From the second we saw the Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X graphics card we fell in love with it. The card stands out from the crowd and has a bad boy appearance to it that the reference card just doesn’t have. The best part about the Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X is that the cooler actually works. We witnessed an 8dBA decrease in fan noise and an insane 18C drop in temperatures while gaming. The small 2-4% factory overclock gave a slight boost in performance and in every single benchmark we ran the Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X was faster than a stock Radeon HD 5870 video card, albeit by only 1-6FPS depending on the benchmark in question.
The one thing that Sapphire is missing with this card is a software utility that gives
consumers the ability to adjust the GPU voltages and to overclock
beyond what you can do using just the ATI OverDrive utility. The ASUS EAH5870 that we reviewed last month came with a sweet little utility called SmartDoctor that allows you to change the Vcore and to overclock beyond the limitations set in ATI OverDrive. You can use other utilities that you can download online to overclock the card, but it would be nice if they just included it on the driver disk to give consumers the very vest experience with their products.
When it comes to pricing, the Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X graphics
card started selling on Newegg.com for $399.99 shipped, which is just
$10 more than a reference card. For an extra $10 you get a card that
comes with Vapor-X cooling technology and two game titles! Nearly
everyone will enjoy either Colin McRae: DiRT 2 or Battlestations Pacific, so you have a
really good value on your hands.
If you are currently looking to purchase a Radeon HD 5870 graphics card you are likely to find that they are currently sold out. The Radeon HD 5870 is selling like hot
cakes, but sadly yields of all 40nm processors at TSMC (the factory that makes the GPUs) are not the greatest and the yields don’t look like they are going to get any better. We asked Sapphire how many 5870 Vapor-X graphics
cards would be available for launch and the number was very small. To make matters worse Newegg.com listed them for sale last Friday, well before today’s launch. More cards are due in any day now, so be sure to sign up for e-mail alerts with your favorite e-tailer to have a fair chance at finding one of these rare graphics cards. If you happen to get lucky and can get one, then we say go for it. For an extra ten dollars this one is an easy choice and the Sapphire Vapor-X 5870 is better than any other Radeon HD 5870 on the market today.
Legit Bottom Line: Sapphire raises the bar when it comes to Radeon HD 5870’s and is now the company to beat thanks to their Vapor-X cooling technology and factory overclocked settings.