Hd 4890 overclock: Radeon HD 4890 To The Max

Radeon HD 4890 To The Max

by Derek Wilsonon April 29, 2009 12:01 AM EST

  • Posted in
  • GPUs



IndexCranking GDDR5 All the Way UpExploring Core OverclockingAge of Conan Core ScalingCall of Duty World At War Core ScalingCrysis Warhead Core ScalingFallout 3 Core ScalingFarCry 2 Core ScalingLeft 4 Dead Core ScalingRace Driver GRID Core ScalingCombined Memory and Core Overclocking: The Sweet SpotAge of Conan PerformanceCall of Duty World at War PerformanceCrysis Warhead PerformanceFallout 3 PerformanceFarCry 2 PerformanceLeft 4 Dead PerformanceRace Driver GRID PerformancePower ConsumptionFinal Words

When we first heard about the overclocking potential of the 4890 from AMD, we were a bit skeptical. At the same time, the numbers we were hearing were impressive and AMD doesn’t have a history of talking up that sort of thing to us. There have already been some investigations around the web that do point to the 4890 as having some healthy overclocking potential, so we decided to try our hand at it and see what we could come up with.

We are testing review samples, which means that our parts may have more overclockability than off the shelf cards, but we can’t attest to that at this point. What we do want to explore are the overclocking characteristics of the 4890 and how different adjustments may or may not affect performance. From what we are seeing around the web, many people are getting fairly close to the speeds we tested. Every part is different, but while clock speeds may vary, the general performance you can expect at any given point will not.

So what’s so special about this AMD part that we are singling it out for overclocking anaysis? Well, the GPU has been massaged to allow for more headroom, some of which hasn’t been exploited at stock clock speeds. This is the first time in a long time (or is it ever?) we are seeing multiple manufacturers bring out overclocked parts based on an AMD GPU at launch. With this as the flagship AMD GPU, we also want to see what kind of potential it has to compete with NVIDIA’s top of the line GPU.

But it’s more than just the chip. We also are also interested in how well the resources on the board are balanced. Core voltages and clock speeds must be selected along with framebuffer size and memory clock. These considerations must account for a target power, heat, noise and price. For high end parts, we see the emphasis on performance over other factors, but there will still be hard limits to work within.

Because of all this, balancing hardware specifications is very important. Memory bandwidth needs to be paired well with core speed in order to maximize performance. It doesn’t do us as much good to have an infinitely fast core if we have slow memory that limits performance. We also aren’t well served by really ridiculously fast memory if the core can’t consume data quick enough. Using resources appropriately is key. And AMD did a good job balancing resources with the 4890.

Rather than just test the semi-official overclock (which is just a 50MHz core clock boost to 900MHz), we decided to test multiple core and memory overclocks (and one core + memory overclock) to better understand the performance characteristics of this beast. As expected, overclocking both core and memory saw the best results followed by only overclocking the core. Just boosting memory speed on its own didn’t seem to have a significant impact on performance despite the large overclock that was possible.

So why not sell every chip at the «overclocked» speed? Well, it’s all about yield. Our guess is that while the change that AMD made were certainly good enough to boost clock speed over the 4870 by a healthy margin that there were a good number of parts that couldn’t be pushed up to 900MHz and AMD really didn’t want to sell them as cheaper hardware. We haven’t heard that endorsing the idea overclocked parts is really a policy change for AMD, so it might just be that previous layout, routing, and design choices provided for a narrower range of overclockability around the target clock frequency.

What ever the reason for it, we now have overclockable hardware from AMD. Our analysis starts with an in depth look at percent increase in performance, but if all you care about is raw performance data, we’ve got plenty of that in the second half. And with it comes a surprise in our conclusion we never expected.

Cranking GDDR5 All the Way Up
IndexCranking GDDR5 All the Way UpExploring Core OverclockingAge of Conan Core ScalingCall of Duty World At War Core ScalingCrysis Warhead Core ScalingFallout 3 Core ScalingFarCry 2 Core ScalingLeft 4 Dead Core ScalingRace Driver GRID Core ScalingCombined Memory and Core Overclocking: The Sweet SpotAge of Conan PerformanceCall of Duty World at War PerformanceCrysis Warhead PerformanceFallout 3 PerformanceFarCry 2 PerformanceLeft 4 Dead PerformanceRace Driver GRID PerformancePower ConsumptionFinal Words


MSI R4890 Cyclone SOC: Super Overclocking — Radeon HD 5770, Radeon HD 4890, And GeForce GTX 275 Overclocked

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Click the image below to launch the image gallery of the MSI R4890 SOC.

