Sapphire HD 4890 Toxic/Vapor-X Reviewccokeman - June 4, 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. Since that time Sapphire has made use of the technology on just about all of its higher-end self designed cards to offer that additional point of difference. The technology has been proven and offers a tangible benefit when the HD 48XX series offer up plenty of heat that needs to be managed. With stock cards running into the 90's Celsius before ATI got wise and included fan speed control into the CCC there was not much in the way speeding up the fan to reduce temperatures other than an aftermarket solution or modding the XML files. The other problem with the reference cooling solutions is the fact that they are loud when you get over about 55 to 60%. So there you are the two biggest issues cleared up with one card the HD 4890 Vapor-X edition. This card is almost identical to the HD 4870 Vapor-X I looked at back in March. The differences are all under the hood. The Vapor-X uses the the same R790 core with 800 stream processors, 1GB of GDDR5 frame buffer running through a 256 bit bus. From the outside the the most noticeable differences between the Vapor-X and Toxic is the cooling solution. Where the Toxic has a hybrid heatpipe vapor plate design the Vapor-X uses a design much like that used by Intel for its heatsinks with an round aluminum fin array. The power regulation circuits are covered with an aluminum block that is passively cooled. For this route Sapphire has gone with a self designed PCB that uses improved circuitry to allow you to wring more performance from the Vapor-X, with the uses of all solid capacitors and "Black Diamond " chokes that run cooler and are more efficient.
Not only is the cooling special on the Vapor-X HD 4890 but the means of connection to your display is far from the ordinary. 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. The Toxic used both a 6 and 8 pin PCIe power connections but the Vapor-X only goes with 2 6 pin plugs to get the juice to the board. The Vapor-X is CrossfireX capable with the addition of another HD 4890.
The cooling for this card is, as you may have guessed by now, the Vapor-X cooling system. The solution is a little different on this card in relation to that used on the Toxic. The cooling solution is divided into two parts the cooling for the core and memory and the cooling for the mosfets. The GPU and memory are covered with a solution using the vapor plate topped with an aluminum fin array while the mosfet cooling is handles by a finned aluminum block that relies on airflow from the fan and chassis airflow to keep cool.
The Sapphire HD 4890 Vapor-X uses the same improved version of the R770 core (now R790) as the HD 4890 Toxic that allows for higher clock speeds and features an improved memory architecture. 800 Stream processors, 956 million transistors,16 ROP's, 256bit 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 Toxic and the Vapor-X is the fact that the latter card uses all solid capacitors and "Black Diamond" chokes that help reduce operating temperature and increase efficiency by 25%.