The $210 Video Card Showdown

Sapphire HD 5830 1GB and MSI GTX 460 768MB Cyclone; both priced at $210 U.S. - Where should your money go?

13 minutes & 41 seconds read time


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It's big business, the $210 video card market; it's where most companies see a lot of sales. While in the past it used to be the company that held the performance crown for fastest video card who would dominate this market, it seems that while NVIDIA may be struggling with its higher end models their mid range cards are the ones to be buying.

Today we're looking at two cards: Sapphires HD 5830 1GB and MSIs GTX 460 768MB Cyclone. Both are $210 at Newegg at the moment but the question remains: which one deserves your money?

This isn't just a rehash of us throwing in the HD 5830 results with the GTX 460 that we've already tested. What we're going to do is re-test the Sapphire HD 5830 on the latest Catalyst drivers and compare it to the MSI GTX 460 768MB. We'll also be looking at the OC potential of both cards which is becoming the selling post on most models. We will look at both cards at stock and overclocked to let you know which card you should lay down your hard earned cash for.

The Candidates

We've always known that the mid range market is the most important for companies as it's what most people buy. It's all well and good offering fast $500+ video cards but for most it's just a dream. It's not even just a matter of affording them; there's still a large amount of people who simply can't justify the cost even if they can afford it.

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The $200 market is the most important and when we went through we found two cards that came in at $209.99. The first is the Sapphire HD 5830 1GB. This series hasn't done great for ATI since the HD 5770 is a fair bit cheaper and not all that much slower. For others, wanting to get in on the HD 5800 series is a must and the price tag associated is perfect.

The $210 Video Card Showdown 01

The Sapphire card offers us better cooling and comes in at 800MHz on the core and 4000MHz QDR on its 1GB of GDDR5 memory running on a 256-bit bus. We didn't have the ability to adjust the voltage on the HD 5830 and we ended up with a core clock of 875MHz and memory clock of 4800MHz QDR.

The second card carrying the same $209.99 price tag is the MSI GTX 460 768MB Cyclone. We have already been impressed with this model, and after enjoying the overclocking benefits of other companies 1GB version we expected a lot from the model.

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The 768MB version of the GTX 460 doesn't look all that great against the HD 5830; for starters it uses a thinner 192-bit memory bus and it's clocks are 728MHz on the core and 3600MHz QDR on the 768MB of GDDR5. Being an NVIDIA card we've also got a Shader clock that comes in at 1455MHz. Clocks and memory bus only tell half the story, though.

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Overclocking on the MSI GTX 460 768MB Cyclone was just as good as we had hoped; bumping the voltage from 1.000v to 1.087v we managed to achieve a core clock of 865MHz which bumped the Shader clock to 1730MHz. As for the memory, that went to a nice rounded 4000MHz QDR.

Normally when we overclock cards we crank the fans up to 100%, as this lets us achieve a higher overclock then normal when the fans are set to AUTO. Due to the nature of the article and the fact we understand that people don't want to run their cards at 100% we chose to leave the fans at AUTO.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Western Digital, Noctua and Thermaltake.

The benchmark line-up today will be slightly cut down; we've removed CINEBENCH, Darkest of Days along with the PhysX runs of both Batman AA and Dark Void. No PhysX runs of those two games are included.

Wireless Security Auditor and BADABOOM have also been dropped. Temperature, Power Draw and Noise Levels are still all included.

Now all we need to do is figure out which is the better card to buy: the HD 5830 which hasn't done well for ATI since launch or the newly released GTX 460? Maybe the HD 5830 didn't do well because there was nothing to go against it. Today we've got some competition; some very tough competition.

Let's get started!

3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
Buy It Here

3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.

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Straight away we see the GTX 460 768MB Cyclone from MSI pull out the win thanks to PhysX being supported in the default run of 3DMark Vantage. We don't place a huge emphasis on Vantage which is why we run it first; what's important is what's going on in the real world games.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 1 and 2
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

Note: If a card doesn't support DirectX 11 the benchmark will be left out, if it does it will be included along with the DirectX10 results.

