Sapphire HD 5870 and HD 5750 Vapor-X Review

ccokeman - 2009-10-27 15:46:29 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: November 3, 2009
Price: HD5870 $399 HD5750 $150

Introduction:

By now the world knows that ATI and its partners came out and dropped a bomb on the Nvidia camp with the release of the first DirectX 11 capable video cards, the HD 5800 series, which includes the Sapphire HD 5870 and Sapphire HD 5850. To add insult to injury, they followed up with the HD 5700 series that includes the Sapphire HD 5770 and 5750.The performance of the HD 5800 series scaled well and truly beat up on the GTX 285, which was the reigning top-of-the-line single GPU video card. Its palace at the front of the line is now occupied by the HD 5870. If you have not heard, Sapphire is ATI's largest partner and usually comes up with something unique for its video cards once the BBATI cards are launched. Cooling, as well as construction enhancements, are usually part of the package. In the past there have been the Atomic series, the Toxic series, and the Vapor-X series of cards - each with a specific target. The Vapor-X line uses Sapphire's Vapor Chamber Technology, coupled with an improved cooling solution to have the GPU core and memory run as cool as possible, while attenuating the noise problems with the reference cooling design. By doing this, Sapphire can give the cards a small boost in performance by upping the clock speeds on the memory and GPU core. The first card to use the Vapor-X technology supplied by Microloops was the Sapphire Atomic HD 3870, first seen on OCC back in January of 2007. Since then, the technology has become mature - easily handling all of the cooling needs of the Vapor-X line up.

Thanks to its innovative cooling solution, the Sapphire Vapor-X HD 5870 gets a 20MHz bump on the RV870 core to 870MHz with a 50 MHz jump on the 1GB of GDDR5 memory to 1250Mhz, while the Vapor-X HD 5750 gets a 10MHz bump on both the core and memory to 710MHz and 1160MHz, respectively.  Not as dramatic as on the HD 5870, but a bump nonetheless. Better cooling capabilities are not the only calling card of the Vapor-X series. What you get is a card that is built using better components like solid high polymer capacitors and Sapphire's own Black Diamond chokes, which have integral heatsinks that allow the chokes to run 10% cooler and 25% more efficiently than normal chokes. Let's see, so far Sapphire has a series of video cards in the Vapor-X series that run cooler, have higher clock speeds, run quieter, what's not to like about that! Let's take a look at what the Vapor-X 5870 and 5750 have to offer in terms of gaming and cooling performance.

Closer Look:

The packaging on the 5 series has changed from that used on the 48XX series Vapor-X cards. For the HD 5870, the front panel has gone all white, while the HD 5750 retains the previous look, but carries all of the information specific to the 5 series video cards. The features listed on the front panel of each card are fairly similar. Each video card comes with a download certificate for the DirectX 11 title, Dirt 2, which should be available in early December. Support for CrossfireX, DirectX 11, Eyefinity multi-display technology, On board HDMI and DisplayPort connectivity, and Stream technology are all listed features. Both rear panels have expanded descriptions for the supported technologies listed on the front panel, a synopsis of the attributes of a Sapphire Vapor-X card, a listing of the many awards the company has received for there products, and, in the bottom center of each back panel, a notice that the packaging used on the cards is all recyclable. Corporate responsibility is a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

When you pull the inner carton out of the main packaging, you have the same packaging, a plain cardboard box with a recycling icon on the bottom left of the lid - as a reminder that the packaging used on these cards is recyclable. The cards sit in formed cardboard trays, and while the bundled accessories are in a box under the HD 5870, the bundle is stored with the HD 5750.

 

 


The bundles are fairly similar, with the main differences being the inclusion of the game, Battle Stations Pacific on the HD 5870 Vapor-X and Arcsofts Sim HD software plug in for IM and the power adapters. Everything else is the same and you get the manual, driver disk, the coupon for the DirectX 11 game Dirt 2, CrossfireX bridge connector, and a DVI to D-sub adapter. As usual, Sapphire provides a nice software and hardware package.

