GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card

The new Radeon HD 4890 graphics card gets launched a week early and we're ready to tell you what we think of it.
| Apr 1, 2009 at 6:50 am CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction

GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
IntroductionThe HD 4890 is an interesting card. We haven't heard loads about it and the general excitement about the card is quite low. But the main reason we think people aren't that excited about the card is because both they and we know that the card isn't going to be as fast as the dual GPU wielding GTX 295. And this is what most people want, especially when the HD 4800 series of ATI cards have been out for so long.The HD 4890, though, should do what ATI do best lately; offer pretty good performance at a pretty good price. Originally the card wasn't due to be released till the 9th, but due to companies selling the card early and NVIDIA having the GTX 275 coming out a few days earlier than its original NDA, the launch date for this card has been moved forward.There's only one way to find out exactly how the HD 4890 shapes up and that's to put it through its paces in our usual benchmark suite. But before we get into that, we'll have a look at the package GIGABYTE has put together and then have a peek at the card itself and the clocks it carries.

The Package

The PackageHaving a look at the package, we can see that GIGABYTE hasn't done anything new with it. We've been seeing this particular design from them for a while. Most of the box is taken up by a picture of a girl and across the bottom we have the model mentioned along with 1GB of GDDR5 memory.
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
Across the top we have the GIGABYTE and ATI logo, while below that we have mention of a free HDMI adapter and finally we see that the card carries GDDR5 memory.
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
Turning the box over, we have a bit of blurb on the model. Moving down from there, we have mention of some of the features that the card includes. Across the bottom we have the GIGABYTE logo once again along with the normal run down of information.
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
As far as paperwork goes, there isn't a whole lot going on. Apart from the installation guide that's included in the box, we also have a driver CD. In the cable department we have a Crossfire bridge, component out dongle, dual molex to 6-pin PCI-E connector, S-Video to RCA convertor, DVI to VGA and DVI to HDMI connectors.

The Card

The CardHaving a look at the HD 4890 for the first time, there isn't really anything new to see. What you ultimately notice is that the card looks very similar to the HD 4870 that's been out for a while now.
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
The particular cooler is the reference one that we will see most HD 4890 cards using at the moment. Of course, GIGABYTE has added its own sticker to the card which shows the brand and model.
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
When we have a look around the card it doesn't come as much of a surprise that there isn't much different between the HD 4890 and HD 4870. The back of the card has two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors; while closer to the front of the card we have two Crossfire connectors that let us run up to three of these cards.
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
It's interesting to see that ATI hasn't chosen to implement a native HDMI port on the I/O side of things, since we've seen NVIDIA do it more and more with cards like the GTS 250 and GTX 295. What we do have is two Dual-Link DVI connectors and an S-Video port. Across the top of the card we have a number of vents which is pushing the hot air out.SpecificationsIt doesn't come as much of a surprise; GPU-Z is having a few issues with the HD 4890. But no doubt this will be fixed once we have an updated version of GPU-Z after the card is released.
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
The default core on the HD 4890 is 850MHz which is 100MHz up on the HD 4870. GIGABYTE has upped this again and we see the core coming in at 900MHz. The 1GB of GDDR5 memory here comes in at 4000MHz QDDR, while stock is 3900MHz QDR which is up on the 3600MHz QDR that we see from the HD 4870.GPU-Z results are all over the place and I actually double and triple checked with GIGABYTE to find the proper clocks on this card as we're seeing a whole lot of numbers. So to make it simple, the core is 900MHz and the 1GB of GDDR5 memory is 4000MHz QDR.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage

Test System SetupProcessor(s): Intel i7 920 @ 3.8GHz (190MHz x 20)Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P (Supplied by Noctua)Motherboard(s): GIGABYTE EX58-UD5 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)Memory: 3 X 2GB OCZ Technology PC-12800 DDR-3 8-8-8-24 (OCZ3G1600LV6GK) Hard Disk(s): Western Digital 300GB Velicorapter (Supplied by Western Digital)Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista SP1 64-BitDrivers: ForceWare 182.06, Catalyst 9.2, Catalyst 8.14.10.0647 (HD 4890)With a new card we always like to compare it against everything that it should be going up against, along with the card it's taking over from. We will be seeing how much extra performance the HD 4890 gives us over the predecessor, the HD 4870, while also seeing how it compares to some of the top single GPU performs from NVIDIA like the GTX 285 and GTX 260; both of which are hot models for the green team. 3DMark VantageVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/Buy It Here
3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware. 3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
In our first test we see a good jump in performance when compared to the HD 4870. Performance here is a fair bit slower compared to the GTX 285, but this is mainly due to the fact that the NVIDIA offering makes use of PhysX which gives a big boost in performance.

