ASUS Radeon HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card

Today we have a look at the ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak and figure out exactly what those words mean for us.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Wed, Jul 1 2009 2:20 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:03 PM CST
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction


ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card



The Voltage Tweak model from ASUS is something we've heard about for a while now. The idea behind it is that ASUS gives the user even more control of the card when it comes to overclocking. Not only do you have the ability to overclock the standard clocks like memory and core, but you also have the ability to adjust the voltage.

You may be wondering what this exactly means; it gives you the ability to adjust the voltage to higher levels which in turn gives you the ability to run the card at even higher speeds, much like you do with a CPU where adding more voltage gives you the ability to obtain higher clock speeds.

While this may sound a bit scary to some people, we're sure that ASUS hasn't given you too much control that you could essentially damage your card. It ultimately would be a stupid decision for ASUS to give you the ability to adjust the voltages which is something quite new to most users, while at the same time letting you give it crazy amounts that will damage the card.

We'll quickly have a look at the package to see exactly what ASUS has got going on before we have a closer look at the card itself. We'll then move onto the overclocking and how things went when it came to adjusting the voltage of the card along with the clock rates.

The Package




Straight away we see there hasn't been any real changes made when it comes to the overall box design. Of course ASUS has really highlighted the Voltage Tweak logo to let you know that this card isn't part of the normal HD 4890 line up. We can also see a picture of a knight on a horse which is something we see quite often.

ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


Across the top of the box we have the ASUS logo while the bottom gives us the model along with mention of DDR5. Above that we again have mention of GDDR5, though this time we see it also makes word that it comes with 1GB. Next to this we also have some other logos like GamerOSD and Smart Doctor which relate to some of the software that ASUS includes.

ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


Turning the box over, there isn't anything we haven't seen before. At the top we have some of the features in a number of languages, while below that we have a rundown of the software that ASUS includes along with what exactly it does. We also have some system requirements, a resolution table and contact details.

ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


In the manual department we have a Speed Setup guide; we also have a CD that includes a more extensive manual in a number of languages. Also not pictured here but included is another disc that comes with all the software we mentioned, drivers and the software needed to overclock the card.

ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


Looking at the cables, we've got everything we need. From the left we have a component out dongle, duel molex to 6-Pin PCI Express connector, S-Video to Composite convertor, DVI to VGA connector and a DVI to HDMI connector.

ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


As usual ASUS has added something a little extra; in this case it comes in the form of a CD wallet which is something we've seen many a times from ASUS.

The Card




With the package done it's time to check out the card and straight away we can see that there isn't really any difference as far as overall looks go when comparing it to other HD 4890 cards we've looked at which use the reference design.

ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


With that said, though, ASUS has of course added their own sticker to the card to let it stand out from other HD 4890 offerings. We can see the ASUS logo on the sticker and in the center of the fan; we also see a picture of the knight that we saw on the front of the box.

ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


As we've suggested, the card follows the reference design, so looking around we don't see anything too out of the ordinary. Towards the rear of the card we have two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors, while across the top of the card and closer to the front we have our two CrossFire connectors which give us the ability to run up to three cards.

ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


Finally we finish up in the I/O department. Here we have two Dual-Link DVI connectors with a S-Video port sitting in the middle. Above these we have a bunch of vents, which with the cooler design this helps push the hot air out the back of your case.


Specifications

Out of the box the ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak actually carries with it just reference clocks. This puts the core at 850MHz and the 1GB of GDDR5 memory at 975MHz or 3900MHz QDR. With the Voltage Tweak software installed we took the time to do a bit of overclocking to see what we could achieve.

ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


We moved the core voltage to 1.437v which is up from the stock 1.312v; we then cranked the core up to the highest possible setting which was 1000MHz and then proceeded to spend a bit of time working on the memory. We ended up at 1111MHz or 4444MHz QDR which is a nice jump on the default clocks.

How this translates to performance, we don't know yet. So, let's jump forward to the next page, have a look at our test system and get stuck into the benchmarks to see not only how much extra performance these new settings give us, but what the extra voltage does for the system wattage and cards temperature.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage


Test System Setup

Processor(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-Bit
Drivers: Catalyst 9.5


Today we'll be checking out the ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak against itself. We'll be seeing how the default clock setup performs against the same card when overclocked using the software that ASUS has included.


3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product 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.


ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


Straight away we can see the overclock offers some serious performance improvements when compared to the stock setup. Hopefully these same gains are translated into a real world environment.

Benchmarks - PT Boats: Knights of the Sea


PT Boats: Knights of the Sea

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Developer 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.


ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


Under PT Boats we only see a performance gain at the highest resolution in the minimum department. The best thing about this, though, is it takes us from under 30 FPS to over 30 FPS when overclocked, which is exactly what we like to see.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10


CINEBENCH R10

Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer 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).


ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


Under CINEBENCH we see there's a little movement with the overclocked card, but nothing too major which is pretty standard when it comes to this benchmark.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer 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).

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.


ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


Across the board we see a nice bump in performance at all resolutions when the card is overclocked.

Benchmarks - Crysis Warhead


Crysis Warhead

Version and / or Patch Used: unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Airfield
Developer Homepage: http://www.crytek.com
Product 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.

ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


Warhead sees some massive jumps at the lower resolutions, but the FPS on a whole is pretty ordinary, which is something we've come to expect from this game.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2


Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer 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.


ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


Under Far Cry 2 it's interesting to see that the only gains we see are at the lowest resolution. At the higher ones there is no real change.

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


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

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.5.07
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer 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.

ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


Clear Sky, like Warhead sees some good gains. Unlike Warhead, though, the gains have pushed into playable territory with both 1680 and 1920 getting over 30 FPS minimums.

Benchmarks - Left 4 Dead


Left 4 Dead

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer 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.

ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


Across the board we see a good jump in performance with the overclocked HD 4890, which is good to see.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF


High Quality AA and AF

Our 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

ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


Here we really don't see much of a change when it comes to looking at the performance of the two cards.


World In Conflict

ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


Here we see a bit of a bump in performance, but not quite enough to get that 30 FPS minimum we like to see.


Left 4 Dead

ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


Under L4D we again see the overclocked card get a nice jump in performance.

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.


ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


Even with the voltage up there's no real change in the temperature.


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).


ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


As you would expect, the noise levels at both settings are almost identical.

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.


ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Graphics Card


With the voltage cranked up on the overclocked setup we can see that power draw is up in both the idle and load setups.

Final Thoughts




What the Voltage Tweak HD 4890 from ASUS does is let us expand upon our overclocking abilities. For years the only way you could adjust the voltage on the card was by soldering little bits and pieces to your card, which not only is hard for most people but also voids the warranty.

We're not sure if this ability is going to be something we see more and more often in cards, but it would be nice. Even if the companies don't offer us a huge range, just something safe that gives us the ability to gain even more MHz if we feel the need to.

As for the rest of the card, there isn't anything too out of the ordinary. We've got the usual spin, plenty of extra software along with a CD wallet. We've also got all the standard cables that we need to get the card up and running.

All in all the HD 4890 Voltage Tweak from ASUS is a nice version of the HD 4890 which lets us experience something new. Hopefully we do see more of this technology come into play with other models in the future.

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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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