With the introduction of its Radeon HD 5830, AMD has now filled the most obvious price gap in its DirectX 11-capable lineup. The company has also given us another powerful card that takes the torch from the Radeon HD 4890, as it is sent out to pasture.
Incredibly similar gaming performance makes comparisons between the Radeon HD 5830 and Radeon HD 4890 easy. The similarities don't end there, as both cards were launched at similar price points. Almost certainly, given enough time and (hopefully) some competition, the Radeon HD 5830 will drop in price and deliver the same price/performance ratio that the Radeon HD 4890 has spoiled us with. And let us not forget that the 5830 delivers more than game performance alone. It uses half the idle power of the Radeon HD 4890, notably less power under load, and supplies us with all of the Radeon HD 5000-series goodies that make these new cards such an attractive prospect. Of course we're talking about Eyefinity triple-monitor gaming, bitstreaming high-def Blu-ray audio over HDMI, and DirectX 11 compatibility. On top of that the reference card is notably quieter than the 4890, although there is a compromise that has been made in the large size of the card.
What's the worst thing we can say about the new Radeon HD 5830? Well, its launch price is $80 higher than most of the Radeon HD 5770 cards in the wild, and only $60 less than most of the Radeon HD 5850s available. Based on relative performance, this relationship should probably be reversed, as the new card performs much closer to the 5770 than the 5850. On top of that, we've been spoiled by the Radeon HD 4890 delivering a solid level of performance at $200 for months now, so spending an extra $40 for performance at the same level doesn't inspire us. The market dictates what it will bear, but with Radeon HD 4890s disappearing, it won't be possible to make comparisons for long.
Pricing concerns aside, the Radeon HD 5830 is a strong performer armed with the universal feature set we've seen from all Radeon HD 5000-series cards thus far, specializing in quiet operation and moderate power usage. It ups the ante compared to the Radeon HD 5770 with almost twice the memory bandwidth; this can be a solid boon in some scenarios.
AMD is undoubtedly making a killing with its monopoly on DirectX 11-class cards, but Nvidia hasn't thrown in the towel yet. We can only hope that its upcoming answer to the Radeon 5000-series (expected to begin rolling out at the end of March) will add some flavor and choice to the market. Until then, AMD has an unbeatable selection of cards in its hand. You might even call it a royal flush, and if the dual-GPU flagship Radeon HD 5970 is a performance ace, this Radeon HD 5830 is its jack.
If you want to know more about the features defining the Radeon HD 5000-series cards, please check our other reviews below (particularly the Radeon HD 5870 article, which was the first in the series).