Benchmarks - PT Boats: Knights of the Sea

PT Boats: Knights of the SeaVersion and / or Patch Used: Benchmark DemoDeveloper Homepage: http://en.akella.com/Product Homepage: http://www.pt-boats.net/
PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a naval action simulator that places gamers in charge of a mosquito fleet of the Allied Forces, Russia or Germany during the height of World War II.Using the latest Direct X 10 technology PT Boards - Knights of the Sea manages to apply a lot of stress to the components of today which in turn gives us quite an intensive benchmark.
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
Compared to the HD 4870 we again see a good performance jump. Compared to other cards, the HD 4890 doesn't do too bad either. While a bit slower than the GTX 260, it's worth remembering that this benchmark tends to heavily favor NVIDIA offerings.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10

CINEBENCH R10Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net
CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
While CINEBENCH performance is down compared to the HD 4870, we can see that the ATI offering continues to be up on the NVIDIA ones.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict

World in ConflictVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper Homepage: http://www.massive.se Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com
World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
At up to 1920 x 1200 we see the HD 4890 perform well and again give a nice little jump on the HD 4870. Compared to the NVIDIA offerings we see the card trail behind as we climb up in resolution. Optimum Setup- There's going to be no drama playing WIC at 1920 x 1200 with the settings at very high.

Benchmarks - Crysis Warhead

Crysis WarheadVersion and / or Patch Used: unpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: AirfieldDeveloper Homepage: http://www.crytek.comProduct Homepage: http://crysiswarhead.ea.com/Buy It Here
Crysis Warhead updates and refines the gameplay of the original game through a sidestory plot involving Psycho, one of previous protagonist Nomad's allies. The game is a parallel story that follows Sergeant Michael "Psycho" Sykes, a character from the original Crysis, as he faces his own trials and challenges on the other side of the island during the time period of the first game.It also showcases a new, enhanced and optimized version of CryEngine 2 using full DX10 extensions and is the first game developed by Crytek's Budapest studio.
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
Under Warhead we again see performance is up compared to the HD 4870, but it does trail behind the NVIDIA cards again.Optimum Setup- The poor Warhead coding means that you're going to have to drop the settings and resolution to get the game playable.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch LongDeveloper Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/Buy It Here
The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
Like all our other tests, we see the HD 4890 continues to have a nice jump on the HD 4870. Compared to the GTX 260, we see that the performance is very similar; a little slower in some spots and a little faster in others.Optimum Setup- With Far Cry 2 at Very High, 1920 x 1200 is going to run perfectly.

Benchmarks - S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear SkyVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.5.07Timedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.gsc-game.com/Product Homepage: http://cs.stalker-game.com/en/Buy It Here
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, is the stand-alone prequel for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, a first-person shooter computer game by Ukrainian developer GSC Game World.[3] The game consists of a roughly 50/50 mix of new areas and old, remodeled areas from the previous game. The X-ray graphics engine has been updated to version 1.5 and includes DirectX 10 support (later patch 1.5.06 included DirectX 10.1). Additionally, the AI received an overhaul to accommodate the new faction wars feature.
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
Clear Sky favors the ATI offerings and we see that it comes out well ahead in comparison to all the other cards.Optimum Setup- We're over that 30 FPS minimum at 1680 x 1050 which means the game is going to run perfectly.

