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)
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
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
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.
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:
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
DirectX 9 (August 2009)
Benchmarks 3D Mark 06
Games World in Conflict: Soviet Assault
Street Fighter IV
X3: Terran Conflict
Officers’ Club of Revolutionary Armed Forces Cry 2
Stalker: Clear Sky
The Last Remnant
Other software CPU-Z 1.52
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.
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.