Radeon HD 4890 review | test

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VGA performance: HAWX (DX10.1)

Setup your monitor

Before playing games, setting up your monitor's contrast & brightness levels is a very important thing to do. I realized recently that a lot of you guys have set up your monitor improperly. How do we know this? Because we receive a couple of emails every now and then telling us that a reader can't distinguish between the benchmark charts (colors) in our reviews. We realized, if that happens, your monitor is not properly set up.


This simple test pattern is evenly spaced from 0 to 255 brightness levels, with no profile embedded. If your monitor is correctly set up, you should be able to distinguish each step, and each step should be roughly visually distinct from its neighbors by the same amount. Also, the dark-end step differences should be about the same as the light-end step differences. Finally, the first step should be completely black.

Tom Clancy's HAWX

We don't see many air combat games on the market these days and I sincerely don't know how many of you are still into classic flight sims. The famed Ace Combat series was nice. I did play the latest installment, Ace Combat 6, and I must say it has all the essentials of a decent arcadish-flavored flight game.

With HAWX we enter a new level. There are well over 50 planes in the game, each of which carries a destructive payload. You'll need it, as you'll engage multiple hostiles across war-torn but still gorgeous looking terrain. However, you won't be alone, and you'll have the option of issuing orders to your squad mates, just like we are used to in the Ghost Recon series.

Visually, the game's impressive, especially when flying in close to cities, which really shows off the building details. But it's when the game pulls into the third-person perspective while you dog-fight that the game flaunts its visuals and you really see much of the environment. The genre of air combat games could finally see a decent revival with Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., and we like that... very much actually.

Tom Clancy's HAWX amazes me when it comes to originality, but more importantly... graphics wise it's quite a lovely game. For this game we selected the following image quality (IQ) settings.

We altered our image quality settings compared to recent reviews, we have bumped up the AA level to 4x AA, also for ATI graphics cards we will enable DX10.1 mode.

  • 4x AA
  • 16x AF
  • ALL settings @ HIGH
  • All candy like HDR, DOF etc ON
  • DirectX 10/10.1 mode + Ambient occlusion, sun shafts and shadows at HIGH

Now at the time of writing this review I did not have the GeForce GTX 275 at hand, so later today we'll publish an article on that card as well and obviously compare it to the Radeon HD 4890.

For this test we figured it'd be nice to compare with the following cards:

  • GeForce GTX 260 SP216 version with 896 MB memory (reference clock frequencies)
  • Radeon HD 4870 1024MB (reference stock clock frequencies)
  • Radeon HD 4890 1024MB (reference stock clock frequencies)
  • Radeon HD 4890 1024MB OC edition -- HIS Technology (+50 MHz GPU clock frequency)

So for HAWX both Radeon cards really work out well. DX10.1 mode brings additional performance into the gaming arena alright, as such it is totally dominating this test.

Sometimes we stare ourselves completely and utterly blind at comparative performance among cards. We however feel very strongly you need to look at the single card performance throughout the scope of monitor resolutions to understand better where the product positions itself. We included both the reference clocked and OC version here.

Guru3D therefore thinks it would be nice to include a chart with just the test card alone versus the resolutions measured. This way you can see and get a grasp as to where the performance really is and how it scales with monitor resolution.

With the Radeon HD 4890 you could play HAWX really well up to 1920x1080 with 4x AA in DX10.1 mode, that is really impressive. Our beta driver did show a weird 1/4th of a second stutter here and there though, so once that is managed, scores could go up even a tidbit higher.

Last chart for HAWX. I wanted to show you what DX10.1 brings to the game opposed to the standard DX10 codepath, yes... it's recommended to keep DX10.1 enabled alright.

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