Today we are taking a look at our second retail ATI Radeon HD 5870
graphics card, as we looked at the ASUS EAH5870 Voltage Tweak a few weeks ago. The card that we have for you today is the Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X which is, to our knowledge, the first ATI Radeon HD 5870 series graphics card to deviate from the reference design when it comes to the GPU cooler, and on top of that it comes overclocked right out of the box. According to Sapphire this graphics card will feature up to a 10% boost in performance over a standard Radeon HD 5870, while at the same time being 14 dBA quieter and much cooler! You might expect to pay a pretty penny for features like this, but the retail price on the card is $399.99. So, for an extra $10 over the price of a standard card you get a better cooler and improved performance! This is a little different than previous Vapor-X graphics cards as none of those were factory overclocked. Sapphire hinted that a Toxic or Atomic card might be coming out later, but we don’t expect that to happen until production yields of 40nm GPUs get better over at TSMC as it is really hard to find any Radeon HD 5870 graphics cards on the market today.
The picture above shows the Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X edition card on the bottom with the reference based ASUS EAH5870 Voltage Tweak video card sitting above it. Both cards feature identical PCB’s, but the cooler differences make a major difference when it comes to both performance and aesthetics. Last month, Sapphire revealed that the vapor chamber technology used in SAPPHIRE Vapor-X coolers comes from Microloops. According to Sapphire they are the only company using this cooling technology on video cards.
The clock speeds on the Vapor-X are overclocked from the factory, which means the 1,600 stream processors are running at 870MHz instead of 850MHz.
The Sapphire 5870 Vapor-X’s 1GB of quad-pumped GDDR5 memory is clocked at 1.25GHz
(5.0GHz effective) versus the AMD reference clock of 1.2GHz
(4.8GHz effective). The Sapphire 5870 Vapor-X is still a dual-slot graphics card that
measures in at 10.5″ in length, so it is half an inch shorter than the reference card thanks to shorter length of the Vapor-X cooler. ATI
CrossFire will be supported via the two interconnects located on the
top left of the card as you can also see in the image above. On the
right motherboard you will be able to run up to four of these graphics
cards from CrossFire X.
The back of the Sapphire Vapor-X 5870 video card lacks the metal plate found on the reference cards, but it appears that plate was cosmetic anyway as the card doesn’t have any ICs or critical components to keep cool. The most important thing on the back of this video card is the serial
number sticker on it in case the card ever needs to be RMA’d! Sapphire backs the Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X by a two year warranty through your initial place of purchase. In the event that something goes wrong during that time period you can RMA it back to the store that you bought it from as long as the card has not been tampered with and you still have the original paperwork and matching serial number on the back of the card.
The Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X graphics card has a pair of dual-link DVI-I outputs
along with DisplayPort and HDMI outputs. You can run a D-Sub output
with an adapter. All of the hot air from the cooling fan exhausts out
the small vent hole on the back of the card and the little slots just
in front of the CrossFire interconnects.
The Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X has two 75W 6-pin PCI-E power connectors on it
and both are required for operation. A 500W or larger power supply is
recommended by AMD for use with one video card and a 600W or larger power supply is suggested for two cards running in CrossFire. A list of AMD suggested power supply units can be
found here if you would like to know what power supplies have been tested and certified to work. Sapphire informed LR that the maximum board power on the Vapor-X edition is 188W with an idle board power of just 27W. This is identical to a reference Radeon HD 5870, which is hard to believe since it uses a larger 92mm cooling fan and higher clock frequencies!
Speaking about the fan, let’s take a closer look at this sweet looking ‘Vapor-X’ setup that this card has going on! After that we will take a look at the performance benchmarks to see if the 2-4 percent clock speed increases really help boost performance 10% like Sapphire claims.