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Tessellation performance on the NVIDIA offering is in a league of its own when you compare the performance to ATI, as even while overclocked ATI can't get close. We do kind of wonder how important tessellation is considering how few games are making use of it. None the less it's something worth considering.

Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5

Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.

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At stock, the GTX 460 Cyclone pulls out the win. As we climb the resolution table the gap shrinks with both cards scoring the same at 2560 x 1600. Thanks to the better overclocking ability on the GTX 460 we see it pull out the overall win.

Benchmarks - BattleForge


Version and / or Patch Used: Auto Patched at Load
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

The Gods have disappeared and the old sun has died, letting a vile twilight engulf the world of Nyn. In exchange for all treasures the mortals possessed, the evil giants agreed to forge a new sun and hurl it into the sky.

But the deal was betrayed, the treasure stolen and now the mortals flee the wrath of the giants. Under the light of a new sun the mortals stumble into a world changed and twisted by an age of twilight. The long journey home has become a conquest of survival.

Note: Supporting DirectX 11 we have seperated the graphs for NVIDIA and ATI cards. While the numbers between the two brands can be compared you have to make note that ATI based HD 5000 series cards are running DirectX 11.

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BattleForge is a tough game and across the board we see both cards struggle, looking for the 60 FPS average we need. At stock, it only comes from the GTX 460. Overclocked, the HD 5830 gives it to us; the GTX 460 just expands on the number which is what we ultimately like to see.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X is an arcade-style flight simulator video game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and iPhone OS.

The fundamental gameplay mechanics are similar to those of other console-based flight series. Players take on enemies with over 50 aircraft available. Each mission is at real world locations in environments created with commercial satellite data. A cockpit, first person, and third person view are selectable. The third person view gives the player an external view of both their plane and the target.

Set above the skies of a near-future world, increasingly dependent on private military companies with elite mercenaries who have a relaxed view on the law. As these non-governmental organizations gain power, global conflict erupts with one powerful PMC attacking the United States.

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H.A.W.X. performance is strong, but stronger for the GTX 460 Cyclone. Both cards struggle at 2560 x 1600. Overclocked, the HD 5830 still falls shy of the magic number while the GTX 460 Cyclone doesn't have the same issue as it flies past the 60 FPS average.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
Buy It Here

The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

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Across the board the GTX 460 768MB Cyclone takes home the win. Both cards struggle at 2560 x 1600, but while overclocked we can see they both pass that minimum we need. The HD 5830 only scrapes in while the GTX 460 Cyclone flies past it with an extra 6 FPS.

Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman Arkham Asylum

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.

Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.

Note: With support for PhysX NVIDIA based cards will be tested with the technology on and off, ATI cards will be tested with the technology off due to it not being supported on their cards.

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The MSI GTX 460 768MB Cyclone wins out at every resolution in both minimum and average FPS. Overclocking the HD 5830 brings performance close to the GTX 460, but when we overclock the GTX 460 its performance is stronger again.

Across the board we have good minimums and when it came to playing the actual game it would be hard to tell the two apart thanks to minimums being well above 30 FPS.

Benchmarks - Dark Void

Dark Void

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

The game's story takes place during World War II and centers around a cargo pilot named William Augustus Grey (voiced by Nolan North) who is teleported to another world while flying through the Bermuda Triangle. In this world, known as the 'Void', Will encounters an alien race as well as other humans, which are known as the Watchers and the Survivors respectively.

Will reluctantly joins the Survivors who are engaged in a feud with the alien race to satisfy his desire to return to Earth. While aiding the Survivors, Will discovers that the Void is a middle ground that connects both the Watchers homeworld and Earth. It also becomes apparent that the Watchers are supplying the Axis powers with various supplies for reasons unknown. With the help of Nikola Tesla, Will utilizes retrofited Watcher technology to combat the Watchers and eventually find a way to escape the Void.

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At stock, the MSI GTX 460 768MB Cyclone pulls out the win at every resolution. Overclocked, the HD 5830 does gain on the GTX 460 but when we bring in overclocking to the GTX 460 it pulls even further away.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before, they will start to now.

