Our Score


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As mentioned, our review sample is made by XFX but apart from the XFX sticker it is exactly the same as any other HD 4890 so can be considered a reference model. Unfortunately we didn't receive a fully boxed retail sample so we can't vouch for the accessories/extras you get. However, we've been informed that retails versions of the card will include a full copy of the Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X arcade flight sim game. Also included in the box will be a CrossFire bridge, a 6-pin to 4-pin power adapter, DVI to VGA and a DVI to HDMI dongles, an HDTV component adapter, and the all important XFX door hanger. All XFX cards are covered by a two year warranty.

Now, I'm sure most of you are aware that today was also the launch date (though very limited stock is available) for nVidia's new card at this price range, the GeForce GTX 275. Unfortunately, we only received our card this morning so rather than shoehorn the two cards in together for a head to head, we've stuck to our schedule and will compare the HD 4890 to existing cards. Then tomorrow we'll follow up with a full review of the GTX 275 and compare these two very evenly matched cards directly.

As for those existing cards, well there's such a price gap, both above and below, the HD 4870 and GTX 260 that these are really the only major competition for the new HD 4890 so that's what we've kept our comparisons to.

Test System

* Intel Core i7 965 Extreme Edition

* Asus P6T motherboard

* 3 x 1GB Qimonda IMSH1GU03A1F1C-10F PC3-8500 DDR3 RAM

* 150GB Western Digital Raptor

* Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit

Cards Tested

* ATI HD 4890

* ATI HD 4870

* nVidia GeForce GTX 260


* ATI HD 4890 - Beta Driver

* Other ATI cards - Catalyst 9.2

* nVidia cards - 182.08

Games Tested

* Crysis

* Race Driver: GRID

* Call of Duty 4

* Counter-Strike: Source

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April 2, 2009, 9:57 pm

Nice review Ed. Any news on when you'll have a GTX 275 review, most places only seem to have reviews of the 4890 up and not the GTX 275, even though they're both on sale and in stock at the moment.

As for the benchmarks, did you test the 192 or 216 SP version of the GTX 260, and the 512MB or 1GB version of the 4870? Also, there's a bit of a mistake in the table - you list the number of stream processors for the GTX 260 as 182, unless that's a version I don't know about? ;)


April 3, 2009, 12:25 am

@smc8788 - Thats because Nvidia was originally supposed to launch the GTX 275 around the 13th, they have brought it forward to take some of the attention off ATI. Nobody seems to have had any time to review them because the decision was taken at the last second, it isn't expected there will be significant stock of them available for a couple of weeks.

I think the high end 40nm cards are worth waiting for personally, nothing revolutionary enough here to tempt me from my HD3870 :)


April 3, 2009, 1:16 am

Precisely right there Xenos - it's been a hectic week!

You do realise even the HD 4870 is significantly faster than the HD 3870?

@smc8788: we don't actually have a GTX 260 216 and it was too late to get one in by the time I realised - we did have one for a while but it went back before being reviewed. As such I'm comparing to the older one.

I'm working on the GTX 275 now (currently 20:15) and the review will be up tomorrow sometime. I'll also do some overclocking of both cards and generally come to an absolute conclusion (at least based on the games I'm able to test) and update this review as well.


April 3, 2009, 3:07 am

will these scores change depending on the review of the gtx 275? also how does it compare to the gtx 280?

Sean Groarke

April 3, 2009, 12:37 pm

On the one hand I sympathise with the difficulty of getting all the elements of a comparative review lined up, but plenty of other review sites had 4890 versus GTX 275 ready on Day One.

But, as pointed out already, you've ended up comparing ATI's brand-new 4890 against the *old* model of the GTX260. Comparing it against the newer GTX260-216 would have been bad enough, but this is just totally meaningless. You conclude that a GBP 230 card performs a lot better than an old GBP 150 card. Amazing!

You really should have sat on this and done a proper comparison against the GTX 275. Or if you simply HAD to get something out, you should have done a non-comparison overview of the ATI and then followed up with the comparative review.

Last gripe (sorry): you say you'll do some overclocking tests when you've got the GTX 275. Meaningless. Fun, but meaningless. You surely know as well as I do that overclockability is a crap-shoot where one card of model X overclocks this much, but another identical model X overclocks to a totally different degree. The only overclocking it's worth reporting in a review is if it is guaranteed and under-written by the manufacturer (as does happen with some cards) Unless you can overclock say 20 randomly sourced versions of a card, the results from just one are not worth anything.


April 4, 2009, 11:16 am

"...nothing revolutionary enough here to tempt me from my HD3870 :)"

"You do realise even the HD 4870 is significantly faster than the HD 3870?"

...not only faster...series 3 should be avoided.


April 18, 2009, 1:21 am

So, whats better; HD 4870 or HD 4890?

Lucian Proctor

August 28, 2009, 6:38 pm

Actually, you can reduce the memory clock manually at idle with CCC. It reduces the idle power by about 30 watts.

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