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Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 RV790 Video Card E-mail
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Written by Olin Coles   
Friday, 03 April 2009
Table of Contents: Page Index
Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 RV790 Video Card
Radeon HD 4890 Features
RV790 GPU Specifications
Radeon 4890 Closer Look
Video Card Testing Methodology
3DMark06 Benchmarks
COD 4 Fraps Benchmarks
Crysis Benchmark Results
Devil May Cry 4 Benchmark
Far Cry 2 Benchmark
World in Conflict Benchmarks
Radeon HD 4890 Temperatures
VGA Power Consumption
Radeon 4800-Series Final Thoughts
Radeon HD 4890 Conclusion

Radeon HD 4890 Conclusion

Benchmark Reviews offers a summary rating for each product we test. Although our rating and final score are made to be as objective as possible at the time of publication, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at different points in time. While we do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that would render our rating obsolete.

Beginning with the performance rating, our expectations for the Radeon HD 4890 during gaming operation were thoroughly exceeded. While the HD4890 could be considered the most powerful single-GPU video card on the planet, that claim will depend on variables like factory-overclocked speeds. Given our benchmark test results, the reference-design HD4890 often times exceeded frame rate performance of our factory-overclocked ASUS ENGTX285TOP GTX 285.

The Radeon HD 4890 beat an overclocked GTX 285 in the Deep Freeze tests of 3dMark06, and nearly matched it in the Canyon flight tests as well. The HD4890 matched performance again in CoD4 at 1680x1050, and trailed behind the overclocked GTX 285 by only four frames in all of the Crysis tests. In Devil May Cry 4 the HD4890 was a mere two frames behind the ENGTX285 TOP, and beat it in FarCry 2. So considering we used a reference Radeon HD 4890 for testing, and an overclocked TOP edition GTX 285, it looks perfectly reasonable to presume the HD4890 would beat a stock-speed GTX 285 in those tests it matched performance or was close.

Judging the product appearance is a little more difficult than I'm used to. Lately, almost everything has been encased in plastic housings with a contoured finish. This doesn't mean that you can't look sharp without the extra plastic body work, but there's a level of protection all of that stuff provides which goes missing on the Radeon HD 4890. Still, AMD/ATI has done a very good job mixing red hues with optional decal placement.

Construction is solid, but not without some concerns. I absolutely appreciate ATI for not placing memory module IC's on the back side of the PCB, but at the same time I am no fan of exposed electronic components such as the surface mounted capacitors found on the 4890. These are well known for being easily knocked off of the PCB, resulting in a dead product that could have been protected with an extra ten cents worth of plastic. Aside from these details, the ATI Radeon HD 4890 is a solid-built graphics card.

The RV790 GPU isn't very much different than the RV770 chip it replaces. Adding decoupling capacitors (DeCaps) to the outer edge bulks the die footprint from 256 mm2 to 282 mm2, but it also reduces signal noise which in-turn allows for higher overall chip timing (and better overclock headroom). The functionality improvements are transparent to the Radeon HD 4890, and performance enthusiasts will benefit from the added tweakability.

As of April 2nd 2009, the launch date for the Radeon HD 4890, NewEgg sells the Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 100269SR for $229 after rebate. This is extremely close to the prices for Radeon HD 4870's and GTX 260's at NewEgg, which I expect will be reduced very soon in response.

In conclusion, the ATI Radeon HD 4890 is exactly what consumers have wanted for more than a year: ultra-high performance graphics that costs less than the competition. AMD did it to Intel back when they launched the Athlon processor, seriously beating the Pentium 4 in both performance and price. Now AMD/ATI returns to put NVIDIA back in line, and offers the HD4890 to compete against the GTX 285... but at a much lower price. Benchmark Reviews has completed testing on the HD4890, and on paper it looks to perform exactly like a heavily-overclocked 4870 might, but there's a lot more value in this product than first meets the eye.

Pros:Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award

+ Exceeds GTX 285 performance on most games
+ RV790 GPU offers exceptional overclocking headroom
+ Outstanding performance for high-end games
+ Supports DirectX 10 and Shader Model 4.1
+ 850 MHz RV790 GPU (overclocks past 900 MHz)
+ 1 GB of 975 MHz GDDR5 vRAM (3.9 GBps)
+ 1080p Native HDMI Audio and Video supported for HDCP output
+ Very-quiet cooling fan under loaded operation
+ Supports CrossFireX functionality
+ Externally-exhausting thermal solution
+ Kit includes CrossFireX bridge component


- Fan noise can grow to a noticeable level under full load
- Maximum post-processing Anti Aliasing is limited to 8x
- 65W power consumption at idle, 268W under load
- Exposed capacitors are easy to disturb


  • Performance: 9.25
  • Appearance: 9.00
  • Construction: 9.00
  • Functionality: 9.75
  • Value: 8.00

Final Score: 9.0 out of 10.

Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

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