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MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card

MSI spin the HD 4890 into a Cyclone and we see what exactly that means for us and if it's something we should be getting excited about.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Tue, Sep 22 2009 6:03 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:03 PM CST
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction




MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 29 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 37 IMAGES


Recently we've seen MSI really mix it up when it comes to graphics cards. We had a look at a GTX 260 from the company which came in under the new Lightning series. Under this same category we've recently seen the GTX 275 show up with it being the graphics card of choice at the recent MSI overclocking championships.

While the Lightning series seems to be reserved for the NVIDIA cards, ATI models haven't been left without. The HD 4890 we're looking at sits in the new Cyclone series. Within the Cyclone series we've got three models; the standard Cyclone model followed by an OC and SOC model.

Since MSI told us that they were simply sending over the HD 4890 Cyclone, when I discovered there was three versions my fingers were crossed that it was going to be one of the OC models and fortunately it was.

We're not going to talk about how the HD 5800 series is just around the corner and how we're seeing more of this older model now than we have over the past few months, since we pretty much covered that in our review of the HIS card. Instead we'll simply get stuck into the package to see what MSI have going on before looking at card itself, the clocks this SOC models offers and then check out what that does for performance.

The Package




Having a look at the front of the box, we can see we've got a bit of a new design to go with the new series. Across the top of the box we have both the MSI and ATI logo. Moving down, the majority of the box is taken up by a picture of the cooler that MSI have chosen to use.

MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 30 | TweakTown.com


Across the bottom of the box we have mention that the model is overclocked. Below that we have the SuperPipe logo which lets us know about the extra thick heat pipes the card uses. Next to that we have the Military Class logo and on the far right side we have the HD 4890 with some of the main features below that.

MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 31 | TweakTown.com


Turning the box over, we have some more details about these SuperPipes. Also is a bit more information about the cooler and what exactly Military Class means. While we will talk more about the cooler on the next page, we'll just let you know that Military Class offers higher quality caps, solid state chokes which means no buzzing noises and solid caps to give better power quality and longer lifetime of the product. Across the bottom of the box we've got a bit more information on some of the features and a number of logos like HDMI, PCI Express, MSI and more.

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Checking out the bundle inside, there isn't a whole lot going on. We've got two pieces of paperwork that are both quick user guides. In the cable department we've got two duel molex to 6-Pin PCI Express power connectors. While we haven't got a driver CD in the package, we're sure it comes with one and it simply was accidently left out in our bundle.

Video Card




Looking at the card itself, you can see the cooler which we saw on the front of the box. What's surprising, though, is the size. Looking at it on the front of the box without the card in the picture, you're not sure how big it'll be. Once you have it in front of you with the card attached you notice the size. Sporting a 100mm fan with heat pipes around it, it's a pretty large cooler.

MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 34 | TweakTown.com


On the topic of heat pipes, this card uses MSIs new SuperPipe. These are thicker 8mm pipes which MSI say are 90% more effective when compared to standard heat pipes. We can see a bit of the PCB to the right, but really, thanks to the huge cooler there isn't a whole lot more to look at.

MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 35 | TweakTown.com


MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 36 | TweakTown.com


Taking a quick spin around the card, we've got two 6-Pin PCI Express power connectors which is a bit different to the 8 + 6 Pin setup we normally see. Staying across the top of the card but closer to the front, we've got two Crossfire connectors. If you want to use them, though, you're out of luck no thanks to the massive cooler that MSI has implemented.

MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 37 | TweakTown.com


Having a look at the front of the card, we can see MSI are using the same formula as HIS and a few other HD 4890s we've seen lately. We've got a Dual-Link DVI connector, standard VGA port along with a native HDMI port. Above these ports we've got some vents with the MSI logo also being seen.


Specifications

As we've already mentioned, there are three versions of the HD 4890 Cyclone. While we don't have the SOC model, we do have the standard OC one. We can see below that the core has been moved from the default 850MHz to 880MHz.

MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 28 | TweakTown.com


As for the 1GB of GDDR5, there hasn't been any changes with it remaining at 975MHz or 2900MHz QDR. Hopefully the small bump in core gives us a boost in performance at the right spots.

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: ATI Catalyst 9.8, ForceWare 190.62


We weren't a huge fan of the 9.9 drivers so we've decided to stick with the 9.8 for this review. What we've done is compare the MSI HD 4890 we've got on our hands today to a number of other HD 4890s we've looked at recently. We've also thrown in the GTX 260 Lightning from MSI which comes pre-overclocked just to give a bit of representation to the green team.

