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Written by Olin Coles   
Tuesday, 09 June 2009
Table of Contents: Page Index
Sapphire HD4890 Toxic Vapor-X 11150-01-40R
Radeon HD 4890 Features
RV790 GPU Specifications
HD4890 Toxic 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 4000 Final Thoughts
HD4890 Toxic Conclusion

HD4890 Toxic 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, 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. Please do not base your purchases solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating at the time of publication.

Beginning with the performance rating, the Sapphire HD4890 Toxic Vapor-X video card thoroughly exceeded any expectations we had for frame rate performance. 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 massively-overclocked HD4890 almost always exceeded frame rate performance of our factory-overclocked ASUS ENGTX285TOP GTX 285. Of course, the Radeon HD4770 CrossFireX set did even better, and for less.

The HD4890 Toxic beat an overclocked GTX 285 in nearly every 3dMark06 test, and matched performance again in CoD4, Crysis, and Devil May Cry 4. At 1680x1050 the HD4890 matched performance of the GTX 285 in Far Cry 2, but exceeded it at 1920x1200 resolution. Considering we used overclocked versions of these graphics cards for testing, it looks perfectly reasonable to presume the HD4890 would beat a stock-speed GTX 285.

Sapphire_HD4890_Toxic_Vapor-X_Heat-Pipe_Side.jpg

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. The Vapor-X cooling solution adds nicely chromed heat-pipe rods, but otherwise the features are very similar to other Radeon 4800-series products.

Construction is solid, but not without some reservation. I absolutely appreciate ATI for not placing memory module IC's on the back side of the PCB, and Sapphire did one better by adding Vapor-X cooling to the HD4890. However, heated air exhaust is coming to be a concern for enthusiasts who don't have appropriate ventilation inside their computer case. Because the Sapphire HD4890 Toxic exhausts back into the computer case, it's recommended that exhaust fan(s) be placed nearby to compensate for the increase heat.

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. Sapphire took full advantage of this, and was able to deliver a 960MHz GPU as a result. With some extreme tweaking and possible modification, it might be possible to reach 1GHz, but the 11150-01-40R was already stretched pretty thin.

As of early June 2009 the Sapphire HD4890 Toxic Vapor-X RV790 video card 11150-01-40R was available at NewEgg for $259.99 before shipping. I know that Sapphire probably wouldn't like me to say this, but a pair of their HD4850's put into a CrossFireX set costs $99.99 each and performs better than a single HD4890, or even the overclocked Sapphire HD4890 Toxic. In comparison, the even least-expensive GeForce GTX 285 (which is not overclocked) sells for $314.99 at NewEgg after rebate and shipping promotion; creating an unfavorable $55 excess on the price tag for a product that can't match performance of the HD4890.

In conclusion, the Sapphire HD4890 Toxic Vapor-X RV790 video card 11150-01-40R is exactly what consumers have wanted for more than a year: an ultra-high performance graphics that costs much 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 place and offers the HD4890 to compete against the GTX 285... but at a much lower price. Benchmark Reviews has completed testing on the HD4890 Toxic with Vapor-X cooling, and on paper it looks to perform exactly like a heavily-overclocked GeForce GTX 265 might, but considering the availability of CrossFireX motherboards it will be very easy to find a home for two of these video cards compared to the SLI counterparts. To that end, I will concede that the Radeon HD 4890 is a better product than the NVIDIA GTX 265, but better than these two products is a CrossFireX set of Radeon HD4770's or (more effectively) HD4850's, which delivers the same performance at a better price.

Pros:Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award

+ Exceeds overclocked GTX 285 gaming performance
+ Costs much less than competing alternatives
+ Outstanding performance for high-end games
+ Supports DirectX 10 and Shader Model 4.1
+ 960 MHz RV790 GPU (overclocks to 975 MHz)
+ 1 GB of 1050 MHz GDDR5 vRAM (4.2 GBps)
+ 1080p HDMI Audio and Video supported for HDCP output
+ Very-quiet cooling fan under loaded operation
+ Supports CrossFireX functionality
+ Effective Vapor-X thermal cooling solution
+ Kit includes CrossFireX bridge component

Cons:

- Fan exhausts some heated air back into case
- Maximum post-processing Anti Aliasing is limited to 8x
- 65W power consumption at idle, 316W under load
- Expensive premium-level product

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.25
  • Appearance: 9.25
  • Construction: 9.50
  • Functionality: 9.75
  • Value: 7.25

Final Score: 9.0 out of 10.

Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

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