 

 

 

Besides the basics, the one thing the cards have in common is the method of cooling the onboard components. While the implementation may be slightly different, the effect is the same. Both start out with a flat vapor chamber that the memory and GPU core directly contact. From there, the solutions differ drastically. I will touch on that later, after seeing how the process works. The Vapor plate is used to wick away heat, much the same way a heatpipe does. According to Sapphire's white paper on the Vapor plate technology, the liquid inside the Vapor plate is something we use each and every day - water, plain and simple. But, water boils at 212 degrees F, right? Not when the pressure is reduced by pulling a vacuum. You can see the port where the vacuum was pulled, and the opening has been soldered shut to prevent vacuum loss. Rather than describe how the process works, I will let the blown-up images show just how simple the process really is. The last picture is a magnified image of the wicking material that is used in the assembly. From past experience, the solution is quite effective at limiting the temperature increases on the HD 3XXX and 4XXX series of video cards from Sapphire. Let's see how the technology works on the 5800 and 5700 series of cards. My guess is that it is up to the task.

 

 

The Vapor-X technology has matured and has been proven to work. Let's see how the latest cards from Sapphire and ATI using this technology perform.

 

Closer Look:

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.

 

Closer Look:

When it comes down to looks, the the HD 5750 Vapor-X does not look too much different from the Sapphire reference version. What's underneath may well tell the tale of how well this card performs in relation to the Sapphire reference version. With the Vapor-X edition, you get an increase in both the GPU core clock to 710Mhz and the memory goes up to 1160Mhz, both 10 MHz jumps that should offer a little bump in performance. The GPU core on the HD 5750 Vapor-X contains 1.04 Billion transistors, 720 stream processors,16 ROP's and 36 texture units. The card is equipped with 1GB of GDDR5 memory running through a 128-bit bus. The Vapor Chamber heatsink and improved component selection are what set the Vapor-X models apart from the reference boards. The shroud used on the Vapor-X edition runs toward the rear of the card, to improve airflow over the VRM circuit. The Sapphire logo on the top side of the shroud glows blue when the fan speed ramps up, giving a visual clue that the card is working harder.

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connectivity for the HD 5750 Vapor-X is standard fare for the 5 series cards from Sapphire. You get two Dual Link DVI ports, a single DisplayPort jack, and a single HDMI port that is supports HDMI 1.3. If you use the HDMI output, 7.1 sound can be carried along with the video signal. The output configuration enables the use of ATI's Eyefinity Multi-Monitor technology, with a resolution of 7680x1600 supported by using three monitors of up to 30-inches. To use the technology, you need to use the two Dual link DVI ports along with the DisplayPort, which means that one of your monitors must have a DisplayPort jack. The back end of the card contains the 6-pin PCIe power connection. In the view of the card, you can see the solid capacitors and the Black Diamond chokes that carry an integral heatsink to allow the choke to run cooler and more efficiently - up to 25% more efficiently. The HD 5750 Vapor-X is Crossfire X capable since you have more than one bridge connection on the PCB.

 

 

The big selling points on the Vapor-X series are the improved cooling, higher clock speeds, and improved component usage. To get a better look at the PCB and heatsink assembly, the card comes apart with just a few screws. The Vapor-X cooling system has at its heart a vapor plate that takes the thermal load from the Juniper core, and transfers it to the aluminum heatsink attached on the back side of the Vapor chamber. From there, the fan does the rest by supplying the airflow to carry the heat load away from the HD 5750. You can see where the chamber is sealed with a crimp and solder joint, much like on a sealed refrigeration system. The cooling is only part of the solution. The solid capacitors have a longer lifespan, while the Black Diamond chokes run cooler thanks to the integral heatsink. This allows the choke to operate 10% cooler and 25% more efficiently. The last part of the equation is the shroud that directs airflow over the onboard components. It also has a light on the top of it that lights up brighter under higher fans speeds.

 

 

 

The Juniper based core on the HD 5750 Vapor-X has a total of 1.04 Billion transistors on board. Total shader processor count comes in at 720, a total of 80 less than the HD 4800 series. The texture units count is 36, with a total of 16 ROPs - the same as the HD 5770. The memory used on Vapor-X5750 is supplied by Hynix and is rated to run at 5Gbps, or 1250Mhz on a 128-bit bus. This it was able to easily achieve and topped out at 1360Mhz.

 

 

Following in the steps of previous generations of Vapor-X equipped cards, the Sapphire HD 5750 Vapor-X has the tools to be an overclocking beast. The reference card did quite well with clock speeds of 840MHz on the GPU core and 1346MHz on the memory, so let's see how this rendition fares.

