ASUS EAH4890 Formula Graphics Card Review

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3 Δεκ 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 11 μήνες)

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ASUS EAH4890 Formula Graphics Card
Review

Introduction

With the recent arrival of the new ATI Radeon HD 5 series graphics cards causing a great deal of
interest, the previous best performing single GPU from ATI


the 4890


has been left by the way
side a little.
Although, on the whole, the ATI DX11 GPU launch
es have been a great success for ATI,
many users will still be sticking to the 4 series, if not older, cards and as ATI seeks to monopolise the
DirectX11 Market with nVidia’s Fermi Technology lagging far behind, it’s definitely a good time to be
investing
in a 4890 or other 4 series GPU.

To further the lure of the 4890, ASUS have been quick to beef up the card with a unique cooler
allowing for increases to both the memory and core frequencies. Being part of the “Formula” series
is essentially equivalent to

Sapphire’s Vapor
-
X or XFX’s XXX Edition cards

whereby the stock 4890 is
overclocked and tweaked to ultimately create a better, more unique card.

Let’s take a look...

Features



Powered by ATI Radeon HD 4890



1GB GDDR5 video memory



Variety Connectivity: Dual
DVI/D
-
Sub/HDTV
-
OUT/HDMI/HDCP compliant



Microsoft DirectX 10.1 & OpenGL 2.1 Support



ASUS exclusive innovations

Specifications

(GPU
-
Z)

Contents & Packaging

The box is certainly eye
-
catching with immediate attention drawn to the image of the cooler


evidentl
y styled to look like an F1 car with the speed lines coming out behind. ASUS have also come
up with the figure of 23% cooler, presumably than the stock 4890 model which makes this card not
only unique but allows for the higher core and memory factory clock
s over the stock model.

(Packaging
-
front)

The front of the box opens out like a lid revealing the cooler through a window and a load more
information regarding the features of the Formula card (oh yes even the name very unsubtly points
towards the highest
tier of car racing).

(Packaging
-
front2)

The rear invariably holds the majority of the information showing off the exclusive ASUS features,
translations and much more.

(Packaging
-
back)

In terms of accessories, unfortunately there isn't a free game of sorts
included but the expected bits
and pieces are all present and accounted for:



Manual



CD Manual



Driver CD



DVI to VGA connector



DVI to HDMI connector



CrossfireX connector



Dual molex to 6
-
pin connector



Dual molex to 8
-
pin connector

(Accessories)

The reason for both the 6 and 8 pin connector is that this graphics card has one of each PCI
-
e
connections in order to power it.

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

The card is dominated by a very unusual cooler which, ASUS claims, cools 23% better than the stock
cooler
. Again, parallels can certainly be drawn between the design and the design of an F1 car but
the aesthetics are only a minor part and what we really want to see if some decent airflow and
aerodynamics resulting in better temperatures.

(Overview)

(Front)

Wh
ilst on the subject of aesthetics though, the grey and silver cooler does complement the black
PCB beautifully and the whole product is certainly an upgrade on the standard, enclosed design
which must surely severely restrict airflow.

(Back)

(Side)

The car
d uses up dual PCI slots with Dual
-
Link DVI connections along with a TV
-
Out port bang in the
centre; the rest of the rear is simply dedicated to a grill to aid airflow and heat loss.

Note that one of
the DVI ports is yellow so as to make it obvious which p
ort the DVI to HDMI connector plugs into
(also the same colour).

(Ports)

Powering the card is one of both PCI
-
e connections varieties: 6 and 8 pin.

(Power)

T
here are also two CrossfireX connectors at the top of the card allowing a combination of up to
thr
ee graphics cards.

(CrossFireX)

The additional cooling boost brought about by the different cooler has another benefit besides
lower temperatures


overclocking. ASUS have actually factory overclocked this card a little from the
stock 4890 frequencies. The

core has been bumped up by 50MHz to 900MHz and the memory given
a slight tweak too (975MHz up to 1000MHz).

Undoubtedly these are not huge gains but significant nonetheless and should give a boost in gaming
performance; how much further the clocks can be p
ushed is not yet clear but we’ll find out soon.

