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Graphics card test on PC Games Hardware

Powercolor Radeon HD 4890 LCS reviewed

In this review Powercolor's Radeon HD 4890 LCS with its ex factory water cooler has to show its capabilities. PC Games Hardware summarizes the important details and runs benchmarks.
Powercolor Radeon HD 4890 LCS reviewed (10)
 
Powercolor Radeon HD 4890 LCS reviewed (10) [Source: view picture gallery]
Powercolor Radeon HD 4890 LCS (Liquid Cooling System)
Powercolor already offers several LCS labeled cards with preinstalled water coolers. The LCS series is intended for enthusiasts who already have a water cooling system since the graphics cards are equipped with an EK water block only.

Regardless of the ex factory water cooling Powercolor acts with caution when overclocking the graphics card: The frequencies of 900/1,000 MHz for the GPU and the one gigabyte big GDDR5 video memory exceed AMD's specifications by 50 respectively 25 MHz only. The HD 4890 LCS still has a dual slot cover although the EK water block is only one slot thick. The fittings for the water cooling tubes can be installed on the rear side of the water block if necessary - for Crossfire setups for example.

The most important technical specifications compared:

Graphics chip/card Powercolor HD 4890 LCS HD 4890 HD 4870 GTX 275 GTX 260-216 GTS 250
Chip RV790 RV790 RV770 GT200(b) GT200(b) G92b
Core frequency (MHz) 900 850 750 633 576 738
Shader ALU frequency (MHz) 900 850 750 1.404 1.242 1.836
Taktrate Speicher (MHz) 1.000 975 900 1.134 999 1.100
Memory size (MiByte) 1.024 1.024 512, 1.024 896/1.792 896/1.792 1.024
Memory bus (Bit) 256 256 256 448 448 256
Memory type GDDR5 GDDR5 GDDR5 GDDR3 GDDR3 GDDR3
MAD performance (GFLOPS) 1.440 1.360 1.200 673,9 536,5 470
Texture fillrate (MTex/s) 36.000 34.000 30.000 50.640 41.472 47.232
Memory bandwidth (MByte/s) 128.000 124.800 115.200 127.008 111.888 70.400
Multi GPU Crossfire X Crossfire X Crossfire X SLI, 3-W.-SLI SLI, 3-W.-SLI SLI, 3-W.-SLI
PCI-E. power (6-Pin/8-Pin) 2 x / 0 x 2 x / 0 x 2 x / 0 x 2 x / 0 x 2 x / 0 x 1 x / 0 x
Length PCB (mm, ca.) 241 241 241 268 268 228
Width (Slots) 2 2 2 2 2 2


Powercolor Radeon HD 4890 LCS reviewed (13)
 
Powercolor Radeon HD 4890 LCS reviewed (13) [Source: view picture gallery]

The range of delivery contains the common gimmicks like DVI, HDMI and several other video adaptations as well as a flexible Crossfire bridge, a driver CD and an installation guide. Additionally there are two G1/4 fittings for tubes with a diameter of 8/1 millimeters and half an inch plus the appropriate hose clips.


In the table below you can find the loudness and temperature results of the HD 4890 LCS:

* Depending on the attached water cooling system the loudness varies, thus we record the neutral zero Sone result of the idle mode. On its own the EK water block is silent of course.

Tested with a dual radiator and an Eheim pump the HD 4890 LCS reaches very good temperature results - even on high workload. Regardless of or possibly because the actually silent cooling we noticed that the chirping noise of modern graphics cards was audible, but still quieter than it is the case for the Geforce GTX 275/285. The BIOS of the Powercolor HD 4890 LCS lowers the frequencies to 240/1,000 MHz in idle mode and decreases the GPU core voltage from 1.31 volt to 1.053 volt - default behavior of the HD 4890.

Powercolor Radeon HD 4890 LCS reviewed: Benchmarks
We tested the performance of the Powercolor HD 4890 LCS in four of the currently popular and important games. For comparison we offer the results of an air cooled Radeon HD 4890 with 1 GiByte and the Geforce GTX 275 which was released at the same time. For broader selection of benchmarks please see our chip comparison: Ati Radeon HD 4890 versus Nvidia Geforce GTX 275.



Powercolor Radeon HD 4890 LCS reviewed: Overclocking
Regardless of the low temperatures made possible by the water cooling our test sample wasn't stable if the frequency was increased by more than 3.8% (935 Mhz) - above that we received picture distortions. The GDDR5 VRAM was doing a little better: stable 1,150 MHz result in an increase of 15% compared to the default value. Please bear in mind that overclocking is always a game of luck since each card has individual capabilities.

Powercolor Radeon HD 4890 LCS reviewed: Conclusion
The HD 4890 LCS is a card for people who want something special and already use the advantages of a water cooling system. Although our sample didn't deliver a huge overclocking advantage compared to the air cooled version of the HD 4890, the water cooling nevertheless offers the possibility of a silent cooling solution. IF you modify the slot cover, the card can also be used as a single slot device.

Compared to the default version of the HD 4890 the Powercolor HD 4890 LCS receives the necessary overclocking benefit to beat the Geforce GTX 275 in all benchmarks except Call of Duty: world at War.

If you have to watch your budget, the Radeon HD 4870 1 GB or the Geforce GTX 260-216 are a (slower) alternative. The default version of the HD 4890 is currently available for about 200 Euros - a retail price for the Powercolor HD 4890 LCS is not available yet.

Picture gallery  (enlarge to view source)

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Author: Carsten Spille (Apr 15, 2009)






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