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Sapphire HD5830 & HD5850 Xtreme Edition Review – CrossfireX

Rating: 8.5.

Sapphire have decided to re-release two of AMD’s last generation range of cards – the HD5830 and HD5850, but this time around they are offering them with a modified cooler and heavily reduced pricing. When we say heavily reduced, we really do mean it. The HD5850 ‘Xtreme’ has been reduced from an original price of £250 to £99 inc vat and the HD5830 ‘Xtreme’ from £200 to £80 inc vat.

While it might seem unusual to re-release older hardware Sapphire have built new cards with the last batch of ASIC’s from AMD to offer the enthusiast gamer an easily affordable gaming solution. With the price point now less than half the original, will two of these cards make for an ideal CrossfireX system?

Today we will compare them against a wide variety of hardware on the market today, including the new range of cards from both AMD and Nvidia.

Product Sapphire HD5830 Xtreme Sapphire HD5850 Xtreme
Graphics Core Direct X 11 Direct X 11
ROPs 16 32
Core Clock 800mhz 725mhz
Memory Type GDDR5 GDDR5
Memory Clock 1GHZ (4GHZ effective) 1GHZ (4GHZ effective)
Manufacturing Process 40nm 40nm
Memory Bus Width 256bit 256bit

The Sapphire HD5830 Xtreme Edition card arrives in a rather eye-catching box. Another 3D render of a futuristic lady wielding a sword, we aren’t quite sure why she is wearing goggles, but perhaps its best not to ask.

The bundle contains power and video converter cables, literature on the product and the Sapphire Select Club, as well as a software disc.

The card itself ships with a custom cooler on a modified blue PCB. This is a very similar cooler to the models we have seen recently on the Sapphire HD6870 and HD6790. This angular blade design is very good for circulating high volumes of air without creating a racket.

The card has a single CrossfireX connector, meaning it can be paired up with another card. It requires 2x 6 pin PCI-E power connectors to operate.

The card has three output connectors. Dual link DVI, HDMI, and a mini displayport.

The HD6830 Xtreme ships with a custom Sapphire heatpipe cooler, comprising three thick copper pipes which link into two separate banks of aluminum fins. Sapphire are using Elpida W1032BABG memory – we have also seen these being used on newer 6 series graphics cards, such as the HD6870 FleX Edition.

Two of the cards configured into a Crossfire pairing.

The Sapphire HD5850 Xtreme Edition boxes are thin and narrow, and significantly smaller than the boxes for the HD5830 cards on the previous page.

The bundle contains several power and video converters, literature on the product and Sapphire Select club and a software disc.

The HD5850 Xtreme Edition is smaller than the HD5830, although it is built around a custom blue PCB, similar to the HD5830. The same angular fan is used with a heatpipe cooler underneath.

The HD5850 has a single Crossfire connector, meaning it can be paired up with another card. It requires two six pin PCI-E power connectors to operate.

The HD5850 Xtreme Edition has a full size Displayport and HDMI port, as well as a DVI dual link port.

Sapphire are using Elpida W1032BABG memory – we have also seen these being used on newer 6 series graphics cards, such as the HD6870 FleX Edition. This is the same as the HD5830 Xtreme Edition on the previous page.

Interestingly, this specific cooler is slightly smaller than the one installed on the HD5830, comprising not three, but two heatpipes.

An overview of the hardware in GPUz, we are running a CrossfireX configuration.

Today we are using our high end Core i7 970 system which is overclocked to 4.33ghz.

Graphics cards: Sapphire HD5830 & HD5850 Xtreme Edition

Processor: Core i7 970 @ 4.33ghz
Cooling: Coolit Vantage
Motherboard: MSI X58A-GD65 (MS-7522)
Chassis: Thermaltake Level 10
Power Supply: Corsair Ax1200
Memory: 6GB GSkill Performance Gaming ram @ 902.9 MHz (2:10) @ 7-8-7-24
Storage: Kingston SSDNow V+ 512GB Gen 2 SSD (Storage) / Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB (OS boot)
Monitors: Dell 3011, Dell U2410 UltraSharp, Sanyo 50 inch LCD Television.

