Radeon HD 4870 2GB Vapor-X from Sapphire reviewed
Sapphire offers a new Radeon HD 4870 graphics card with 2GB VRAM and a Vapor-X cooling solution. PC Games Hardware took a closer look at the card.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Vapor-X 2GB: Introduction
For this review we sum up the important facts about the graphics card and compare it with two cards that are similar to the tested product.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Vapor-X 2GB
The Vapor-X series from Sapphire is equipped with a special cooling solution based on the Vapor Chamber technology. In this process the heat transfer via vaporization is fast and efficient and thus an efficient and silent cooling solution is possible. Sapphire also equips the card with an impressive amount of 2 GiByte modern GDDR5 video memory. Regardless of the effective cooling solution the frequencies are kept on the AMD default values of 750 MHz (chip) respectively 900 MHz (VRAM).
The video memory is split into 16 512 MiByte chips of the stricken company Qimonda and is placed on the front and back side of the card. The 8 memory chips on the front are cooled by the 75 millimeter axial fan, while the ones on the back are covered by an aluminum plate. Since this plate is 10 millimeters thick it can cause compatibility problems if the PCI-E x1 slot above the graphics card is blocked by another device. Part of the heated air is exhausted via the slot cover.
The most important technical facts:
|Graphics chip/Card||Sapphire HD 4870 2GB Vapor-X||HD 4870||HD 4850||GTX260-216||GTS 250 'Fast'||GTS 250 '512'|
|Core frequency (MHz)||750||750||625||576||738||738|
|Shader ALUs frequency (MHz)||750||750||625||1,242||1,836||1,836|
|Memory frequency (MHz)||1,800||1,800||1,000||999||1,100||1,100|
|Memory size (MiByte)||2,048||512, 1,024||512, 1,024||896/1,792||1,024||512|
|Memory bus (Bit)||256||256||256||448||256||256|
|Texture fillrate (MTex/s)||30,000||30,000||25,000||41,472||47,232||47,232|
|Memory bandwidth (MByte/s)||115,200||115,200||64,000||111,888||70,400||64,000|
|Multi GPU||Crossfire X||Crossfire X||Crossfire X||SLI, 3-W.-SLI||SLI, 3-W.-SLI||SLI, 3-W.-SLI|
|PCI-E. connector (6-Pin/8-Pin)||2 x / 0 x||2 x / 0 x||1 x / 0 x||2 x / 0 x||1 x / 0 x||1 x / 0 x|
|Length PCB (mm, ca.)||242||228||228||268||228||228|
Besides the driver DVD and the Ruby Rom with game demo versions, the Sapphire HD 4870 Vapor-X 2GB comes with Cyberlink's DVD Suite, Power DVD and the Advanced Edition of Futuremark's 3DMark Vantage - which you normally have to pay for. Two adaptations for the PCI-Express power connectors and a Crossfire bridge top off the hardware equipment. Connectors for Dual-Link DVI, HDMI and DSub15 are already installed on the card.
The loudness, power consumption and cooling power of the card can be found in the table below:
|Results||Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 2GB Vapor-X|
|Idle (Sone/db(A))||0.3 / 22.1|
|Idle (Degrees Celsius)||58|
|3DMark 03 (Sone/db(A))||1.2 / 32.3|
|3DMark 03 (Degrees Celsius)||70|
|3DMark 03 (Watt)||142.1|
|Furmark (Sone/db(A))||2.8 / 40.4|
|Furmark (Degrees Celsius)||74|
Unfortunately the BIOS of our sample only altered the GPU frequency when switching between 2D and 3D mode. The clock speed of the VRAM and the power feed for the RV770 chip haven't been changed and thus the power consumption on idle is comparatively high. We already contacted Sapphire about the problem and are waiting for the answer if the retail cards will have the same BIOS.
The power consumption of the card has been recorded in three different scenarios: Windows XP desktop idle, extreme stress test Furmark and 3DMark 03 which represents the average load for a graphics card. The loudness was recorded at a distance of 50 centimeters.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Vapor-X 2GB benchmarks
We tested the performance of the graphics card in four of the currently important games. For comparison we have the results of a HD 4870 with 1 GB VRAM and a Geforce GTX 260-216 that cost about the same.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Vapor-X 2GB overclocking
The Vapor-X cooling of the card actually indicates good overclocking results, but unfortunately our sample wasn't very convincing in that respect. The maximal stable frequencies of 790/1,938 MHz aren't really good, but as usual overclocking is like playing in the lottery since every single card reveals a different behavior.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Vapor-X 2GB: Conclusion
Quiet cooling, fast memory which is big enough for almost any situation and good software equipment are the positive aspects of the Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Vapor-X 2GB.
In comparison to the cheaper but also louder and hotter default HD 4870 1GB the card can reach a noticeable advantage of about 30 percent in the highest Crysis Warhead settings - but here both cards only deliver unplayable framerates. The Radeon HD 4870 2GB Vapor-X beats a Geforce GTX 260-216 (default clock speeds) in Race Driver Grid and Crysis Warhead with activated 8x MSAA. In Call of Duty: World at War and the 4x AA settings of Fallout 3 the Geforce is slightly in front.
If you have to keep an eye on your budget, the Radeon HS 4870 1G or the Geforce GTX 260-216 are some good alternatives, just like the Sapphire HD 4870 Vapor-X with only one GiByte GDDR5 VRAM.
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