Testing

Test Rig:

Processor

Intel Core i7 920 C0 @ 2.67GHz

Motherboard

Asus P6T SE

Memory

OCZ
Gold
Triple Channel

PC3
-
10666 6GB (3 x
2GB) 1333MHZ @ 1.64V

Graphics Card

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

Hard Drive

Seagate Barracuda

7200.10 500GB

Power Supply

NOX Apex 700
W

Enclosure

Cooler Master ATCS
-
840

OS

Windows Vista 64
-
bit


Methodology

For graphics card testing, here at XSReviews our aim is to provide a set of clean, reliable
benchmarks. For each test, the
benchmark was repeated three times and then an average taken or
where results were inconsistent, tests were continued until two concordant results were reached.

The benchmarks consist of a mixture of games and synthetic benchmarks;
games’ testing is

carrie
d
out through a specifically designed benchmark suite for that particular title or
by using a time demo
and the utility FRAPS to record the frame rates.

The following software was used in the testing of
the graphics cards:



3Dmark06



3Dmark Vantage



Furmark



Crysis Warhead



Far Cry 2



STALKER: Clear Sky



Race Driver: GRID



Dawn of War II

All of the benchmarks, especially the games, use four settings each designed to increase one specific
area so as to give linear progress. Thus, comparisons can be made not only
between different cards
but also across individual settings adjustments; for example, the frame rate differences between
different resolutions with all other settings kept the same.

Comparison Graphics Cards:



Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

N.B.

Due to a number of cha
nges in the GPU methodology and testing process, the amount of
comparison cards is therefore limited.

3Dmark06

(3Dmark06)

Our first Futuremark Benchmark, released in 2006, 3Dmark06 has been a highly successful
benchmark suite for testing the DirectX 9 per
formance of a graphics card. This particular benchmark
has become the mainstay of 3D benchmarking and remains very capable of
bringing an unprepared
system to its knees if given half the chance
.

3Dmark06 features a host of different effects from heterogene
ous fog and atmospheric light
scattering to dynamic soft shadows and HDR rendering.

Alongside the default preset: 1280x1024 resolution, optimal filtering and no Anti
-
Aliasing, we’ve also
upped
-
the
-
ante in creating our own custom settings featuring a resol
ution of 1680x1050, 4xAA and
16xAF.

For both tests, a 3Dmark score is recorded along with the SM2.0 and SM3.0 scores which focus more
specifically on the graphics card component.

Default


3Dmarks

SM2.0

SM3.0

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

17164

6616

8119

Zotac

GTS 250 AMP!

14972

5831

6581



Custom


3Dmarks

SM2.0

SM3.0

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

13343

5192

5604

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

9962

4291

3411


3Dmark Vantage

(Vantage)

3DMark Vantage
, the most recent Futuremark benchmark suite, focuses on the DirectX10
performance

using the latest 3D technology to determine real world performance.

Futuremark describes the 3Dmark score as “
an overall measure of your system’s 3D gaming
capabilities, based on comprehensive real
-
time 3D graphics and processor tests. By
comparing your
score with those submitted by millions of other gamers you can see how your gaming rig performs,
making it easier to choose the most effective upgrades or finding othe
r ways to optimize your
system.”

Performance


3Dmarks

GPU Score

ASUS
EAH4890 Formula

11699

10557

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

8513

6747


High


3Dmarks

GPU Score

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

7387

6710

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

5003

4333


FurMark

(Furmark)

What is FurMark?

FurMark

is a very intensive OpenGL benchmark that uses
fur rendering

algorithms to measure the
performance of the graphics card. Fur rendering is especially adapted to
overheat the GPU

and that's
why FurMark is also a perfect
stability and stress test

tool (also called
GPU burner
) for the graphics
card.

All benchmarks were

run for 60000ms (60 seconds) and the average and minimum frame rate
recorded with the following settings:

1.

1280x1024, 0xAA

2.

1280x1024, 8xAA

3.

1680x1050, 8xAA

1.


Minimum

Average

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

86

115

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

48

56


2.


Minimum

Average

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

23

31

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

13

18


3.