Other graphics cards:
Nvidia GTX590
Nvidia GTX580
Nvidia GTX570
XFX HD5970 Black Edition 4GB (QuadFireX)
AMD HD6990
AMD HD6970
AMD HD6950
AMD HD6870
AMD HD6850
AMD HD5870
Sapphire HD5770 Vapor X Edition (860mhz core)
Sapphire HD6790 CrossfireX
MSI N560GTX Ti Twin Frozr II
nVidia GTX570
nVidia GTX 550 ti (900/1026)
nVidia GTX460 OC (715/900)

Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit
Unigine Heaven Benchmark
3DMark Vantage
3DMark 11
Catalyst 11.4
Forceware 266.58 WHQL
Fraps Professional
Steam Client
HQV 2.0 Software

Technical Monitoring and Test Equipment:

Keithley Integra unit
Thermal Diodes
Raytek Laser Temp Gun 3i LSRC/MT4 Mini Temp
Extech digital sound level meter & SkyTronic DSL 2 Digital Sound Level Meter

Resident Evil 5
Far Cry 2
Alien V Predator
Lost Planet 2
Tom Clancy HAWX 2
Home Front
Total War: Shogun 2

All the latest BIOS updates and drivers are used during testing. We perform under real world conditions, meaning KitGuru tests all games across five closely matched runs and average out the results to get an accurate median figure.

Unigine provides an interesting way to test hardware. It can be easily adapted to various projects due to its elaborated software design and flexible toolset. A lot of their customers claim that they have never seen such extremely-effective code, which is so easy to understand.

Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced Unigine engine from Unigine Corp. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. Interactive mode provides emerging experience of exploring the intricate world of steampunk.

Efficient and well-architected framework makes Unigine highly scalable:

  • Multiple API (DirectX 9 / DirectX 10 / DirectX 11 / OpenGL) render
  • Cross-platform: MS Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7) / Linux
  • Full support of 32bit and 64bit systems
  • Multicore CPU support
  • Little / big endian support (ready for game consoles)
  • Powerful C++ API
  • Comprehensive performance profiling system
  • Flexible XML-based data structures

The HD5830 Xtreme in CFx manages to hold onto the HD6790 in CFx, trailing by a single frame per second. The HD5850 Xtreme in CFx outperforms a single HD6970 by over 2 frames per second … when factoring in the price difference this is very impressive.

Futuremark released 3DMark Vantage, on April 28, 2008. It is a benchmark based upon DirectX 10, and therefore will only run under Windows Vista (Service Pack 1 is stated as a requirement) and Windows 7. This is the first edition where the feature-restricted, free of charge version could not be used any number of times. 1280×1024 resolution was used with performance settings.

The Sapphire HD5830 Xtreme in CFx scores noticeably higher than the HD6790 in CFx, over 2,000 more points. Two HD5850’s in CFx score almost 28,000 points, which is 1,500 points greater than an overclocked GTX580 (which costs more than twice the price).

3DMark 11 is designed for testing DirectX 11 hardware running on Windows 7 and Windows Vista the benchmark includes six all new benchmark tests that make extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading.

After running the tests 3DMark gives your system a score with larger numbers indicating better performance. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

If you want to learn more about this benchmark, or to buy it yourself, head over to this page.

Direct X 11 performance from the AMD hardware is still impressive. Looking at the final results we can see that both HD5830 and HD5850 Xtreme in CrossfireX manage to outperform an overclocked GTX580. Considering a overclocked GTX580 costs over £400 and the HD 5830 CFx solution is £160, this is certainly worth highlighting.

HQV Benchmark 2.0 is an updated version of the original tool and it consists of various video clips and test patterns which are designed to evalute motion correction, de-interlacing, decoding, noise reduction, detail enhancement and film cadence detection.

There are two versions of the program, standard definition on DVD and high definition on Bluray. As our audience will be concentrating on HD content so will we.

