Sapphire HD 4890 Vapor-X 2GB Reviewccokeman - July 24, 2009
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Vapor plate cooling technology for video cards was first brought to the market with the Sapphire HD 3870 Atomic Edition card released in January of 2007. From that point forward Sapphire has used the technology on just about all of its higher-end self designed cards as a way of adding an additional value and excellent cooling capabilities. The technology has been proven over and over again from cards that are just barely above stock clocks all the way to the master of the universe Atomic cards. When stock cards push well into the 90C range something needed to be done. Visually, there is not much to differentiate the 1GB Vapor-X HD 4890 from the 2GB model until you flip the card over and see the large finned heatsink on the rear of the card. The voltage regulation circuits are covered with a large passively cooled heatsink. In between the GPU sink and VRM heatsink you can see the Black Diamond chokes that are used to increase efficiency and reduce temperatures.
The Vapor-X comes with not only non standard cooling but non standard display connectivity. The card has four separate outputs, any two of which can be used at one time. The outputs include D-Sub, DVI, HDMI and Display Port. The vent for air to pass out of the chassis has been cut in half to make room for the connectivity options. The rear of the card is dominated by the passive heatsink. While the 1GB model of this card uses two 6-pin PCI-E power connections, the 2GB model uses both an 8-pin and 6-pin configuration. The Vapor-X 2GB model is CrossfireX capable with the addition of another HD 4890, be it Vapor-X or reference.
To cool this card down Sapphire has gone with the tried and true Vapor-X system that uses Vapor Plate technology to remove the heat from the GPU. The VRMs are covered with a large aluminum passive heatsink that does the job. The memory on the back side of the card is covered with a large L shape finned aluminum heasink that keeps the additional 1GB of GDDR5 memory cool. The passive sinks are held on with spring loaded clips while the GPU sink is a bolt down.
The Sapphire HD 4890 Vapor-X 2GB uses the same improved version of the R770 core (now R790) as the HD 4890 that allows for higher clock speeds and features an improved memory architecture. 800 Stream processors, 956 million transistors, 16 ROPs, 256-bit memory interface built upon a 55nm process. The memory used on the HD 4890 Vapor-X is manufactured by Qimonda and is rated for operation at 1000MHz. A major point of difference between the Vapor-X models from Sapphire is the fact that the card uses all solid capacitors and "Black Diamond" chokes that help reduce operating temperature and increase efficiency by 25%. That equates to some serious energy savings.