Product: XFX Radeon HD4890 1GB
Company: XFX
Authour: Steve 'SSXeon' Dikes
Editor: Charles 'Lupine' Oliver
Date: September 7th, 2009
Wrapping up the 4th Gen: XFX Radeon HD4890 1GB Review

Remember the good old days of the vaunted 9800 Pro, when only rival marketing departments questioned that ATi had the best card on the block, and NVIDIA was getting hammered for their hot, sluggish FX5800? Oh, how the wheel turns! A generational blink later it was AMD's HD2900XT being heralded as the 2nd coming of the FX, while NVIDIA was getting back on track with its 6000 series. Still, the HD2900XT, just like the FX5800, had its proponents & supporters - it wasn't the fastest but it was still a good card sporting some fascinating new technologies. Bottom line? People generally focus on a price and performance when they choose a graphics card. Power consumption is also a concern but, with many enthusiast computers sporting 800w PSUs and beyond, its probably a secondary concern. Our sometimes faulty but usually reliable crystal ball tells us that this will be the formula for years to come.

AMD, with a big assist from the supply & demand formula, saw the issues with the HD2900XT, and made the changes that ultimately resulted in the HD3870, correcting that which was wrong with the 2900XT - namely power consumption, efficiency and cost. Building upon the HD3xxx series success, AMD once again used their tried & true 55nm process and introduced the heavy hitting the RV770 series - AKA HD4850, HD4870, and HD4870x2 and, most recently, the HD4890.

As we look forward to the upcoming launch of AMD's next generation parts, we're going take a parting look at their reining graphics card, the Radeon HD 4890 1GB. Additionally, we will take this opportunity to look at performance between three different driver releases: Catalyst 9.4, 9.6, and 9.8 and investigate the new UI differences introduced with the latest driver set.


The newest high-end addition the the AMD GPU family is the Radeon HD4890, but what differentiates it from the HD4870? First, it has 100MHz faster core clock; second, 300MHz faster GDDR5 memory speed. AMD accomplished this by adding "decoupling capacitors" around the perimeter of the die, allowing the card to achieve these higher clocks. This new method adds three million transistors to the core and, even though it doesn't seem much, its well worth the core bump for just this relatively minor change in the core design.

The decoupling capacitors around the die
The decoupling capacitors around the die

Catalyst 9.8

The User Interface has changed since the last driver set and, like any change, some might not like it much even though its practically the same. All the features are there that were in the previous driver sets, its just a bit different visually. Change aversion aside, we find that the updated interface is cleaner and just looks nicer.

9.6 on the left, 9.8 on the right, not really different
9.6 on the left, 9.8 on the right, not really different
9.6 on the left, 9.8 on the right, 9.8 is definitely prettier
9.6 on the left, 9.8 on the right, 9.8 is definitely prettier

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