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

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Sapphire R9 290 Vapor-X OC Further Overclocking

There are many tools available that allow overclocking the GPU, Sapphire has their own tool called TriXX.  This tool lets us know what is going on with the GPU and an easy way to overclock or adjust fan speeds.  The overclocking tab is laid out so we know what can be adjusted and is a great way to know exactly what is going to happen.  The GPU clock and Memory Clock was slowly increased, while Heaven 4.0 was run to verify stability.

Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290 TriXX Information

The Sapphire TriXX Info tab shows us a good amount of information that includes the Catalyst driver version and current GPU BIOS, if you regularly use GPU-Z, it provides more information than TriXX, however that’s not what TriXX is necessarily focused on. 

Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290 TriXX Base

TriXX main focus is the Overclocking and Fan Control capabilities.  Taking a quick look at the TriXX Overclocking tab, it shows the operating speed of the GPU clock and Memory clock meets the specifications; not that we expected anything different.

Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290 TriXX Overclocked

While the GPU clock speed was perfectly stable and glitch free at 1135MHz, it was able to go higher.  Heaven 4.0 successfully completed a run through as high as 1185MHz with a memory clock of 1555MHz; successfully completed but not glitch free. The VDDC Offset could be adjusted higher, 100 seemed to be the biggest factor in stability, anything higher than 100 did not improve overclocking.  In addition, as speeds were increased over 1135MHz, the benefit got smaller, and around 1170MHz I started to receive a negative impact to the performance.  Between 1135MHz and 1160MHz Heaven received around 2FPS boost for that 25MHz boost with many graphic glitches.

Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290 3DMark OC

Taking a look at the 3DMark results, we can see the overall score went from 8709 to 9473, since only the GPU settings were adjusted, the difference is directly related to the overclocking.  Going a little deeper, the graphics score went from 10585 to 11685, which is around 10.4% performance boost.

Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290 Heaven OC

For Heaven, the overall score at base clock speeds was 1329, while the overclock score came in at 1451, a 9.2% performance increase.  The average FPS was 52.7, and now it is 57.6 a 9.3% difference.

Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290 GPU-Z OC

While performing overclocked benchmarks, GPU-Z was used to monitor the various sensors.  Here we can see that while the GPU was running at 100% for a length of time, the temperature reached a maximum temperature of 72C, which was the same maximum temperature as the stock settings and the three fans only reached 40% of their speed.

Benchmark Results:  Going from a GPU clock speed of 1030MHz to 1135MHz, a 10.1% increase in clock speed, provided significant performance increases in the synthetic benchmarks Heaven and 3DMark which both received around 10% performance boost as well.  The Sapphire TriXX software makes overclocking easy and should not be skipped by anybody wanting to get the most out of their system.

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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).