AMD is back to serious gaming business with the Radeon HD 5830 after messing around with a few less exciting budget-oriented solutions. While it is very important to provide gamers with a cost effective option, we feel that the Radeon HD 5570 and 5670 graphics cards don't deliver a great value if gaming performance is what you are after.
With the Radeon HD 5830 we have a graphics card priced a bit above the mainstream mark that nonetheless delivers performance comparable to Nvidia's single-GPU flagship product.
Although the GeForce GTX 285 was released about a year ago, and at the time it was just an overclocked GTX 280, today a number of retailers keep selling it for around $400 in limited quantities. Nvidia appeared to abandon this product shortly after the release of the Radeon HD 5870, which as we know today is considerably faster while selling for the same price.
The Radeon HD 5830 was found on many occasions matching the performance of the GeForce GTX 285, and surprise, surprise, at the $250 price level Nvidia currently has no answer. If the GeForce GTX 285 isn't up to the task, you can forget about the GeForce GTX 275 and GTX 260.
With that in mind, the biggest question mark for prospective buyers will be the exact retail price of outgoing Radeon HD 5830 boards and how much value it offers against the Radeon HD 5850. If it's going to be a $50 gap, then opting for the 5850 will translate in a 20% price premium for a card that is on average 19% faster, based on the 11 games that we tested with.
So in terms of value, the new Radeon HD 5830 is no better or worse than the Radeon HD 5850 when priced at around $250. It simply presents another option for those that cannot afford to spend $300 on the 5850 or are having trouble justifying doing so.
Another thing you might want to consider is that, unlike most Radeon HD 5850 graphics cards, which are still following the AMD reference design for one reason or another, the Radeon HD 5830 is expected to become available in a number of shapes and sizes. This could help make it a more attractive alternative from the get go. Imagine the power of a GeForce GTX 285 in the footprint of the GeForce GT 240.
It might sound unlikely but looking at some early images of the XFX Radeon HD 5830 we estimate that this graphics card in particular is just 16cm (6.3in) long. While this is pure conjecture on our part, we can say for sure that the Radeon HD 5830 is yet another exciting HD 5800 series product that offers high-end performance at a more affordable price tag.