Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290 Tri-X OC Video Card Review

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Temperature and Noise Testing

All testing is done in a temperature controlled environment, which is maintained at 17C (63F).

Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290 GPU-Z Idle

Allowing the Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290 sit at the desktop with no applications running for 30 minutes, the idle temperature was 45C with all three fans running at their default speeds (20% speed).

Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290 IFC
Turned On (one fan) 51C
Turned Off (three fans) 45C
Difference between On/Off 6C

When the Sapphire IFC is turned on, two of the fans shut down when they are not necessary.  This changes the idle temperature from 45C to 51C.  Not a huge change when sitting idle or under a light workload.

Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290 GPU-Z Load

Once the card is put under a heavy load and reaches 100% utilization, Crysis 3 was run continuously for 30 minutes to allow the card to heat up.  At the end of the gaming session, while the card was still under a full load, the temperature reached 72C.  The VRM Temperatures reached 60C and did not go any higher.

Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290 Logo Color Change

While we were testing the temperatures, we kept an eye on the Sapphire temperature logo for when it switched from Blue to Yellow, this happened right at 61C, which is when Sapphire says that it should change.  As the temperature never got above 80C we did not see the temperature go from Yellow to Red.


Sound Level Testing

To test the noise level, we used an Extech sound level meter that has a +/- 1.5dB accuracy.  Using the “Low” measurement, it can measure noise between 35dB and 90dB.  The sound meter was placed 12 inches from the side panel (which has been removed for this testing), and a wind cover on the sensor.  With an ambient sound level of 35.6 the sound level of the Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290 was evaluated with the IFC on and off, and during different fan speeds, which was adjusted by Sapphire TriXX.

Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290 Noise Level

While the chart shows that the Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290 does produce a noticeable noise increase, it should be noted that during our testing, the fans did not go above 40% when conducting load tests.  If it does go over 50%, you will be able to hear the fans spin up; thankfully it isn’t a loud whine, rather a dull hum.  


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  • nocturnal2048 .

    I have this exact card and in my system it idles at 37c so 45c-51c seems a bit high
    but it all depends on the region you live in and the temps there in…

  • iknowthetruth

    I ran a the full test on Cloud Gate (max settings) 1080p and wtf I have a Sapphire R9 290 Vapor-X OC and everything was running fine till it hit the last test which is the physics test and it got AVG 18.08 fps and 28.6fps high

    Everything else did awesome graphics score is 19845, Graphics Score 68409, Physics Score 5695 (WTF), Graphics test 1 290.72, Graphics test 2 304.46. Either the card has crappy physics handling or the demo is poorly optimized.

    The temp never went past 64c which is really good imho.

    • Matti Alexander Christensen

      your physics is handled by the cpu then.

      • Andrew

        How do I handle it with the GPU then if it’s just CPU?

  • wezlypipz

    This is just a really bad review.

    • Nathan Kirsch

      why ids that?

      • Andrew



    this is a monster. G-Force was overtaking.

  • taco

    People considering the 290 would also be looking at its direct competitior, the 780. Astonishing that card was not included in the review. Agree with previous poster, FAIL.

  • DJEleven

    It’s cheaper to go with a custom water loop

  • Kushan Dodanwala


    If you are doing a review of a custom cooling solution, you should be comparing it to the reference + other custom cooling solutions. Not to a bunch of cards that wouldn’t even be on the radar of a potential buyer.

    Absolutely useless review.

    • koyomi k

      agreed. wow, 7950 all the way to a friggin 560ti? wow.

      • Nathan Kirsch

        It’s what the review had available to him to test against. We’ve reviewed many Hawaii based cards here on Legit Reviews, so if you want to see how a 290 compares to just super high-end current cards take a look at one of those –

        • Matti Alexander Christensen

          sorry for bursting your bubble, but the temp and noise parts of a review are only usable if: they’re done in the same test system, in the same location, in the same ambient temperature, under the same ventilation conditions, and are of comparable cards.
          if you have comparable cards tested under the same conditions, and they just arent in this review, then you’re slacking, if you have comparable cards tested under different conditions, then they arent usable in relation to this review.

        • Nathan Kirsch

          Which is why we test everything in the same system, with the same ambient temperatures and in the exact room and spot that all the cards have been tested.

        • Matti Alexander Christensen

          well then, all your results from comparable cards could be added to the comparison chart.

    • Nathan Kirsch

      Not all of our reviewers have a ton of video cards to test from. We were just trying to spread out the love and give some of those that do reviews a chance to try out some video cards. People assume we get to keep all the cards we review, but we don’t. Sapphire does loaner cards, so this was tested for a couple weeks and sent on to the next site. That causes an issue as we can’t re-test the card in the future and build up a stockpile of cards to test from.

      • Matti Alexander Christensen

        but you could test in identical cases, with identical cooling, in a room with doors and windows closed, at the same temperatures.
        even without aircon, all it requires is the cheapest non restrictive case on the market, a few cheap fans, and a thermometer. even if the reviewer doesnt have aircon he can wait till mid day when it heats up, or nighttime when it cools down. that way the results of all your video card tests could be transferable between reviewers.

  • cvr

    Idle temperatures 45/51°C seem very high compared to the other 290 Vapor-X tests I’ve read (31/36°C). Also this test environment is a bit strange. Who would play in a room at 17°C?

    Apart from that, very nice card. I ll wait for a small price drop before I get one though.

  • sog

    Nice card and nice overclock well done. Thinking of getting a r9 290 there’s some good deals floating around. Now that the mining thing has fallen off.

  • Ponypony

    Thanks for the great review, and for putting it against older cards, like the 7870 (my card).