XFX Radeon 5830 Review

Geekspeak411 - 2010-03-17 09:34:40 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: Geekspeak411   
Reviewed on: April 1, 2010
Price: $259.99

Introduction:

For any rig to be considered above entry level at this point, it has to have dedicated graphics. Sure there are the Intel solutions and the integrated solutions from ATI and nVidia, but when it comes down to performance numbers in both professional and enthusiast applications, graphics cards matter. In the past few years, the number of applications using dedicated cards beyond pure graphics processing duties has skyrocketed. The stream processing method used in current GPUs offers a few benefits that current CPUs just can’t touch. Highly threaded workloads found in programs within the Adobe suite and within an increasing number of video encoders thrive in the parallel processing environment provided by these new generations of graphics beasts.

XFX is relatively new to the ATI side of the field, with the 5830 they have filled the budget spectrum with regards to the 5800 series. This card is built around ATI’s 40nm process and features 1GB of GDDR5 RAM to act as a frame buffer for up to three displays utilizing the new Eyefinity technology. All of the standard features are seen here such as OpenGL support and ATI Stream technology. You can throw this card into CrossFireX and add on to it’s plethora of ports to include dual DVI adapters, a HDMI connector and a DisplayPort connector. Will this card push enough pixels for a low enough price to be on your wish list? Let’s find out!

Closer Look:

I have always been a fan of the XFX design team. To me, this box is just as visually pleasing. Featuring a distressed steel X with Radeon HD 5830 in the center, the front of the box has a bold appearance. Along the bottom are the blips for some of this card’s included features, including a free copy of Aliens vs. Predator. Spin the box around and you see more feature blips around the border and a key features pane along the left side. On the right side the words Expand. Accelerate. Dominate. catch your eye leading you to a paragraph listin the various selling points of the card. To get to the card, you have to open two boxes, the retail box, and the packing box. XFX decorates both painting the inner box a very sleek black and grey gradient with the XFX logo and website printed on. Looks great!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening the inner box the design style continues, the upper box contains all the included accessories and has a separate compartment housing the adapters to prevent movement. Once lifted, the card itself is displayed surrounded by an antistatic bag, and enclosed in a bright green cardboard container. All of packaging follows the color scheme, and the end result is some excellent packaging.

 

 

The accessory bundle here is enough to get you started. The Radeon HD 5830 comes with both a Quick Install Guide illustrating the basic installation procedure, and the Installation Manual going into greater detail and containing some more discrete information about your card. Of course there is an Installation disk to get you started, although If you have Internet access, you will probably be getting the most recent drivers online. On top of the CrossFire adapter, there are two Molex to PCI-E 6-pin adapters, as well as a DVI to VGA adapter to make sure everyone can hook up their cards. As mentioned before, Aliens vs. Predator is included with the card and it is installed via Steam. The pamphlet with the activation code is found here, and finally, what is as far as I know unique to XFX, you get a “Do Not Disturb, I’m Gaming” door card which, while cool, is quite useful as well. On the back of the door card, they have put your card’s S/N and other unique info meaning you have access to it without removing the card! Nice.

 

 

 

Enough with the packaging, now let’s check out the card.

Closer Look:

The XFX 5830 itself takes a huge step away from the standard 5000 series heatsink model. Sporting a circular heatsink with two HUGE heatpipes, the 5830’s cooler definitely doesn’t look as imposing as the standard solution, but I would venture to say it cools better. Other than the voltage regulators, the rest of the card remains uncovered allowing you to see the full extent of the engineering that went into this card. For the price, you get an 800MHz base clock and 1120 stream processors, linked into a 256bit memory bus. Link that with a full gig of GDDR5 RAM and you’ve got one heck of a mid-range performer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like I said before, the card has all of the connection ports you need. With two DVI ports, an HDMI 1.3 port supporting audio transmission and the other standard goodies, and a DisplayPort, you will be able to connect and combination of screens to your rig. With Eyefinity possibilities, this versatility is definitely appreciated considering three monitors with resolutions up to 2560x1600 would be awesome on a single card. The rear end of the card has the two 6-pin PCI-E connectors required to provide enough juice to keep this card happy and they are surrounded by the additional circuitry required to deliver results. Being a shorter card than the top of the line items right now, this card should have no issues fitting in your tower.

