ATI Radeon HD 4890 Roundup (ASUS, Diamond, HIS, Sapphire, XFX)

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     June 2, 2009

ATI Radeon HD 4890 Roundup (ASUS, Diamond, HIS, Sapphire, XFX)

Since the days of the first Intel Pentium chip, ATI and Nvidia have been battling it out in the trenches of discrete graphics card market. However, it seemed that the summer of 2007 would be the beginning of the end for ATI. They had just released their thoroughly underwhelming, power sucking HD 2900 XT that just couldn’t keep up with Nvidia’s GeForce 8800-series and there was literally no help in sight. Under the tutelage of AMD, things have turned around for the better and what was once a David versus Goliath fight has now turned into a Rumble in the Jungle, Ali versus Foreman slugfest. Even though ATI is now matching Nvidia blow for blow, can the perennial underdog stage an upset win? They’re certainly trying.

The HD 4890 is ATI’s lone bid to win in the high performance portion of the single GPU market. Not only is it their highest-end single chip design but it has the potential to reach speeds on air cooling that were previously unheard of outside of enthusiast circles. With some products reaching up to and above the 1Ghz mark in terms of core speeds, the potential is definitely there for ATI to really put the screws to Nvidia.

Nvidia on the other hand knew what was needed: to pull a proverbial rabbit out of their hats and they did just that with the GTX 275. The only problem we encountered with this move was that when it was originally released; the GTX 275 had the feeling of a slightly rushed product with next to no availability. With an actual hard launch, the HD 4890 was able to gain a valuable foothold in one of the market’s most lucrative price points and win over countless new fans.

Since prices have finally stabilized and manufacturers have begun to release their own unique takes on the HD 4890, we thought that a little roundup was in order. Today we have five HD 4890 cards hailing from all walks of life; from mildly overclocked to insanely clocked to custom cooled. Sapphire is on deck with their Atomic Edition which sports a 1Ghz core clock, ASUS sent their TOP series card with Voltage Tweak options and Diamond sees the light of day with their overclocked XOC card. Since some of the manufacturers we hoped would participate couldn’t get us their cards in time, we purchased cards from two other aspiring ATI board partners: XFX and HIS. All in all, we believe these five cards will give a good cross-section of the current HD 4890 lineup.

To make things a bit more interesting, other than the usual reference-based cards used for comparisons, we will also be including the EVGA GTX 275 FTW in the charts. This is one of the highest clocked GTX 275 cards on the market today so it will be interesting to see how which of the HD 4890 cards has enough horsepower to muscle past a card that routinely beats a stock GTX 285.

Now that we’ve got you all excited, let’s get on with this thing.


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