ASUS Radeon HD 4890 Formula Graphics Card

We have seen companies try and spice up the Radeon HD 4890 GPU lately and today we see what ASUS has done with its Formula model.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Mon, Sep 7 2009 7:05 AM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction




ASUS Radeon HD 4890 Formula Graphics Card 29 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 38 IMAGES


With the new ATI Radeon HD 5800 series of video cards due out soon, there's still plenty of surplus HD 4890 GPUs sitting around that need to be sold. The best way to do this is offer something a bit more exciting at a good price.

Recently we've seen Sapphire really mess around with the HD 4890 model in a good way by releasing not only a 2GB version, but also a highly overclocked type sporting a 1000MHz core.

Today we will be having a look at a Radeon HD 4890 from ASUS which falls into the Formula series of video cards. With some pretty impressive versions of this GPU out lately already, ASUS will have to offer us something that stands out from the pack, if they want to be considered by potential buyers.

What we will do though before we have a closer look at the card is see the package and dive inside the bundle and from there we'll have a closer look at the card to see what exactly ASUS has going on before having a quick look of the specifications of the card and then checking out the performance.

As we mentioned already the Radeon HD 4890 battle has really heated up lately, so let's see if ASUS is able to offer us something that gets us excited or not.

The Package




While the overall design of the box might not be all the different to other ones out there already, the blue and black color scheme does look great and gives us a nice fresh feel for the overall design. Across the top of the box we have the brand while to the right we see ASUS mention that they received over 3000 awards in 2008.

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Along the bottom we have the model, in this case it's the HD 4890 and this particular video card falls into the Formula series. Below this we see some of the main features which include 1GB of GDDR5 memory, Voltage Tweak ability and HDMI support. In the middle of the box we can see that ASUS promise us a 23% cooler card, to the right we can see something that resembles a graphics card, but it doesn't paint a real clear picture.

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Turning the box over we again have the brand and model across the top, below that we have a list of the power features that the video card offers in a number of languages. The other main piece to the back of the box is a rundown on some of the exclusive software that comes with the ASUS card. To the right we have a small picture of the card, but again it doesn't paint the best picture.

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Looking at the bundle there isn't any surprises - as far as paperwork goes, we've got a speed setup guide. In the CD department we have the manual in a number of languages on one along with another CD that carries the drivers and a number of exclusive ASUS programs that we saw mentioned on the back of the box.

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In the cable department we have a component out dongle, DVI to VGA and DVI to HDMI connector, CrossFire connector, dual molex to 6-pin and dual 6-pin to 8-pin connectors.

The Card




Having a look at the video card for the first time you can see the pretty outrageous looking cooler that ASUS has chosen to implement. It's clear that this is an own design and not something that we've seen from any other company. Considering the promise of 23% cooler though, we assume there's something pretty special going on.

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The cooler design is suppose to increase the airflow aerodynamics which in turn is going to give us better temperatures. Behind the shroud we can see all the normal goodies that show signs of a good cooler which include a large array of fins along with a couple of heat pipes that help pull the heat away from the core. While it might look fancy, we'll find out soon enough if it actually does anything for us when it comes to real-world cooling performance.

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ASUS Radeon HD 4890 Formula Graphics Card 36 | TweakTown.com


At the back of the card we have two power connectors, one is a 6-pin PCI-E while the other is an 8-pin. As we move closer to the front of the card we can see two CrossFireX connectors, which give us the ability to run up to three of these video cards together.

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As far as the I/O department goes, we're not greeted with any surprises, apart from the standard TV-Out port we've got two Dual-Link DVI connectors. Above these we have some vents, which help the hot air escape.


Specifications

Looking below we can see that ASUS has done a bit of overclocking - nothing too major, though. The core has been bumped from 850MHz to a nice sounding 900MHz. The 1GB of GDDR5 memory has been slightly bumped up, too.

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We've gone from a 975MHz or 3900MHz QDR setup to 1000MHz or 4000MHz QDR. While these aren't huge gains, they should give us a slight bump in performance when it comes to gaming.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage


Test System Setup

Processor(s): Intel Core 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 and Windows Vista SP1 64-bit
Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 190.38 and ATI Catalyst 9.8


Today we'll be having a look at how the ASUS Formula version of the Radeon HD 4890 compares to the 2GB HD 4890 we looked at from Sapphire recently, which carries a 870MHz core and a 4200MHz QDR clock on the 2GB of GDDR5 memory.