Benchmarks - Left 4 Dead

Left 4 DeadVersion and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam UpdateTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com/Product Homepage: http://www.l4d.com/Buy It Here
Left 4 Dead uses the latest version of Valve's Source engine, with improvements such as multi-core processor support and physics-based animation to more realistically portray hair and clothing, and to improve physics interaction with enemies when shot or shoved in different body parts. Animation was also improved to allow characters to lean realistically when moving in curved paths. Rendering and artificial intelligence were scaled up to allow for greater number of enemies who can navigate the world in better ways, such as climbing, jumping or breaking obstacles. Lighting has been enhanced with new self-shadowing normal mapping and advanced shadow rendering that is important to convey information about the environment and player actions.
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
Under L4D we can see that the performance is again up on the HD 4870 and in front of the GTX 260 at all resolutions. Optimum Setup- Playing at up to 2560 x 1600 isn't going to be any dramas with the HD 4890 on our testbed.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AFOur high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.Far Cry 2
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
We again see a big jump on the HD 4870, but the card does still lag behind the NVIDIA offerings when FC2 is setup like this.World In Conflict
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
Under WIC we see that the HD 4890 is again very close to the GTX 260.Left 4 Dead
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
We find that under L4D the HD 4890 performs very well with it out-performing even the GTX 285 in this instance.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict - XP

World in ConflictVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper Homepage: http://www.massive.se Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com
World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
Under XP it's interesting to see that the performance of the HD 4890 isn't great with it performing similar to the HD 4870.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2 - XP

Far Cry 2Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch LongDeveloper Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/Buy It Here
The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
Here we can see that the performance of the HD 4890 is up on the GTX 260 at all resolutions.

Benchmarks - S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky - XP

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear SkyVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.5.07Timedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.gsc-game.com/Product Homepage: http://cs.stalker-game.com/en/Buy It Here
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, is the stand-alone prequel for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, a first-person shooter computer game by Ukrainian developer GSC Game World.[3] The game consists of a roughly 50/50 mix of new areas and old, remodeled areas from the previous game. The X-ray graphics engine has been updated to version 1.5 and includes DirectX 10 support (later patch 1.5.06 included DirectX 10.1). Additionally, the AI received an overhaul to accommodate the new faction wars feature.
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
For the most part we can see that the HD 4890 is again way up on the HD 4870. At 2560 x 1600, though, performance is a bit all over the shop. Again, compared to the NVIDIA offerings under Clear Sky we see the ATI offerings perform very well again.

Temperature and Sound Tests

Temperature Tests
With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
Compared to the HD 4870, we can see that temps are down and sit around the same level as the GTX 285.Sound Tests
Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
The HD 4890 cooler, while being the same as the HD 4870 one, seems to be running a bit louder with this card.

Power Consumption Tests

Power Consumption Tests
Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4890 1GB Graphics Card
As for power usage, we see that the idle level is very similar compared to the HD 4870. At load, though, we see it draws less power.

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsCompared to the HD 4870, we see that the HD 4890 gives us a nice boost in performance. Having a look at the other cards, however, and the picture isn't so clear. Compared to the GTX 265 the performance is a bit up and down, depending on the game. Breaking it down, we ultimately see the card does a pretty good job against the GTX 260. PT Boats performance finds it very close; CINEBENCH performance is up; WIC and Warhead performance trails slightly; FC2 performance is up and so is Clear Sky and Left 4 Dead. We know that the card isn't designed to compete against the GTX 285 in the performance department; this is known because NVIDIA is releasing a GTX 275 to battle the HD 4890 which is going to come in cheaper than the GTX 285, as you would expect. It's nice to see that come launch day GIGABYTE has offered an overclocked card with an extra few MHz on the core and memory. As for the bundle, we've got everything we need and while it would have been nice to see a full version game in the bundle, it doesn't come as a surprise that GIGABYTE hasn't included one. We're seeing more and more companies not include a game to help keep costs down.Pricing is going to be the most important aspect of this card; we should see the HD 4890 come in at around the $250 US mark and this is a bit more expensive than the GTX 260, but this is also a launch price. Deciding which card to buy is going to be a tough one and the performance between the two are a bit all over the place. What you do get with the ATI offering, though, is regular driver updates and with the HD 4890 being the most recent card from ATI there's no doubt that this is going to be the main card that the Catalyst driver team concentrates on for a while to come.
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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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