Sapphire Radeon R9 290 Vapor-X 4 GB Review 28

Sapphire Radeon R9 290 Vapor-X 4 GB Review



Sapphire Logo

AMD's Radeon R9 290 has been on the market since the end of last year, and it has positioned itself successfully as a cost-efficient option if you are looking for high-end gaming performance without breaking the bank.

Compared to its big brother, the R9 290X, the R9 290 features 2,560 of the 2,816 stream processors physically present on the "Hawaii" silicon, which is only a 9% reduction. The TMU count is down to 160 from 176, and the reference-design GPU's core clock speed is 948 MHz instead of 1000 MHz.

Sapphire's R9 290 Vapor-X comes as the company's latest installment of a custom-designed take on the R9 290. The Radeon R9 290 Vapor-X uses a large triple-slot, triple-fan cooler that has been combined with Sapphire's Vapor-Chamber technology to keep the card cool. A little switch lets you disable two of the three fans in idle, which reduces noise levels without increasing temperatures much.

Clock speeds have been increased to 1030 MHz on the GPU. Memory is overclocked to 1400 MHz.

Retailing at $440, the cards is a good deal more expensive than other R9 290 cards that can be had for as low as $370 thanks to recent price drops.

Radeon R9 290 Market Segment Analysis
HD 7970
GTX 770
HD 7970
GHz Ed.
R9 280X
GTX 680
GTX 780
R9 290
Sapphire R9
290 Vapor-X
R9 290X
GTX 780 Ti
Shader Units2048153620482048153623042560256028162880
Graphics ProcessorTahitiGK104TahitiTahitiGK104GK110HawaiiHawaiiHawaiiGK110
Memory Size3072 MB2048 MB3072 MB3072 MB2048 MB3072 MB4096 MB4096 MB4096 MB3072 MB
Memory Bus Width384 bit256 bit384 bit384 bit256 bit384 bit512 bit512 bit512 bit384 bit
Core Clock925 MHz1046 MHz+1050 MHz1000 MHz1006 MHz+863 MHz+947 MHz1030 MHz1000 MHz876 MHz+
Memory Clock1375 MHz1753 MHz1500 MHz1500 MHz1502 MHz1502 MHz1250 MHz1400 MHz1250 MHz1750 MHz


Package Front
Package Back


You will receive:
  • Graphics card
  • Driver CD + documentation
  • Mousepad
  • HDMI cable
  • 2x PCIe 6-pin to 8-pin adapter

The Card

Graphics Card Front
Graphics Card Back

Sapphire deviated from their typical color theme and is branding the Vapor-X in a strong neon blue, which looks good. The cooler also utilizes a lot of surface detail, which gives it a more rugged look. You will find a backplate on the back of the card, which helps with cooling and protects the card. Dimensions of the card are 30.0 cm x 12.5 cm.

Graphics Card Height

Installation requires three slots in your system.

Monitor Outputs, Display Connectors

Display connectivity options include two DVI ports, one HDMI port, and one DisplayPort. You may use all outputs at the same time, so triple-monitor-surround gaming is possible with one card.

The GPU also includes an HDMI sound device. It is HDMI 1.4a compatible, which includes HD audio and Blu-ray 3D movies support.

Multi-GPU Area

A physical CrossFire connector is not present as all Hawaii-based GPUs send their CrossFire data via the PCI-Express bus.

Graphics Card Teardown PCB Front
Graphics Card Teardown PCB Back

Pictured above are the front and back, showing the disassembled board. High-res versions are also available (front, back).
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