Performance-wise, the Radeon HD 4890 is roughly comparable to the GeForce GTX 275. Again, MSI’s take on this card is geared completely towards overclocking, sporting 8mm heatpipes, a brawny 95mm fan, as well as «military-grade components» that can withstand higher temperatures and promise a longer life expectancy. MSI clocks both the GPU and the memory of its OC edition at 1,000 MHz rather than at 850 (GPU) and 975 MHz (memory). Thus, the graphics chip is running 17.6 percent over reference speed, while the memory speed only sees an increase of 2.6 percent. This is one of the reasons why the Radeon HD 5770’s overclocking results were so surprisingly good—its GDDR5 memory achieved more than 1,400 MHz

Again, the clock rates are hard-coded into the card’s BIOS and are set independently of any driver. The fan speed profile won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, though. When the card gets warm, the fan spins up and cools the GPU, then the fan spins down in an audible manner. Repeat infinitely. This would seem like normal behavior, but the fact that it’s so noticeable can be taxing.

The MSI R4890 SOC is a veritable power hog, too, causing the system to draw no less than 196 watts in (factory-overclocked) 2D mode. Under load, our test platform maxes out at 380 watts. Increasing the speed of the GDDR5 memory has a direct impact on power consumption, since the video BIOS only scales back the GPU’s clock speed in 2D mode, but always leaves the memory running at full speed. Thankfully, the Radeon HD 5770 does not exhibit the same wasteful weakness. On the other hand, the R4890 SOC’s GPU always downclocks to 240 MHz at idle, regardless of the overclock settings selected for 3D mode.

All frequencies can be changed quite comfortably from within the Overdrive section of the graphics driver. Any changes need to be tested before the driver applies them. Still, this integrated test mode is only marginally helpful. If you overdo it with the GPU clock speed, the screen will go dark, even during the test, which can only be remedied by rebooting the system. The tool was quite reliable when it came to detecting overly-optimistic memory speeds, though. Once you’ve found clock speeds that work for you, you may still need to reduce them by 10 to 15 MHz, as some games are a little more demanding under load than ATI’s testing tool.

Once of the advantages of ATI cards in general (and the MSI HD R4890 SOC specifically) is that the graphics driver is able to reset itself without requiring the entire system to be rebooted if it encounters a GPU clock speed problem. On the downside, ATI graphics cards will freeze the system if the memory speed is set too high, while an overly aggressive GPU clock speed can also cause graphical glitches and rendering errors. Since the symptoms usually manifest the other way around, this is confusing, leading you to lower the wrong clock speed until you correctly troubleshoot the actual problem. In the end, we had to fix our clock rates manually three times after the initial driver-based test. The final result was that we were able to overclock the GPU by 21. 2 percent and raised the memory frequency by 9.2 percent. Thus, the Radeon HD 4890 possesses quite a bit more overclocking potential than the GeForce GTX 275.

Swipe to scroll horizontally

Clock Speeds in MHz GPU Percent Memory Percent
MSI R4890 Cyclone SOC max OC 1,030 121.2 1,065 109.2
MSI R4890 Cyclone SOC 1,000 117.6 1,000 102.6
MSI R4890 Cyclone SOC no OC 850 100.0 975 100. 0

The overclock also yields better results on MSI’s overclocked ATI card. Whereas the OC edition of the GTX 275 gained 5.5 percent performance compared to a reference card using Nvidia’s specified clock speeds, the factory overclocked Radeon HD 4890 started off with a performance advantage of 10.9 percent over its reference-clocked relative, widening that gap to 14.9 percent through manual overclocking. Even at maximum speed, MSI’s GTX 275 only managed to beat the reference card by 9.6 percent.

Swipe to scroll horizontally

Graphics Card and Chip Class FPS Percent
MSI R4890 Cyclone SOC max OC (HD 4890 1,024MB) 1,750.6 114.9
MSI R4890 Cyclone SOC (HD 4890 1,024MB) 1,689.6 110. 9
MSI R4890 Cyclone SOC no OC (HD 4890 1,024MB) 1,543.4 101.3
Radeon HD 4890 (1,024MB) 1,523.6 100.0

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MSI R4890 Cyclone SOC: Super Overclocking

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Overclocking ATI Radeon HD 4890 up to 1 GHz — very easy! | Blogs

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In the process of testing the ATI Radeon HD 4890 for the material published in Computer Review #15, I came to the conclusion that in order to achieve the GPU frequency potential of 1 GHz and higher promised by AMD, it is necessary to increase the voltage. Unfortunately, it was not possible to check this more thoroughly, since the video card from ASUS was in the Test Lab for a short time. However, AMD provided us with another copy of the Radeon HD 4890 manufactured by MSI. As it turned out, overclocking this video card is more than rewarding, moreover, the core responds very well to voltmod.

