Sapphire HD 4890 Reviewccokeman - April 2, 2009
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With a new generation core based on the architecture of the R770 and improved memory management, the R790 based HD 4890 offers higher clock speeds and better performance against the previous generation ATI video cards across the board. However, it falls a bit short of the latest offering from nVidia as well as its flagship single GPU card. So what does this mean for the HD 4890? Well, it does perform well in all the benchmarks but is it really worth the money to upgrade if you currently have an HD 4870? If you are running a poor overclocking stock HD 4870 1GB video card, the Sapphire HD 4890 offers a substantial increase in performance over these cards. Now if you have a card that overclocks well, the difference is not as great and may not be a viable upgrade path. If you are in the market for a new card, it makes sense to get the HD 4890 not just for the stock performance but because the card overclocks very well on the stock cooling. In most of the benchmarks, the HD 4890 offered a nice boost in performance for your efforts. The Sapphire HD 4890 yielded core speed increases of of almost 14% on the GPU core and almost 9% on the memory. That equates to 120MHz over the stock 850MHz core speed and 85MHz over the stock 975MHz memory speed.
The cooler on this card is the standard reference cooler and if you have any doubt just turn the fan speed past 50% and you are greeted with the sound that closely resembles that of the wife's hair dryer. At 100% fan speed the cooler with its composite copper/aluminum heatpipe design is indeed functional as temperatures never crept over 55 degrees Celsius. When turned down to a more reasonable level the temps barely cracked the 60C mark. By letting the driver package control the fan speeds the maximum temperature reached was 71 degrees Celsius. Not too shabby for this cooler and card design as the reference 1GB 4870 was pushing 85 degrees Celsius. The Sapphire HD 4890 offers a 14 degree improvement. Sapphire is known for the Vapor-X cooling solutions it offers on its Toxic series of cards. The use of this solution would undoubtedly make the card more attractive for two reasons: lower noise and increased cooling. The HD 4890 is not just a gaming card but is one that can be used to display all of your HD content using the built in UVD (Unified Video Decoder) to reduce the demands on the CPU for increased playback performance. The Sapphire HD 4890 can output high definition video as well as 7.1 sound through HDMI via the supplied adapter so you can enjoy full 1080p content. If you need a new video card, the HD 4890 offers great performance at a price that won't break the bank at $249. Considering the price point of past high end launches, the HD4890 offers performance both stock and overclocked for a reasonable amount of your hard earned money.
- Excellent overclocking
- Low temperatures
- Improvement over prior gen
- HDMI output via dongle
- Noisy fan