Sapphire HD5830 Xtreme: AMD's Evergreen Gets a Second Life
4/12/2011 by: Josh Smith
Today Sapphire has announced their latest piece of graphics goodness, the HD5830 Xtreme. The new HD5830 Xtreme is a reintroduction of sorts as the HD5830 has been on the market for some time now with prices hovering around the $160 mark on average depending on the bells and whistles included. We are told that street pricing of the new HD5830 Xtreme will hit around 129.99 U.S. Dollars, placing it solidly in the mainstream category. A low price is great, but low performance is not, so we will be putting the HD5830 Xtreme through its paces to determine if it truly does offer performance beyond its pricing.
The HD5830 Xtreme comes packaged in a shiny black and gold box with the usual abundance of logo’s and graphics. According to Sapphire, this part belongs to AMD Black Series of products. When it comes to graphics cards in this price range, board partners do not have the margins available to elaborately package these products like they do on their high end enthusiast offerings, so there are no extraneous flaps or see-through windows like we might find on higher end products.
Inside the outer shell is a non-descript cardboard box inside which you will find the card itself cradled inside a cardboard tray and underneath the tray lays the accessory box. The interior packaging as a whole is rather bland and utilitarian, but does its job protecting the card during shipping. From a consumer standpoint as long as the graphics card I just paid for arrives safely, I could care less about the packaging it arrived in. I would much rather have them spend that money on the card’s design and feature set as opposed to a pretty box that I will just be recycling shortly after my card is installed.
The bundle with the HD5830 Xtreme is equally minimalistic and utilitarian. Included are two power connectors, a DVI to VGA adapter, driver CD, case sticker and instruction manual. Essentially you get what you need to get the job done and little more.
At the heart of the HD5830 Xtreme is a Cypress graphics core running at 800MHz. Also along for the ride are 1120 stream processors (480 cores disabled) and 56 texture units (24 disabled). The card sports a full 1GB of GDDR5 running at an effective rate of 4GHz (four operations per clock, so called Quad Data Rate). At first glance, there are no tangible differences in specs when compared to the original HD5830.
The cooling duties of the HD5830 Xtreme are handled by single fan resting atop a heatpipe/fin array. Three large copper heatpipes are positioned directly over the GPU drawing heat into the fin array where it is directly cooled by the fan.
Sapphire HD5830 Xtreme features triple-heatpipe arrangement with fin heatsink on both sides, all cooled by a single fan
The HD5830 Xtreme supports AMD Eyefinity 3 or essentially a three display support (for up to 7680x1600 pixel resolution). To accomplish this, the card unsurprisingly features three display connectors including DVI, HDMI and a DisplayPort. One thing to note is that the HDMI connector is 1.3a, not 1.4a which further explains the lack of AMD HD3D support.
Side view reveals simple bracket: single DVI, HDMI and mini-DisplayPort
Power is delivered to the card via six pin power connectors located on the outside edge of the card, a location similar to the 6800 series of cards.
The Radeon HD 5830 Xtreme is sitting at a very attractive price point. Coming in at $129USD, the card is approaching the bottom rung of the pricing ladder which is all well and good, but where it sits on the performance ladder is equally important. Cards in this price range are generally fighting for the bang-for-your-buck award so to speak and that award is usually won by the one who can offer the greatest performance at the lowest price. To that end we will be evaluating how this card stacks up against the MSI R6850 Cyclone and MSI N460GTX HAWK from our $200 Graphics Wars review. It is not expected that the HD5830 Xtreme will beat these cards per se, however it will provide a prime example of what level of performance you can expect for the money and whether or not the $129 price tag is well fitting. Bear in mind that these cards dropped in price to only $159.99 (after rebate) for both cards. Can $30 bring that much of a difference? Read on.
- Intel Core i7 2600K Processor at 3.4GHz (Supplied by Intel)
- Intel DP67BG Motherboard (Supplied by Intel)
- 2x 2GB Kingston DDR3-1600 MHz Memory
- 160GB Intel X25-M SSD
- Enermax Revolution 1000w PSU
- Windows 7 64bit Operating System
- Samsung SyncMaster 2443BW 24-inch 1900 by 1200 pixel resolution display
With the fact that 35% of all of our readers are running a Full HD capable display (1080p, 1200p, 1440p and 1600p combined), we're running our tests in 1920x1200 only (except 3DMark11), as we believe that is the proper representation of challenges faced by this graphics card.
Unless we stated otherwise, all optimizations have been set on full quality, Catalyst AI has been disabled and the tests are run with Anisotropic filtering and Anti-Aliasing turned on. Our goal is to provide you with information how hardware actually performs in real world situations while keeping the synthetic part of the review that provides you with easily comparable results.
