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Frontpage Slideshow | Copyright © 2006-2010 orks, a business unit of Nuevvo Webware Ltd.
Monday, 06 April 2009 13:40

XFX's oc'ed HD 4890 900M XXX rocks

Written by Sanjin Rados

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Review: Comes with Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. game

 

AMD recently announced its RV790 based Radeon HD 4890 card, and you should know that the RV790 is an improved version of the RV770 you might know as HD 4870’s ticker. The basic specifications are still the same and the only changes the end users should be aware of were done on the clocks.

The Radeon HD 4890 runs at 850MHz for the core, which was tough to reach with the HD 4870 even with watercooled versions. The new GPU is much more flexible and allows us to overclock the core to 900+MHz. This is the reason why AMD allowed its partners to launch overclocked cards on day one, and XFX isn’t the one to miss out on such opportunities. Today, we’re proud to present the Radeon HD 4890 900M XXX, which as the name suggests runs at 900MHz.

Currently, all the HD 4890 cards come with reference cooling and PCB, and the same goes for XFX’s card. This means that the only difference is the sticker and the clocks. You can see it on the following photo.

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One thing that will surely separate the XFX’s card from the rest of the pack sitting on the shelves is the box, which is quite unusually shaped. XFX made X-shaped boxes before, but we don’t recall them being this detailed and well made. Apart from the looks, another thing might catch your eye and it’s Ubisoft’s H-A-W-X gift game.  

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XFX is probably the partner that changed the box design most frequently, and its latest series on the picture above are the compact boxes we’ve grown to really like.

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The basis for the new box is a small box similar to the one on the picture above, but some extra cardboard was added to form the letter X.

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An interesting design like this still leaves enough space to write all the important information.

The card comes with 1GB of GDDR5 memory, DirectX 10.1 support, 800 stream processing unites, Unified Video Decoder 2 (second generation), onboard HDMI with 7.1 surround sound, PCI-Express 2.0, Dynamic Power Management, etc. The Tom Clancy’s H-A-W-X gift-game comes with DX10.1 support and it’ll come in handy if you’re gaming on Vista or Win7 you can. Note that only AMD Radeon cards currently offer DX10.1 support, and we couldn’t help but notice a higher frame count when DX 10.1 is used, as opposed to the standard DX 10 settings. Geforce cards can’t do DX 10.1 however, so AMD is one step ahead in this game.
 
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XFX’s packaging reminded us of a puzzle of some kind, as reaching the graphics card was no easy task.

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All the basic equipment is in the box. You’ll find the Crossfire bridge connector for multi GPU technologies, meaning if you’d like to add another card or three to your CrossFireX chain, DVI-to-HDMI dongle, DVI-to-VGA dongle, two power cables with dual 4-pin Molex to 6-pin PCI Express adapter, HD Component output dongle, S-Video to Composite adapter, driver CD, user’s manual and the priceless “Do Not Disturb I’m Gaming” sign.

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XFX HD 4890 900M XXX comes with reference cooling that’s quiet in idle mode, and although it gets loud in 3D, it’s still far from intrusive.

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The fan is kept from the HD 4870’s cooler, and it’s NTK Technologies’ CF1275-B30H-C004 DC12V 1.0A. You can see it on the following picture.

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Higher clocks on the HD 4890 made AMD alter the HD 4870’s cooler a bit. They added more copper for better dissipation and the cooler still pushes hot air out of the case.

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This time, AMD used three copper heatpipes going from the copper base to the heatsink, whereas the HD 4870’s cooler had two. The new cooler uses one 8mm and two 6mm whereas HD 4870’s uses two thicker, 8mm pipes. Aluminum surface is still the same, meaning the dissipation surface is unchanged. Also, you’ll find an additional short copper pipe above the power regulation area.

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The PCB was slightly altered mostly to regulate the additional power requirements, a direct result of higher clocks. The changes are most visible in the back, on the area around the green sticker. Underneath you’ll find a picture of XFX HD 4890 followed by the HD 4870.

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The card requires two 6-pin power cables and the power connectors are still where they were on the HD 4870.

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The following photos show a part of HD 4890, and then a part of HD 4870 where power management components are located.

AMD used two Voltera VT1165 voltage controllers on the new card. One handles VGPU core voltages and the other is in charge of memory voltage. You can see them on the picture located next to the white pin-head fan power connector. Software voltage changes are possible, and we’re sure some of the partners will use it to their advantage, which would surely make 1GHz core speed within a grasp.

Another detail not featured on the HD 4870’s PCB is a place for the 8-pin power connector, which although unused shows that AMD did some work on it.

HD 4890 will draw 190W at max whereas the HD 4870 consumed 160W. AMD implemented dynamic frequency regulation, but it only applies for the GPU so the memory will keep running at 975MHz in both 3D and 2D. If the memory downclocked when in 2D mode it would’ve surely reflected on the overall consumption.

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The memory interface is still 256-bit, but thanks to high GDDR5 clocks it has a bandwidth of 124.8GB/s. Note that GDDR5 memory offers double the bandwidth of identically clocked GDDR3 memory. This means that 512-bit GDDR3 offers the same bandwidth as the 256-bit GDDR5, provided they run at same speeds.

Just like the reference card, XFX’s model comes with 1GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 975MHz (3900MHz effectively). The card features Qimonda’s IDGV1G-05A1F1C-40X memory. Although this memory is rated at 1000MHz, on the card it runs at 975MHz, which means you could easily squeeze out more.

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RV790 offers 7.1 audio as well, courtesy of Realtek HD Audio processor which is integrated directly into the GPU silicone. There’s no need for additional cables, unlike Nvidia’s offerings where you’ll be using a SPDIF cable to bring the audio to the card if you want to send both video and audio to your HDTV device via one cable. This card provides HDMI via the provided DVI-to-HDMI dongle and the I/O panel features two dual-link DVI outs as well as S-Video out. UVD 2 video decoding engine will also provide benefits such as options dual-stream decoding and dynamic contrast enhancement.

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Reference HD4890 card on the photo below, looks like the XFX’s card, albeit with a different sticker. Its clocks are 850MHz core and 975MHz for the memory (3900MHz effectively).

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Before we move onto our testing, let us remind you of the best AMD’s single GPU card specs. The photo below shows that the card runs much faster than the HD 4870 and that its overall performance is better. Higher clocks provide the HD 4890 with processing power of 1360 GigaFLOPs, whereas the HD 4870 has 1200 GigaFLOPs.

Note that Radeon HD 4850 runs on the same RV770 core like the HD 4870 and the only difference is the clocks. However, the HD 4850 uses GDDR3 memory, unlike the HD 4870 whose GDDR5 memory secures it a much higher bandwidth.

If we compare the transistor count on RV790 and RV770 chips we see little has changed. The RV790 has 3 million transistors more than the RV770, and they’ve been used in strengthening the core and preparing it for higher clocks. The core is isolated with a decap ring, meaning decoupling capacitors used to suppress electromagnetic interference. AMD did some power management changes as well and it led to lower consumption than on the HD 4870. 

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Last modified on Wednesday, 08 April 2009 16:12
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