MSI R4890 Super Overclocked (SOC) Review
Some of the most powerful winds in nature are produced by cyclones. The strongest cyclones Ė category 5 Ė can generate wind gusts of more than 170 miles/hour.
With this in mind, MSI marketing fittingly chose the phrase ďcyclone stormĒ to describe the action of the cooler on their latest Radeon 4890 card. Its 100mm fan is larger than the system fan in many PC cases, generating more airflow than ATIís reference cooling design while running quieter.
But thatís not the only feature that stands out on this board. MSIís incorporated their massive SuperPipes that we praised a few months ago in our N285GTX SuperPipe OC review, and theyíve come up with a completely new board design for their 4890 Cyclone thatís relies on a smaller PCB. Finally, the card can be had with OCíed clock speeds. Our board, the SOC (Super Overclocked), runs at an even 1GHz core/1GHz memory.
Can MSIís Cyclone Storm keep the 4890 cool at such high speeds though? Letís find outÖ
Unique board design
While all gamers appreciate the performance NVIDIA and ATI provide with their latest high-end offerings, one downside of these cards is their size; the Radeon 4890ís PCB is 9.5 longĒ, while the GeForce GTX 275ís PCB measures even longer: 10.5Ē.
Normally this isnít a problem if you have a large gaming-oriented ATX case, but for gamers looking to upgrade their basic Dell, HP, and Acer PCs, or someone with a smaller midsize ATX tower, these large cards can present a problem. Some of these users barely have enough clearance to squeeze the card behind their hard drive cage.
MSI addresses this issue with their Radeon 4890 Cyclone. The cardís PCB measures just 9Ē long, making it a little shorter than the Radeon 4850 and GeForce 8800 GT. Itís a pretty impressive feat considering the size of their Cyclone cooler and all the 4890ís required power circuitry.
Speaking of the power circuitry, MSI is pretty proud of their use of solid-state chokes. Their 4890 board is loaded with them. Itís a nice touch that isnít found on the 4890 reference design. MSI also uses highly conductive capacitors on the 4890 Cyclone. These are the same capacitors youíll find dotted around the CPU socket on MSIís high-end motherboards. These capacitors boast even better tolerance to overclocking/overvoltage than solid capacitors. Youíll find them nestled right next to the RV790 GPU.
Finally, the board also features all-solid capacitors rated for 10 years of use. The 4890 reference design also uses solid capacitors though, so unlike the other board design features, thereís nothing unique about the 4890 Cyclone here.
The most eye-catching aspect of the 4890 Cyclone is without a doubt its dual-slot cooler though. While weíve pictured it here next to a 4890 for you, words really canít begin to describe how massive the heatsink/heatpipe cooling is. Itís something you really have to see in person with your own eyes to properly appreciate how colossal everything is.
At the heart of the cooler are its two massive SuperPipes. Whereas most heatpipes are generall 5mm thick, MSIís SuperPipes are 8mm. The heatpipes MSI uses are long too. They wrap around the majority of the GPU in a semicircle. Theyíre accompanied by smaller heatpipes for even greater cooling potential.
A 3-piece heatsink works to keep the heatpipes cool. Resting directly above the RV790 GPU is an Orb-shaped heatsink, which frankly looks a little overwhelmed resting directly above the two SuperPipes. Itís a slim, single-slot heatsink thatís composed of dozens of long, curved fins.
Two dual-slot heatsinks are placed on the ends of the heatpipes. These heatsinks are decked out with the words ďR4890Ē ďCycloneĒ.
At the center of the cooler is a 100mm fan. Again, this fan is larger than many case fans, and thanks to its size itís able to run whisper quiet while still generating a ton of airflow. Itís actually quieter than the blower-style fan ATI uses on the 4890: crank the stock 4890 cooler to 75% fan speed and youíre generating quite a bit of noise (a lot of it coming from the fanís motor); MSIís fan just whooshes like the air conditioning in your home or car.
Itís really rather impressive considering the amount of air this fan can dish out.