All gameplay tests are not measured through a ridiculously short, 60-second FRAPS run - but rather a complete level of the game, lasting for 10-20 minutes. We believe that by measuring actual gameplay on a long run we can notice does the reviewed product carry inadequacies which can lower your experience.
Synthetic benchmarks often prove to be some of the most popular. They allow for direct comparisons between different cards by offering the same exact conditions during each test. These repeatable and consistent tests do not necessarily reflect exact real world usage scenarios but they do offer a glimpse into the hardware’s performance and are often able to illustrate subtle performance differences between varying hardware components and performance tweaks.
3DMark11 is the latest benchmark in Futuremark’s long line of synthetic benchmarking tools. The introduction of 3DMark11 now gives us the ability to test Tessellation, Direct Compute Physics and more. As this is one of the newest full featured benchmarks on the scene it is proving to be somewhat of a system crusher and lower frames per second and the resulting lower 3DMark score is to be expected for the time being.
In our 3DMark testing we run the hardware through two testing cycles. The first test is Performance Mode which offers a moderate test load designed to simulate modern gaming commensurate with most gaming PCs. The
second test is Extreme Mode which pushes the hardware even further with a heavy load designed to stress even the highest end gaming PCs.
The results we see from both 3DMark tests show the HD5830 Xtreme trailing the other two cards though not necessarily by a huge margin. From a straight spectator standpoint the tests ran achingly slow on all three cards which has been the norm with most video cards since 3DMark11’s launch. Given that 3DMark11 is based upon DirectX 11-only game engine that will be used in an unannounced game, currently we can consider 3DMark11 only as synthetic of a benchmark as they come. It is not surprising to see the HD5830 outpaced by its more expensive brethren, if there was a definitive performance difference we would expect to see it here.
Unigine Heaven (DX11 and DX10)
Unigine was one of the first to offer a true DX11 benchmark and really showcase a graphics card’s DX11 ability. As DX11 cards are just now becoming more common we still test performance in DX10 as well to give a greater overview of performance.
The Unigine Heaven tests seem to be somewhat of a mixed bag. The DX11 test generally favors NVIDIA cards and the outcome is no different here. The N460GTX clearly outpaces both AMD-based cards by a strong margin. This is attributed to the way how Fermi architecture handles Tessellation. Unlike AMD, who has eight generations of Tessellation hardware, nVidia only needed one generation to get it right. What is interesting to see is that how close the frame rates were between the two AMD cards. The HD5830 Xtreme comes within roughly 3FPS of the R6850. In viewing the benchmark run the tests for both cards appeared similar to the naked eye, in other words, if this were an actual game the user would be hard-pressed to determine which AMD card was actually being used.
The results from the DX10 test shows the lead as well as the delta’s from all three cards closing significantly. The HD5830 Xtreme is nipping at the heels of the R6850 as just 8fps slower, while the R6850 is similarly only 6.9fps behind the N460GTX.
Synthetic game benchmarks hit a little closer to the core usage scenario of a graphics card. These benchmarks are built upon the game itself and generally run a scene or series of scenes from the game in order to garner a performance score. As these benchmarks are built upon current popular gaming titles they offer a better picture of the video cards real world performance.
First up we have Metro 2033, a game set in the post-apocalyptic former Soviet Union. Metro 2033 has become the new Crysis and while it is one of the most visually stunning games on the market it is also one of the most punishing, bringing even multiple high-end video cards to their knees. The benchmark is run at 1900x1200 resolution with all the eye-candy turned up. The test is repeated three times with the end result being an overall average frame rate measured in frames per second.
Metro 2033 is graphically demanding to say the least and with that mindset we would expect to see the HD5830 clearly trounced by its competitors, yet that’s not what we see. The HD5830 Xtreme is clearly bested by the R6850, however the HD5830 actually beats out the N460GTX, even if it is only by a single frame per second. While 1fps may not be much, the fact that the HD5830 was able to solidly compete with a card costing $60 more (without rebate) does shed some light on how application specific graphics performance can be.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
As the name clearly states, Call of Pripyat is set in the area around the Chernobyl disaster http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster. The test can implement both DX11 and DX10 elements during a run though of separate game scenes and as we have done in the past, we have sorted this test by the Sun Shafts test as this has proved to be the most taxing on the GPU’s.
The Call of Pripyat benchmark hands us our second benchmarking surprise. The HD5830 Xtreme was able to eek out a win over both the R6850 and the N460GTX. The win here is not a landslide but a win nonetheless. All three cards turned in similar numbers and produced smooth framerates, with the exception of the R6850 Sun Shafts test run. As a reminder these tests are run with all the eye candy cranked up the same as we do when testing powerhouse graphics cards, no exceptions were made to the mainstream HD5830 Xtreme.
