Radeon HD 4830: High-Speed, Cheap CrossFire

The most powerful and most advanced graphics cards in the PC world will always be prohibitively expensive for a great majority of enthusiasts, unfortunately. Of course, the best and newest hardware costs a lot of money to research and develop, so manufacturers recuperate a lot of these costs with high-priced premium models for the early adopters. There will always be the gamers out there who will pay for those pricey toys regardless of the cost. The rest of us wait until the second- or third-tier models arrive, with not quite as much performance, but a much lower price tag. But these second- and third-tier models didn’t always exist.

In the early years of 3D accelerators, graphics card manufacturers had very few card models in their lineups. Each vendor tended to sell only one 3D processor flavor, and they usually charged a very high price for it. To game on the PC, you had to be willing to spend some serious money on a 3D accelerator or you didn’t get to play demanding games at all.

Nvidia was the first company to really change the game by taking its top-end GPU, crippling it just a little, and charging a fraction of the price it demanded for its top model. Nvidia began this strategy with the launch of the GeForce 2 MX, which could offer a similar feature set as the high-end GeForce 2 and deliver reasonable performance without costing an arm and a leg. Suddenly, regular gamers had access to affordable 3D gaming on the PC. And they sold like hotcakes.

This began a great tradition of affordable and powerful cards that perform similarly to their top-tier brethren. These cards include the GeForce 4 Ti 4200, the Radeon 9500 Pro, the GeForce 6600 GT, the GeForce 7600 GT, the Radeon X1900 Pro, the GeForce 8800 GT, and the Radeon 4850.

A Little More History

Let’s have a closer look at the GeForce 8800 GT. Released in October of 2007, this card introduced GeForce 8800 GTX-class performance for half of the price, and it continues to remain a very powerful option over a year after its introduction. The GeForce 8800 GT is so successful, in fact, that instead of introducing a new value proposition based on its newest architecture, Nvidia has kept it alive by adding its HybridPower support and re-branding the card as the GeForce 9800 GT. (Ed. --It's a shame, then, that after seeing success with its GeForce GTX 260 and 280 as low-power idlers, the company seems to be stepping away from HybridPower starting with the GeForce 9300 chipset) . For more than a year now, the 8800 GT/9800 GT has ruled its price point. At $120, it’s still the cheapest card you can get for serious high-resolution gaming.

But nothing lasts forever. AMD has grown weary of the status quo and would very much like to offer some competition for the 9800 GT, so it took the highly-successful RV770 graphics processor found in its flagship Radeon 4870 card, crippled it just a little, and priced the thing at a third of what its high-end offering costs. This new card is called the Radeon 4830, but does it have what it takes to steal the thunder of the tried-and-true 9800 GT?

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  • badge
    Great look into the 4830. Makes me want to buy a Xfire setup using these.
  • Doltron
    If you couldn't get Tray Tools to work with the Sapphire card why not use another program? Instead of giving up and coming up with a lame conclusion.

    Also 993*2 doesn't equal 1885 and the 4870 is clocked at 750 not 780.
    Your sound and temp charts have FPS on their X axis.
  • hannibal
    It's nice to see good cards from both companies, ATI and NVidia!
    And the price is not bad at all. The competition is so good!
  • neiroatopelcc
    The chart on page two sais 4850 runs at 625 - but stock is 600, and 4870 at 780 - which is 750 stock ... so is the 4830 speed correct?
  • cangelini
    Numbers and charts are corrected.
  • cangelini
    Actually stock clocks on the 4850 *are* 625. :P
  • V3NOM
    I'm sure i saw that "4850 - smarter by design" article at anandtech first. or somewhere else... the name anyway not necessarily the article >.>
  • giovanni86
    I knew that the 8800GT wasn't that fast, but those benchmarks ahve to be wrong... Sorry Nvidia fan boy here. Bye.
  • V3NOM
    Um actually, the MSI runs at x16/x8 in SLI mode. If you instead got an evga 750i FTW motherboard, you would find it runs at x16/x16 in sli, thanks to its unlocked NF200 chip. the 750i FTW is not a reference nvidia board as the MSI is.
  • V3NOM
    LOL at 1680x1050, the 4870X2 IMPROVES when 4xAA is added? i smell a rat...
  • cangelini
    Which test are you talking about, Venom? is added? i smell a rat...
  • daskrabbe
    Far cry 2
  • cangelini
    daskrabbeFar cry 2

    In Far Cry 2 there is a .8 frame difference, and shifting to 1920x1200 costs 2.1 frames at 4xAA. This is a processor bottleneck. In other words, performance is similar with and without anti-aliasing applied because the graphics card is nowhere near taxed at that resolution or the one above it.
  • kelfen
    Nice article ATI has really been on the move in all price ranges in creating compitition I would think the next gen cards are going to be a die strink if you look at how they got 4xxx. 3xxx die shrink and 4xxx beef up in power for competitive cards/price.
  • neiroatopelcc
    cangeliniActually stock clocks on the 4850 *are* 625.

    Oh my bad. I mixed up the numbers with some on g92 chips (just bought 28 9600gt's yesterday)

    Anyhow - the 4870 is 750, not 780 - at least they were when I bought mine.

    "On a side note, we will mention that GRID is one of those games that really does require AA for the best visuals. Happily, the game engine seems very easy on the video cards and even the single-card configurations were able to provide 4xAA with playable frame rates."
    I want to add that this is only true for current generation cards. My dad's p4 with a 7600gs can only run it with grahpics at very low @ 800x600 - though he runs suppreme commander just fine at 1024 ...
  • cangelini
    neiroatopelccOh my bad. I mixed up the numbers with some on g92 chips (just bought 28 9600gt's yesterday)Anyhow - the 4870 is 750, not 780 - at least they were when I bought mine.

    Yup, you're right--the chart was originally incorrect, but I went back and corrected that spec, along with the memory frequency mentioned by Doltron.

    Curious to hear how your dad's system runs SC no sweat at 1024. This is one of those ones that consistently drops test platforms to their knees. He actually gets playable frame rates on a P4?
  • neiroatopelcc
    yes he does. Mind you it's not with aa on or anything set at max res. But he plays it just fine. He doesn't have the expansion though - doesn't play it all that much. Dunno if the expansion makes any difference.
    His rig (2.4 northwood, 2gb pc3200, 7600gs on a cantherwood chipset) plays test drive, age of empires 3 and supreme commander at playable levels, but doesn't do grid playable. I suppose he'd have a chance at grid if we'd oc the cpu, but last time we ran 3,2 I ended up breaking their c:\windows\system32\config\system file ... and he didn't like that.
    Would have loved to see this with the new Cat 8.12's, as theyre getting much better performance than the 8.10's.
  • cleeve
    jaydeejohnWould have loved to see this with the new Cat 8.12's, as theyre getting much better performance than the 8.10's.

    Yeah, unfortunately the 8.12s just came out and this article has been a long time in the making. :)
  • cleeve
    DoltronIf you couldn't get Tray Tools to work with the Sapphire card why not use another program? Instead of giving up and coming up with a lame conclusion.

    Mostly because the card didn't seem to be able to get past 690 MHz core without problems in the Catalyst Control Center, so there didn't seem to be much point in persuing overclocking much further.

    But for the sake of completeness I can give Rivatuner a shot this evening and see if anything changes. I'll let you know. :)