Let's get started!


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.

MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 01 | TweakTown.com


In our first test we can see that the HD 4890 from MSI does a good job, coming out ahead here.

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.

MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 02 | TweakTown.com


MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 03 | TweakTown.com


Across the board we again see the HD 4890 from MSI come out ahead here at all resolutions.

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).

MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 04 | TweakTown.com


CINEBENCH performance between the HIS and MSI cards are very similar with only 100 points separating them.

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.

MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 05 | TweakTown.com


MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 06 | TweakTown.com


At the lower resolution we see the MSI offering come out ahead. At 2560 x 1600, though, the 2GB Sapphire offering manages to squeeze out a win.

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.

MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 07 | TweakTown.com


MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 08 | TweakTown.com


Across the board we see the MSI card either put out the same or slightly higher numbers than the other HD 4890s.

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.

MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 09 | TweakTown.com


MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 10 | TweakTown.com


Out of the six results we see that the MSI HD 4890 is able to pull out the win for five of them. That extra bump in core seems to be giving the MSI offering the edge.

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.

MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 11 | TweakTown.com


MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 12 | TweakTown.com


We can see at 1680 x 1050 the MSI offering is the only card that was able to break the 30 FPS minimum.

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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We can see that there isn't a whole lot of difference between the cards here. For the most part we see the MSI is just trailing behind the 2GB Sapphire offering.

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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MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 15 | TweakTown.com



In the minimum department we can see the MSI card falls to the back. In the average department we see that the MSI ties with the Sapphire offering which is ahead of the HIS stock clocked model.


World In Conflict

MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 16 | TweakTown.com


MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 17 | TweakTown.com


Under WIC we see in the averages the Sapphire and MSI tie for first in the HD 4890s, while in the minimum department the MSI does fall back in line with the HIS.

Left 4 Dead

MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 18 | TweakTown.com


We can see here that the MSI comes in between the other two HD 4890 cards.

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.

MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 19 | TweakTown.com


MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 20 | TweakTown.com


Performance is a bit all over the place here. For the most part there isn't much between the cards; all are able to break the 30 FPS minimum at resolutions of up to 1920 x 1200, while all fall behind it at 2560 x 1600.

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.

MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 21 | TweakTown.com


MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 22 | TweakTown.com


At the lower resolutions we see the MSI HD 4890 is able to come out ahead. When we move to 2560 x 1600, though, the 2GB Sapphire offering is able to sneak ahead.

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.

MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 23 | TweakTown.com


MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 24 | TweakTown.com


We continue to see the 1GB MSI HD 4890 perform quite close to the 2GB Sapphire offering.

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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Temps on the HD 4890 with the Cyclone cooler are similar to the HIS which carries with it stock clocks and its own iCooler x4 heatsink fan.


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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Noise levels are in line with most of the other cards here, with only the Sapphire card coming in at over 60dBs.

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.

MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB Graphics Card 27 | TweakTown.com


Power draw on the MSI HD 4890 Cyclone seems to be slightly down when compared to the other HD 4890s. As for idle, there isn't a whole lot of difference.

Final Thoughts




It's clear that companies are going to offer the HD 4890 for months to come, even though the HD 5800 series are just around the corner. Really, at the end of it all if the chips are available you're better off selling them instead of having them just sit there. But due to the model being out for so long, no one wants to see a flurry of reference cooled and clocked models come to the market.

Instead companies like MSI, HIS and Sapphire have decided to really mix it up by offering new cooling solutions and new overclocks. From the cooling perspective the Cyclone cooler that MSI use doesn't offer any better performance than some of the other new cooling options. If anything, the size of it is more of a pain due to the fact it kills your ability to use CrossFire.

What the cooler does offer, though, is looks. Honestly, the cooler looks so mean and until you have it in front of you on the card you really don't realize the coolness of it. The Military Class specification for the card also seems to help keep power draw down in load situations.

We've got a decent cooler, some good performance thanks to the overclock and the Military Class marketing seems to actually be useful by dropping down the overall power load of the card. While the bundle might be a bit lacking, if you're after a HD 4890 that performs well and looks good, the MSI offering is a good choice. If you want a bit more power it might be worth looking at the SOC offering that offers even higher clock speeds.

For your reference, the MSI Radeon HD 4890 Cyclone OC 1GB graphics card
can currently be purchased over at Newegg for $184.99 after a $15.00 mail-in rebate.

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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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