We have mentioned before that Call of Pripyat in DX10 reports very low scores. This especialy goes for NVIDIA cards where we can see the scores plummet. While scores for both AMD and NVIDIA-based cards suffer under DX10, NVIDIA cards demonstrate a definitively marked drop. This current performance delta renders the DX10 version of this benchmark as unreliable and therefore useless.
Colin McRae DiRT 2
The HD5830 handled the Dirt 2 benchmark run while barely breaking a sweat. Turning in an average 62.8FPS landed it in the middle of the pack. The HD5830 was able to slightly edge out the R6850 while coming in
just a hair behind the N460GTX. With frame rates this high, performance differences between the three cards were not visible to the naked eye.
Just Cause 2
Just Cause 2 is a visually impressive game highlighted by bright and beautiful tropical location coupled with the sandbox style of play popularized by the Grand Theft Auto franchise. If you are looking for a great story line and visually stunning cut-scenes you will want to keep looking. The plot is thin and the banter between characters plays out with one-liners reminiscent of 80’s-era action flicks. The game features three built-in benchmarks, with Concrete Jungle providing the highest GPU workload. Average frame per second scores are reported and the results have been sorted by the Concrete Jungle test.
The HD5830 Xtreme provided solid performance throughout the benchmark run however it came in behind the other two cards. With two out of the three tests clocking in average frame rates just shy of 30fps the benchmark run appeared mostly smooth with a little lagging here and there during the more graphically intensive scenes.
Synthetic benchmarks do an admirable job of allowing system to system or component to component comparisons, however they often lack a direct "real world" relevancy. Just because a video card does well in 3DMark11 for example, does not necessarily mean it will have a guaranteed level of performance in the next blockbuster gaming title.
In order to balance both sides of the coin we have developed a few of our own real world benchmarks utilizing some well known gaming titles. The process here is rather simple. We load up said game while also running FRAPS. The game is played for 30 minutes during which time we have FRAPS calculate the average frame rate. This is admittedly not as structured as a synthetic benchmark, but it is more akin to real world usage where gaming will see the GPU usage peak and valley rather randomly based on game play.
Call of Duty: Black Ops
One of the most highly anticipated, and consequently most highly purchased games of all times, CoD Black Ops is a game most are familiar with. We have chosen to include this game in our suite largely due to its sheer penetration in the gaming market, most gamers either own the game or have played the game, and those that haven’t have most likely heard about it. While this test will fall under the real world gaming benchmark description, the "shooter on rails" moniker that the CoD series have earned is well deserved in this case as there
is generally only one way through a level. This real world benchmark will prove to be the closest to fixed-variable aspect of a synthetic benchmark.
Black Ops follows the exploits of its main character Mason throughout 1960’s including settings in Cuba, Vietnam, Soviet Russia and more. True to its namesake, the mix of missions are "black bag" or clandestine operations. For benchmarking purposes we play through the first full level of the game.
Gameplay throughout the test was smooth and stutter-free. With all of the graphical options maxed out the HD5830 Xtreme was able to provide a strong average frame rate of 55FPS, just slightly higher than the N460GTX. As the real world gameplay benchmarks are by nature not 100% identical from run to run the performance differences between the N460GTX and the HD5830 Xtreme could be chalked up in-game variables. Regardless, the HD5830’s ability to deliver performance so closely rivaling the more expensive card is to be commended.
Just Cause 2
Here we are again with Just Cause 2. While we have already utilized the in-game benchmark we thought it would be interesting to bench some real world gaming with the title and see how closely the game’s in-game benchmark predicts real world performance.
The Just Cause 2 real world gameplay results show us a few things. First the N460GTX took the lead spot over the R6850 compared to the results from the synthetic benchmark of the game. Secondly, while the HD5830 Xtreme did bring up the rear on pure performance numbers the average frame rate was over 36FPS, resulting in a stutter-free gaming session. All three cards illustrated real world performance numbers much closer to the Sun test from the synthetic run illustrating that test to be more indicative of real world performance. Again, synthetic benchmarks are not able to paint the whole picture and it is for this reason that we conduct the real world gaming tests.
We chose Metro 2033 for its system crushing-abilities. It's one thing to run a canned benchmark and get a sub-30fps score, it's quite different however to actually have to play a game at those frame rates. Much the same as Just Cause 2, it will be interesting to see how well built-in benchmark predicts actual game play performance.