Far Cry 2

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With AA on, the HD 5830 just struggles. The picture is completely different with the GTX 460. We can see we're 1 FPS away from the 30 FPS minimum we need at stock and overclocked we're 6 FPS past it.

Resident Evil 5

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At stock the GTX 460 Cyclone is clearly faster; even when overclocked the HD 5830 still can't beat it. Unfortunately across the board we're below that 60 FPS average we need to see. The GTX 460 Cyclone when overclocked isn't that far from it; a small detail drop would get us the numbers we need.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

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Both cards are so far below the 60 FPS average that we need that it doesn't really matter how they perform here. With that said, we had some issues with the MSI GTX 460 768MBCyclone in our initial review with this test. We're still experience the really bad frame rate. It's the only card that has fallen over under H.A.W.X.

Temperature Test

Temperature Tests

With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).

There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.

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At stock the GTX 460 runs a good bit cooler; the Cyclone heatsink that MSI offers is quickly becoming a personal favorite of mine for these mid range cards. When overclocked we see the GTX 460 does run a little warmer; unlike the HD 5830 not only are we dealing with higher clocks but also more voltage which is making it run slightly warmer. That extra voltage is only adding an extra degree to the GTX 460 Cyclone when compared to the HD 5830 which again is a testament to the cooler.

Sound Test

Sound Tests

Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

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Both cards offer their own cooling solution which is better than stock; dB for dB there's almost nothing between it. Both cards run a little louder when overclocked; those gains are almost identical between the two cards so if you wanted the quieter option there's no clear winner or loser.

Power Consumption Tests

Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

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At idle both cards draw similar numbers when at stock and when overclocked, at load the GTX 460 does draw a little more and when overclocked it draws a fair bit more due to the extra voltage. These numbers aren't something we're really all that concerned about.

Final Thoughts

So you've got money to blow, your budget is around the $200 mark and the question is, what do you buy? After looking at the results it's easy; both at stock and overclocked the GTX 460 is hands down the card to get if you're looking for the highest amount of performance.

Now if noise is something that you're worried about, we would still recommend the GTX 460; not because it makes less noise but because it makes the same noise but offers more performance. Power draw is important? At idle the cards perform very close, at stock clocks the GTX 460 draws a little more power and when overclocked it draws a good bit more than the HD 5830 but it offers more performance. Under 400 watts also means that just about any power supply is going to run the card.

Dollar for dollar, the GTX 460 can't be beaten by ATI. Throw in the fact that the GTX 460 also offers CUDA and PhysX it's just a killer product. The HD 5830 has been a bit of a black sheep for ATI; its partners have never been all that happy with the model because it's never sold well. It's going to sell even worse now since we really can't think of a reason to buy the HD 5830 over the GTX 460 unless you wanted a budget Eyefinity setup. Even then, the HD 5830 isn't going to push the FPS at a native Eyefinity resolution and if you wanted to just run three monitors off a single card there's cheaper ATI options.

Even though the HD 5830 can almost give the modestly overclocked GTX 460 from MSI a run for its money, a stock GTX 460 would probably be beaten in some situations but overclocking these days is a) very easy and b)if it's too hard most companies are offering the GTX 460 with such big overclocks out of the box.

NVIDIA threw the GTX 465 to a pack of wolves and let it eat the model alive when they released the GTX 460. They ultimately sacrificed the model because now it's kind of a hopeless model because of the GTX 460 price and performance.

When the GTX 470 and GTX 480 were released I think there was a big sigh of relief coming from the ATI camp. Let's be honest; long delays and performance that didn't deliver at the level people had hoped meant that ATI didn't have to do much to the HD 5850 and HD 5870 to convince people to buy it over the NVIDIA counterparts. Ultimately they did nothing, which gave the GTX 460 a chance to come in and compete in the midrange segment and ATI needs to do something if they want to continue to sell strongly at this price bracket.

How does ATI combat the GTX 460 and the $200 price bracket then? The ONLY way is to drop the HD 5830 completely and make the HD 5850 cheaper. The 5850 is priced at around the $280 mark at the moment though, so there's just no way that ATI can give the model the price drop it needs without hurting the value of the products around it.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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