Radeon Hd 4890 reviewed at PC Games Hardware

Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 Vapor-X reviewed

This time Sapphire's new Radeon HD 4890 Vapor-X has to show what it got. PC Games Hardware delivers important information about the graphics card.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 Vapor-X: HDMI, DVI, Display Port and D-Sub onboard
Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 Vapor-X: HDMI, DVI, Display Port and D-Sub onboard [Source: view picture gallery]
Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 Vapor-X (2)
Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 Vapor-X (2) [Source: view picture gallery]
Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 Vapor-X reviewed: Introduction
Sapphire's Vapor-X series is equipped with a special cooling solution based on the Vapor Chamber Technology. Here a vaporization effect is used to make the heat transportation faster and more efficient while reaching a lower level of loudness. Coming along with the custom cooling solution are ex factory increased clock speeds. Sapphire delivers the Radeon HD 4890 Vapor-X with 870/1.050 MHz instead of the default values of 850/975 MHz.

The eight memory chips on the front side of the card are cooled by the 75 millimeters fan. A part of the heat can be pushed out of the case through the slot cover. The voltage converters get little fresh air only because of the cooler's plastic cover - but during our tests this didn't impose any problems.

In the table below you can find the most important technical specifications:

Besides the "Ruby Rom” with the demo versions and a DVD with drivers the range of delivery contains Cyberlink's DVD-Suite, PowerDVD and the Advanced Edition of Futuremark's 3DMark Vantage. Two adaptations for the power supply (Molex to 6-pin PCI-E) and a Crossfire Bridge cap of the equipment. The selection of video connectors is exemplary: Dual-link DVI, HDMI, D-sub and display Port.

The chart below shows the results of our loudness and cooling tests.

Our sample reveals the same behavior as all the other HD 4890 graphics cards: The BIOS only reduces the clock speed of the GPU when the card is in idle mode - to 240 MHz in this case. The GDDR5 VRAM is running at 3D frequency - impressive 1,050 MHz - this also explains the high idle power consumption, which is almost 15 watt higher than it is with the default HD 4890 design. The higher power consumption on workload is a little more mysterious since it is about 20 watt (game) respectively 50 watt (Furmark) higher than a normal 4890.

But on the other hand the loudness is rather quiet for a HD 4890: Even after running Furmark for more than five minutes the loudness didn't exceed 3.3 sone and in games the card doesn't even exceed 2.8 sone. For comparison: AMD's default design for the HD 4890 reaches up to 6.2 sone in Race Driver: Grid for example. Sapphire's Vapor-X might be called the most silent air cooled HD 4890.

Please pay attention to the fact that the real power consumption of the graphics card had been recorded - in three different scenarios. Besides the idle mode while running the Windows desktop and the game test with Race Driver: Grid we also challenged the card with the "Xtreme Burning Mode” of the Furmark which represents a worst-case scenario. The loudness of the card was recorded at a distance of 50 centimeters.

Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 Vapor-X reviewed: Benchmarks
We tested the performance of the Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 Vapor-X in four popular games. For comparison we also deliver the results for a regular Radeon HD 4890 with 1 GiByte VRAM and the Geforce GTX260-216 which is on a similar price level. For more benchmarks see or Radeon HD 4890 review.

Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 Vapor-X reviewed: Overclocking
The Vapor-X cooling of the HD 4890 Vapor-X might offer better overclocking capabilities. Our sample reached 970/1,220 MHz stable in Crysis which is a result above average. The other HD 4890s we tested up to now reached 935 to 980 MHz GPU and 1,100 to 1,180 MHz VRAM frequency. Please bear in mind that overclocking is a little like lottery and that each single graphics card has individual capabilities

Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 Vapor-X reviewed: Conclusion
Quiet cooling, overclcoked ex factory and a good software package are the positive aspects of the Sapphire HD 4890 Vapor-X. Compared to a normal HD 4890 the Sapphire card is about 5 percent faster and only half as loud. But the power consumption is extraordinarily high.

If you can deal with a higher loudness, the reference versions of the Radeon HD 4890 are a good solution. Nvidia's Geforce GTX 275 with 896 MiByte VRAM is an equal alternative: On average it is equally fast, but tempts with lower noise level and optional HQ-AF.

The recommended retail price of the Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 Vapor-X is specified with 239 Euros.

Picture gallery  (enlarge to view source)

Author: Raffael Vötter (May 26, 2009)

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