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Graphics cards Reviews
15,670 Reviews

Sapphire Atomic HD 4890 review

£235 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Sapphire

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

With this Atomic version, Sapphire reveals a desire to squeeze out every last megahertz of performance from the core ATI HD 4890 design. The Sapphire Atomic HD 4890 graphics card is going to be available only in limited numbers, and overclocks the 4890 to its (safest) extremes.

With this Atomic version, Sapphire reveals a desire to squeeze out every last megahertz of performance from the core ATI Radeon HD 4890 design. The Sapphire Atomic HD 4890 graphics card is going to be available only in limited numbers, and overclocks the 4890 to its (safest) extremes.

The Sapphire Atomic HD 4890's core clock speed has rocketed from 850MHz to 1000MHz, while the memory clock has gone from 975MHz to 1050MHz. Given the ability of the 1GB of GDDR5 memory to generate an effective speed four times that of the memory clock, that results in a massive 4200MHz.

These figures comfortably outpace all of the competition - only Powercolor has a product that gets close, and that is hobbled in comparison by a slower core clock.

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But the Sapphire Atomic HD 4890 isn't simply about raw speed - this version of the 4890 also comes with Sapphire's new Vapor-X technology. A Vapor Chamber has a vaporised liquid coolant (or water, as we one might refer to it) said to bounce backwards and forwards between hot and cold surfaces.

All we can certainly say is that we can see (and feel) that it keeps temperatures down. And it has a similar effect on the sound levels too. For such a powerful card (indeed, even for many a less-powerful too), the Sapphire Atomic HD 4890 is incredibly quiet.

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Not that everything is an improvement on the original 4890 - one of the Sapphire Atomic HD 4890's two 6-pin power connectors has been replaced by an 8-pin. This combination is less well supported by PSUs, so check that you're suitably equipped before you buy. Otherwise, the Sapphire Atomic HD 4890 has many of the same specs as the original - the 256-bit memory bus, 800 stream processors, and DirectX 10.1 support. Note that Radeon chips lack the CUDA and PhysX support of the nVidia alternatives.

Given the heavy-duty hardware, you'd expect the Sapphire Atomic HD 4890 to produce improved scores over the original. And indeed it does, notching up an extra 4-6fps at resolutions of 1280x768 and 1680x1050 over a range of titles (Far Cry 2, Left 4 Dead and Crysis Warhead). The gap lessens slightly at even higher resolutions, but the Atomic is nonetheless several frames faster than a stock 4890.

NEXT PAGE: our expert verdict >>

Sapphire Atomic HD 4890 Expert Verdict »

ATI Radeon HD 4890
1GB GDDR5
1,000MHz Core Clock
1,050MHz Memory Clock (4,200MHz DDR effective)
400MHz Ramdac
256bit memory interface
800 Stream Processors
PCI-E Interface
Power Connectors 1 x 6-pin and 1 x 8-pin
TV out
DirectX 10.1
DVI
2-year warranty
  • Build Quality: We give this item 9 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 7 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

Unfortunately the standard 4890 represents such searingly good value for money, it makes the expensive Sapphire Atomic HD 4890 version harder to justify at present. But for the hardened enthusiast or someone looking for cool and quiet operation, this is a very appealing alternative.

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