DISCLAIMER : All of the following are non-manufacturer operating modes and automatically void the warranty. If you decide to repeat these manipulations, the author does not bear any responsibility for damage to components.

Without boost, regular versions of the Radeon HD 4890 (non-OC) most often overclock to 930-940 MHz, we got a similar indicator both on the ASUS product and on the analog from MSI. At the same time, many manufacturers have already presented overclocked versions of these video cards, in which the GPU operates at a frequency of 900-950 MHz. Obviously, the point here is not only the usual selection of successful chips for such products, but also an overestimated vGPU.

A close look at the PCB opens the way to the gigahertz mark: the core voltage is controlled by the Volterra VT1165 programmable controller. To manage it in the Rivatuner environment, there is a plugin. It must be unpacked to the Plugins\Monitoring folder in the directory where Rivatuner is installed. Then you need to run file VT1165.reg , it activates this module. You will also need to update or install the Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable Package x86. Then we restart Rivatuner and the system is ready for software voltmod.

At the very bottom of the graphics card monitoring tab, 4 new parameters will appear: VRM Output Voltage (vGPU output voltage), VRM Output Current (current consumed through the VRM), and OVP and OCP Status (indicators of whether manual control of the controller is active). We are interested in the first one.

VRM controller monitoring

First, you need to run some 3D application so that the video card switches to 3D mode. I use Furmark, which I also test for stability at the same time. I advise you to turn it on in 1024×768, MSAA 8x, Xtreme Burning Mode, uncheck Fullscreen so that you can change the parameters in Rivatuner. Then, in 10 MHz steps, we find the maximum stable GPU frequency without a volt mod. After that, right-click on the VRM Output Voltage graph, select settings.

In the window that opens, click the «More» button. A window for setting the voltage will appear, in which you can decrease or increase it in steps of 0.125 V.

Increase the voltage by one step and repeat the procedure to find a stable frequency. At voltages up to 1.35V, the rotational speed of the reference cooler can be left untouched, but then, most likely, it will have to be forced. The most stable and performance I got with the MSI Radeon HD 4980 was 1030MHz GPU and 1170MHz memory, at 1.425V and 100% fan speed. Naturally, this is purely a test mode of operation — the noise of the cooler is too strong. In addition, it is unlikely that without more powerful cooling at such a voltage, the core will be able to work at such a frequency for a long time, the crystal will begin to degrade.

Through such simple manipulations, we get the opportunity to reach frequencies above 1 GHz on the GPU, which was previously only achievable using dry ice, freon or nitrogen, and most often required some skills in working with a soldering iron. However, once again I remind you that increasing the voltage may well damage such a complex chip as the RV790, because. it is rather difficult to predict how a billion transistors will behave in an abnormal mode.

«A-bank» promptly passed the wrong solution for the contact center of Genesys

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ASUS EAh5870 Matrix. In pursuit of the Radeon HD4890 / Video cards

You can go to the goal in different ways, however, as you know, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. As a rule, owners of 3D accelerators strive to increase the performance of their video system. To do this, everyone goes their own way — someone buys a more advanced model, someone simply lowers the bar for image quality requirements, and some take on overclocking. Of course, the quality of overclocking directly depends on the invested time and labor costs. Well, what if there is neither time nor enough knowledge to manually fine-tune the device? It seems that ASUS can offer an answer to this question with its series of video cards Matrix. Today, using the EAh5870 Matrix as an example, we will check whether this solution will save time and effort while maintaining a high-quality overclocking result.

So, first you need to decide on the exact goal — the maximum overclocking, which would result in performance indicators comparable to those of older devices in the line. In our case, this is the Radeon HD4890, a review of which is already presented on our website. However, the HD 4890 core is significantly optimized to operate at higher frequencies than the HD 4870. Therefore, we may need to increase the voltage on the core and possibly on the video memory in order to reach the same frequency bar as the HD 4890. In the usual case, we need it would be necessary to make a voltmod, which is fraught with a number of difficulties, and the relevant knowledge would be required. However, ASUS engineers actually solved this problem for us. Video cards of the Matrix series are equipped with a special microcircuit, which is called the Hybrid Engine, the task of this microcircuit is to control the voltage of the graphics core and video memory. On the part of the user, control over all parameters of the Matrix video card is carried out using a simple and understandable ASUS iTracker utility.

