XFX Radeon HD 4890 XXX graphics card

XFX's overclocked ATI Radeon HD 4890 XXX graphics card provides only minor improvements in performance.

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XFX Radeon HD 4890 XXX

Pros

  • Good performance, low idle power consumption, great aftermarket overclocking potential

Cons

  • Few performance benefits over standard ATI Radeon HD 4890, operates at higher temperatures

Bottom Line

Despite the appeal of a factory-overclocked graphics card, the XFX Radeon HD 4890 XXX isn't worth the extra cost over the standard ATI Radeon HD 4890 reference board.

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Given the ATI Radeon HD 4890's overclocking potential, it is no wonder that manufacturers are eager to push the graphics card's performance further. XFX has attempted this with the Radeon HD 4890 XXX graphics card, but it provides a negligible increase in performance compared to a card with standard clock speeds.

At the heart of the XFX Radeon HD 4890 XXX video card is an ATI Radeon HD 4890 GPU (codenamed RV790) with 959 million transistors and 800 shader processors doing the hard work. XFX has made some slight tweaks though, boosting the standard 850MHz clock speed to 900MHz. The graphics card also has 1GB of GDDR5 memory over a 256-bit interface at a speed of 975MHz.

Though overclocked, the XFX Radeon HD 4890 XXX graphics card has the same thermal design envelope as a non-overclocked GPU — 190 Watts — and consumes 60W when idle. The maximum power consumption is comparatively high for a single GPU graphics card, so a minimum power supply of 550W is recommended. A CrossFire configuration with two of these graphics card will require a significantly beefier power supply. The graphics card uses two 6-pin power connectors.

XFX has the same cooling shroud and fan as the ATI Radeon HD 4890 reference board and, due to the higher GPU clock speed, produces slightly more heat. When idle, it runs at 56 degrees Celsius; under duress, it peaks at 68 degrees. The reference board maintained a temperature range of 34 -51 degrees. Provided you have adequate ventilation, the XFX Radeon HD 4890 XXX remains well within the GPU's temperature limits.

At 241mm long, the XFX Radeon HD 4890 XXX is significantly shorter than a standard graphics card (such as the Manli GTX295), and will easily fit into ATX cases. It has a single S-Video output and two DVI ports with HDCP compliance and audio passthrough.

The XFX Radeon HD 4890 XXX proved to be a capable overclocker in our tests. Using ATI's Overdrive utility, we boosted the graphics card's clock speeds to 1GHz for the GPU and 1100MHz for the memory. These settings provided a small but noticeable boost in Crysis: Warhead; it ran at 37.88 frames per second compared to 35.35fps at standard speeds.

Overall, the XFX Radeon HD 4890 XXX performed well, but didn't provide a significant performance boost in our benchmarks, which we conducted on a Windows Vista 64-bit machine with an Intel Core i7 965 processor, 6GB of DDR3 RAM and a Western Digital VelociRaptor (WD3000GLFS) hard drive, in an Antec Skeleton case.

The XFX Radeon HD 4890 XXX was inferior to the ATI Radeon HD 4890 reference board in Futuremark's 3DMark06, scoring 10,482 points compared to the reference board's 10,509. In 3DMark Vantage, the difference was negligible at X4721 for the XFX compared to X4718 for the reference board.

In real-world gaming benchmarks, the factory-overclocked XFX graphics card performed on par with or provided only slight improvements on the reference board. In Half Life 2: Episode Two the XFX Radeon HD 4890 XXX managed 133fps compared to the reference board's 131.42fps. In Call of Juarez, both cards recorded 60.3fps, and in the DirectX 10 version of Lost Planet they both managed 34.4fps. In Far Cry 2, the XFX and the reference card both scored 48fps, while in Crysis: Warhead, the XFX video card edged slightly ahead with 35.35fps compared to the reference card's 35.1fps. The differences are negligible, and show that despite being factory-overclocked, the XFX graphics card is not much faster than the ATI Radeon HD 4890 reference board.

Though the XFX Radeon HD 4890 XXX does take some effort out of the overclocking process, it provides little benefit in the real world. Overclocking an ATI Radeon HD 4890 has proved easy enough that factory-overclocked cards like this aren't really worth the extra cost.

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