|Sapphire Radeon HD5870 Vapor-X 100281-2GVXSR|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Tuesday, 03 November 2009|
Page 3 of 16
Sapphire 5870 Closer Look
The video card industry is hurting as bad as anyone during this economic recession, and nobody is walking around happy about PC graphics these days. They can't, really, not when many of the latest video game titles for the personal computer are released only after console versions have been made available first. Even once you get past that initial burn, you're greeted by yet another. During the 2009 business year we've seen dozens of great video games released on the PC platform, but very few of them demand any more graphical processing power than games demanded back in 2006. Video cards certainly got bigger and faster, but video games we're seriously lacking fresh development. DirectX 10 helped the industry, but every step forward received two steps back because of Windows Vista. Introduced with Windows 7, enthusiasts now have DirectX 11 detail and special effects in their video games.
Although the pictures won't do it justice, the Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X video card actually measures an lengthy 11.0" long, putting it exactly 1/2-inch beyond the 10.5" long GeForce GTX 285 that it competes with. ATI produces all reference Radeon HD 5870's, but Sapphire has taken that design and given it a few tweaks. The most obvious is the Vapor-X vapor chamber cooling technology, which is meant to manage any extra heat produced by the factory overclocked GPU and GDDR5. Sapphire nudges the Juniper GPU from 850MHz to 870, and bumps the video memory from 1200MHz to 1250.
Most overclocker-enthusiasts prefer an externally-exhausting VGA cooler (such as the one used on reference-design Radeon HD 5870 video cards) over a cooler that vents back into the computer case. While some of the heated air does pass through the vent on the I/O plate, which measures only about 0.5x1.5" in diameter. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the exhausted air blows back into the case through the rear-end of the video card. If you've got a sensitive overclock on your processor, the Sapphire HD5870 Vapor-X is going to require additional ventilation to keep nearby components cool.
One of the newest creature-comforts added into the ATI Radeon series is the DisplayPort output, located beside a native HDMI 1.3 port, and available on all Radeon HD 5870 video cards. Two DVI digital video outputs are connected to monitors for dual-view, or a third monitor can be added via DisplayPort to enable ATI Eyefinity technology. Benchmark Reviews offers more information regarding ATI Eyefinity technology in the next section.
Unlike the reference ATI design, Sapphire's Vapor-X edition video card does not receive a backplate to cover the underside PCB; on the model 100281-2GVXSR product the printed circuit board is exposed, similar to the Radeon HD 5850. Considering the Cypress GPU die size is a rather large 334 mm2, and fits 2154 million transistors, the overall heat dissipation is spread over a suitable landscape. The double-height cooler does a very good job of cooling the Vapor-X HD5870, but there is still a tremendous amount of heat that builds up on backside of the PCB. If you're an overclocker, there isn't much that can be done to help cool the unit from the reverse side of the circuit board, especially since ATI restricts DRAM modules to the topside of the PCB on this video card.
In next several sections, Benchmark Reviews details our methodology for testing video cards followed by a performance comparison against many of the most popular graphics accelerators available. The Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X competes against the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285, so of course we'll be keeping a close eye on comparative performance. First, let's investigate ATI Eyefinity multi-monitor technology...