Sapphire HD 5870 and HD 5750 Vapor-X Reviewccokeman -
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Much like the reference cards, the HD 5870 Vapor-X edition features a doubling of the transistor count to 2.15 Billion on the RV870 core that is built using a 40nm process. The 1600 Stream processors and 80 texture units are double the amount used on the previous generation video cards, while the core only measures 1.25 times larger at 334mm2! This all adds up to 2.7 TFLOPS, or more than 177 Deep Blue Supercomputers. That is called power! Pure computing power. While the reference card is fully enclosed front and back, the Vapor-X edition uses a one sided cover assembly. The reference cards measure just over 11 inches in length, but the Vapor-X comes in at about 10.75 inches so its fitment into smaller (Midtower) chassis should be a little bit less of a challenge. You can see that the Vapor-X cooling system uses a hybrid copper-aluminum heatsink assembly on top of the Vapor Chamber with a 92mm fan providing airflow.
Output option are the standard for the 5 series cards with HDCP compliant DisplayPort, a single HDMI and two DUAL Link DVI outputs that allow for ATI's Eyefinity Multi display technology to be used, supporting three monitors with a maximum resolution of 7680x1600 @ 60Hz. The back end of the card is open to allow airflow out of the 5870 Vapor-X. The power connections face up on the spine of the card to make access easier.
The Vapor-X HD 5870 is CrossfireX capable with a minimum of one additional HD 5870 and up to a maximum of three additional cards, with a supporting motherboard. With the level of performance of one of these cards, the performance of four should be just amazing. Power is supplied via two 75 watt 6-pin PCIe power connectors. ATI recommends at least a 500 watt power supply, with 600W+ recommended for crossfire mode. The power consumption numbers are stated to be 188 watts under load and 27 watts at idle, much like the reference cards.
The heatsink assembly used on the HD 5870 Vapor-X video card from Sapphire, as you might have guessed by now, uses a vapor chamber as the primary means of controlling the thermal output of the Vapor-X series. The vapor chamber design is from a company called Microloops. The assembly comes off the card, much like a reference design heatsink, but is quite a bit different. The vapor chamber is housed in a base plate, which has a hybrid heatpipe assembly that transfers the heat from the back side of the vapor chamber to the aluminum fin array, to be dispersed by the air blown over the fins by the 92mm fan.
The 92mm fan is held onto the heatsink instead of being attached to the shroud. The fan used on the Vapor-X HD 5870 is manufactured by ADDA and is model number AD0912UB-U7BGL. What this translates into is a seven blade, 92mm, DC brushless fan that operates on 12 volts DC, with ball bearings instead of a sleeve bearing. The closest comparison fan that I could find at ADDA's website lists fans that operate at around 3300 RPM and 60CFM at around 39dBA. Based on the noise generated at 100% fan speed, I would have to say this is pretty close to what the fan generates. By comparison, I have some Silverstone fans in the case rated at 39dBA and the noise was similar in pitch. Unscientific, but close.
Once you strip away the shroud and heatsink, you can get to the heart of the HD 5870 Vapor-X, the RV 870 core. The RV870 core clock speed on the Vapor-X 5870 gets a 20MHz bump over the reference clock speed of 850MHz. The core measures 334mm2 in size, which by comparison is 1.25 times larger than the previous generation. The process shrink to 40nm allows the core to only be 1.25 time larger while doubling the amount of stream processors to 1600, ROP's to 32, transistors count to 2.15 Billion and a texture unit increase to 80. The one thing not significantly increased was the amount of GDDR5 memory used at 1GB. It does however run through a 256-bit bus, with clock speeds increased significantly. The labeling on the memory modules was difficult to read, but it looks like Samsung modules are used. The Vapor-X HD 5870 from Sapphire goes all the way to 1250MHz, from the reference clock speeds of 1200 MHz. The voltage regulation circuits are improved with the use of solid capacitors and Sapphire's proprietary Black Diamond chokes that run 10% cooler and 25% more efficiently.
Better construction and cooling usually equals better overclocking and higher performance, something that has proven true on Sapphire's past offerings. Let's see if the trend continues. Next up, the HD 5750 Vapor-X.