 

Closer Look:

When you first get a new video card, the first thing you want to do is get it installed.  But firstly, you have to install the drivers so that you don't sit there utterly disappointed by the graphics performance of the shiny new card. Thankfully, Sapphire has included a disk to get you started, although the manufacturer website is a great alternative so you can get the latest drivers that include game and bug fixes. I will browse through the disk to see what is included.

After you insert the disk and allow the autorun to start the process, you end up with the Sapphire GUI on the desktop. There are three options to choose from, ATI Easy Install, Online Manual and Adobe Reader. Of course, the ATI Easy Install is for installing the drivers and proprietary software to gain the most functionality from your new purchase. You have a choice of operating systems to choose from, so just choose the appropriate OS and you get to start the ATI driver install wizard. The Online Manual is a link to download the manual while Adobe Reader links to Adobe's web site to so you can download the latest version of Adobe Reader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you choose to install the drivers from the disk, just move forward through the process, checking the options best suited for your needs. You have two options to choose from, either the Express Install that manages the whole process for you or the Custom Install that allows you to choose which software you will install from a list.  To finish the installation, agree to the EULA and let the wizard finish and do the customary reboot.

 

 

 

 

With the drivers now installed, it's time for some gaming to see just how high the additional clock speeds on this pair of cards will drive the performance.

 

Closer Look:

The ATI Catalyst Control Center got a new look with the introduction of the 9.7 drivers so it's about time to take an in-depth look at the options and the interface. We will see how well the GUI is setup and how easy it is to navigate through. Since the basic view is well ... basic, I will look through the Advanced panel. The first page to open with ATI Catalyst Control Center is the Welcome page which has quick hyperlinks to check for driver updates, get in contact with customer care, give feedback, visit the AMD website, or join the Folding@Home cause. The next page is the Information Center; the Information Center is split into two tabs – one for Graphics Software information and the other for Graphics Hardware information. These two tabs can be very handy for troubleshooting any problems that crop up while using the Sapphire's Latest Vapor-X cards the HD5870 and HD 5750.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

  

 

 

 

The Graphics Hardware tab of the Information Center contains information about the Sapphire Vapor-X cards including BIOS version and date, chipset, memory, vendor code, and so on. Most people shouldn’t need the Graphics Hardware and Software Information, but it definitely handy when a problem may occur. The next page is the Desktops & Displays page – this page is for the basic settings of the monitor(s) and desktop. Users can figure out which monitor is which and rotate the outputted image. Clicking the properties or moving along brings us to the Desktop Properties page.

 

 

The Desktop Properties page has much more control over the desktop with settings such as desktop area, color quality, refresh rate, and again rotation. The next tab in the Desktop Properties page adjusts the color, contrast, brightness, and gamma output. This can be handy on monitors that need some help putting out the appropriate colors – back when I used a CRT a long time ago it helped keep the colors closer to true when the monitor would get aged and get a gray or yellowish tint.

 

 

The Display Options page is very short and is used just for one option – Display Detection Option. The options are automatic or manual detection of displays. The 3D page has several tabs that allow users the ability to define a custom scheme for their games. There are previews for the effects or users can power through all of the settings on the 'All' tab at the end.

 

 

The Avivo Video page has five tabs dedicated to performance and quality adjustments for video output. A preview is included of a woman with flowers and fruit. Again, just as with the 3D page, there is an 'All' tab that can adjust all of the settings for the Avivo Video at once.

 

 

The last page on the graphics menu is the ATI Overdrive. To first use this feature, users must click the lock to ‘unlock’ the program after then agreeing to some terms. The software is capable of automatically overclocking the video card through Auto-Tune, but I prefer using the manual settings. Users can test their settings using the Test Custom Clocks button. Fan speed control is relatively new to ATI Overdrive and allows users to define what speed the fan or blower runs at. Underneath and to the right of this are gauges and readouts of some of the more important data for this card – temperature, usage activity, fan speed, GPU clock speed, and memory clock speed. The test feature brings up a full screen image that is pretty basic – greenish reddish with an AMD logo in the bottom left.

 

 

The new additional menu is the HydraVision menu. The first page is the HydraGrid page, which allows users to define a grid-like component to lock applications to a certain chunk of desktop real estate. Options such as showing the grids when moving a window and showing an icon in the tray are settable at the bottom while adjusting the grid is near the top. The grid can be previewed as the default layout is seen with white bars representing the grids. Users can customize the grid layout to whatever they desire and the keyboard shortcuts are listed out in the image while the red bar means it is the selected grid component to be adjusted.

