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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

Call of Duty 4 Benchmarks

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare runs on a proprietary game engine that Infinity Ward based off of the tried-and-true Q3 structure. This engine offers features such as true world-dynamic lighting, HDR lighting effects, dynamic shadows and depth of field. "Bullet Penetration" is calculated by the Infinity Ward COD4 game engine, taking into account things such as surface type and entity thickness. Certain objects, such as cars, and some buildings are destructible. This makes distinguishing cover from concealment important, as the meager protection provided by things such as wooden fences and thin walls does not fully shield players from harm as it does in many other games released during the same time period. Bullet speed and stopping power are decreased after penetrating an object, and this decrease is calculated realistically depending on the thickness and surface of the object penetrated.

This version of the game also makes use of a dynamic physics engine, a feature which was not implemented in previous Call of Duty titles for Windows PC's. The new in-game death animations are a combination of pre-set static animations combined with ragdoll physics. Infinity Ward's use of the well-debugged Quake 3 engine along with new dynamic physics implementation allows Call of Duty 4 to be playable by a wide range of computer hardware systems. The performance may be scaled for low-end graphic cards up to 4x Anti-Aliasing and 16x Tri-linear anisotropic texture filtering.

Before I discuss the results, I would like to take a moment to mention my general opinion on Fraps software when it comes to game performance benchmarking. If you're not familiar with the software, Fraps (derived from Frames per second) is a benchmarking, screen capture, and real-time video capture utility for DirectX and OpenGL applications. Some reviewers use this software to measure video game performance on their Windows system, as well as record gaming footage. My opinion is that it offers a valid third-party non-bias alternative to in-game benchmarking tools; but there is one caveat: it's not perfect. Because the user must manually begin the test, the starting point may vary from position to position and therefore skew the results.

In my testing with Fraps v2.9.8 build 7777, I used the cut-scene intro to the coup d'etat scene when Al Asad takes over control. First I allowed the level to load and let the scene begin for a few moments, then I would use the escape key to bring up the menu and choose the restart level option, I would immediately press F11 to begin recording the benchmark data. This scene is nearly four minutes long, but I configured Fraps to record the first 180 seconds of it to remain consistent. Once the scene would end, I would repeat the restart process for a total of five tests. So within a 2 millisecond starting point margin, all benchmark results are comparable which is probably as accurate as it can possibly get with this tool.


In our frame rate results, all five of the collected test scores were within 0.5 FPS of one-another and then averaged for the chart you see above. Because the products we are testing compete for the high-end segment of discrete graphics, the frame rates in Call of Duty 4 all share similar results with only small degrees of difference between 1680x1050 and 1920x1200 resolutions.

The GeForce 8800 GT plays Call of Duty 4 with moderately acceptable frame rates, scoring 48 FPS at 1920x1200 and making up the bottom end of our charted results. The Radeon HD 4850 renders at 68 FPS, followed by the reference GTX 260216 with 80 FPS. Moving the Radeon HD 4870 yields 85 frames per second at 1920x1200, and is out-performed by the Radeon HD 4890 with 93 FPS. Even the GeForce GTX 285, with all of its new muscle, can only outpace the others by a small margin with 99 FPS rendered. At the ultra-high end of video cards we have the Radeon HD 4870 X2 with 130 FPS, and GeForce GTX 295 which managed 120 FPS.

Essentially, almost all of the graphics products tested produced frame rates between 80-99 FPS at 1920x1200. The Atomic 4870 X2 on the other hand, burned through 130 FPS without breaking a sweat (it's water-cooled, after all). Because of the shear muscle the Sapphire Atomic packs, the video cards we've tested on CoD4 fall into one of two categories: those that aren't the Radeon 4870 X2 Atomic, and those that are. The Radeon HD 4890 and GTX 285 did extremely well for being the best single-GPU products available, but the difference between single GPU and the dual RV770's on the Atomic or GT200's on the GTX 295 are considerably noticeable.

Product Series NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT Reference Design Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 102-B50102-00-AT NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260216 Reference Design Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 102-B50701-10-AT Radeon HD 4890 GDDR5 Video Card ASUS GeForce GTX 285 ENGTX285 TOP Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2 Atomic ST-6026 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 295 Reference Design
Stream Processors 112 800 216 800 800 240 1600 480
Core Clock (MHz) 600 625 576 750 850 670 800 576
Shader Clock (MHz) 1457 N/A 1242 N/A N/A 1550 N/A 1242
Memory Clock (MHz) 950 993 999 900 975 1300 1000 999
Memory Amount 512 MB GDDR3 512 MB GDDR3 896 MB GDDR3

512 MB GDDR5

896 MB GDDR3 1024 MB GDDR3 1024MB (x2) GDDR5 1024MB (x2) GDDR3
Memory Interface 256-bit 256-bit 448-bit 256-bit 256-bit 512-bit 256-bit 512-bit

In our next section, we shall see if the performance-demanding video game Crysis will help strengthen this position among our collection of video cards.


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