5870 with custom cooling tested

Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X reviewed

With the Vapor-X variant of the HD 5870 Sapphire wants to improve the current graphics card top dog. PC Games Hardware tested if the new card can live up to the good reputation of the Vapor-X series.
Radeon HD 5870 Vapor X Performance
Radeon HD 5870 Vapor X Performance [Source: view picture gallery]
Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X reviewed
Vapor-X stands for an innovative cooling system that Sapphire uses for selected, and in most cases overclocked, graphics cards. This also applies to the HD 5870 Vapor-X which is shipped with frequencies of 870/2,500 MHz for the GPU respectively the video memory. The default values of the Radeon HD 5870 are specified with 850 and 2,400 MHz. For explanation: as GDDR5 memory is regarded, we give the sum of both Write clocks to emphasize the difference to the common GDDR3 RAM. Thus we get 2,400 MHz from 2x 1,200 MHz. Besides the slight overclocking the Sapphire graphics card also has some more nice extras: In addition to the default video outputs (two Dual-Link DVIs and one Display Port) the device is equipped with a HDMI connector. Due to the custom cooling solution the overall length of the card is reduced to 26.7 centimeters.

The range of delivery of the Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X is quite extensive. Although the hardware extras are limited to two power cable adaptations, a Crossfire bridge and a DVI to VGA adaptation, the packages also includes two games (Battlestations: Pacific and a Steam Code for Colin McRae: Dirt 2). The short manual and the obligatory driver CD fulfill expectations.

Radeon HD 5870 Vapor X 05
Radeon HD 5870 Vapor X 05 [Source: view picture gallery]
In contrast to the default design the cooling solution of the Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X has a axial fan with a diameter of 85 millimeters. Due to its architecture the system only exhausts a part of the war air from the PC case. The rest reenters the air circulation. A plastic cover on the aluminum block directs the airstream over the voltage converters on the back end of the card. The Vapor Chamber is supported by three heatpipes.

Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X reviewed: Loudness, Temperatures and Power Consumption
The automatic fan control keeps the speed down on idle mode for quite a long time and increases the speed only if the chip exceeds a temperature of 55 degrees Celsius. The high cooling capabilities in our open test setup are big enough to keep the Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X below 70 degrees Celsius - even if the extremely heating Furmark is running. But the noise level is increasing. Normal gaming workload is handled at 60 degrees Celsius and 2.3 sone. In this case the fan is running at about 1,900 rpm - 48 percent of maximum speed. On idle mode it is running at 28 percent.

If stressed with heavy workload or if a lot of frames per second are displayed (framerate with three or four digits), the 5870 Vapor-X produces a little noise, which is most likely related to the coils. But this noise is not loud enough to be heard over the ambient noise of the card.

Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X reviewed: Benchmarks
We tested the Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X in four popular games and compare its performance to the default HD 5870 and the Geforce GTX 285. For more benchmark results please that a look at the Radeon HD 5870 review.

Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X reviewed: Overclocking
With the default voltage of 1.625 volt our sample was stable at 960/2,800 MHz (GPU/VRAM). In common Pc cases the cooling solution is strong enough for the increased frequencies. Using a tool to increase the voltage we were able to exceed 1 GHz GPU clock speed. Please bear in mind that overclocking is always a gamble and that every single devices has its own OC capabilities.

Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X reviewed: Conclusion
The Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X is a well equipped DirectX 11 graphics card in the high-end sector. Its custom cooling solution is not as loud as the default design and keeps the graphics card at lower temperatures. Furthermore the device is shorter than the default layout. Two games (Battlestations: Pacific and Colin McRae: Dirt 2) and the additional HDMI output round off Sapphire's package and make the Vapor-X an even better offer than the basic HD 5870.

Picture gallery  (enlarge to view source)

Author: (Nov 03, 2009)

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