Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: The new ATI Radeon HD 4830 performed right in line with its position in the market--the card was clearly faster than the more affordable Radeon HD 4670 and a bit slower than the pricer Radeon HD 4850. In comparison to NVIDIA's offerings, the 4830 is typically faster than the GeForce 9600 and about on par with or somewhat slower than a GeForce 9800 GT. In comparing the reference card to PowerColor's, even though they shared the same specifications, the PowerColor Radeon HD 4830, was usually a bit faster than the reference card, probably due to slight tweaks associated with the shorter board design.
With an expected street price of around $129 (some boards are already available for $119 after mail in rebates), the Radeon HD 4830 seems to be a solid product. If you want an affordable, no compromise graphics solution that can handle all of today's games and virtually any video decoding task, the Radeon HD 4830 should fit the bill nicely. Be aware, however, that the sub-$150 graphics card space is loaded, perhaps overloaded, with worthwhile products currently, so you could save a few bucks and get something with only slightly lower performance or spent just a few dollars more and get something faster. In a few weeks / months time, as older models undergo further price cuts or disappear from shelves altogether, there should be cleared differentiation in the market. So for now, just be extra diligent when shopping to ensure you're getting the best deal. If you don't feel like comparison shopping though, and the Radeon HD 4830's price is right, we doubt anyone would be disappointed in this card. The Radeon HD 4830 represents a great value for the money.
Update: A representative from AMD gave us a call shortly after the launch of this article to let us know that a certain percentage of Radeon HD 4830 cards are equipped with an incorrect BIOS that disables an additional SIMD core. Our reference card was one of those affected, but the PowerColor card was not. The bad BIOS explains the performance discrepancy between the two cards, despite their having the same specifications. AMD has supplied us with a new BIOS for the reference Radeon HD 4830 and it is now performing on-par with the PowerColor card.