Using this program, you can raise the voltage, adjust the fan speed, monitor operating temperatures, and control the clock speed of the core and video memory.

Before storming the cherished frequencies 850/3900 (these are the frequencies recommended by AMD for the HD 4890), let’s get acquainted with the packaging and appearance of our hero ASUS EAh5870 Matrix.

On the front of the box, a video card is depicted, which is a single whole with a sword blade, with all its appearance showing the harsh fighting nature of the contents. Useful information, except for the name of the model, is not here.

The spread contains detailed descriptions of the cooling system, the Hybrid Engine chip, and the iTracker software package.

The reverse side of the package contains information about ASUS proprietary technologies, system requirements, and a table listing the operating modes of the video card.

The video card comes with:

  • Driver and manual discs
  • Quick Install Brochure
  • Manual describing iTracker
  • Molex to PCI-Ex Power Adapter
  • DVI to VGA and DVI to HDMI adapters
  • S-VIDEO to RGB adapter

The appearance of the ASUS EAh5870 Matrix is ​​noticeably different from the previously tested HD 4850 Matrix, the cooling system received an additional fan located directly above the graphics core.

Four copper heatpipes transfer heat from the core to a heatsink blown by two fans. With the installed cooling system, the board does not bend, which is definitely pleasing.

To provide power on the EAh5870 Matrix video card, two connectors are soldered.

GDDR-5 video memory manufactured by Qimonda is marked IDGV51-05A1F1C-40X, its nominal frequency is 1 GHz (effective frequency is 4000 MHz).

We pass from theory to practice. First, let’s study the table with the possible modes of operation of the ASUS EAh5780 Matrix video card, saved as profiles in the ASUS iTracker program.

Specifications Optimized mode Gaming mode Default mode Power Saving Mode
GPU frequency in 2D, MHz 600 770 770 600
GPU voltage in 2D, V 1. 273 1.316 1.316 1.273
Memory frequency in 2D, MHz 3800 3800 3680 2000
Memory voltage in 2D, V 1.55 1.55 1.52 1.45
GPU frequency in 3D, MHz 800 800 770 770
GPU voltage in 3D, V 1.36 1.36 1.316 1.316
Memory frequency in 3D, MHz 3800 3800 3680 2000
3D memory voltage, V 1.55 1.55 1.52 1.45

The proposed profiles are very good. In fact, ASUS guarantees the operation of the EAh5870 Matrix video card at a core frequency of 800 MHz and a video memory of 3800 MHz. Even in the Default mode, the clock speeds of the card are higher than those recommended by AMD, instead of 750/3600 — 770/3680! However, as already mentioned, we are not entirely satisfied with this result. We spent some time searching for the optimal ratio of frequencies and voltages, the result of such a search was the frequency formula 900/1006 (4025) with which we managed to pass the test in all the games listed in the following table (PhysX technology is disabled for NVIDIA video cards):

3DMark Vantage Performance, High, Extreme.
CRYSIS version 1.2.1 DX10 / VeryHigh /1280×1024,1600×1200,1920×1200 / 4xAA,16xAF
FarCry 2 Benchmark DX10 / VeryHigh /1280×1024,1600×1200,1920×1200 / 4xAA,16xAF
HAWX built-in Benchmark DX10 / All High /1280×1024,1600×1200,1920×1200 / noAA, noAF or 4xAA,16xAF
Call of Juarez DirectX10 Benchmark DX10 / Max Detail /1280×1024,1600×1200,1920×1200 / 4xAA,16xAF
World in Conflict DX10 / all graphics options manually set to maximum quality /1280×1024,1600×1200,1920×1200 / 4xAA,16xAF
Unique Tropics DirectX10 Benchmark DX10 / High Detail /1280×1024,1600×1200,1920×1200 4xAA,16xAF

Test bench configuration:



CPU Intel Core i7 920 @ 4. 0GHz (200×20)
Cooling system ProModz Cooled Silence Extreme Package
Motherboard ASUS P6T Deluxe Palm OS Edition
RAM DDR3 OCZ Platinum 3x2GB @ 1600MHz @ 7-7-7-24
Power supply IKONIK Vulcan 1200W
Hard disk Western Digital Raptor 36GB + Seagate 160Gb
Operating system Windows Vista Home Basic x64 SP1
Driver version for AMD Catalyst 9.4
Driver version for NVIDIA 182.5

Temperature readings

A special feature of the EAh5870 Matrix is ​​the presence of two fans on the cooling system, which operate quietly during periods of inactivity or light load. Let’s get acquainted with the temperatures of the graphics core in different modes of operation of the video card.

