Sapphire HD 4870 2GB Vapor X Series Reviewccokeman - March 24, 2009
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The Sapphire HD 4870 2GB Vapor-X Edition is built around the now familiar 55nm RV770 core from ATI featuring 800 stream processors, almost a billion transistors and two gigabytes of GDDR5 memory, all on a custom designed and built PCB. As you could have guessed, this is not your ordinary run-of-the-mill HD4870, though the clock speeds of 750MHz on the core and 900MHz on the memory would suggest otherwise. Features such as solid capacitors and "Black Diamond" chokes take the construction of this offering from Sapphire to a new level. The cooling solution employed by Sapphire is of their own design as well and is decidedly different in form but as the cooling used on its Toxic series of overclocked video cards has shown that the functionality is there. A large heatsink covers the memory modules on the rear face of the card.
Looking at the connectivity options, you can see the reason that there were no video adapters included with the HD 4870 Vapor-X edition, they simply are not needed. Sapphire has given this card a single Dual Link DVI, D-Sub and a native HDMI output so connectivity issues are a thing of the past. Sure, there is no regular HDTV out, but with native HDMI do you need it? The rear of the card is dominated by the large passive heatsink over the power regulation circuits. Air is pulled through the channels to cool these components down. Power is supplied via two 6-pin PCI-E power connections.
Once you get past the custom PCB, the reason for this card really comes down to the cooling. The ATI HD48XX series cards just run hot. The factory solution is really not that conducive to a pleasant experience either because of the noise when spooled up to cool a hot running card or the attempt to keep the card quiet and running the card at less than optimum temperatures (in our eyes). Sapphire has once again gone with Vapor Plate technology and made this solution as close to silent as possible. Vapor Plate technology, in a nutshell, is a heatpipe that is a flat plate instead of a round tube. They both work the same but look different. A liquid is vaporized over the core and the vapor is wicked away to a cooler point and then the vapor condenses back into a liquid and the process starts over again. Add the heatsink on top to whisk away the heat and you have an quiet and efficient cooling system. The fan used on the HD4870 Vapor-X is near dead silent when running. Bumping up the fan speed to 100% via the CCC didn't bring the noise even though the fan spins up to 4600+ RPM.
The 55nm RV770 core is used with the HD 4870 2GB Vapor-X Edition card. The core features 800 stream processors, 16 ROPs and runs at the stock HD 4870 clock speed of 750MHz. The two gigabytes of GDDR5 memory comes from Qimonda and carries part number IDGV1G-05A1F1C-40X and is rated for 1000MHz operation. The default clock speeds on the memory is 900MHz.
The Sapphire HD 4870 Vapor-X Edition is built upon a custom (Sapphire) designed PCB instead of using the reference design from ATI. What this does is allow Sapphire to make a prodct that will be more efficient, have the ability to add components that are better than the reference design, as well as design the power circuits to meet the demands of the enthusiast. In this instance, Sapphire has used solid capacitors and different chokes on the power circuits. These chokes are designed to run cooler and more efficiently and carry the moniker "Black Diamond."