 

 

The next page is the Desktop Manager, which does exactly what the name implies – it manages the desktop. The desktop manager can keep track of application position and size, and allow spanning across multiple displays. The last page is the Multi Desktop. This name is also suggestive to its use – this program allows users to have multiple desktops ranging from two up to nine. Users can rotate between desktops with the scroll wheel, preserve display settings, and enable another tray icon. This can be useful for those who have a ton of desktop icons as a means to separate them out – one could, for instance, even make a desktop for each category of their own choosing even – gaming, work, school, and whatever else.

 

 

Now that the Catalyst Control Center has been configured, we can get to some gaming or take a rest and let the Sapphire Vapor-X cards do some good for humanity by Folding@Home!

Specifications:

Sapphire HD 5870 Vapor-X

SKU
21161-03
AISC
Radeon HD 5870
Bus Interface
PCI-E x16 (PCI-E 2.0)
Memory
1024MB / 256-bit GDDR5
Clock Speed
870MHz Eclk / Effective 5000 MHz
Mclk
Cooling System
Dual slot Fan with auto fan control
Bracket
Full Height
Display Support
Dual DL-DVI-I
Display Port
HDMI
VGA(Via adaptor)
HDCP
Yes
Crossfire Support
Native Hardware Crossfire
External Power
PCIe Graphic External 2 x 6 pin
Board Power
188Watt(Maximum)
27Watt(Idle)
Accessories
Crossfire Interconnect Cable x 1
DVI to VGA Adaptor x 1
6 PIN to 4 PIN Power Cable x 2
Game Bundle in
21161-03
Battle Stations Pacific
Dirt2 Coupon

 

Sapphire HD 5750 Vapor-X

SKU
11164-04
AISC
 Radeon HD 5750
Bus Interface
PCI-E x16 (PCI-E 2.0)
Memory
1024MB / 128-bit GDDR5
Clock Speed
710MHz Eclk / Effective 4640 MHz
Mclk
Cooling System
Dual slot Fan with auto fan control
Bracket
Full Height
Display Support
Dual DL-DVI-I
Display Port
HDMI
VGA(Via adaptor)
HDCP
Yes
Crossfire Support
Native Hardware Crossfire
External Power
PCIe Graphic External 1 x 6 pin

 

Features:

Sapphire HD 5870 Vapor-X

 

 

Sapphire HD 5750 Vapor-X

 

All information courtesy of Sapphire

Testing:

Testing the Sapphire Vapor-X series of cards will consist of running the card through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks to test the performance of the 5700 series cards against many popular competitors, to gauge their performance. The games used are some of today's popular titles, to give you an idea on how the cards perform relative to each other. The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustment will be made to the respective control panels during the testing, with the exception of the 3DMark Vantage testing where PhysX will be disabled in the nVidia control panel. Clock speeds on each card are left at stock speeds. I will test both cards at stock speeds and then overclocked to see how much additional performance is available when you choose to overclock the card to see if it can run with or faster than the current fastest single GPU cards on the market. Games that have recently been added to the benchmark suite include some of the newest titles to market including Batman: Arkham Asylum, Resident Evil 5, and Darkest of Days. Of course, all settings are left at defaults in the control panels of each respective manufacturer except where noted. I will be using the latest drivers from each manufacturer at the time of this review. Catalyst 9.9 for all ATI cards save the 5800 and 5700 series, which require the 8.66 RC, and 191.07 for the nVidia cards.

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

The first thing you want to do, if you plan on trying for clock speeds in excess of the limits in the Catalyst Control Center, is download AMD GPU Clock tool and MSI AfterBurner, to make sure you get all the clock speed you can pull from the two Vapor-X cards. Let's start with the HD 5750 Vapor-X. Much like the standard version I looked at from Sapphire, this card has some overclocking legs. On the initial testing, I pushed it past the speeds the standard version ran up to, but was only able to get about 20 MHz more than the reference cooled card. I used ATI's CCC to run the clocks up since I did not exceed what limits were in the CCC with AMD-GPU clock tool or Afterburner. Still, 20 MHz over the stock cards maximum clock speed is still a 150Mhz increase on the core and a 200Mhz bump on the memory. This bump equaled an increase in performance across the board, for not much effort. The temperatures on the Vapor-X 5750 rose to 53 degrees Celsius, under load, with the fan speed at 100% while overclocked, and reached 58 degrees Celsius with the fan driver controlled at stock speeds. All in all, I was impressed with the amount of performance the little card pucked up when overclocked. An 8 to 10 FPS jump in COD WAW is pretty sweet.

