Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card

We've recently seen Sapphire ramp up the HD 4890. We have a look at a 2GB equipped Vapor-X model from the company today.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Fri, Aug 7 2009 11:47 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:03 PM CST
Rating: 93%Manufacturer: Sapphire

Introduction


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card



We saw Sapphire really mix it up recently with the HD 4890 ATOMIC version of the card. The company hasn't stopped there, though, now choosing to do even more with the model. ATI partners really don't have the range of graphics cards to play with like NVIDIA ones. What this means is that we tend to see companies offer more variants of the same model.

The HD 4890 has always been a pretty impressive card. While it was never the holder of the performance crown, it did manage to offer some serious value for money and for so many people this is more important than a super fast card that they can't afford.

The main feature to the HD 4890 we're looking at today is the extra memory which brings the card to 2GB. We've never been a huge believer of such huge memory amounts on graphics cards; there tends to be a point where performance flattens out. With that said, though, we'll find out what else Sapphire is able to offer us with the HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X today.

The Package




In typical Sapphire fashion we've got some pretty nice box art on hand that gives us all the information we need. Across the top of the box we have the Sapphire logo along with some ATI ones. Here we also see that the card comes with 2GB of GDDR5. Across the bottom of the box we can clearly see the model.

Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


In the middle of the box we've got a bit of an ice scenario going on with mention about the Vapor-X technology that is embedded into the card. Across the right of the box we have some of the main details like HDMI, CrossFire-X, GDDR5 and a few other features. Just below this we have mention of some software that's included.

Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Turning the box over, we've got the same top and bottom that is seen on the front of the box. In the middle we have some more information on the technology that is implemented into the graphics card, while also seeing a few of the many awards the company has won.

Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Opening up the box and diving inside, we've got our user manual along with a little Sapphire sticker. As far as software goes we've got a full version copy of 3DMark Vantage with key, driver CD, PowerDVD and the CyberLink DVD Suite which packs a few programs as well.

Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


The cable department is a little lighter with not much going on. Included is a molex to 6-pin connector and molex to 8-pin connector. We've also got a HDMI to DVI dongle and a single CrossFire connector.

The Card




With the package out of the way it's time to have a look at the card itself and you can clearly see the first major feature of the card is the company's choice to move away from the stock cooler that we see on so many other HD 4890 cards. We've got a new design here that we haven't seen before and it certainly does a pretty good job of looking mean.

Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


To the right we have a heatsink that sits atop some of the hotter components. Next to that we have a few more heatsinks, while the rest of the card is taken up with a large heatsink/fan. As good as the cooler looks, though, it will be interesting to see how it performs in the noise and temperature departments.

Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Due to the extra amount of memory here, Sapphire has had to place memory on the back of the card. Instead of just leaving that bare, they have decided to add a heatsink to them. While common a few years ago, due to higher density modules we rarely see modules on the back of the card, let alone heatsinks to cool them.

Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Going for a quick spin around the card, there isn't anything out of the ordinary. We have two power connectors at the back of the card; one's a 6-pin while the other's an 8-pin.

Closer to the front of the card we have our two CrossFire connectors which let us put up to three of these cards together.

Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Looking at the last bit of the card, we have the I/O ports. It's nice to see that Sapphire has put a bit of effort in here to make the card stand out. While we have out standard Dual-Link DVI connector, we also have a VGA port under that. Sitting to the left we have a native HDMI port and over further again we have a display port connector.


Specifications

Sapphire has taken the time to overclock the Vapor-X variant of the HD 4890 we have here today. We can see the company has moved from the stock 850MHz core to 870MHz. We can also see that the memory has been moved from the default 975MHz or 3900MHz QDR to a more aggressive 1050MHz or 4200MHz QDR.

Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


While not as aggressive as the ATOMIC version of the card we looked at the other week which carries with it a 1000MHz core, this bump in performance should still yield a nice little performance increase over a stock clocked model.

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 9.6


Today we'll see how the Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X card goes up against the HD 4890 Voltage Tweak from ASUS which out of the box carries the default clocks along with the standard 1GB of GDDR5 memory.


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.


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Under Vantage we can see that the Sapphire HD 4890 Vapor-X 2GB model is able to get a jump on the ASUS model we have here today.

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.


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


In the minimum department there isn't a whole lot of movement. When we move to the averages, though, we can see that the performance is up at all resolutions with the best gains being seen at the highest resolution.

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).


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


The extra memory and MHz on offer from the Sapphire HD 4890 Vapor-X doesn't offer us any extra performance under CINEBENCH.

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.


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


We can see a bump in performance at all resolutions with the Sapphire HD 4890.

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.

Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


We can see a bump in performance at the lower resolution, but at 2560 x 1600 we see no real change.

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.


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Across the board we see some positive movement for the Sapphire offering with a small bump in performance at all resolutions.

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.

Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Performance is a bit all over the place here. For the most part we do see that the Sapphire card is able to pull out the win, though.

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.

Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Across the board we can see good performance gains from the Sapphire HD 4890 Vapor-X card.

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

Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


With these HQ settings we can see a bump in performance. Unfortunately the game is still unplayable at these settings.


World In Conflict

Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


We again see a bit of a bump in performance.


Left 4 Dead

Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Left 4 Dead like our non AA tests shows a good jump in performance.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict - XP


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) 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.

Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


At the lower resolutions we see some good gains with the Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2 - XP


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.


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


In just about all situations we see a bump in performance for the Sapphire HD 4890 Vapor-X card.

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


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.

Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


We again see that for the most part performance is up in our minimums and averages.

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.


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


While the Vapor-X cooler does run the card slightly higher in temps, it's nothing to worry about.


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).


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


The good news is that it's consistently quieter than a reference cooler which for some people is going to be more important.

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.


Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X Graphics Card


Power draw on the 2GB card is a fair bit up to the reference model. Like the temps, though, it's nothing too worrying.

Final Thoughts




The first thing we have to say is that there's a solid performance increase across the board when it comes to the Sapphire HD 4890 2GB Vapor-X. We can honestly say that most of that gain would come from the increased overclock more so than the extra memory.

Does that make it a waste of money? Not really; the Vapor-X offers more than just some extra memory. For around $250 U.S. Dollars you're getting a new cooler which while it doesn't cool quite as well as the stock one, does a good job of dropping noise levels. You've also got a bump in core and memory clock.

If you want 2GB of memory on a graphics card and don't want to break the bank, the Sapphire Vapor-X model we have here today is pretty impressive. The good news is that if you're not interested in spending the extra money that the 2GB card carries, Newegg also offers a 1GB version for $219.99.

We've got a solid card here that's going to be a good option for some people. If the bundle, cooling and overclock wasn't enough to get you excited, the decision to implement display port and HDMI natively to the card could be the deal clincher.

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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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