We've now seen a steady trickle of partner-designed Radeon HD 4890 graphics cards be unveiled since the launch of the GPU four weeks ago. Radeon HD 4890s ships at either 850MHz core and 3,900MHz memory (XT), or 900MHz core and 3,900MHz (OC) and are available for around £200 for the cheaper model and just a touch more for the OC.
Sapphire is readying its own HD 4890 that it hopes will steal the thunder from rivals. Encased in a Vapor-X heatsink and pre-overclocked, we've managed to snag a pre-production sample of the highest-clocked HD 4890 we've seen thus far. Read on to find out our initial thoughts.
Vapor-X technology is Sapphire's in-house-designed cooling concept that's been demonstrated to perform better than the reference heatsink.
Sapphire has three iterations of custom card-cooling, encompassing the Vapor-X (non-overclocked), Toxic (pre-overclocked), and Atomic (crème de la crème, pre-overclocked). The Atomic usually ships with the swanky cooler and bundle - aluminium case, anyone? - and increases clock-speeds on all parameters.
Cranked up to 1,000MHz core and an effective 4,200MHz memory, the core, in particular, is impressive. Compare this with the ~965MHz we usually achieve when overclocking regular HD 4890 boards.
The chunky heatpipe-based cooler is also quieter than the reference heatsink.
Hmm. What's this? Sapphire's cajoled the Radeon HD 4890 core to 1GHz but has used extra voltage to do so, it seems. We reckon this is the case because the PCB features both an eight-pin and six-pin PCIe power connector. The reference card uses dual six-pin connectors. Plug two six-pin connectors in and the system fails to POST.
But there's nothing untoward about the rear; it's the same as any other HD 4890's. Scoring 12,535 marks in 3DMark06 at 1,920x1,200 4xAA 16xAF there's no doubt it's going to be quick.
Sapphire is planning on officially launching the Radeon HD 4890 Atomic 1,024MB card next week. Taking into account the price of HD 4890 OC cards and a smattering of pre-overclocked GeForce GTX 275s, the Atomic will need to etail at below £250 for it to make implicit sense. That may mean a basic bundle and lean software set. Let's see what Sapphire and its etail partners can do.