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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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Final thoughts: Radeon HD 4890 XT and OC 1,024MB

ATI Radeon HD 4890 XT and OC 1,024MB

ATI hasn't had the luxury of derivating down from another single-GPU card when bringing about the Radeon HD 4890. Rather, it's had to go back to the drawing board and rework the Radeon HD 4870's core in order to hit higher frequencies. Still on the 55nm process as the incumbent, Radeon HD 4890 can be thought of, mostly correctly, as an ATI-overclocked Radeon HD 4870. The standard part, dubbed XT, ships at 850MHz core and 3,900MHz, up from the HD 4870's 750MHz/3,600MHz, whilst the even-faster OC model increases core-speed farther to 900MHz.

Cranking up the clocks enables ATI to release its fastest-ever single-GPU graphics cards. Costing around £200 and £225 for the XT and OC, respectively, pricing is bound by what NVIDIA is charging, but we suppose you could think of it in the opposite way, that is, NVIDIA can only charge £200 for its GeForce GTX 275 because of the Radeons. The reason we say this is because all three cards benchmark at roughly the same levels - GeForce GTX 275 has the lead in three out of the five games, comfortably so in some, but gives up a chunk of performance in Race Driver: GRID, probably down to a driver issue.

What does this mean for you, the gamer?

Significant price pressure that already exists in the mid-range graphics-card space will only become more intense with the release of the GeForce GTX 275 and Radeon HD 4890 XT and OC cards. Their introduction renders pre-overclocked GeForce GTX 260s and HD 4870s somewhat pointless. The good news is that you should expect pricing on existing parts to drop farther, bringing, hopefully, Radeon HD 4870 and GeForce GTX 260 - two good graphics cards - down to £135?

If you care, the pragmatism of it is that ATI was always going to be first off the bat with the new cards, because it has had stock in the channel for a while. NVIDIA's somewhat sabotaged it with the GeForce GTX 275 'Gatecrashing Edition'. We're adamant that stock will roll in the next few weeks, but consider this to be a 'hard launch' by ATI rather than something softer by NVIDIA.

The verdict

Back on track, which would we choose if given £200-£225 right now? We'd give the nod, just, to the GeForce GTX 275, because it matches the Radeon HD 4890s on price and performance, is a little quieter, draws a touch less power when idling, and is backed up by more-robust GPGPU environment. That said, and this is not contradictory or a cop-out, the Radeon HD 4890s are both solid, solid cards, offering better multimedia support. The Radeon HD 4890 XT would take second place, with the £225+ HD 4890 OC bringing up the rear. The picture will become clearer as we look at a greater number of partner models in the coming weeks.

Agree? Disagree? Love to hear your thoughts in the forums.