Minimum

Average

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

24

29

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

11

17


Crysis Warhead

(Crysis
-
warhead)

Crysis Warhead is the standalone sequel to the Crysis and is a
science fiction

first
-
person
shooter

video game

developed by Crytek. Using the CryENGINE 3, the graphics of both Crysis and Crysis
Warhead have set a precedent far and beyond that of anything scene before.

In order to benchmark Crysis Warhead we will be using the Airfield Time Demo fo
r a total of 2 loops
(each loop has a frame count of 2000, so a total of 4000 frames overall). The average FPS will be
recorded for the following settings:

1.

1280x1024, 0xAA, a
ll
gamer settings

2.

1280x1024, 0xAA, all enthusiast settings

3.

1280x1024, 8xAA, all en
thusiast settings

4.

1680x1050, 8xAA, all enthusiast settings

1.

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

50.1

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

42.9


2.

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

43.8

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

35.2


3.

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

34.3

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

27.7


4.

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

27.9

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

21.0



Far Cry 2


DirectX 9.0


(Farcry
2
)

Far Cry 2 is the latest Ubisoft first person shooter and an eagerly anticipated title. Continuing the Far
Cry series from Crytek, started in 2004, Far Cry is now actually completed independent
from its
original makers. The game now has its own engine named Dunia and uses a range of technology
from dynamic weather and vegetation to full day/night cycles to non
-
direct lighting.

This engine also supports DX 10 under Vista, and DX9 if the user is
running XP and is quite similar to
CryTek's CryEngine 2 used on Crysis and Crysis Warhead.

The following settings were used under DirectX 9.0:

1.

1280x1024, 0xAA, medium settings

2.

1280x1024, 0
xAA,
ultra high

settings

3.

1
280x1024, 8
xAA,
ultra high

settings

4.

1680x1
050, 8xAA, ultra high

settings

1.


Minimum

Average

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

78.1

112.5

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

65.3

100.8


2
.


Minimum

Average

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

45.6

51.3

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

39.6

47.2


3.


Minimum

Average

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

26.2

36.1

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

22.6

28.7


4.


Minimum

Average

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

22.1

31.9

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

21.0

28.0


Far Cry 2


DirectX 10
.0

(Farcry2)

Far Cry 2 is the latest Ubisoft first person shooter and an eagerly anticipated title. Continuing the Far
Cry series from Crytek, started in 2004, Far Cry is now actually completed independent from its
original makers. The game now has its own engine named Dunia and uses a range of technology
from dynamic weather and vegetation to full day/night cycles to non
-
direct lighting.

This engine also supports DX 10 under Vista, and DX9 if the user is running XP and is quite similar to
CryTek's CryEngine 2 used on Crysis and Crysis Warhead.

The following settings were used under DirectX 10.0:

1.

1280x1024, 0xAA, high setti
ngs

2.

1280x1024, 0xAA, ultra high settings

3.

1280x1024, 8xAA, ultra high settings

4.

1680x1050, 8xAA, ultra high settings

1.


Minimum

Average

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

56.2

78.8

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

50.1

63.0


2.


Minimum

Average

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

48.9

67.3

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

37.3

45.4


3.


Minimum

Average

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

31.5

43.9

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

25.9

32.1

4.


Minimum

Average

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

25.4

36.0

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

22.3

28.1

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky

(Stalker
-
clearsky
)

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky is the prequel of the hit title S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl;
unfortunately it took an obscene period of time and patches for the game to reach a decent
standard of stability.

Clear Sky uses the X
-
Ray engine, the same as th
e other S.T.A.L.K.E.R. title but has been updated so as
to cope with DirectX 10 effects such as volumetric light and wet surfaces.

For benchmarking this particular game we downloaded the official S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky
benchmarking tool. It records the
FPS for ‘day’, ‘night’, ‘rain’ and ‘sunshafts’. We decided to take the
average frames per second of all four at the following settings:

1.

1280x1024, default
quality, full dynamic lighting

2.

1280x1024, extreme quality, full dynamic lighting

3.

