Sapphire 4890 Vapor-X PCIe Graphics Card

Introduction

Introduction
 
Since ATI rejoined the fight to become champs of the graphics card market with the 4870 in June 2008 and the formidable 4870x2, time has pretty much stood still for the graphics card giant with a slowdown in releases. Unlike Nvidia with their re branding shenanigans, ATI only appear to release a GPU when they have something new to show off, not to shift stocks of GPU cores. The HD4890 is one such card, which while not being radically new, is certainly a cut above the already powerful HD4870 with some significant changes. We recently reviewed the stock Asus 4890 and an overclocked version from XFX, now it's Sapphire turn with the HD4890 Vapor-X.
 
Being a Tier 1 partner of ATI, Sapphire are no strangers to GPU production and are among the top producers of overclocked editions as well as stock clocked reference cards. Sapphire are also certified to ISO9001 and ISO14001 standards and as such each product is manufactured to the very highest standard and quality. Also, since 2001 Sapphire have been in partnership with ATI so it goes without saying what they don't know about ATI simply is not worth knowing. Drawing on the technical expertise offered by Sapphires own engineers have enabled Sapphire to produce the card we have today.
 
The Vapor-X line of GPU's is Sapphire's overclocked range which while not as speedy as the 'Toxic' versions is still faster than stock. The Vapor-X cooler is also radically different from the stock ATI heatsink in that a larger than standard fan is used and it's positioned centrally rather than at the furthest reaches of the PCB but that's just the beginning. I'll be examining the cooler in greater detail overleaf but rest assured, this card runs cool and quiet. The PCB is also a fetching blue rather than the stock red familiar with all reference ATI cards.
 
Here's what Sapphire had to say about their product:
 
The SAPPHIRE HD 4890 Vapor-X model is a new SAPPHIRE original design. It has SAPPHIRE’s Vapor-X cooling module on the GPU together with a heatsink and profiled fan venting heat out of the case. It is quieter and significantly faster than the standard reference model, with core clock speed of 870MHz and 1GB of DDR5 memory clocked at 1050MHz. Any two of the four output options can be used simultaneously, giving maximum flexibility for connection to different display types. An HDMI to DVI adaptor is also included for those who wish to use a pair of DVI monitors.
 
Specification
 
The following specification was taken directly from Sapphires product page:
 
I/O Output: Display Port+HDMI+DL-DVI+VGA
Core Clock: 870 MHz
Memory Clock: 1050 MHz, 4.2 Gbps
Interface: PCI Express 2.0 x16 bus interface
Memory Interface: 1024MB /256bit GDDR5
Cooling: Dual Slot Vapor-X Cooler
HD: HDMI compliant via dongle
Audio: 7.1 Audio Channel Support
DX Version: Microsoft® DirectX® 10.1 support
Shader model: Shader Model 4.1 support
 
So then, while the clockspeed is not overly extended (20MHz past stock), Sapphire have taken advantage of the revised memory architecture by pre-overclocking it 300MHz(effective) faster than stock from 3.9GHz to a stunningly fast 4.2GHz. But before we get to see the effects of these overclocks, let's take a look at the package itself...
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Most Recent Comments

02-06-2009, 06:42:45

Ghosthud1
the card peforms extremely well, but the card looks horrible when will sapphire discover good looking card chassisQuote

02-06-2009, 07:29:13

ali_james
Sweet review man, massive props to Sapphire for final sticking a non reference cooled card on the market. Any idea when these will be available?Quote

02-06-2009, 14:51:16

Bungral
Nice review as always my good man!

I wasn't sure that these coolers would make much odds over other after market coolers but those temps are pretty damn good.Quote

08-06-2009, 12:40:40

diogojrv91
very nice review!

Is that cooler good enought?Quote

30-06-2009, 18:05:52

Sgt.Bilko
Well actually I am not quite convinced. You see almost solely based on this review I went merrily our and promptly bought 2 of these cards only to find that .

1) They run a lot hotter than stated. 67 Celcius at idle and run so hot when gaming that my PC crashes. I haven't managed to record the temp just before crash-poin but I have seen it at upto a blistering 93 Celcius!

2) I don't get anywhere near the FPS stated in the article. Infact I get exactly the same when playing CoD World at War online with 2 of these cards in crossfire as I did with one 9800GTX+. Namely 91 FPS.

I have plenty of ventilation in my rig and the fans on the HD4890s are certainly working.

At +4000rpm (confirmed by ATIs own CCC program and CPUIDs Hardware Monitor) they are audible let me tell you.

I don't believe my system is to blame despite it not being cutting edge.

Sapphire recommend a bigger PSU. 650W-750W and monitoring my temps with rivatuner.

I have a 620W PSU and run Vista ultimate 64 bit, which doesn't allow rivatuner to work since I downloaded the latest update if you can call it that.

Sys Specs:- [email protected] with Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme cooler and Noctua NF-P12 fan. ASUS Maximus Formula Republic of Gamers motherboard with X38 chipset and 4 GHZ of Kingston HyperX PC9600 RAM @ 1207MHz being cooled with a Corsair Dominator Airflow Fan.

CoolerMaster Real Power M620 Modular PSU.

Vista Ultimate 64 bit OS.

Samsung SpinPoint T166 HD501LJ 500 GB.

All incased in a Aerocool Hi-Tech 7 cabinette with a 40cm fan on the side and 2 x 12cm fans, one infront and one at the back.

Any good advice would be appriciated.

Bilko out.Quote
Reply
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