In fact, temperature measurement in the absence of any load makes sense only in two really different modes — Gaming and Power Saving. In the first case, the core operates at a frequency of 770 MHz at a voltage of 1.316 V, in the second — at a frequency of 600 MHz and a voltage of 1.273 V.

FarCry2 tries to warm up the video card, but even the Gaming mode cannot make the core reach a temperature of 60 degrees Celsius, and only the maximum overclock raises the bar to 63 degrees.

«Shaggy donut» warms EAh5870 Matrix to its fullest! It is unlikely that a typical application can create such a load, but even extreme warming up is generally not dangerous for the video card — 74 degrees on the RV770 is not such a big figure, and this is considering the maximum overclocking.

Now it’s time to move on to performance measurements. First, let’s look at the balance of power in synthetic benchmarks.

The first test shows the advantage of the overclocked ASUS EAh5870 Matrix video card over the older HD 4890 working at nominal. Let’s see how the harder modes will affect the performance of our participants.

High mode did not change the balance of power in the AMD camp. As before, the overclocked ASUS EAh5870 Matrix board is ahead of its colleagues and rival in the face of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260B, but the absolute leader in this mode is the GeForce GTX 280.

In the hardest mode, nothing has changed. The EAH 4870 Matrix is ​​still the leader among AMD video cards, which, although by 100 points, outperforms the HD 4890.

A trip to a distant tropical island shows a serious advantage of the overclocked EAh5870 Matrix over the HD 4890, and even more so over the HD 4870 operating at nominal frequencies. The EAh5870 Matrix accelerator, operating in the Gaming mode, is quite close in terms of its performance to the Radeon HD 4890.

With the increase in resolution, nothing has changed in the AMD camp. The Radeon HD 4890 falls behind the overclocked EAh5870 Matrix at all resolutions. Please note that synthetic benchmarks do not show dependence on the amount of video memory installed on the test cards, and in their readings they are guided only by the core and memory clock frequencies, and the HD 4890 has twice as much video memory as the ASUS EAh5870 Matrix. Let’s see how real gaming applications will place our participants on the podium.

The first gaming test brings a surprise. Even serious overclocking did not allow EAh5870 Matrix to take first place at 1280×1024. The HD 4890 accelerator was ahead. Apparently, Crysis is sensitive to the amount of memory installed on the video card, even a relatively low resolution «reveals» this fact.

More severe regimes confirm the above. The dependence on the amount of video memory installed on board significantly affects the performance.

World in Conflict, as well as synthetic benchmarks, reacts exclusively to the growth of clock speeds and does not “fail” the performance indicators of video cards with 512 MB of video memory.

At 1920×1200, the performance of the HD 4890 is actually equal to that of the overclocked EAH 4870 Matrix, although the clock speeds of these video cards are noticeably different. The reason for this equality, again, may be the difference in the amount of video memory. After all, the resolution is 1920×1200, maximum detail in DirectX10 mode and enabled image enhancement modes could well have hit the results of the EAh5870 Matrix, equalizing it with the HD 4890 with 1 GB of memory on board.

It seems that the crisis has returned in the form of a lack of video memory, otherwise there is no way to explain such a difference in the results between the HD 4890 and EAh5870 Matrix, because the frequencies of the Matrix are higher, and all other indicators, except for the amount of memory, are the same.

Flights across the expanses of the virtual world HAWX distinguish the leader among AMD video cards and its name is Radeon HD 4890. The overclocked accelerator ASUS EAh5870 Matrix just fell short of it, which is a pity. If you look at the overall alignment of forces, then in all modes without exception, HAWX gives preference to NVIDIA boards.

Call of Juarez has shown a positive attitude towards AMD graphics cards from the very beginning. There is virtually no difference within the Radeon family in terms of the minimum frame counter, and only the average fps value is higher than all for the overclocked ASUS EAh5870 Matrix video card.

High resolution does not add tension to the environment. The overclocked ASUS EAh5870 Matrix is ​​ahead of them, then the HD 4890, and the results of the ASUS EAh5870 Matrix in the Gaming mode are very close to them.


The ASUS EAh5870 Matrix video card left an extremely positive impression.