1280x1024, extreme q
uality, enhanced DX10 lighting, 4xAA

4.

1680x1050,
extreme quality, enhanced DX10 lighting, 4xAA

1.


Day

Night

Rain

Sunshafts

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

80.6

96.5

127.2

83.3

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

76.9

89.4

102.0

76.5


2.


Day

Night

Rain

Sunshafts

ASUS EAH4890
Formula

69.2

96.0

116.5

64.2

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

60.4

86.6

101.9

63.7


3.


Day

Night

Rain

Sunshafts

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

37.0

39.2

43.9

24.8

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

26.7

31.4

34.6

19.4


4.


Day

Night

Rain

Sunshafts

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

29.2

30.2

33.2

19.5

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

20.9

23.2

25.5

15.2

Race Driver: GRID

(Race
-
driver
-
grid)

Created by Codemasters, Race Driver: GRID has all the components to make a great racing game.
With previous titles behind them such as TOCA and other games in the Race Driver ser
ies,
Codemasters have a wealth of experience when it comes to racing games and the 43 different cards
and rewind feature highlight their expertise.

Testing was carried out using FRAPS recording the frame rates on the Detroit Grand Prix Circuit.

1.

1280x1024,

All medium, no AA

2.

1280x1024, All high, no AA

1.

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

109.6

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

86.4


2.

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

107.2

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

84.5


Dawn of War II

(Dawn
-
of
-
war2)

Dawn of War II is the sequel to the popular Dawn of War series in the Warhammer 40,000 world;
with numerous unworldly beasts populating the game from Orks to Tryanids and many more, the
Real Time Strategy game relies of tactical squad play in order to succ
eed.

The maker, Relic, has once again delivered a fantastic game, thought by many to be one of the best
strategy games in recent years. It uses a modified version of the Essence 2.0 Engine which makes for
demanding graphics especially with high unit caps
during multiplayer action.

Testing was carried out using the in
-
game “Performance Test” recording only the average frame
rates as the minimum FPS scores are all over the place.

1.

1280x1024, All medium, no physics, no AA

2.

1280x1024, All Ultra High, no physics
, no AA

3.

1280x1024, All Ultra High, physics on, AA on

4.

1680x1050, All Ultra High, physics on, AA on

1.

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

78.6

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

72.4


2.

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

67.4

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

62.9


3.

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

64.8

Zotac GTS 250
AMP!

53.0


4.

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

49.6

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

42.9



Thermal Performance and Power Consumption

In order to see how well the cooler performs and how much electricity the card will gobble up, we
run the Furmark Xtreme Burning Mode Stability
test for 5 minutes (300 seconds) and record the
temperature and power consumption at the 5 minute mark.

Temperature readings were taken directly from Furmark and the wattage from a power metre
(recording the power consumption for the whole system).

Ambient

temperature was 20 degrees Celsius.

Temperature (°C)


Idle

Load

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

4
6

8
0

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

58

8
9


Power Consumption (W)


Idle

Load

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

150

352

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

125

290


Overclocking

Overclocking is usually
carried out using RivaTuner but it didn’t seem to take kindly to ASUS’ 4890
drivers and simply wouldn’t let us tweak the settings. Alas, we reverted to ATI Overdrive and
increasing the core by small increments and then testing with Crysis Warhead, the max
clock was
achieved by reverting to the last stable overclock when artifacting occurred.

The same procedure was carried out to max out the memory frequency and then the new settings
were tested with both Crysis Warhead and Dawn of War II to see what perform
ance boosts were on
offer.

For the ASUS EAH4890, an overclock of 40MHz on the core and 50MHz on the memory was achieved


a reasonable but no overly impressive overclock but should give some performance gains
nonetheless.

(Overclock)

Crysis Warhead (4


1680x1050, 8xAA, all enthusiast settings)

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

27.9

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

21.0

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

(940/1050)

28.4


Dawn of War II (1680x1050, All Ultra High, physics on, AA on)

ASUS EAH4890 Formula

49.6

Zotac GTS 250 AMP!