This has a total of 39 video tests which is increased from 23 in the original and the scoring is also up from a total of 130 to 210. As hardware and software gets more complicated, the software has been tuned to make sure we can thoroughly maximise our analysis.

Read our initial analysis over here

Sapphire HD5830/5850
Dial with static pattern 5
Gray Bars 5
Violin 5
Stadium 2:2 5
Stadium 3:2 5
Horizontal Text Scroll 5
Vertical Text Scroll 5
Transition to 3:2 Lock 5
Transition to 2:2 Lock 0
2:2:2:4 24 FPS DVCAM Video
2:3:3:2 24 FPS DVCam Video
3:2:3:2:2 24 FOS Vari-Speed
5:5 FPS Animation
6:4 12 FPS Animation
8:7 8 FPS Animation
Interlace Chroma Problem (ICP)
Chroma Upsampling Error (CUE)
Random Noise: Sailboat
Random Noise: Flower
Random Noise: Sunrise
Random Noise: Harbour Night
Scrolling Text
Roller Coaster
Ferris Wheel
Bridge Traffic
Text Pattern/ Scrolling Text
Roller Coaster
Ferris Wheel
Bridge Traffic
Luminance Frequency Bands
Chrominance Frequency Bands
Vanishing Text 5
Resolution Enhancement
Theme Park
Driftwood 5
Ferris Wheel
Skin Tones
Total 196

A fantastic set of results for Sapphire hardware, scoring 196 points out of 210.

Resident Evil 5, known in Japan as Biohazard 5, is a survival horror third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on March 5, 2009 in Japan and on March 13, 2009 in North America and Europe for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A Windows version of the game was released on September 15, 2009 in North America, September 17 in Japan and September 18 in Europe. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.

Within its first three weeks of release, the game sold over 2 million units worldwide and became the best-selling game of the franchise in the United Kingdom. As of December, 2009, Resident Evil 5 has sold 5.3 million copies worldwide since launch, becoming the best selling Resident Evil game ever made.

Resident Evil 5 has been a long term DirectX 10 favourite with AMD hardware. The HD5830 Xtreme in CFx manages to slightly outperform the HD6790 in CFx. The HD5850 Xtreme in CFX manages to outperform a Nvidia GTX590 for basically almost a third of the price.

Aliens V Predator has proved to be a big seller since the release and Sega have taken the franchise into new territory after taking it from Sierra. AVP is a Direct X 11 supported title and delivers not only advanced shadow rendering but high quality tessellation for the cards on test today.

To test the cards we used a 1080p resolution with DX11, Texture Quality Very High, MSAA Samples 1, 16 af, ambient occulsion on, shadow complexity high, motion blur on. We use this with most of our graphics card testing so cards are comparible throughout reviews.

With this particular engine, the HD5830 Xtreme Edition in CFx outperforms both the GTX580 AMP! Edition from Zotac and the HD6790 in CrossfireX. The HD5850 Xtreme in CFX scores around 15 fps more but fails to compete against the GTX590 which is a further 9fps ahead.

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates.

After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. Lost Planet 2 runs on the MT-Framework 2.0, an updated version of the engine used in several Capcom-developed games.

We normally test at higher settings, but the hardware being evaluated today was not capable of maintaining solid framerates. We are therefore testing at 1080p in DX11 mode with settings on high. DX11 is set to medium.

The HD5830 isn’t quite as impressive as the newer HD6790 with this particular Direct X 11 engine, however the HD5850 is more than a match for the newer AMD solution.

Shogun 2 is set in 16th-century feudal Japan, in the aftermath of the Ōnin War. The country is fractured into rival clans led by local warlords, each fighting for control. The player takes on the role of one of these warlords, with the goal of dominating other factions and claiming his rule over Japan. The standard edition of the game will feature a total of eight factions (plus a ninth faction for the tutorial), each with a unique starting position and different political and military strengths.

All settings are pushed to mixed high/ultra settings as shown below.

