Keeping Things Cool
While ATI claims that the 4890 is able to operate at 1GHz using only the stock cooler, Sapphire has chosen to use one of its excellent Vapor-X coolers to help tame the card’s thermals. This is a wise decision after we found that the stock cooler was irritatingly noisy under full load, a characteristic not shared by the competing GeForce GTX 275.
We’ve previously seen Sapphire use similar coolers on its versions of the Radeon HD 4870 1GB
and Radeon HD 4870 2GB
and they’ve always proven both extraordinarily quiet and very capable when it comes to cooling.
The cooler in this case is a slight variant of that used on the Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 1GB Toxic
, comprised of a triple heatpipe equipped base that fits directly over the GPU with the three nickel plated copper heatpipes then running though a stack of cooling fins the length of the card to ensure even heat distribution. A 90mm cooling fan is mounted in the centre of the card, blowing air both directly down and onto the GPU and PCB and out and over the cooling fins, with a plastic shroud used to focus airflow towards the front and back of the card.
The cooler also makes use of a thick aluminium base plate that covers the card’s memory with a separate small black aluminium heatsink fitted to the PWMs to cool the power circuitry. All in all, it’s a very capable looking piece of kit, although we must bemoan the over-the-top branding stickers; how many branding logos does one graphics card need?
Click to enlarge
Other than the aforementioned extra +2-pin PCI-E connector and colour change, the card’s PCB is identical to those of the Powercolor and Asus cards we looked at back when the Radeon HD 4890 launched. While this might seem a little odd, especially as when we tried to overclock the Radeon HD 4890 to that mythical 1GHz milestone we fell short at 965MHz, it’s important to remember that such a heavily overclocked GPU will have been extensively
pre-binned by Sapphire – the RV790 GPUs used in these cards represent the absolute cream of the 4980 crop.
Looking away from the card and into the fancy silver flight case Sapphire ships the card in reveals an extensive bundle. CyberLink PowerDVD and DVD Suite along with 3DMark Vantage offer a nice little software bonus and a chance to break the card in, with a DVI to HDMI adapter and a three meter long HDMI cable helping to make gaming on your 42in plasma TV that much easier. There's also a CrossFire bridge, driver disc, ATI's Rubyrom of game demos, quick start manual and all the requisite power connectors.
Click to enlarge - despite the monster overclock, the PCB remains the same
The Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 1GB Atomic comes complete with a two-year warranty that includes cover for parts and labour. During the first year of the product’s life, your point of contact should be the retailer. However, if you’re having problems getting hold of the retailer (or the retailer goes out of business), you should contact Sapphire’s support team directly. During the second year of the warranty period, you should talk directly with Sapphire. This is pretty much in line with what other ATI board partners offer, and while the two year warranty is more than you’re legally entitled too, it isn’t as comprehensive or as long lasting as what’s available from some of Nvidia’s board partners.