XFX ATI 4000 Series Round Up
Test Setup & System Analysis
To ensure that all reviews on Overclock3D are fair, consistent and unbiased, a standard set of hardware and software is used whenever possible during the comparative testing of two or more products. The configurations used in this review can be seen below:
CPU: Intel Nehalem i7 920 Skt1366 2.66GHz (@3.8 Ghz)
Motherboard: Gigabyte EX58-UD5
Memory: 3x2GB Corsair DDR3 1600mhz @ 8-8-8-24
HD : Hitachi Deskstar 7k160 7200rpm 80GB
GPU:XFX HD4850 XXX. XFX HD4870 XXX, XFX HD4890 XXX, XFX HD4870x2
Graphics Drivers: Supplied by Asus
PSU: Gigabyte ODIN 1200w
During the testing of the setups above, special care was taken to ensure that the BIOS settings used matched whenever possible. A fresh install of Windows Vista was also used before the benchmarking began, with a full defrag of the hard drive once all the drivers and software were installed, preventing any possible performance issues due to leftover drivers from the previous motherboard installations. For the 3DMark and gaming tests a single card configuration was used.
To guarantee a broad range of results, the following benchmark utilities were used:
3D / Rendering Benchmarks
• 3DMark 05
• 3DMark 06
• 3DMark Vantage
• Far Cry 2
• Race drive: GRID
• Call of Duty IV
• Unreal Tournament III
Power consumption was measured at the socket using a plug-in mains power and energy monitor. Because of this, the readings below are of the total system, not just the GPU. Idle readings were taken after 5 minutes in Windows. Load readings were taken during a run of Furmark.
As expected, the 4870x2 is by far the most power hungry of the bunch consuming almost 100 Watts more than the other cards on test. This however is hardly surprising considering there is twice the memory and 2 GPU's on board. The budget 4850 will neither dent the wallet on original purchase nor will it cost a fortune to run being the lowest consumer on test today.
Temperatures were taken at the factory clocked speed during idle in Windows and after 10 minutes of running Furmark with settings maxed out (2560x1600 8xMSAA). Ambient temperatures were taken with a household thermometer. As we use an open test bench setup consideration should be given to the fact that the temperatures would likely increase further in a closed case environment.
Being a dual GPU setup, the 4870x2 was easily the hottest card on test but surprisingly was not the loudest with the fan not spinning up too much that it became reminiscent of a vacuum cleaner. The 4850 was again the best performer on test being much cooler and therefore much quieter than it's stable mates.
I overclocked the cards using the Catalyst Control Panel which was maxed out with every ATI card I tried for this review.
Here are the results I gained:
XFX 4850 XXX
Although the card is pre-overclocked from 625/2000 to 650/2100, the XFX4850XXX still managed to overclock even further to a startling 700Mhz on the core and 2400MHz on the memory. As an added bonus there was very little added heat as a result of the overclocking.
Because the 4870XXX is already clocked to a blistering 775/1900 on the core and memory respectively, there were little gains allowed by the CCC. Still, the sliders easily maxed out and allowed a respectable overclock of 790/2200MHz increasing the cards performance further than it's pre-overclocked state.
The rumours of the 4890 being an excellent overclocking card were certainly correct. The card easily overclock to the Golden 1Ghz on the GPU core, the first card at OC3D to do so. The memory also ran to a mesmerizing 2400MHz making this the highest clocked card we have tested thus far at OC3D.
Again, the 4870X2 managed to easily max out the CCC's overdrive option allowing the card to reach it's full potential, or at least the maximum CCC would allow. A measly 50MHz was attained on the core and 100(200)MHz on the memory. For some bizarre reason GPU-Z would not pick up the extra overclocks but it was confirmed working by both GPU-Z and the mild increase in it's frames per second during the runs of COD 4.
The affects the overclocks I attained from the above cards can be seen in the Call of Duty IV benchmarks I ran below:
With all of the cards overclocking extremely well you have to wonder why ATI do not increase the relative thresholds of the Catalyst Control Centre. I am confident all of the cards would overclock further but save using Rivatuner or another external application, this is not possible with the current CAT 9.3 drivers with the included CCC and overdrive option. Still, this is a 'n00b' friendly option and will certainly cut down on the amount of RMA's though overheating, burnt out cards because of over zealous overclocking.
After returning the cards back to their stock state I then proceeded to run our standard set of graphics tests to evaluate the performance against on another. I also compared the cards on a 'Cost Per Frame' basis to better help prospective buyers to see how much they are getting for their money (calculated with UK Sterling - prices correct at the time of writing).
Let's see how the cards got on...
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