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Sapphire HD 4890 Vapor-X 2GB Review

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When I looked at the HD 4870 Vapor-X 2GB card back in March, I was looking for big things from the addition of the additional 1GB of memory. What I found was that the additional memory did not really add anything really tangible, performance wise, in the benchmarks. Fast forward to the HD 4890 Vapor-X 2GB and I was greeted with much of the same thing. At the 2560x1600 resolutions the difference between the 1GB and 2GB model was marginal throughout most of the benchmarks. That does not mean there were not increases because there were. BioShock and Call of Duty World at War were the two exceptions where the 2GB model did better than the 1GB model but in both games once you reach 2560x1600 a 1 FPS difference was all there was. What the additional memory did do was make the gameplay a bit smoother during the benchmarking. For me this was especially noticeable in CoD WaW where the little bit of choppiness was not there at 2560x1600. Small concession but at least the pricing is only at a 30 dollar premium over the similarly clocked 1GB model, making the switch to 2GB not that much of a problem.

So what does the Sapphire HD 4890 Vapor-X 2GB do well? Well, for one it offers up excellent cooling without the noise penalty that the reference cards present when you push the fan speed toward the max level. This card was barely audible three feet away from the case and was not heard over the white noise in my test room. The temperatures delivered by this card are almost identical to those of the Vapor-X 1GB card I tested. With the clock speeds at the factory default 870/1050 settings and the fan controlled by the driver, I measured 48 degrees Celsius at idle and 75 degrees Celsius while under load. Much lower than the reference cooling, and again it is dead silent in this configuration. Once overclocked and bumping the fan speed to 100%, I measure 43 Celsius at idle and 70 Celsius under load. Both better than the driver controlled numbers at the default clocks and leaps and bounds ahead of the reference cards. Having run through a few HD 4890 cards, the limits are relatively easy to reach without resorting to BIOS or hardware tweaks. The 1GB model reached 970MHz on the core and 1195MHz on the memory. The 2GB model reached very similar clock speeds of 950MHz on the core and 1200MHz on the memory, no slouch in the overclocking department even with the additional memory. That looks like some pretty close binning.

The HD 4890 Vapor-X 2GB is far from your average card. This card is designed and built by Sapphire with better components that allow the card to run cooler and more efficiently than the reference designs. Sapphire uses what it calls Black Diamond chokes and solid capacitors to increase power efficiency by 25%. This makes it cheaper to run long term by the fact that it saves you energy, and at today's costs that is almost worth the price of admission. The Vapor-X 2GB is not saddled with what seems to be standard fare when it comes to the display output types the card uses. You get four different outputs, D-Sub, DVI, HDMI and Display Port. Only two can be used simultaneously though. If you want to hook this card up to the large plasma or LCD screen, you no longer need an adapter if you choose to connect via an HDMI cable.

The Sapphire HD 4890 Vapor-X 2GB offers a route away from the cookie cutter reference video cards from ATI. With this card you get factory overclocked performance with great overclocking potential on top of what is already there, exceptional cooling capabilities, and better construction all for a price point that really is not a huge penalty over the 1GB model. Sapphire keeps bringing innovative designs to market to fill niches that the standard cards can't possibly fill. The HD 4890 Vapor-X 2GB is one of these cards.



  • Vapor-X cooling
  • Overclocking
  • Overclocked performance
  • 2GB of GDDR5 memory
  • Four different outputs
  • Native HDMI
  • Better construction
  • Quiet
  • Price



  • 2GB of GDDR5
  • Price


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