 

 

Of course, what would any ATI enthusiast’s card be without the CrossFireX ability? This card connects just like all the other cards and is able to scale with pretty much any of the ATI CrossFireX capable cards out there with some pretty awesome results! The beauty of crossfire as opposed to nVidia’s SLI is that it scales across editions. You can make countless combinations of cards such as connecting a 5970 to a 5870 for some triple GPU action!

 

 

Now with the card hooked into the test bed, let’s install the drivers.

Closer Look:

To get the most out of any card, actually, to get your moneys worth from a graphics card, you need to install updated drivers. The primary feature of the driver package is the Catalyst Control Center. The CCC allows you to tweak all of the options available on your card, from simple display settings to ATI’s Avivo Video settings, and ATI’s Overdrive overclocking controls. It’s all here. ATI has a lot of features included such as the much acclaimed Eyefinity technology, ATI PowerPlay, DirectX 11, Hydra Vision, Desktop Management, and the standard Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic filtering.

Like all the other application discs out there now, all you have to do is pop the disk in your rig and let the autorun take over and install the program. If Windows asks you what to do, just click run application. The install wizard then takes over and guides you through the process. The Express setting automatically detects any installed software and only installs/updates the old, out-of-date versions. Once you accept the EULA, you’re good to go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 6 months and you have more than a few new 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. Unigine's Heaven Benchmark is the first benchmark used to measure DirectX 11 performance. Included with the 5830 is your own copy of Aliens vs. Predator. Other DX 11 titles include the just released Metro 2033, BattleForge and STALKER Call of Pripyat.

 


 

 

Closer Look:

As I mentioned before, the feature rich cards are accessed from the CCC. Let’s go a bit more in-depth and see just what there is to be had within the software soul of the XFX Radeon HD5830.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Graphics Hardware tab of the Information Center contains information about the video card, 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 is 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.

 

 

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 ATI Overdrive. To first use this feature, users must click the lock to ‘unlock’ the program after 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, some of which are 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 new 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 grid 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.

 

 

Ok, the XFX 5830 is all set up, let's see what XFX wants you to know about the card.

Specifications:

Bus Type
PCI-E 2.1
Performance
Standard
GPU Clock
800 MHz
Stream Processors
1120
Memory Interface Bus (bit)
256
Memory Type
DDR5
Memory Size (MB)
1024 MB
Memory Clock (MHz)
4000 MHz
Microsoft® DirectX® Support
11
Shader Model Support
5.0
Open GL Optimization and Support
3.2
Minimum Power Requirement (Watt)
500W with two 6-pin power cables
Cooling Fansink
Yes
ROHS
Yes
Profile
Double
ATI Radeon CrossFireX Technology
Yes
ATI Radeon PowerPlay
Yes
ATI Radeon Stream Technology
Yes
Dimensions (Imperial)
9.5 X 4.376 X 1.5
Dimensions (Metric)
24.1 X 11 X 3.8
Max Resolution Analog
2048 X 1536
Max Resolution Digital
2560 X 1600
ATI Eyefinity Technology
Yes
Display Port
1

 

Features:

(1) Driver version 8.66 (Catalyst 9.10) or above is required to support ATI Eyefinity technology and to enable a third display you require one panel with a DisplayPort connector.

(2) Requires application support for ATI stream technology.

(3) ATI Eyefinity technology works with games that support non-standard aspect ratios which is required for spanning across three displays.

(4) Digital rights management restrictions may apply.

(5) ATI CrossFireX™ technology requires an ATI CrossFireX Ready motherboard, an ATI CrossFireX™ Bridge Interconnect(s) and may require a specialized power supply.

(6) ATI PowerPlay™, ATI Avivo™ and ATI Stream are technology platforms that include a broad set of capabilities offered by certain XFX Radeon™ HD GPUs. Not all products have all features and full enablement of some capabilities and may require complementary products.

