So, what can we say in conclusion to our first ATI Radeon HD 4890 test session? The “refresh” of the RV770 was definitely worth it. Reborn as RV790 the good old GPU got a second breath. Let’s take a closer look at the performance summary charts for each of the four tested resolutions.
In 1280x1024 the performance gain by Radeon HD 4890 compared to Radeon HD 4870 1GB varies from almost unnoticeable 0.5% in Far Cry 2 to pretty good 14% in Race Driver: GRID. The average gain is about 10%.
It may seem like not too much. But do not forget that the memory subsystem bandwidth has minimal effect on the results in this resolution and the chip frequency of the newcomer is only 100MHz higher: 850MHz vs. 750MHz by Radeon HD 4870 1GB.
Overclocking to 1GHz provides another 7-27% gain, which makes the new ATI solution even more attractive than GeForce GTX 285 in some cases. However, we can’t promise that any Radeon HD 4890 will overclock as well as the PowerColor HD4890 Plus sample we received. But even in its nominal mode Radeon HD 4890 defeated the competitor from a higher price range in six tests out of fifteen, which is really good for a sub-$240 graphics card.
In 1680x1050 resolution the average advantage demonstrated by Radeon HD 4890 over Radeon HD 4870 1GB grew a little higher reaching 11.5%. Overclocking produced another 14% on average, which was enough for a definite victory over GeForce GTX 285 in eight tests out of fifteen. But even without any overclocking our hero won in six of them!
As far as Radeon HD 4850 X2 is concerned, its future seems to be a little vague now that ATI has a GPU that can work at 850-1000MHz frequencies and maybe even higher than that. ATI’s graphics card partners gave this solution a chilly welcome not without reason. Only Sapphire decided to release the corresponding product. Looks like Radeon HD 4850 X2 and CrossFireX tandems with similar parameters may be pressed by Radeon HD 4890 OC in the corresponding price segments.
As the resolution increases, Radeon HD 4890 does even better. No wonder, actually, because the memory subsystem bandwidth starts to matter more for the performance in higher resolutions. And as we have already said, the memory subsystem bandwidth of the new ATI solution is way higher and equals 124.8GBps vs. 115.2GBps by Radeon HD 4870 1GB. The average advantage of the reference graphics card makes 12.5%, and in some games except Mass Effect and Race Driver: GRID doesn’t really exceed this level. Overclocking improves average performance by another 14%. As a result, this resolution becomes playable in such games as Prince of Persia and Mass Effect.
In the race again GeForce GTX 285 the regular Radeon HD 4890 wins in six tests out of fifteen, while the overclocked one wins in eleven and draws in one. The maximum lag in those tests it lost is only about 9%. This results into an average advantage of 13% in favor of new ATI solution.
The average performance gain over Radeon HD 4870 1GB in the highest resolution exceeds 13% and sometimes reaches 20%. Overclocking adds another 15% on average. The score is the same: 6:9 in Nvidia’s favor for the regular Radeon HD 4890 and 11:4 in favor of the overclocked ATI solution. This is a very good result for the card that wasn’t initially supposed to compete against the single-processor flagship product from the enemy camp.
So, the average performance increase demonstrated by the standard Radeon HD 4890 over Radeon HD 4870 1GB makes about 12% - not bad for only 100MHz higher GPU frequency and 75MHz higher memory frequency. In some cases it was even enough for the new solution to defeat an even more powerful rival – GeForce GTX 285. As for GeForce GTX 260 Core 216, it is no competitor to Radeon HD 4890 from several aspects, including the price. Therefore, very soon we are going to witness the battle between the Radeon HD 4890 and the new rival from the “green” camp – GeForce GTX 275. SO, stay tuned!
But what Radeon HD 4890 is really good at is overclocking. We have every reason to say so: even without any special tools and tricks we managed to raise the GPU frequency to 1GHz! This height has definitely been conquered easily, because as you remember, it used to be impossible to overclock a Radeon HD that far without any hardware modifications increasing the GPU voltage. Overclocked Radeon HD 4890 not only proved capable of competing successfully against GeForce GTX 285, but left the rival behind in majority of benchmarks. From this prospective, we think it made perfect sense for ATI to launch Radeon HD 4890 OC officially. Company partners will undoubtedly offer their own versions of this graphics adapter with the GPU speed beyond 900MHz. and if the price is reasonable enough it may have a serious effect on the marketing success of Nvidia solutions that managed to strengthen their positions quite well lately due to high-performance products based on 55nm G200 chips.