Board analysis (contíd)
MSI outfits the 4890 Cyclone with the same Qimonda memory modules found on the ATI reference design.
Unlike the 4890 reference design, MSI doesnít provide any cooling for the boardís memory modules though. Fortunately the Qimonda modules are designed to run without heatsinks, so technically they arenít a requirement. However, considering this is a high-end board designed for enthusiasts, it wouldíve been a good idea if MSI couldíve included them.
MSI outfits the board with a variety of display options also. Besides providing one dual-link DVI with the 4890 Cyclone, the board also ships with an HDMI output and VGA connector. Here youíll also see exhaust vents just above the display connectors, but obviously due to the nature of the cooler these vents arenít going to be exhausting a lot of air: most of the air from the fan is going to be fed into your case.
As we mentioned earlier, our R4890 Cyclone board is the Super Overclocked (SOC) model, which runs the graphics core at 1GHz. Thatís 150MHz higher than stock. The boardís memory modules are then OCíed to 1GHz, which is 25MHz higher than the stock 4890.
If you want to save a little money though MSI also offers the Overclocked (OC) model. This board ships with tamer speeds of 880MH core/975MHz memory. A third SKU is also offered that relies on the stock Radeon 4890 speeds of 850MHz/975MHz.
CrossFire may be something to watch with this card. We paired it alongside a bone stock 4890 reference design with the Cyclone card located in the uppermost PCIe slot and the reference board sitting underneath it.
As any enthusiast with a multi-GPU setup can tell you, in any CrossFire or SLI setup, itís the uppermost (primary) card that gets the hottest under load. Now given the extraordinary nature of the cooler MSI has employed on the 4890 Cyclone, we naturally assumed it would be up the task. It was, running at 1000MHz core/1000MHz memory with no problems for 10-20 minute gaming sessions. Longer use though presented problems with system stability.
With the 4890 reference board sporting a longer PCB and resting in such close proximity to the 4890 Cyclone SOC, it suffocates the Cyclone cardís 100mm fan of much of the air that it needs to run efficiently. Instead of cranking up the fanís RPMs to compensate, the card soldiers on like a champ. Problem is, the fan needs to give in and run faster.
Without optimal airflow, the cardís massive heatpipes eventually get scorching hot. This heat has nowhere to go, heating up the GPU, board, and all of its components. Eventually the card succumbs to the heat and locks up the PC. Weíre talking a hard lock too, requiring a full reboot (after the card has cooled down of course).
This happened to us repeatedly, and the only way to remedy the situation was to either place the 4890 Cyclone in the secondary (bottom) graphics slot, where airflow isnít an issue (unless of course you also have an expansion card next to this slot), or to manually crank up the fanís RPMs in ATI Overdrive.
Bundle and accessories
With such a wide variety of display outputs, MSI skips shipping the card with any display adapters. There are no DVI-to-VGA or DVI-to-HDMI adapters here, as outputs for both of these are natively provided on the backplate of the card.
This means the R4890 Cyclone wonít natively drive dual DVI displays, youíll need to hunt for an HDMI-to-DVI adapter if you want to do that.
Fortunately, the card does ship with two 6-pin PCIe power adapters and CrossFire cable though.