42.9

ASUS
EAH4890 Formula (940/1050)

50.9


Results

Looking at the results at a whole, it’s very evident that the 4890 is a much better card than the GTS
250 AMP! Throughout all testing, the frames per second readings were considerably higher with no
major problems
in any of the tests.

Using the guide of 30 FPS for a Real Time Strategy and 40 FPS for a First Person Shooter as the
threshold for a game
“playing smoothly”,

the ASUS card manages this for just about every test save
for the higher settings under Crysis Warhead

and Far Cry 2
. The last two settings

(for Crysis
Warhead)
, coming in at 34.3 and 27.9 respectively are a little below the mark but, as I’m sure you
are
well aware, the graphics settings, especially when pushed higher, are very demanding for Crysis
and Crysis Warhead alike.


Similarly, the other first person shooter


Far Cry 2


makes the card work hard at high quality
graphics levels which slip into the

thirties. This is no by means a poor score but it would have been a
nice surprise to see it push above our specified 40 FPS level.

So overall, it’s a pretty impressive
showing from the Formula 4890 card.

The racing and RTS games were handled much more eff
ectively and in general require lower frame
rates for smooth gameplay; all in all definitely no problems with these games and the 4890
continues to impress in terms of raw numbers.

Looking at the synthetic tests, the card is head and shoulders above the GT
S 250 scoring
roughly
2000 and 3000 more 3Dmarks on 3Dmark06 and 3Dmark Vantage respectively. Similarly, the specific
graphics tests show clear daylight between the two cards.

Perhaps, the harshest of the synthetic tests is Furmark which really puts the GP
U under stress when
the AA level is increased; the 4890 is better but only just, but then again the frame rates are typically
sub twenty and so a single frame per second is a significant difference in this instance.

Before discussing the temperatures, it’s

important to point out that the Furmark temperature
readings are a little higher than other utilities show but it provides a fair reading for all cards. The
cooler, despite having a higher clocked core to deal with, does a much better job that the GTS 250

keeping the chip cooler


a positive for sure. The lower temperatures are perhaps negated a little by
the higher power consumption though with the extra 8
-
pin connection relating to a 60W increase at
load.

Overclocked settings didn’t really yield a great
increase in performance and it’s unlikely a 1 to 2
frame rate increase will actually be notice when gaming. Still, the 3.6% performance rise for Crysis
Warhead and 2.6% increase for Dawn of War II aren’t to be sniffed at especially when you consider
the ca
rd is already factory overclocked from the stock clocks. Taking this into considerable, the total
overclock and total performance increases are a little higher over the
stock

4890.

It has to be said though, that despite
not

really having a great selection
of cards for comparison, the
48
90 scores solidly across the board.

Noise

I must say that the cooler is
much

quieter than the stock coolers accompanying many graphics cards
and at idle, the noise is pretty much inaudible. Of course as the card is put under
more stress, the
noise levels do increase but not to the extent as with other GPU coolers.

Cost


With a price tag of approximately £160, it’s a little more than a generic 4890 but for the extra money
you do get a much better cooler and a little pre
-
overclo
cking.

Conclusion

ASUS’ 4890 showing has definitely been a good one:
first and foremost, we’ve got to mention the
cooler. Essentially, this is what separates this card from the many other 4890 cards on the market.
Overall, we’re pretty pleased with it; sur
e the F1 styling could be considered a little gimmicky, but
the extra cooling is certainly welcome and allows for the factory overclocking.


The frame rates, on the whole, were again very good throughout all types of game although perhaps
the First Person

Shooter high settings causing a slight dip below our “smooth playable level”
.
Although
to be fair, we must concede that Crysis Warhead is very harsh when the graphics levels are
set to a maximum.

Price wise, you are looking at between a £20 and £30 differ
ence between the ASUS EAH4890
Formula and say a stock 4890. We’ve mixed feelings as to whether, the card is worth this much more
but it’s definitely something different with some performance increases to be had due to the higher
clocks.

All in all though,
good job ASUS


another fantastic card which pretty much ticks all the boxes.

Pros



Stylish



Good solid performance across the board



Lower temperatures



Reasonable overclocking headroom

Cons



£20
-
30 more than normal 4890

8/10