ATI completed its ambitious four GPUs in six months schedule with clinical precision early this month. Since then, the priority has been to fill in the gaps of the current Radeon HD 5000 series line-up. The biggest hole, by far, was the space between the $170 Radeon HD 5770 and the $300 Radeon HD 5850. After several rumours, and many delays, the long awaited Radeon HD 5830 is here.

Unfortunately, much unlike ATI’s previous HD 5000 series releases, this one is a bit of a mess.

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ATI completed its ambitious four GPUs in six months schedule with
clinical precision early this month. Since then, the priority has been
to fill in the gaps of the current Radeon HD 5000 series line-up. The
biggest hole, by far, was the space between the $170 Radeon HD 5770 and
the $300 Radeon HD 5850. After several rumours, and many delays, the
long awaited Radeon HD 5830 is here.

Unfortunately, much unlike
ATI’s previous HD 5000 series releases, this one is a bit of a mess.

Yesterday’s rumours of all HD 5830s being non-reference seem to be coming true. There was always bound to be some confusion – and there is. Instead of one product to be reviewed, there are several, but websites have only been able to review one, not necessarily representative of “Radeon HD 5830″, but of the particular AIB design. The price reported varies from $220 to $250, across different websites/reviews. The worst part is that, even after all these delays, the HD 5830 is a paper launch, with no retail availability to speak of. The favourite price point, co-inciding with long time rumours, seems to be $239, however.

By now, we all know the HD 5830′s characteristics. 1120 SP, 56 TMU, 16 ROP, clocked at 800 MHz, with 1GB GDDR5 at 1 GHz mated to a 256-bit bus. Almost inexplicably, the HD 5830 somehow manages to fall behind the previous generation HD 4890, which boasts of considerably lesser power in every respect, except pixel fillrate. Still, the sheer shader power of the HD 5830 should no doubt at least bring it on par with the HD 4890. It could be a driver problem. However, ATI has had several months to prepare the HD 5830 card. There shouldn’t have been any confusions, driver issues or paper launches.

Interestingly, yesterday’s leaked IT168 review showed noticeably better performance than most of the reviews published after the NDA was lifted. There seems to be some variation between different reviews, as well.

In the end, ATI’s product line-up has been much disturbed by the supply issues, and lack of competition. The HD 5850 should be retailing for ~$250, the HD 5830 for ~$200 and the HD 5770 for ~$150. Such pricing would make sense, and indeed, would be closer to the MSRP’s suggested back in October 2009, when ATI were preparing the HD 5000 series. Today, the HD 5850 sells for a much bloated $300, with no real competition from Nvidia in sight in the price range. Compared to the HD 5770, it is poor value, but that is expected for the performance premium. As we move down to $239, the HD 5830 offers a similar price/performance to the HD 5850, albeit at a dangerously close performance level to the HD 5770, which is a full $60 cheaper, at least. At $199, this would be a great product. To be fair to ATI, once we see the cards hitting the market, we may as well see pricing closer to $200. We would also look out for driver updates, which might fix what seems impossible (losing out to the theoretically less powerful HD 4890). However, at $239, it simply isn’t good value.

You can read several Radeon HD 5830 reviews here, in a list compiled by VRForums poster adrianlee.