The HD 5870 Vapor-X was a mixed bag of results. The core clock speed on the 1600 processors went from an 870Mhz starting point all the way up to 986Mhz, a 116Mhz improvement, while the memory was disappointing with an increase of only 40Mhz over the 1250MHz clock speed on the Vapor-X 5870! The memory was a shocker, but it really fell into the same bucket as the reference cards memory clocks when overclocked. By using the combination of the two overclocking utilities I was able to pull the 986/1290 clocks from this card. This increase gave the HD 5870 just that much more muscle. When it came to the cooling capabilities, the Vapor-X shines - at the overclocked speeds, the temperatures were 58 degrees Celsius under load and 41 Celsius at idle with the fan at 100%. At the stock clocks, the idle temperature was much better at 34 Celsius, while the load temperature peaked at 60 Celsius, two degrees hotter. But the fan speed never hit 50%! There is no doubt the lower resolutions are a little CPU bound at the clock speeds I test at, so I ran the Extreme preset in 3DMark Vantage, while giving the CPU a small bump up to 3.6GHz, and the scoring jumped by 250 points. All in all, the Vapor-X cards do a fine job of overclocking above what the reference cards can achieve without voltmods or extreme cooling.

 

 

  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Crysis Warhead
  3. Darkest of Days
  4. Call of Duty World at War
  5. Warhammer 40,000 DOW II
  6. Batman: Arkham Asylum
  7. Resident Evil 5
  8. Left 4 Dead
  9. 3DMark 06 Professional
  10. 3DMark Vantage

 

Testing:

Far Cry 2:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built especially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real time effects and damage. This next generation First Person Shooter comes to us from Ubisoft surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this version of the game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.

 

Settings:

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both the Vapor-X cards offer an increase in performance thanks to their increased clock speeds. Overclocking yields significant benefits at the higher resolutions.

 

 

Testing:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher clock speeds help the Vapor-X cards deliver higher results in Crysis Warhead.  However, these results are barely over the results delivered by the stock cards.

 

Testing:

What would testing be if you did not show both sides of the fence? In this test, PhysX was set to low, while leaving the remaining settings intact. You have seen time and again where the ATI cards suffer when PhysX is enabled. Mirror's Edge and Cryostasis are two prime examples. Darkest of Days is no different. What happens in this test shows that, although the game can be played by cards from the red team, the video effects and quality are diminished.

Game Settings:

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher is Better

 

The 5870 Vapor-X shows a benefit from the increased memory and core clock speeds, which allows it to beat the reference card by 2 FPS at 2560x1600.

Testing:

Activision's Call of Duty: World at War goes right back to the bread and butter of the franchise - WWII FPS action. In this rendition, you start off in the South Pacific and move through a series of missions that flip back and forth between the Russian front and the island hopping advance toward the Imperial Japanese homeland. Included is a mission on Peliliu Island, arguably one of the more difficult and costly battles in the Pacific theater. The gameplay in the single player mode is rather short, but the game makes up for this shortcoming in online gameplay. If you thought CoD4 looked nice, this game is amazing with the graphics maxed out playing at a high resolution. I will use Fraps to measure a section of gameplay in the Semper Fi map on Makin Island to compare the performance of these video cards.

Settings:

 

 

  

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Call of Duty WAW is playable on the 5750 Vapor-X, even at 2560x1600. By reducing the eye candy a small amount, the game becomes more fluid. The 5870, on the other hand, does not bat an eye and delivers 70+ FPS at 2560x1600.

 

Testing:

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II is a Real Time Strategy game that is significantly different than its predecessor, with improved AI and an improved physics engine. You can play either as a single player in campaign mode, or in a multiplayer game where Microsoft's Live ranking system can be used.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Vapor-X 5870 shows nice performance gains compared to the reference card. The 5750 is playable up to 1920x1200.

 

Testing:

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a new game that brings together two bitter foes, the Joker and Batman. The Joker has taken over Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. Your task is to reign the Joker back in and restore order. This game makes use of Physx technology to create a rich environment for you to play your trade.

Game Settings:

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, the increased clock speeds help out the Vapor-X models. The 5750 hangs on enough to be playable at 2560x1600, with the settings used in the testing.

