Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: Going into this evaluation, we wanted to see how well this overclocked HD 4890 did against the top cards currently available. After several benchmarks, its clear that this card is right on the heels of the GTX 285 in terms of performance. Specifically, it came within one frame per second of the GTX 285 in our Crysis and FarCry 2 benchmarks at 1920x1200. The PowerColor Radeon HD 4890 LCS even pulled off a win versus the 285 in Crysis at 2560x1600.
Taking advantage of the added cooling performance by overclocking the PowerColor LCS netted enough of a boost in performance that it surpassed the stock GTX 285 during overclocked testing. With the card topping out at only 40 degrees during load, however, we're sure it could handle more voltage in order to overclock further and reach much higher speeds than what we've seen so far.
Currently, this is the highest priced HD 4890 GPU on the market. But that's not surprising considering the tweaked settings and additional cost of the waterblock. Consider the price of a similarly clocked 4890 ($270) in addition to the EK waterblock ($115) and you come to an amount of $385 if you purchase them separately. Right now, the PowerColor can be had for $340, so a $45 discount could be achieved if a watercooled HD 4890 is the ultimate goal. Interestingly, this scenario rings true for most liquid cooled videocards, as they normally present a less expensive path than the alternative option of purchasing the card and block individually. But, if performance is the bottom line, a GTX 285 could be had for the same price as the PowerColor HD 4890. And if you are willing to spend about $50 more, you can afford the even more powerful HD 4870X2.
PowerColor took the fastest, single GPU graphics card in AMD's lineup and gave it a speed boost. Sporting a liquid cooled solution, the HD 4890 LCS not only provides more performance, but also lower operating temps and a quieter computing environment. Is this the card for you? We think its a great option for those looking for a 4890 to add to their existing liquid-cooling loop. This card was made for a specific market and gives watercooling enthusiasts an excellent videocard to consider.