - WWII FPS action. In this rendition, you start off in the South Pacific and move through a series of missions that flip back and forth between the Russian front and the island hopping advance toward the Imperial Japanese homeland. Included is a mission on Peliliu Island, arguably one of the more difficult and costly battles in the Pacific theater. The gameplay in the single player mode is rather short, but the game makes up for this shortcoming in online gameplay. If you thought CoD4 looked nice, this game is amazing with the graphics maxed out playing at a high resolution. I will use Fraps to measure a section of gameplay in the Semper Fi map on Makin Island to compare the performance of these video cards.














In COD: WAW, the GTX 275 and HD 4890 are the higher performing cards when compared to the HD 5830, however the latter does best the performance of the GTX 260.


Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II is a Real Time Strategy game that is significantly different than its predecessor, with improved AI and an improved physics engine. You can play either as a single player in campaign mode, or in a multiplayer game where Microsoft's Live ranking system can be used.
















THe HD 5830 delivers comparable performance to all of the cards in the price bracket.


Batman: Arkham Asylum is a new game that brings together two bitter foes, the Joker and Batman. The Joker has taken over Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. Your task is to reign the Joker back in and restore order. This game makes use of Physx technology to create a rich environment for you to play your trade.

Game Settings:













The HD 5830 is the faster card when compared to the HD 4890 but falls short of the performance of the Nvidia cards in this game.


Resident Evil 5 is the sequel to one of the best selling video games of all time. You play the game as Chris Redfield, a survivor of the events at Raccoon City who now works for the BSAA. Sent to Africa to find the genesis of the latest Bio Organic agents, you meet up with another BSAA operative and work together to solve the problem. The game offers incredible 3D effects and a Co-Op gaming style.

Game Settings:













Resident Evil 5 performance shows the HD 5830's performance is right in line with the GTX 260 and pulling even with the HD 4890 at 2560x1600.


Left 4 Dead is a new release from Valve that leaves you as part of a group of survivors in a world where an infection has rapidly turned the populace into a zombie horde. You goal is to make it to a rescue point, all the while fighting what seems like overwhelming odds. Along the way there are safe houses where you can replenish your weapons and health. The movie 'I Am Legend' comes to mind to set the stage for this game. But unlike the movie, there are four characters and not just a lone gun and his faithful companion. The horde is not at all like the typical slow walking, foot shuffling zombie. These zombies are quick and work with the pack mentality. Your job: survival!














THe HD 5830 has the HD 5770 covered performance wise, but has some work to do to get to the level of the GTX 275 and GTX 260. Again the HD 4890 delivers FPS in excess of the level delivered by the HD 5830.


3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest has begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.















What you see in 3DMark 06 is a card that falls a bit short of its older cousin the HD 4890. Performance against the green team has it covering the GTX 275/260 at all four resolutions.


Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. 'Entry' is 1024x768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.














In 3DMark Vantage the HD 5830 delivers some excellent results with performance up to GTX 285 levels and above. The HD 4890 is soundly beaten in this benchmark.


The Sapphire HD 5830 does an admirable job in competing at the ~$200 price point. Throughout the benchmarks the HD 5830 usually fell in between the performance of the GTX 275 and GTX 260. The HD 4890 on the other hand, had comparable performance throughout the benchmark suite. When pitted head to head with the GTX 275, the results fell right about at a 50/50 split. With that being said, the HD 5830 fills the void for ATI at the ~$200 dollar point. One thing this card does and does well is overclock. I was able to get this card to an easy 1010Mhz on the Cypress core and 1270Mhz on the 1GB of GDDR5 memory. That amounts to a 20% increase in GPU clock speed and a 27% increase in the memory clock speed, all for the cost of a few minutes of my time. Now if you play the benchmarking game you most likely can go a bit further with this HD 5830 since the benchmarks are run at lower resolutions that are less strenuous. I was able to pass 3DMark06 running at 1280x1024 with a GPU core clock of 1030 Mhz, but really if it cant pass the whole session its not good enough to publish.

When it comes to cooling, Sapphire went all out as usual and equipped this card with a five heatpipe solution that kept the load temperatures in the mid 40's °C at stock frequencies and with the drivers controlling the fan speeds. Consequently with the fan speeds at 100% when running the HD 5830 overclocked I received similar results, with temperatures in the 48/49°C range. One thing that you notice when looking at the specifications is that the HD 5830 has a maximum board power rating of 175 watts versus the 151 watts on the HD 5850 and 188 watts on the HD 5870. Under load when overclocked, the system pulled 311 watts from the wall, roughly what the HD 5850 Toxic pulled when overclocked. If the performance of this card is not quite enough you can always run up to four cards in a CrossfireX setup with a motherboard that supports up to four 4 cards for a solid performance boost. ATI has been working on their Crossfire profiles so you should see better results in more games as this process goes forward. Sapphire's bundle of accessories is usually second to none and this does not disappoint with the inclusion of Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. This game has become the best selling FPS ever, so it's a solid addition to the bundle and a refreshing change from Dirt 2! With the HD 5830 you get all of the features of the HD 5800 series just at a lower performance level. You have Eyefinity support, HDMI 1.3 support with 7.1 HD sound,Direct X 11 support, PowerPlay technology to reduce power consumption by lowering the clock speeds at idle and during 2D usage, Avivo video converter and Stream technology. You get all the features of the big dogs without the added cost. The Sapphire HD 5830 Modern Warfare 2 Special Edition delivers performance fitting its price point with the added bonus of some superior overclocking potential to give you that extra bit of performance when needed.