Sapphire HD 6850 1GB Vapor-X Editionairman - October 2, 2011
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Being a Vapor-X model, the card offers a slightly different look than the typical reference design. Generally, a blower is towards the rear of the card (opposite from the I/O ports) that blows over the cooler in a linear fashion. In the case of the Vapor-X, however, there is a typical, finned fan that blows directly on the cooler in a radial fashion. Rather than using only heatpipes, the Vapor-X, hence its name, uses a vapor chamber which effectively works as a two-dimensional heatpipe. This should allow for rapid heat transfer from the GPU die itself to the rest of the cooler. In my opinion, the reference blower design works great. In a lot of cases, they will out-perform these "aftermarket" versions! We'll see how that does in the Temperature portion of testing. The middle of the fan sports the Sapphire logo with the Vapor-X markings to its left. The rear of the card shows off the standard, blue Sapphire PCB. There is no "backplate" on this model, which I am used to seeing but the cooler isn't held on with a lot of pressure similar to other cards.
Available ports include your typical two DVI connections, two mini DisplayPort connections, and a full-size HDMI port. This configuration will allow up to four monitors, which those using Eyefinity will find very useful! The overall length of the card is a little bit under 9.5" (240mm) so unless you're using a horrendously small case, this card will have plenty of room. It uses a standard set of two 2x3-pin connectors, so unless you're using an old, legacy power supply, it will be completely "bolt-on". There is a molex to 6-pin adapter included, but most will agree it's best to use direct PSU connections if they are available. The very front of the PCB on the same side is the home of a single Crossfire connector, so don't hesitate to take advantage of any other Crossfire-enabled video card if your system has two PCI slots! The large, silver screw on the PCB next to the Crossfire connector plays a part in holding the I/O bracket in place; it has no connection to the cooler.
Checking out what's underneath the cooler will show that the Sapphire HD6850 Vapor-X card DOES appear to be the reference PCB — if that matters to anyone. I'm not 100% certain, but the layout appears to be identical to what I've researched. The only difference is the location of the power ports, which face towards the side of the case rather than towards where the hard drives would go. The memory chips used are Elpida chips, the lesser-known name of NEC, Hitachi, etc. I was unfamiliar with the name myself, until I discovered this information fueled by my curiosity. The chips total 1GB and operate on a 256-bit bus at 880mhz, 4400mhz effective.
Looking at the bottom of the cooler you see the big copper block, the fins attached to it, and the heatpipes that go from the vapor chamber to the fins. The fins themselves extend quite a bit past the effective area that the fan will "touch", but if the dynamics are good, then they'll still receive some airflow at its extremities. Once dissected, the cooler itself is very simple. It employs three, 6mm heatpipes that run from the vapor chamber base to the extremities of the cooler. The folded-over shape along the top of the fins on the ends will help contain the incoming airflow, helping corral the air to achieve maximum flow. The plastic shroud is held on by four screws (two holes can be seen towards the front on the flat plate), and the cooler is held on by the four screws surrounding the contact patch of the vapor chamber.
As far as installing the card goes, there's nothing to it. The card popped right inside of the Corsair Graphite Series 600T and still had loads of end clearance. Being this size, it's a perfect fit for a smaller case. With it installed, it's getting close to that time for me to start stretching its legs and seeing how it performs under many different testing scenarios. Up first after Specifications & Features is my favorite: Overclocking. So stay tuned!