Shogun 2 runs surprisingly well at these settings, and we can see that the HD5850 Xtreme solution manages to outperform the newer HD6790 cards with this particular engine. The newer card is slightly faster than the HD5830 however.

Far Cry 2 (commonly abbreviated as “FC2 or “fc2″) is an open-ended first-person shooter developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It was released on October 21, 2008 in North America and on October 23, 2008 in Europe and Australia. It was made available on Steam on October 22, 2008. Crytek, the developers of the original game, were not involved in the development of Far Cry 2.

Ubisoft has marketed Far Cry 2 as the true sequel to Far Cry, though the sequel has very few noticeable similarities to the original game. Instead, it features completely new characters and setting, as well as a new style of gameplay that allows the player greater freedom to explore different African landscapes such as deserts, jungles, and savannas. The game takes place in a modern-day East African nation in a state of anarchy and civil war. The player takes control of a mercenary on a lengthy journey to locate and assassinate “The Jackal,” a notorious arms dealer.

Far Cry 2 is still a popular game and the open world environment can be taxing on even the latest hardware available today.

Settings: 1920×1200, D3D10, Disable Artificial Intelligence(No), Full Screen, Anti-Aliasing(8x), VSync(No), Overall Quality(Ultra High), Vegetation(Very High), Shading(Ultra High), Terrain(Ultra High), Geometry(Ultra High), Post FX(High), Texture(Ultra High), Shadow(Ultra High), Ambient(High), Hdr(Yes), Bloom(Yes), Fire(Very High), Physics(Very High), RealTrees(Very High).

Two HD5830’s in CFx perform to about the same level as the overclocked MSI N560GTX Twin Frozr II. The HD5850’s once again manage to outperform the Zotac GTX580 AMP! Edition.

Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. After the events of the first game, the H.A.W.X squadron is sent to Middle East, where a high level of violence is being registered, and the appearance of various insurgents leaders in various hotspots. The team also has to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Russian nuclear weapons. The player will be controlling three groups: one American (Hunter), one British (Munro) and one Russian (Sokov), each with its own pilots and supporting characters. There will also be references to other characters in the Tom Clancy universe.

We are testing in full DX11 mode with all settings to maximum.

CrossfireX scaling is great with this game, even if the coding is biased towards Nvidia hardware.

Homefront is speculative fiction, set in a near-future, post peak oil world that features a significantly diminished United States, and a united Korea that has built a massive alliance in East Asia. The Gate Corporation (a major private military company) also plays a minor role. The game focuses on the collapse of the United States, subsequent occupation by the Greater Korean Republic—a united Korea under the rule of Korea—and the American Resistance that fights said occupation. The player is invited to join the American Resistance, “using guerrilla tactics, commandeering military vehicles, and utilizing advanced drone technology”.

Homefront’s PC version has been outsourced to Digital Extremes, a Canadian developer responsible for numerous Unreal Tournament games and Bioshock ports. Frank Delise, the executive producer of the PC version has stated that the PC version of the game will feature exclusive content and dedicated servers. Additional exclusive features include clan support, DirectX 11 graphics, and first person vehicle cockpits.

Home Front is a fun game which hasn’t received much critical acclaim. It runs well on the HD6790, HD5830 and HD5850.

We have changed our method of measuring noise levels. We have built a system inside a Lian Li chassis with no case fans and have used a fanless cooler on our CPU. We are using a heatpipe based passive power supply and an Intel SSD to keep noise levels to a minimum. The motherboard is also passively cooled. This gives us a build with completely passive cooling and it means we can measure noise of just the graphics card inside the system when we run looped 3dMark tests. Ambient noise in the room is around 20-25dBa. We measure from a distance of around 1 meter from the chassis and 4 foot from the ground to mirror a real world situation.

Why do this? Well this means we can eliminate secondary noise pollution in the test room and concentrate on only the video card. It also brings us slightly closer to industry standards, such as DIN 45635.

