Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 1GB Review

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     April 2, 2009

Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 1GB Review

Manufacturer Product Page: TBD
Product Number: 21150-00-40R
TechWiki Info: Sapphire Radeon HD 4890
Availability: Now
Warranty: 2-Years
Price: ~$320 - $330CAD ($220-$250USD)

Baring the release of Nvidia’s GTX 295 card, the last few months in the GPU market have been eerily quiet; there have been no blockbuster launches as both ATI and Nvidia seemed to have been content in their respective positions. Granted, there have been price reductions to better face growing economic turmoil but other than rumours, nothing has really been able to tickle the enthusiast’s fancy. On the flip side of this coin, we all have to remember that even with certain parts of the economy in tatters, companies can’t sit still and hope for the best while not moving their product lineup to the next level. Innovation and making the most out of what you already have are key factors which will keep the smartest companies out front under the current market conditions. Those two factors are exactly what this review is all about.

At this point, many can argue quite successfully that ATI has made some serious inroads in the past year with their HD 4800-series of graphics cards. Their performance is top notch and aggressive pricing has helped them fight blow for blow in a highly competitive market. However, where Nvidia has had the GTX 285 to bridge the gap between the GTX 260 216 and the ultra high end GTX 295, ATI has nothing between the HD 4870 1GB and the HD 4870 X2 (no, we don't count the HD 4850 X2 as a widely released or available product). Enter the brand new HD 4890 1GB, a card that builds upon the HD 4870 with increased clock speeds under its belt and supposedly bucket loads of overclocking potential. Essentially, this is exactly what the name suggests: an overclocked HD 4870 with the new designation of RV790. This sticks quite well with what we mentioned about modified versions of existing technologies being used to cement a company’s place in the market. Indeed, it seems like ATI has really hit its stride with their current 55nm cores and they are making good use of them once again.

Today we will be looking at Sapphire’s version of the HD 4890 1GB in its stock form. According to our sources, pricing for this card should be very aggressive at around $320CAD ($220-$250USD) which puts it slightly above the current HD 4870 prices but far below those of the GTX 285. In many cases a launch price is usually indicative of where a company expects their product to end up performance-wise but ATI has been known to buck that trend. On the other hand, availability is proving to be another question mark for us since these higher performance parts from ATI have been known for their limited availability on or around their launch date. We saw this with the HD 4870 1GB but with the competition between board partners as of late and the addition of XFX into the fold, it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that initial availability could look very good.

As a bit of a boot note to this introduction, we would be selling you guys short if we didn’t mention something about Nvidia’s answer to this card: the GTX 275. Priced a few dozen bucks above the HD 4890, it is gunning for the same customer base and looks to offer some great performance to boot. While it is included in the benchmark charts you can find its full review here.

All in all, it seems like spring will be a very interesting time for the GPU market.


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