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Sapphire HD 4890 Toxic/Vapor-X Review

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Sapphire has delivered another set of video cards that deliver performance above what the reference cards can deliver at a price point just slightly above or equal to the pricing from the rest of the ATI manufacturers. Comparatively the pricing on the GTX 275 ranges from $239 to $299 from a popular etailer depending on manufacturer and whether or not the card is a factory overclocked model. The pricing of the Toxic at $259 and the Vapor-X at $239, positions these HD 4890's at a point where you are paying equal dollars for performance that is much closer at the larger resolutions than at the lower end of the scale. A win for Sapphire and ATI. As ATI's largest partner, Sapphire seems to have a leg up on all of the other partners when it comes to bringing out in house designs with better components and better cooling solutions. Their proprietary Vapor chamber technology has graced just about all of the self designed performance models (Toxic, Atomic) since the release of the HD 3870 Atomic Edition back in January of 2007. Heck it has even spawned a new line up the Vapor-X Editions. This solution has proven to be a godsend when used with the HD 48XX series of cards, not just for the cooling performance, but the reduction in operating noise. There is no comparison when bumping the fan speeds up to 100%. The ATI reference cooler sounds much like a vacuum cleaner inside the case, while the fans used on the Vapor-Chamber cooling solution do indeed create some noise at 100% fan speed, but far from the level delivered by the reference design. It's actually not much when compred to the Scythe Kaze fans on my TRUE. The Vapor-X HD 4890 delivered temperatures when overclocked with a fan speed manually set to 100% of 42C idle and 70 C under load. When the driver controls the speed (61% max), the temperatures were slightly higher at 59C idle and 77C under load. At stock clock speeds you can expect even better performance. On the other hand, the heatpipe solution used on the Toxic delivered a 40C idle and 57C load temperature manually setting the fan to 100%, fully 13 degrees cooler than the Vapor-X. Another win for the technology used in these cards. Now, the Vapor-X is more than just a card with a better cooling solution. It uses solid capacitors and "Black Diamond" chokes that run cooler and according to Sapphire run 25% more efficiently making better use of the current supplied to the card. I think the combination of the cooling and better electrical components played a large part in the ability of the Vapor-X to reach an overclock of 970/1195 fully 100MHz higher on the core and 145MHz higher on the Qimonda memory - pretty decent considering the stock HD 4890 I looked at could not deliver these speeds. The Toxic on the other hand pushed the GPU core speed to 1035 just 25MHz short of what was delivered by the Atomic model. The memory on the other hand fell short of the clock speed delivered by the Atomic and Vapor-X models.

The connectivity on the HD 4890 Toxic is your run-of-the-mill 2 DVI and 1 HDTV output. The Vapor-X gives you a total of 4 different options to choose from, so connecting this card to just about any of the commonly used options is possible without and adapter adding to the length of the connection out the back of your PC. Just another thing that makes the Vapor-X HD4890 a more attractive option. The only issue with the 4 outputs is that you can only use 2 of them at one time. Sapphire continues to put out innovative cards that fit a market segment and deliver performance and cooling solutions better than ATI delivers on the reference cards for what are considered a reasonable upgrade price. You have to pay for performance, but it's better when the performance comes with a price that is attractive comes in below competitors pricing. Go Sapphire!


Sapphire HD 4890 Toxic


  • Excellent cooling
  • Overclocked performance
  • Overclocking ability
  • Quiet fan
  • Vapor X
  • GDDR5 memory



  • Fan at 100% is audible


Sapphire HD 4890 Vapor-X


  • Vapor-X cooling
  • Excellent temperatures
  • Overclocking
  • Solid capacitors
  • Black Diamond chokes
  • 4 output types
  • Overclocked performance
  • GDDR 5 memory



  • None


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