Value Meets Performance: HD 4890 Cards from Gigabyte and MSI

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     October 26, 2009

Value Meets Performance: HD 4890 Cards from Gigabyte and MSI

With ATI’s 5000-series releases coming fast and furious as of late, it seems like everyone is more than anxious to totally forget about the venerable 4800-series. Believe it or not, even amidst the dizzying number of 5800 and 5700 cards on the market the HD 4890 1GB has fit perfectly into ATI’s new lineup at a price of around $200. We all know by now that it doesn’t have the latest compatibility for DX11 but there won’t be any worthwhile next-generation games on the market for the next few months at least. It is also worthwhile remembering that DX11 games will be backwards compatible with DX10 hardware which means the purchase of a HD 4890 now won’t mean you will be totally shut out of playing upcoming games either.

So, while everyone is drooling over the latest, greatest and expensive cards, we’re going towards a different end of the spectrum because we believe that there is still a strong and healthy market out there for a $200 DX10 / DX10.1 card. ATI and their board partners must be thinking the same thing since the HD 4890 won’t be discontinued until at least the second quarter of 2010 and supposedly the boards are selling better than ever. This is why we have decided to feature a pair of custom cooled, mildly overclocked yet highly affordable HD 4890 1GB cards in this review.

Even though it has been out for a while, the MSI HD 4890 1GB Cyclone OC (yes, it’s a mouthful) looks like a product that everyone has been asking for: a high performance ATI card that doesn’t pump out noise akin to a dust buster. There are other HD 4890 cards in the MSI Cyclone stable as well, namely a stock-clocked card that retails for about $200 and one that has its core overclocked to a stratospheric 1GHz. The latter is nearly impossible to find in North America but our OC edition sporting a mostly pointless 30Mhz overclock is readily available at a number of retailers throughout Canada and the US.

Gigabyte on the other hand sent us a HD 4890 OC card which carries their Ultra Durable VGA moniker as well as slightly increased clock speeds. Supposedly, Ultra Durable series of cards carry higher quality components than their reference brethren meaning longer component life, decreased power consumption and increased overclocking capabilities. This card also carries Gigabyte’s custom cooling solution. Interestingly enough, all of these features don’t carry with them a huge price premium since the GV-R489OC-1GD commands a mere $15 price premium over a reference-based card.

Even though we won’t be considering this a head-to-head competition, these cards share remarkably similar clock speeds, prices and features. If anything, it should be apparent that the $200 price bracket is now even more hotly contested than it was a month ago and the competition between board partners is translating into some great deals for potential customers.


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