KitGuru noise guide
10dBA – Normal Breathing/Rustling Leaves
20-25dBA – Whisper
30dBA – High Quality Computer fan
40dBA – A Bubbling Brook, or a Refridgerator
50dBA – Normal Conversation
60dBA – Laughter
70dBA – Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA – City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA – Motorcycle or Lawnmower
100dBA – MP3 player at maximum output
110dBA – Orchestra
120dBA – Front row rock concert/Jet Engine
130dBA – Threshold of Pain
140dBA – Military Jet takeoff/Gunshot (close range)
160dBA – Instant Perforation of eardrum

Both cards are fairly quiet, slightly audible above the noise in our chassis when fully loaded. Under Furmark load the fan of the HD5850 spins higher, emitting slightly more noise.

The tests were performed in a controlled air conditioned room with temperatures maintained at a constant 25c – a comfortable environment for the majority of people reading this.

Idle temperatures were measured after sitting at the desktop for 30 minutes. Load measurements were acquired by playing Crysis Warhead for 30 minutes and measuring the peak temperature. We also have included Furmark results, recording maximum temperatures throughout a 30 minute stress test. All fan settings were left on automatic.

Both cards run at very respectable temperatures when gaming, under 70c.

Sapphire HD5830 Xtreme cooler (left), Sapphire HD5850 Xtreme cooler (right).

The cooler on the HD5830 has less work to do, with the fan peaking at 50%, translating to 1,800 rpm. The fan on the HD6850 on the other hand peaks at 64%, translating to 2,900 rpm. The cooler on the HD5830 has an extra heatpipe, and we feel Sapphire should have used the same 3 pipe cooler on both cards.

To test power consumption today we are using a Keithley Integra unit and we measure power consumption from the VGA card inputs, not the system wide drain. We measure results while gaming in Crysis Warhead and record the results.

At idle, both cards are consuming 19 watts of power. This rises to 111/112 watts for the HD5830 and HD5850 respectively. Under Furmark load this rises to 145/150 watts.

To overclock today we are using Sapphire’s TriXX software tool, which is one of the best overclocking tools on the market.

Our overclocked speeds added several frames per second to Resident Evil and Home Front. Obviously, when it comes to overclocking achievements every card is different.

AMD have been releasing new products at a faster than ever rate recently, and this has clearly caused some issues for their partners. It is not often that Sapphire would re-release several models from a previous generation but punters on a budget can end up with a very capable and cheap gaming system. Sapphire told us before publication that the HD5830 Xtreme will retail for £80 inc vat and the HD5850 Xtreme £100 inc vat. Building a CrossfireX gaming system for £160 or £200, capable of taking on a GTX580 is certainly not to be sniffed at.

As the testing has highlighted, CrossfireX scaling is very good indeed, the HD5830 is generally faster than the newer HD6790. Considering the HD5830 Xtreme will be retailing for £40 less than ATI’s latest and greatest, it seems like a very good buy to us.

The HD5850 was always a firm favourite in the KitGuru labs, even when it was retailing for £230 last year. With the Sapphire price drop including the new low noise, high performance cooler, this is a tough one to ignore. Two of these cards in CrossfireX can often beat the nVidia GTX580, which is twice the price (£400). The only negative we can mention is that the cooler on the HD5830 has three heatpipes, while the HD5850 is a slightly weaker version with a dual heatpipe layout.

The HD5830 was never a favourite of mine because the pricing was always wrong. When this card was released it cost over £210, and at the time it was one of the worst mid range purchases on the market, Nvidia’s hardware at the time was faster and cheaper. Because it was never meant to be sold for £80 however it is a completely different story today. There is no other card at this price with the same performance, and you can literally double it later, for a minor investment.

While there will be a certain stigma involved with purchasing older hardware, in this case it seems like a really good deal to us. If you are on a tight budget, then these cards from Sapphire are really hard to beat.


  • price points are literally less than half the original price
  • coolers are great
  • noise emissions are low


  • buying a ‘last’ generation card might be hard to swallow for some people

KitGuru says: Sapphire have just launched a ‘get them while you can deal’. They are still great cards, especially with the current pricing.

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