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Review: Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 XT and XFX Radeon HD 4890 OC XXX vs NVIDIA GeForce GTX 275

by Tarinder Sandhu on 2 April 2009, 05:00 3.7

Tags: Radeon HD 4890 XT 1GB (Sapphire) 9.4, AMD (NYSE:AMD), Sapphire, ATi Technologies (NYSE:AMD), NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA), XFX (HKG:1079), PC

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qaroh

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Radeon HD 4890 XT and OC - history

ATI Radeon HD 4890 XT and OC 1,024MB

The old dog

ATI launched its Radeon 4000-series in June 2008, improving upon the R3K architecture in almost every area. Debuting with Radeon HD 4850 and HD 4870, priced at £125 and £175, respectively, at launch, ATI's efficient GPU design brought plenty of pain to NVIDIA's mid-to-high-end line-up. Based on a smaller manufacturing process and lower transistor count - at 960m compared to GTX 2xx's 1,400m - the new cards proved popular, balancing performance with cost. Radeon HD 4870 brought with it the first consumer adoption of high-speed GDDR5 memory, enabling decent bandwidth from the 256-bit-wide design.

Tempus fugit

Since June 2008 and April 2009, ATI's bolstered the R4K line-up with, first, the twin-GPU Radeon HD 4870 X2 2GB and, later, with the cheaper derivative, Radeon HD 4830. Partners, too, have been given free rein to design their own cooling solutions and launch pre-overclocked cards - a fact clearly manifested with the custom Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2.

Move on into 2009 and there's been little innovation at the top-end, really. ATI's on a self-announced 18-month-long design cycle in-between completely new architectures, so we expect to see DX11-compliant parts shipping in Q4 this year. Given the length of time before something new, a spate of price-cutting maneuvers, instigated more out of necessity than choice, has meant that Radeon HD 4870 512MB's dropped to around £150, whilst the 1,024MB-equipped model now costs around £165+. Pre-overclocked cards then ply the pricing ladder up to ~£225, handing over to the £330 HD 4870 X2.