Filling the Gap: ATI Radeon HD 4830

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MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recording starts with 10 seconds of room ambience, followed by 10 seconds of the VGA test system without a video card installed, and then the actual product's noise at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again.

Comparison

FINAL THOUGHTS

Gaming: Please check out the gaming-oriented reviews at AnandTech, The Guru of 3D, The Tech Report, and TechPowerUp. The general consensus is that the performance of the HD 4830 is in-between the Geforce 9800GT and 9800GTX+. Its aggressive price makes it a great value card for playing the latest 3D games at 1680x1050 or 1600x1200 resolution.

Video Playback: Video playback was very good. The decoding hardware has not changed from the previous HD 4000 series cards.

Cooling: The stock cooler is an average performer — it kept the GPU at adequate temperatures (55°C idle and 85°C load). When idle, the noise level was good and its nastier attributes were all but muffled once installed in a system with the side cover in place. At full load, it was very noisy by our standards — typical for most graphics cards. However, more bothersome than the overall noise level was the fact that the fan controller could not settle on one speed, resulting in a rhythmic pulsing as the fan alternated between higher and lower speed. As usual, it has to be mentioned that for gamers who like their sound effects, this aural annoyance may well be masked by game sound effects.

Power Consumption: By our estimates, the HD 4830 requires approximately 18W when idle and up to 87W when stressed to the limit --- this is a vast improvement over the HD 4850 due to its broken power management (50W idle). Its power consumption more closely resembles the HD 3870, though it performs closer to its big brother, the HD 4850. It's nice to see ATI get it right from the start this time around.

In our opinion, the HD 4830 represents the best middle-of-the-road graphics card for those who want to have a good gaming experience without breaking the bank or driving up the electric bill. It's not one of those revolutionary cards that crushes the competition and redefines value, but it performs well and is priced aggressively — enough to push the Geforce 9800GT completely out of the picture. Our main complaint is the stock reference cooler and its poor fan qualities. If you only need it to be quiet at idle, it's a fine card, but once you start to push it, the noise level goes up while the its quality goes down. Luckily it has the same PCB and mounting hole design as its predecessors, so most third party heatsinks are compatible.

ATI Radeon HD 4830 512MB
PROS

* Fairly power efficient
* Quiet when idle
* Good 3D performance
* Good HD playback
CONS

* Poor fan noise on load

Our thanks to ATI for the video card sample.

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Articles of Related Interest
Redefining Budget Gaming Graphics: ATI's HD 4670
Asus ENGTX260: A Quiet Graphics Card for Gamers?
Diamond Radeon HD4850
Asus EN3650 Silent Graphics Card
Asus EN9600GT Silent Edition Graphics Card
ATI HD 3850 & HD 3870: Improved Acoustics & Power Efficiency

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Discuss this article in the SPCR forums.



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