We've also thrown in a GeForce GTX 275 and GeForce GTX 285 for good measure. Our main focus though today will be seeing how the ASUS HD 4890 competes against the Sapphire version.

With that all said then let's get stuck into our benchmarks to find out just what kind of numbers the ASUD HD 4890 Formula is putting out.


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 Radeon HD 4890 Formula Graphics Card 01 | TweakTown.com


In our first test we can see that the Formula from ASUS offers us a nice little boost over the Sapphire HD 4890.

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 Radeon HD 4890 Formula Graphics Card 02 | TweakTown.com


ASUS Radeon HD 4890 Formula Graphics Card 03 | TweakTown.com


Across the board we can again see a bump in performance from the ASUS version of the HD 4890.

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 performance 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).

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Under CINEBENCH we can see a serious jump in performance. We made sure to test a few times to make sure the numbers were consistent.

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 Radeon HD 4890 Formula Graphics Card 05 | TweakTown.com


ASUS Radeon HD 4890 Formula Graphics Card 06 | TweakTown.com


We see a bit of movement in the positive territory for the most part.

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.

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ASUS Radeon HD 4890 Formula Graphics Card 08 | TweakTown.com


At the lower resolutions we can see a few extra FPS here and there.

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.

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ASUS Radeon HD 4890 Formula Graphics Card 10 | TweakTown.com


We can see that the ASUS offering gives us 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.

ASUS Radeon HD 4890 Formula Graphics Card 11 | TweakTown.com


ASUS Radeon HD 4890 Formula Graphics Card 12 | TweakTown.com


We continue to see the Radeon HD 4890 from ASUS offering us a little bit extra performance over the Sapphire version.

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.

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Under Left 4 Dead there isn't too much of a change.

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

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Little positive movement in the average department and a little negative in the minimum - nothing more than a bit of fluctuation here really.


World In Conflict

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ASUS Radeon HD 4890 Formula Graphics Card 17 | TweakTown.com


Between the two HD 4890's there isn't really much of a difference with the ASUS version only seeing an extra FPS in the average department.


Left 4 Dead

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There's no difference between the two HD 4890's here.

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.

ASUS Radeon HD 4890 Formula Graphics Card 19 | TweakTown.com


ASUS Radeon HD 4890 Formula Graphics Card 20 | TweakTown.com


Under WIC we can see that there's really no difference between the two HD 4890 video cards.

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.

ASUS Radeon HD 4890 Formula Graphics Card 21 | TweakTown.com


ASUS Radeon HD 4890 Formula Graphics Card 22 | TweakTown.com


At the lower resolutions we can see a bit of a better bump in performance when compared to 2560 x 1600.

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.

ASUS Radeon HD 4890 Formula Graphics Card 23 | TweakTown.com


ASUS Radeon HD 4890 Formula Graphics Card 24 | TweakTown.com


Under Clear Sky there's a bit of positive and negative moment.

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.

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Even compared to the Sapphire video card which uses its own cooling solution, the ASUS offering is able to output a very impressive number which equates to almost 20% cooler.


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).

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Fortunately the coolness doesn't come at the cost of any more noise. It still manages to perform below the NVIDIA offerings.

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.

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We can see that the HD 4890 from ASUS manages to draw a little less power than the Sapphire offering.

Final Thoughts




ASUS has put together quite a nice video card. We can see that with the clocks on offer, performance is very similar to that of the Sapphire 2GB version that is also overclocked. The most important feature of the card though is the cooling and that's the whole idea behind the Formula line up of video cards.

We're glad to see that in this area the video card really shines, and I have to admit, it was going to be interesting to see how it compared to the Vapor-X version from Sapphire, which also uses its own aftermarket cooling solution. While noise levels were similar between the two products, when we looked at the core temperature, the ASUS solution was almost 20% cooler.

If this wasn't enough to get you excited about this particular HD 4890, you have to remember that ASUS also include the Voltage Tweak ability that we saw on one of their earlier model HD 4890 video cards. What this software did was give us the ability to achieve a core clock of 1000MHz and a memory clock of 4444MHz QDR. With the cooling numbers that we saw, you can feel confident moving the voltage higher than the stock of 1.312 volts.

In typical fashion, an ASUS version of any graphics card is going to set you back a few more dollars when compared to other brands. The good news is though that in this situation here too with this product, it seems pretty justified. ASUS set out to produce a video card that offers some impressive cooling numbers and it does that. If that's not enough though and you want some more power than with the Voltage Tweak software, you should be able to head towards a 1GHz core and higher memory clocks.
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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.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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