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

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Final Thoughts and Conclusions

Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290 Full View

The Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290 is factory overclocked from the reference configuration of 947MHz to 1030MHz which will help it perform better than reference R9 290’s.  However, the overclocking doesn’t stop there, we were able to get an additional 10% performance by doing a very simple overclock using Sapphire TriXX software.  With an overclock of 1135MHz it appears to perform closer to a stock 290X but for less money.  In addition, while the 10% overclock isn’t bad, it could technically be overclocked more (up to 1185MHz), however with greatly diminishing returns and severe graphic glitches.

The cooling solution on the Vapor-X R9 290 is very efficient, during our testing the room was kept cool, and the card did not overheat, reaching a maximum temperature of 73C and VRM temperature of 60C; both temperatures are really good for being pushed to 100% utilization for over 30 minutes.  Of course at that temperature, the fans were running at 40% speed, and could easily be recognized above the other components in the system, but the fans did their job, along with the Vapor-X system, and kept the card cool.

Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290 Front

While the benchmarks do not include any other current enthusiast grade video card and the R7950 is a couple of years old, it does show the difference in performance that an upgrade might provide.  When it was released the R7950 was a rather expensive graphics card and would have been priced around the same as the R9 290.  For those that have stuck with a card for a couple of years, now is the time to consider an upgrade.

As for the power requirements, Sapphire recommends a 750W power supply, however in monitoring power usage, the entire test system pulled less than 400W at the factory overclock, and less than 450W with further overclocking.  Just make sure whatever power supply you are using is a good quality unit with a strong 12V PCI-E rails, and you should be just fine.

The Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290 Overclocked edition graphics card is available under part number 11227-04-40G for $499.99 shipped, with a 2 year warranty.  At that price, it is one of the more expensive R9 290’s on the market (but certainly not the most expensive).  It can be worth the extra money with the factory overclock settings, potential for huge boost in performance through additional overclocking and the Sapphire cooling features.  In a temperature controlled environment, the card never got above 73C, so overheating and throttling doesn’t appear to be a huge concern on this custom card.

LR Recommended Award

Legit Bottom Line:  The Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290 graphics card looks great with the Tri-XX fans and Vapor-X cooling solution, it would be a great option to those wanting to get a modern enthusiast level graphics card for under $500.

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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).