(7) HD capable display required.


All information Courtesy of XFX @ http://xfxforce.com/en-us/products/graphiccards/hd%205000series/5830.aspx#1

Testing:

To look at a card is one thing, to see it’s software suite is another, but what it all boils down to is just straight performance numbers in an all out brawl between the XFX 5830 and the OCC benchmarking suite. I will push the 5830 to its absolute overclocking limit to see just how much can be gained performance wise and find out just where this card stands among its peers. One place where nVidia has the leg up on ATI immersion-wise is nVidia’s PhysX technology, to level the playing field, tests will be run with PhysX disabled, but keep that in mind as the carnage commences!

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

After a little bit of research on similar chips, I got a feel of how far these little puppies can go. First off, whenever you are overclocking you want to set the fans to 100% to ensure you are getting the most stable environment possible. Heat is the enemy here, so anything you can do to get rid of it, the better! Now, getting to the software side of things is fairly easy. After opening up the CCC, all you have to do is navigate to the ATI Overdrive section. The software maxes out at 900MHz on the core and 1300 on the RAM, for our testing today, that should be plenty of playing space, should you want more however, there are other alternative utilities out there. Starting with 10Mhz increments, I slowly crept my way up to 900MHz testing each time using the integrated burn utility. Maxed out and stable on the core clock, I worked on the RAM. Again I slowly raised the speeds until I maxed out at 1200MHz. These overclocks are pretty huge improvements and should see some big gains in the benchmarks.

 

  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

Testing:

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.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow, the 5830 is right on the tail of the GTX 285 Matrix! Overclocking showed good boosts.

Testing:

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nice, the 5830 is really flexing it’s muscles for its price range! Let’s keep moving.

Testing:

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

 

Once again we see the 5830 give well rounded results around the GTX275/GTX285 level. Overclocking adds a few frames on every level, usually well above the GTX 285 Matrix.

Testing:

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.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We get some odd results in this test rather commonly, the 5830 produces excellent frame rates throughout the resolutions so let's keep moving!

Testing:

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the ATI side of the house doesn't dominate, the frames are all beyond what the human eye can differentiate between.

Testing:

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looks like the green team needs some help, the 5830 gives a great showing, and the overclock just raises the bar higher!

Testing:

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!

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The XFX 5830 gives a good showing for the price.

Testing:

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.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 5830 continues to give very good results in its price range.

Testing:

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.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the lower realms, the 5830 puts out great results. The card loses some prowess in the upper levels however.

Conclusion:

Well now, what a performance! When I got the XFX Radeon HD5830, I expected a mild performer with mild options. Boy was I wrong! The card gives great perforamnce on stock speeds, now this would be great on its own, but this card goes one step further and is an excellent overclocker as well! For the $200 price range, this card was beating out the GTX 285 Matrix card and almost always came out on top of the GTX 275. Eyefinity is a polished product that should have been here en masse a long time ago. Those of you who have moved to dual-monitor setups can vouch with me that you never want to go back. Now take that, add another monitor into the equation and top it off with good support for your games as well! Setting up a 3x24" setup was mind boggling, but did however bring up my only complaint about this package. To enable the 3:1 Eyefinity setup, you have to use the two DVI adapters, and the DisplayPort adapter. You can't use the integrated HDMI adapter, although you can use a DVI to HDMI converter on a DVI port. Why wasn't a DisplayPort to DVI adapter included? I wouldn't expect to purchase a new product and open it in anticipation only to realize that I can't realize its full potential unless I buy a seperate adapter! Come on XFX!

Even with the limited adjustments available within the CCC's Overdrive utility, I was still able to max the GPU's clock speed in a matter of minutes and get the RAM to an excellent overclock rather expediantly as well. Throw in a free copy of Aliens vs. Predator and really, there is not to much to say about this card other than the XFX Radeon HD5830 is without doubt the card to have in its price range!

 

Pros:

 

Cons: