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"What?" you're asking. "There's another Radeon HD 5000-series card hiding under ATI's cap? That's right. In fact, there's more than one: the Radeon HD 5830 we're testing here today and a Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity⁶ Edition board that'll surface in March. But we'll be looking at the six-display-capable model later. Today, with the GF100-based cards from Nvidia still missing in action, it's all about the Radeon HD 5830, purported to hit a price and performance point between the Radeon HD 5770 and Radeon HD 5850.
At this point, we should probably just refer to February 2010 as "Radeon 5000-Series Launch Month," because this is the third card to emerge in the last 28 days. It's also the most exciting of the trio. Nevertheless, if you missed the Radeon HD 5450 and Radeon HD 5570 stories, those are more entry-level discrete boards. This launch is aimed toward the folks with a little more money to spend on graphics, but not the $300+ it'd take to procure the company's higher-end offerings.
You see, before today, there was a big hole between the $160 Radeon HD 5770 and the $310 Radeon HD 5850. That's a gaping $150 price gap that fails to capitalize on the facts the ATI's previous generation fell off after the Radeon HD 4890 and Nvidia is only able to compete sub-$200 with GeForce GTX 260 or above $350 with the 285. The GeForce GTX 275 is essentially missing in action.
In its prime, the Radeon HD 4890 stood in for roughly $200, but good luck finding find one for sale anymore. The Radeon HD 4890 stock seems to have dried up over the last month.
Apparently, nature isn't the only thing that abhors a vacuum. AMD isn't too happy about it either, so it gave us the Radeon HD 5830 to fill the void. It emerges with a $239 launch price; promising, but certainly not set in stone, as the Radeon HD 5850 and 5870 showed us. Since the new 5830 is based on the high-end Cypress GPU that powers both of its higher-end predecessors, we have ambitious hopes for this card. In 1670, John Ray said, "Hell is paved with good intentions." So, let's make sure that this seemingly perfectly-placed product delivers the bang for your buck we'd expect.