Sapphire does it again: combining the already stellar performance of the 4890 with a top notch cooler and an extra gigabyte of memory, the 4890 2GB Vapor X is a hit in our book. Having owned a pair of 4870 video cards for the last year I’ve been accustomed to the loud blower noise each time I fire up my PC. With the Vapor X in my machine I have to look for the front LED’s because I can’t tell if it’s on!
But the cooler is only half of the story; the gaming performance of this card is great! Since all of my gaming is done at 2560×1600 I’ve become very sensitive to any frame rate drops. Over the last week I spent some time going back through games trying to see how the card would do. In Half Life 2, a single 4870 1GB still struggles to maintain 85fps in heavy scenes with all the eye candy cranked up at 2560×1600. The Sapphire 4890 2GB rips through the game without a hiccup, rarely dropping below 150fps!
For some of you, overclocking is very important, and the Vapor X card did not let us down. With a 110MHz overclock on the core and 25MHz on the memory, this card will be lots of fun to tweak.
The most important part of this video card is the price. When you compare this 4890 2GB Vapor X at $249.99 against the standard 4890 1GB Vapor X, you’ll see it runs $219.99. It’s obvious that the added cost is due to the additional memory and the heat sinks to cool it. Clearly this isn’t the best value video card on the market, however that’s not really the point. With the inevitable progression of more memory being added to video cards, and games utilizing the memory, this card helps “future proof” you a bit longer. So while 1GB is sufficient for most of the games out today, the 2GB card is going to provide a boost in games coming out in 6-12 months, and even games out today like Grand Theft Auto IV. Compared directly to the 4870 1GB, we see up to 16% increased performance. A 4870 1GB is about $100 less expensive but also doesn’t have the exceptional cooler, and will also suffer on games that can use the extra memory.
In my opinion, the Vapor X line is one of the best on the market, striking a great balance between enthusiast features (excellent and quiet cooling), bleeding edge performance, and a modest price premium.
Legit Bottom Line: The Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 2GB Vapor X is an excellent package that gives you a boost over the best performing AMD graphics card that you can get today with a welcome silence even while being overclocked to the limit.