Sapphire HD 4890 Vapor-X 2GB Reviewccokeman - July 24, 2009
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To install the drivers for the Sapphire HD 4890, first pop the driver disc into your drive and the Sapphire installation GUI will auto-start. The menu has three options that you can choose from - the first option is to install the Catalyst Control Center and drivers by clicking the ATI Easy Install. The drivers used in this review are Catalyst 9.4. The options available with the installation GUI include a link to the online manual in several different languages as well as a link to download the latest Adobe Acrobat Reader.
When you click the ATI Easy Install option, the Catalyst Control Center installation will begin. This process installs all of the necessary drivers needed to make the Sapphire HD 4890 fully functional. After finishing the installation, the customary reboot is required.
As an added bonus, Sapphire has included several pieces of software from CyberLink. Everyone has heard of PowerDVD, a program to play all the DVD, Blu-Ray, and HD content your heart desires. DVD Suite includes PowerProducer 4, PowerDirector 5, Power2Go 5.5, and Medi@Show 3, as well as trial versions of Power Backup 2.5, PowerDVD Copy, and LabelPrint 2. Even though the HD 4890 is far from a typical low powered HTPC card, it does have all the necessary qualifications to be used as one. Using Power DVD to watch a couple movies, I took a quick look through the movies 300 and one of my favorites, Beerfest! CPU utilization is in the low single digits when using the HD 4890 in this capacity by offloading the decoding to the GPU. The HD 4890 is not just a one trick pony.
One program that has been coming in the Catalyst driver suite lately is a distributed computing program from Stanford university called Folding @ Home. This project simulates protein folding to see where problems occur so that hopefully one day we can have a cure for diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's, BSE (Mad Cow) disease and more. By donating your spare CPU and now GPU cycles, you can help the community as well as humanity by running this program on your system. You can find out more about Folding@Home here. Just remember, if you choose to participate, Team 12772 is your team.
The one last application that Sapphire provided with the bundle is for the bench junkie in all of us. Futuremark's 3DMark Vantage is for use with Vista and is a DX 10 benchmark that is unlike its predecessors in that as the resolution (presets) increase, the reliance on the system is minimized and the performance rests solely on the GPU. So instead of paying for it through Futuremark, Sapphire has included it in the bundle, saving you a few more dollars.
Once all of the programs, the drivers, and benchmarks are installed, it's time to see if the 2GB HD 4890 gives a bit more performance with the additional memory.