Metro 2033 is able to retain the system-crushing status managing to prevent any one of the three cards from cresting the 30fps mark. The patterning here was the same with the R6850 in first place, N460GTX claiming second and the HD5830 bringing up the rear. The HD5830 did show some improvements over its synthetic score (as did the other two cards) however the tests reinforce the fact that Metro 2033 at maximum graphics settings is still outside the reach of most cards in this segment. Those wanting to have silky smooth frame rates will need to sacrifice some visual quality to do so.
Temperature and Noise
A common consideration when looking at video cards is noise and heat output, after all if you are like most of us, you are going to have to live with this video card operating a few feet from you on a daily basis. As we are more concerned with the real-world attributes of a cards temperature and acoustic characteristics - that is what we test for. Temperature is easy enough to discern and in order to create a level playing field we run each card through our own in house temperature test designed to simulate normal gameplay usage. If we wanted to max out the temperature on the cards we could easily fire up Furmark and set it to the Xtreme Burning Mode selection and watch the card fry, but seeing as even the most extreme normal usage scenario would not heat a card to that level we do not feel it is a fair representation of a video cards thermal attributes.
In the temperature test we measured the idle temperature of each graphics card by allowing the system to sit powered-on but inactive with the desktop visible and no screen saver running. The temperature measurement is taken after the system has been sitting idle for 15 minutes. After this the idle temperature reading is taken the system is launched into the under-load temperature test.
The HD5830 Xtreme was able to coolly idle at 21°C, The heatsink/fan combination on the card definitely got a workout during the thermal load testing yet it was able to keep the card under control maxing out at a respectable 61°C.
When it comes to the noise level or sound output of a graphics card we feel it is important to remain practical. Granted we could use a dB meter and a quiet room to measure the exact noise level of the card but that setting would be atypical of the average usage scenario for a desktop card. Secondly the dB scale is not an easy indicator to relate to as each increase is in order of magnitude and not easily comparable. How much more annoying is a
graphics card with a sound level of 82dB versus one with 80dB? It's hard to tell. Therefore we feel it makes more sense to break down the sounds levels into four categories akin to real world experience, and these "measurements" are taken in a standard office/room environment with standard ambient noises such as HVAC present:
Unnoticeable: At this level the sound of the card is not perceptible. Either completely silent or only perceptible when your ear is place directly next to the card itself
Noticeable: At this level the sound of the card is perceptible, generally as a low hum. The noise at this level is unobtrusive and generally blends in with other ambient noises, such as case fans, power supply exhaust fans etc. The noise from the card can be heard but you have to listen for it to really hear it.
Clearly Noticeable: At this level the noise output from the card is clearly evident. The graphics card is discernable as the source of the noise and tends to be of higher magnitude than the ambient noise around it.
Annoying: This moniker pretty much describes itself. At this level the sound of the card is distracting. The video card is clearly discernable as the source of noise and during gameplay/media enjoyment speaker and/or headphone volume must be increased to overcome the noise of the card.
The HD5830 Xtreme fell into the Noticeable category when under load. The card never entered the Clearly Noticeable category even under thermal load testing and proved to be a soft-spoken deskside companion.
The HD5830 Xtreme is not a card that brought a lot of fanfare with it. There were no great performance claims given, no revolutionary technology and perhaps most importantly no eye-bulging price tag. To put it simply the HD5830 Xtreme flew into our offices under radar. Even as the benchmarking began we expected to see few surprises, after all this is "only" a $129 card.
The HD5830 Xtreme decided to shed its unassuming disguise as we moved further into our benchmarking runs. As we stated earlier, we never truly expected the card to beat its more expensive siblings (ok, more like one sibling and one disliked cousin) but it managed to do just that and more importantly it did it more than one.
The HD5830 Xtreme might not post earth-shattering benchmark numbers but it did prove that it can offer much greater performance than it’s diminutive price tag suggests. The HD5830 Xtreme rings up at a roughly 35% smaller price tag than its competitors in this review yet was able to consistently provide 80-85% of their performance and in some cases over 100% of the performance. It looks like Sapphire picked the right time and right price to reintroduce the HD5830.
Based on everything that we saw so far, we're awarding Sapphire HD5830 Xtreme our mainstream Value award.
Sapphire, Sapphire Technologies, HD5830, HD5830 Xtreme, Radeon, Radeon HD5830, Evergreen, Northern Islands, RV870, Cypress, Cypress GPU, GPU, GPGPU, R6850, GDDR5, QDR, Quad Data Rate, Gaming, 3DMark11, Futuremark, Metro 2033, DVI, DVI-D, HDMI, HDMI 1.3a, DisplayPort, N460GTX, N460GTX Hawk, R6850 Cyclone, MSI
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