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jmke 31st October 2008 16:36

HIS ATI Radeon HD 4830 512MB graphics card
When you look at the Radeon HD 4830 in isolation, only comparing it to what Nvidia has on the market at the moment, it's a pretty good buy if you only care about frame rates in games, but unfortunately the world doesn't work that way. There's a certain card called the Radeon HD 4850, which is not only at least 15 percent faster (and more often than not the margin is greater than 20 percent) in games, but is also available for just over 100 including VAT, making it only 10 more expensive.

Of course, the card we've just linked doesn't have the best cooler on it in the world, but then neither does the HIS Radeon HD 4830 we've looked at here (when it comes to build quality). What's more, HIS has essentially cannibalised the reference design PCB by pulling components off while keeping the card functional in order to cut costs down. Cannibalising is probably a little strong because the card works fine in all but World in Conflict (where it black-screened when loading save points and starting a new game) and it overclocked beyond specification as well, although not as far as we'd hoped. Some would argue that it's a clever optimisation of the AMD reference design designed to keep costs down.

That's exactly what HIS has done here though, because its Radeon HD 4830 is at least 10 cheaper than any other 4830 in the UK at the moment. And at under 90 including VAT, that's quite a significant difference. Unfortunately, the underlying problem with the HIS Radeon HD 4830 (and the 4830 in general) is that, at least for the time being, there are Radeon HD 4850s that are more attractively priced considering the performance increase you'll net.

On the Nvidia front, there is of course the benefit of a more robust GPU computing infrastructure and significantly better performance in Folding@Home (if that's something you care about). There's also the new Release 180 driver just around the corner too, and they're promising some massive performance improvements - we'll be looking at that shortly in a couple of games. The drivers could change the picture a little and make the GeForce 9800 GT (or 8800 GT, for that matter) a much more viable option for the gamer but we'll have to wait and see how they impact the landscape.

When AMD first talked to us about the Radeon HD 4830, we were expecting the card to cannibalise Radeon HD 4850 sales because it'd perform so close to the card of choice amongst many gamers today. Sadly, that hasn't turned out to be the case and instead we see the well-priced Radeon HD 4850s out there eating away at the juicy pie AMD had baked for the Radeon HD 4830's entry into the market.

Overall then, the HIS Radeon HD 4830 isn't a bad card, but we'd recommend spending just that little bit more to buy a card like the Radeon HD 4850 as it has a more potent future ahead of it in our opinion.

GingerbreadMan 31st October 2008 20:58

ATi is going for the kill against Nvidia. End of story.

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