 

Testing:

Resident Evil 5 is the sequel to one of the best selling video games of all time. You play the game as Chris Redfield, a survivor of the events at Raccoon City who now works for the BSAA. Sent to Africa to find the genesis of the latest Bio Organic agents, you meet up with another BSAA operative and work together to solve the problem. The game offers incredible 3D effects and a Co-Op gaming style.

Game Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 5750 version of the Vapor-X gets the job done up to 2560x1600 as well, but by the slimmest of margins.

 

Testing:

Left 4 Dead is a new release from Valve that leaves you as part of a group of survivors in a world where an infection has rapidly turned the populace into a zombie horde. You goal is to make it to a rescue point, all the while fighting what seems like overwhelming odds. Along the way there are safe houses where you can replenish your weapons and health. The movie 'I Am Legend' comes to mind to set the stage for this game. But unlike the movie, there are four characters and not just a lone gun and his faithful companion. The horde is not at all like the typical slow walking, foot shuffling zombie. These zombies are quick and work with the pack mentality. Your job: survival!

Settings:

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

The Sapphire HD 5870 Vapor-X outperforms all of the single GPU cards in all four resolutions, no surprise there, as it should with the increased clock speeds. The Vapor-X HD 5750 does hang on until the top end and delivers a solid 39 FPS, which increases with the increase in clock speed when pushed.

 

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest has begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

  

 

 

 
 

  

 

 

 

 

Neither the previous generation Radeon cards, nor the current generation Nvidia cards, can match the scores delivered by the 5870 Vapor-X. The HD 5750 Vapor-X is just lower than the GTX 260 in all four tests.

 

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. 'Entry' is 1024x768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 Settings:

  

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it comes to single GPU video cards, the Sapphire HD 5870 Vapor-X is without an equal in this testing. The 5750, while slower, performs up to its capabilities.

 

Conclusion:

After looking at many of Sapphire's Vapor-X lineup, I have to say that the Vapor-X lineup delivers the goods, in terms of performance and cooling, with the overhead available to increase the level of graphics performance without fear of overheating the video card. In the past, ATI cards were notoriously hot running, but not anymore. The Microloops Vapor Chamber Technology does what it is supposed to do, keep the components cool!  At stock or overclocked speeds, the cards never went above 60 degrees Celsius! Pretty stout cooling for today's power house video cards. Keeping cool is not the only criteria looked at anymore, noise is a big factor in many people's purchase decisions. The days of keeping the card cool regardless of how noisy it gets are over. When it comes to overclocking, the HD 5870 and HD 5750 Vapor-X cards gave up impressive speeds, above what I could get on the reference versions. The notable overclocks were 150MHz worth of increase on the HD 5750 and 116MHz on the 5870, plus a massive 200Mhz on the 5750's 1GB of GDDR5 memory. With no doubt, the use of better cooling and better components helps in this department. Solid capacitors and "Black Diamond" chokes offer a longer life span, cooler operating temperatures (10% cooler), and improved efficiency (25+%).

Sapphire has always included a nice bundle that adds value to the purchase of their video cards, and this series of cards is no different. With each card you get all the hardware needed to get connected to your system, as well as the added bonus of two free games with the 5870, and a single game with the 5750. With the 5870, you get Battle Stations Pacific and a coupon for the DirectX 11 title, Dirt 2, while with the 5750 you get just the Dirt2 coupon, good for a free download of the game when it is launched in early December. It is nice that ATI and Sapphire have the first DirectX 11 cards to hit the market, but sadly there really is not much to take advantage of the technology yet. What you can take advantage of though is ATI's "Eyefinity" multi-monitor technology, where you can string three monitors together in surround mode, to increase the immersion level while playing games. Flight and driving sims would be the obvious games to take advantage of this. Resolutions of up to 7680x1600 are supported on these cards. So, you say you want more performance than one card will give you? Just pop another one, two or three more into a supported motherboard and the performance should scale upwards quite well. The news of an increase in pricing on the HD 5870 to $399 dollars this week puts the Vapor-X HD 5870 in a position of having more value added, as it is priced at $399 as well. If the pricing on the HD 5750 Vapor-X holds close to the $135 to $145 price tag on the reference cards, this will hold true for it as well. To sum it up, you get increased performance and cooling from the Sapphire Vapor-X series for, what matters most right now in this economy, a price point that is reasonable.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: