Review of Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 Graphics Card

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Review of Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 Graphics Card
Review of Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 Graphics Card
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INTRODUCTION

At the time being, all the spotlights on the market for graphics cards are pointed towards AMD ATI who is in the process of launching a new generation of cards supporting the new DirectX 11 standard. One of these cards is the AMD ATI Radeon HD 5870 which we have loads of reviews. However, when a new generation of cards is introduced, one can often make a bargain on a high end graphics card from the previous generation. Therefore I decided to take a look at the Radeon HD 4890 which has drastically dropped in price since the 5890 was introduced.

For a long time the HD 40xx series from AMD was topped out with the HD 4870 model, but as nVidia pushed on, AMD decided to put out a boosted version of that card and call it 4890. Besides the increase of the card’s memory frequency, the HD 4890 also has some extra memory, 1GB GDDR5 instead of the 512MB with 4870 (standard model). OK, before we take a look at the specifications you should know that Sapphire has released many different versions of the HD 4890. The one which I will review here is the “Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 1GB GDDR5 PCIe 21150-00-40R “:

GPU RV790 (Radeon HD 4890)

Technology 55nm

Stream processors 800

GPU speed 850MHz

Memory 1GB GDDR5

Memory speed 975MHz (3,9Gbps)

Bus width 256bits

Cooling system Reference cooler

Video connectors 2 x DVI-I

HDTV

Compatible with HDCP yes

Compatible with CrossFireX yes

Power requirements 2 x 6 pin PCIe

Maximum consumption 190W

Supported technologies DirectX 10,1, Shader Model 4,1, UVD 2, ATI Stream, ATI PowerPlay

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The card comes in a rather big cardboard box with a lot of attractive graphics on it, as is customary with all

retail graphics card boxes. Inside the box I found the card in an antistatic plastic bag which was placed between some black foam plastic protecting the card. The accessories were placed in a box below the graphics card containing; a printed documentation; CDs with drivers; 3D Mark Vantage; PowerDVD; DVD Suite etc; some video adapters and adapters for molex to PCI-E 6 pin and lastly a CrossFireX bridge.

IN DETAIL

The card is really more or less the same as AMD ATI’s reference card, it has the same heatsink/cooling solution and the frequencies of the memory and GPU are the ones recommended by AMD. Sapphire also has customized models with a greater amount of memory, specialized cooling solutions and overclocked memory and GPUs. The card is thick, it occupies 2 slots, basically because of the great size of the heatsink/fan which is made of copper and incorporates several heat pipes to secure a better cooling performance. The fan has a diameter of 70 mm, which is common with AMD cards.

The length (240mm) of the card is also considerable which is pretty normal these days with high en cards. This can of course be a problem depending on the space inside your case so measure the available space before purchasing is my advice. The voluminous cooling solution leaves very few details in view, but we can see that Sapphire uses solid condensers, which should assure stable power feeding and a long lived card. The card has 2 6 pin PCIe connectors, reason why along with the power from the PCI-Express port, the card can get to consume up to 225W (in theory). The bracket with the connectors consists of a metal grid on the upper part, to favor the air flow. The lower part holds two DVI connectors and one HDTV exit.

INSTALLING THE TEST EQUIPMENT

OK, so for this review I used the following test system:

Test equipment

Processor AMD Phenom II 920

CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper N520

Motherboard Sapphire PC-AM2RD790 – CrossFireX PUREE

Graphics card Sapphire Radeon HD 4890

Soundcard Auzen X-Fi Forte 7.1

Memory Kingston HyperX DDR2 1066 2×2GB T1 Series

Hard disk Samsung SP2504C (SATA II, 7200rmp, 8MB)

Power supply Zalman ZM660-XT

Case Antec Skeleton

Operating system and software

OS Windows XP SP3

Drivers BIOS R7LS422

Catalyst 9.9

DirectX 9 (August 2009)

Benchmarks 3D Mark 06

Furmark 1.7

Lightmark 2008

Games World in Conflict: Soviet Assault

Street Fighter IV

Crysis Warhead

X3: Meeting

X3: Terran Conflict

Officers’ Club of Revolutionary Armed Forces Cry 2

WEAPON 2

Stalker: Clear Sky

The Last Remnant

Other software CPU-Z 1.52

GPU-Z 0.4.5

BENCHMARKING TEST RESULTS

The results are a little confusing to me because in 3D Mark 06 the result is about the same which I obtained in my review of the Gigabyte GTX 285, whereas the results from Lightmark and Furmark are clearly below the results obtained with the GTX 285 card.

GAMING TEST RESULTS

The results from the test with the first group of games clearly shows that the 4890 isn’t able to reach the high results which I had with the GTX 285 but considering the price difference the result is still very competitive.

REAL RESULTS OF TEST II

The very small increase in GPU and memory frequencies which I received in my over clocking attempts resulted in an improvement of 1 or 2 fps in real life gaming situations. In 3D Mark 06, I got a 300 point improvement which is a rather big improvement considering how little it was possible to overclock the card.

CONCLUSIONS

At present, the Radeon HD 4890 is no longer is the most powerful graphics-GPU from AMD ATI. With the release of the HD 5800 series, the prices of the HD 4800 series models have been reduced considerably, reason why it is a wonderful opportunity to acquire one of these cards.

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